I drove home last Saturday for a brief break from Santa Barbara life. In all, the weekend went well. On the drive up, however, I nearly veered off the road while gawking at an unexpected roadside attraction: a strange person, dressed all in white, with a white, wide-brimmed hat, bowing reverently to passing traffic. This occurred right on Highway 25 — a backwoods stretch also known as “Airline Highway” that I use to cut through King City and get to my house without having to pass through Salinas. She was standing right where the road forms a “T,” with the various legs of the letter running to Hollister, King City and Coalinga, respectively.
Yesterday morning, I traced the same route back home. When I got to the T once again, I saw the same white-clad person, only a few yards from where the first strange encounter happened. This time, the person was walking with her back to me, towards Coalinga. I was half-tempted to follow and ask what strange compulsion could possibly be causing this activity — at the height of the midday sun and on a shadeless road, no less. But then I started thinking about “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes” and the like and decided to press ahead to King City.
Right at where Highway 25 dumps off onto the 101, there’s a gas station that I always stop at. I arrive at this spot either one hour or three hours into the four-hour trip it takes to between Santa Barbara and Hollister, and regardless which way I’m headed it usually marks the time when I have to use the bathroom. So I asked the attendant — from whom I’ve been buying bottled water and assorted car trip food since I started college — if he had heard of anybody ever seeing this person. He had, in fact. He confirmed that the figure was a woman and that she had been dressing in white and walking the back roads for a while now.
I had never seen her before. Honestly, she creeps me out a bit. However, I’m curious to know if anybody who reads this blog had seen her or if they know why she is doing this. Is she keen on Jesus? A proponent of midday constitutionals? Proud of her white hat? Somehow, I feel the number of regular readers who would have reason to use this bypass would have diminished since we’ve mostly all graduated and moved away from Santa Barbara. I found nothing online about the Woman in White — not that I really expected to, seeing as how her ilk usually spread their gospel on poorly Xeroxed newsletters with lots of exclamation points and run-on sentences.
The combination of fearing for my life and not wanting to slow beneath sixty miles per hour didn’t allow me photograph the woman, but until I can this image will have to suffice.
Disregarding the nose, the menacing grin and the lit dynamite, it’s actually not a bad likeness.