It's easy to miss the turn-off. The road isn't marked. You've just driven
north through the little town of Stinson Beach. Two-lane Highway 1 snakes
between the edges of steep hills and arroyos on the right and a wide flat
lagoon on the left. It's a winding corridor lined with eucalyptus, oak,
willow, pine and alder trees. The lagoon, a mudflat at low tide, where
egrets and herons hunt, and seals bask in the sunlight. As you drive past the
lagoon there's a road to the left nearly hidden by dense trees and shrubs.
You make that sharp left turn and another left, drive another mile or so on a
straightaway beneath a canopy of eucalyptus, past an old-time country
schoolhouse, until you see the street-sign for Mesa Road. Turning right you
drive uphill through more eucalyptus, past a house or two just off the road.
Near the top of the climb at Overlook Drive, you turn left. You are now on
the Bolinas mesa.
One of the first things one might hear about Bolinas is the missing road
sign. It is legendary. Sometime in the early 1970's, no one seems to know
exactly when, the sign disappeared. Caltrans replaced the sign, and it
promptly disappeared once again. Actually the sign didn't ''disappear'', it
was removed. This disappearing act was often attributed to the Bolinas
Border Patrol, a shadowy ad hoc guerrilla organization which, depending on
who you talk to, either does or doesn't exist. Caltrans continued to
replace the ''Bolinas 2 Miles'' sign on a fairly regular basis into the 1980's.
The Bolinas Border Patrol dutifully removed the sign each time. Finally
Caltrans just gave up.
On the mesa lies a grid of roads, most of them unpaved. Nestled in
among the cypress, coyote brush and eucalyptus are housesóbetter
described as cottages or bungalows, some no more than shacks, some prefab
A-frames, or geodesic domes, while others are rustic wooden structures that
seem to be a cross between a ranch-style tract home, a TV western set, and a
Nantucket bed and breakfast. Various cars, trucks & vans parked along the
road or in driveways run the gamut from rusted-out vintage VWs, late
model pick-ups, and spanking new SUVs. As you drive along you catch a
glimpse of a bumper sticker on one beat-up white Toyota pick-up parked on
the side of the road - the bumper sticker reads ''Bolinas Border Patrol''.
You get out of the car and look around. It was here, on the Bolinas
mesa, that a remarkable number of important American poets made their
home during the 1970s. Why were these poets, which together represent a
solid core sample of the avant-garde poets of the time, drawn to this remote
little California coastal village? It was, and is, a beautiful spot. The rural
setting of the mesa, the little downtown area on Wharf Road, the lagoon, the
beach - Bolinas is a special place and in itself is as significant a
character in this story as anyone who lived there.
Along with the important contingent of American poets that gathered in
Bolinas at that time was also a varied group of psychedelic refugees, radical
representatives of the sixties counterculture, artists, writers and visionaries.
Together they created a community that was as unique and eclectic as were
these individuals themselves.