My husband Mike and I felt lucky to be asked by Dr. Eric Shapira to ride with him and his wife Susan in his 1999 convertible XK8 Jaguar in the Tom Lantos Tunnels Opening Day Parade.
This is definitely a part of Coastside history, and we were honored to be a part of it.
The first challenge was fitting in the car — we could have used a large shoe-horn! Eric had warned us that the back seats were cramped; luckily, Mike and I are short, but it was still a tight squeeze, involving some impromptu yoga positions on our part.
We then headed for the the parking lot next to Taco Bell in Pacifica with 34 other classic, vintage or rare automobiles and their owners, at 8:30 a.m., ready to roll at 9:30.
On a personal side-note, that parking lot is located next to the the sewage treatment building, which has a long mural of painted tiles. I painted one of these tiles for a friend who has passed on, commissioned by his mother, years ago. That led to a lifetime of memories of Pacifica and Devil’s Slide, and the realization that we are entering a new era.
Most of us were bundled up in layers, as it was a cold, overcast day. The cars and their owners, some of them in costumes, made for plenty of fun. Pacifica's own Tony Dominski was the Devil of Devil's Slide — at his side was "...the bunny I married," he joked.
The owner of a 1913 Model T bought in Long Beach told us that he hadn't changed a thing about the car, including the upholstery. Jeff and Cassandra Clark of Half Moon Bay rode in a Woodie station wagon, and there was also a Dolorean with its doors up all the way, a fully stocked and functioning Bookmobile (I checked a book out from there), plus many other vintage vehicles, two bicyclists, and a unicyclist.
After mingling with the other participants, we headed up to the south end of the slide, where we parked, got out, and walked the length of the tunnel, twice. After about 90 minutes or so, we got back in our vehicles, and drove through the tunnel. What fun! I took two videos of it — the first is the lead-up to the tunnel (which I edited for brevity), with a second full-length video of the ride through the tunnel. You might hear my screams three times in the tunnel – nice acoustics!
I missed the speeches and the ribbon cutting, but those were well-represented by the multitude of reporters at the event. As far as tunnels go, it isn’t very long, but well-equipped with the latest technology.
Mike asked one of the Caltrans workers about the cameras, which are installed in the tunnels, while mentioning that he’d like to red-line his motorcycle through them. He was told that those cameras are so sensitive, they can read any license plate with clarity. Forewarned is forearmed!