Mountain Musings

‘Dusty roads, take me home . . .’

Special to The CambrianAugust 6, 2013 

Fog months? How about dust months? There’s no hiding on country roads when the dust flys.

MARCIA RHOADES — Special to The Cambrian

‘Dusty roads, take me home

To the place I belong.”

Oh, right. The John Denver song is about country roads. Not dusty.

But for those of us living in Cambria’s backcountry in the Santa Lucia Mountains, dusty roads and country roads are pretty much the same thing in the summertime.

Growing up in the suburbs, I thought I understood dust. My mother dusted, and in time, I dusted. Dust. No big deal. Not until I moved here did I fully appreciate the power of dust. However, all you have to do is watch an old black and white cowboy movie to see what dust is all about. Cough, cough. Cowboys didn’t wear bandanas just to look cool.

Up here, dust gets into every crack. Even the inside of my pantry and kitchen cabinets get dusty, causing me to remove and wash everything way more often than I’d like. If our border collie, Laddie, goes near the road, he gets ridiculously dusty. And I don’t want to think about my white laundry, drying on the line outside.

Dust is not just annoying; it can also be dangerous. I always thought the most treacherous time on our dirt road was winter, when the rain turns the clay into a sliding board. Actually, the late summer dust on the road can be just as slippery. It’s like someone has whipped up a huge vat of whole wheat flour and scooped it several inches deep onto the entire length of the road, causing tires to slip dangerously on the curves.

People who knew my husband’s father personally referred to him as “Dusty” Rhoades. With a name like that, he certainly found the perfect spot on the Central Coast for a ranch home. When he took his 2-mile morning walks up the road in the summer, he must have become a pretty dusty Dusty Rhoades. On one of his walks, when he was in his 70s, the dust was so deep it covered the rocks in the road. Dusty stepped on a hidden rock, which rolled, causing him to lose his balance, fall and sprain his ankle. Being the rugged type, he managed to hop all the way home.

Even if we can’t see them, we can always tell when vehicles are going up or down our road by the cloud of dust propelled toward our house. It starts out as a long plume of dust, chasing the car or truck that’s going by, and then it turns into a plume headed straight for us. Granted, it’s not as dramatic as the dust cloud in the film “Hildago” or the dust storms in Phoenix you see on the evening news, but we dare not open our windows on the road side of the house during the summer.

When you look at your furniture and think, “Oh my, I need to dust,” keep in mind that dust is a relative concept. Maybe you can let it go another day.

Marcia Rhoades’ column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at

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