Magazine article Sunset

Guardian of the Rocks

Magazine article Sunset

Guardian of the Rocks

Article excerpt

* California Department of Transportation worker Pat Jackson is a matter-of-fact kind of guy. "We had graffiti out here forever," he says, "but we don't have much anymore."

Jackson is standing beside his bright orange Caltrans truck at the edge of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 8, about 65 miles east of San Diego. Mountains made of egg-shaped granite boulders tower above him. Some of the rocks-colored a rich blend of amber, gold, yellow, and sienna-are as big as houses. It's the kind of scene that looks like a California Impressionist painting. Unfortunately, it also looks like a blank canvas to graffiti vandals, and has ever since the days when tagging meant scrawling "John Loves Mary" or "Class of '62" with an old brush and leftover paint swiped from Dad's tool shelf. At times it got bad here. Real bad. In the last few years, however, despite the spreading scrawl of graffiti along Western roadways, it is hard to spot a single example of defacement in this canyon patrolled by Jackson and his crewmates. …

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