Home > Uncategorized > Trestles: A Bridge To Surfing Nirvana Succumbs To The Sands Of Time

Trestles: A Bridge To Surfing Nirvana Succumbs To The Sands Of Time

(John Gastaldo file photo photo courtesy Union-Tribune)

Bridges have always struck mankind as engineering marvels since the days of the Roman aqueduct. Most of us have a love affair with bridges from our childhood whether it be the Brooklyn Bridge for Jewish and Italian immigrants writing about it in the 1950s to the days I spent in Oregon where the magnificent span of a Depression-era bridge arches over the Rogue River in Gold Beach. Every time the History Channel reruns its Modern Marvels segment on bridges, I enjoy watching.

The bridge of my childhood days was ugly, creosoted interconnected timbers simple known as the Trestles. To millions of Southern Californians youths growing up, it was the bridge to nirvana. Walking under that carpenter’s madhouse supporting trains that crossed between San Diego and Los Angeles was the gateway to the coast’s best surfing waves known as San Onofre.

It was such a surfing mecca the Beach Boys and other popular musicians of the day wrote lyrics about it.

I remember the Trestles as an escape from Marine sentries guarding their “private” property as we trespassed with our surfboards in a trek oftentimes more physically enduring than the surf had to offer.

To reach San Onofre, you had to park on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps land and scale rocks and boulders, broken glass, and whatever flotsam man discarded. The reward was on the ocean side of the Trestles — flat sandy beach, gorgeous rolling waves that feathered for eternities, and a close up and personal view of Los Coronados islands to the south and beautiful Catalina Island to the northeast.

I was what they called 86ed by Marine sentries many times and rejectedly returned to my beat up old ’56 Chevy. Their enforcement efforts were totally determined by how many complaints the base commandant received. Other times we could brave the paths for months and never see a Marine.

I’m told this cat and mouse game ended when San Onofre became a state beach and the California Coastal Commission guaranteed unobstructed access. I don’t know because I haven’t been back since my first years in college.

But the Trestles forever are fixed in my mind, probably more than the fantastic surfing.

What triggered these memories is a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Trestles are being torn down and replaced by a concrete bridge. The old girl was costing $250,000 annually to maintain.

About 45 trains a day cross the aging structure spanning the San Mateo Creek estuary, including Amtrak, Metrolink and the commercial freight line BNSF, the paper tells us.

Man, how times have changed. The $12 million project will take two years to construct from federal money in the Obama stimulus package, creating 150 jobs.

Furthermore, there will be a timeout between February and September 2011 during the nesting season of the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo birds.

We surfers were the wrong species to deserve such respect.

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