Monday, February 20, 2012


We drove over to the coast last weekend to help unload a trailer of Roger's mom's stuff into the beach house (above photo view from the upstairs bedroom window at sunrise). We stayed for two nights with no internet connection and no TV. Talk about feeling disconnected. But it was good to focus on the task at hand. The Capitola house has been in the family since 1938 and has been the repository for unwanted-but-can't-part-with stuff for all that time. We had to toss a ton of really really old ghostly stuff to make room for just plain-old old stuff. We shopped for new silverware and dishes, frying pans, and sheets. Some of the sheets and pillows had been ghosting around that house for more than 40 years. There's lots more to be done (new toilets, kitchen faucet and sink, and a fresh paint job on the house) in time for the memorial service we're having for Roger's mom on Memorial Weekend there in May. It will feel much less ghostly by then.
Whenever we drive to and from the coast we always take the same highways and always stop at the same vista point. We've been doing this since the late 80s. The place we stop is Lake Herman Road, just on the north side of the Benicia-Martinez bridge. It's an interesting place because there's a Ghost Fleet of Navy ships rotting in the water there. We've always found something eerily beautiful about these ships, like remnants of a dying culture still present in the moment. Sadly, though, we did just learn that the ships' paint is peeling off into the water poisoning the wetlands with millions of pounds of toxic waste. Our ignorance had truly been bliss for years.
On this most recent trip, I mentioned to Roger I thought there must be a Lake Herman somewhere up the road. Something we had never explored, but might want to. So, when we arrived home I actually remembered to google "Lake Herman Road" to see if we should take a look. The results shocked me. The first page of entries about Lake Herman Road was about the Zodiac Killer and his first two victims (high school kids on their first date) on that very road in 1968. What a creepy surprise.
Yes, there is a lake on Lake Herman Road, and it looks like a nice spot for a picnic. I wonder if we'll ever do that knowing this ghastly ghostly history. Would you?


  1. I drive by that fleet of ghost ships all the time, and have never stopped. I'm going past it next week -- perhaps I'll actually take the exit this time! And yes, I'd go to Lake Herman, with good company and perhaps a loaded pistol.

    It is weird to think of all the idyllic spots on earth that have been sullied by man's madness: murder, rape, war. They return to their beauty, despite the ghosts that linger there.

  2. I wonder if we can create new and positive history by visiting those places to witness the beauty that remains. Still, I wouldn't want to go to Lake Herman alone.

    Great to hear that the Wood Ducks have arrived at your pond!

  3. The USS Iowa recently left Suisun Bay and is being restored in the Richmond shipyard. I visited it today and recalling it's role in past history is fascinating.
    Those "ghosts" ship are gradually disappearing (you might have noticed over years of looking) and are being sold as scrap

  4. Wonder why the ships are moldering away. Surely they have some value.
    Not sure I could visit Lake Herman. I would think a copy cat might be lurking but then I am a wuss.
    What a beautiful view from the beach house.

  5. I hope the family never lets that house go. What a view, what a treasure.

    I love ships. It's always sad to see them in mothballs.

  6. Perhaps you could change that
    ghostly/ghastly history if you stopped to picnic there.

  7. Yes, I think you will have a picnic at Lake Herman. Just to show that the evil ghost has no more power and the ghosts of the teenagers are gentle spirits embracing the area.

    I love the very idea of the Capitola house being in the family for so long.

  8. We've passed that mothball fleet many times as well. I didn't know the paint was toxic, but it makes sense. Re: Lake Herman Pretty creepy, indeed. I would not want to go unless I was with at least 6 people. I saw the movie "Zodiac" (with Jake Gyllenhaal playing the Chronicle reporter) and I remember the scene from the film. So probably not stopping anytime soon!

  9. I'd go. It's beautiful there and the soul of the place is its own, and apart from the murders. Or go and do a ceremony of respect and remembrance, and purification.
    Taracharma is right about how much of the earth has been touched by "man's madness." But don't block out the beauty in order to block out the dark.
    I've linked to this poem before. It's worth a reread:

  10. I would definitely go.

    Because I have an unhealthy fascination with crime.

  11. nice fixing up the beach house - such a lovely retreat to have available.

    i know the pit of the stomach, horrible feeling that comes with learning about murder in an otherwise peaceful location. after moving here and discovering some locations related to ted bundy's killing sprees in vicinties we frequent, i was quite spooked. now i can associate other things, like seeing eagles and heron rookeries in these areas, but i never forget totally.

  12. Yes, by all means go and reclaim the place. Madness doesn't win out.