San Luis Obispo is one of the most beloved cities in the state of California.
Its appeal can be attributed to many factors. The weather has been described as “ideal.” Downtown is a mix of old and new, retro and hip. A Mission dating from 1769 stands across the San Luis Creek. Higuera Streets holds a plethora of great restaurants, trendy boutiques and youthful vibe galleries. A 15-minute drive takes you to scenic hikes and foggy beaches. Arts are manifested in museums, sculptures and murals all over town. Even plastic boxes hiding electrical cables are painted with bears doing the hula hoop.
So, it is a shame that obligated to cut my visit to the city short, I decided to find the grossest spot in Downtown before initiating the drive back home.
There is a place in Higuera Street called Bubblegum Alley. As the name implies, this is a 15-foot high and 70-foot long alley completely covered in bubblegum. What is so memorable about this spot? I have no idea. The alley has become one of the most commented-controversial-disgusting landmarks in the city. I just knew I wanted to see it.
My husband and I arrived to San Luis Obispo on a grayish morning. After parking the car around Morro Street, we paid a visit to the Mission. While admiring the three-belled facade and the statue of Father Junipero Sierra, the sky decided to let go tiny drops.
Fearing a downpour, we walked briskly to Higuera Street. I guess the rush blocked our minds because we started to walk towards the incorrect end. We made a turn when I noticed the block numbers were ascending.
After a few minutes, we spotted the alley. We crossed the street and, right away, voices shouting “nasty” and “gross” started to fill the air. The alley is longer and taller than what I had in mine. Bursts of color popped all over the walls. The smell was a mix of sweet and putrid. It wasn’t completely pleasant but it wasn’t completely sour either.
It is not well known why bubblegum started to appear in this place. Some credit a high school graduating class and others university students. The fact is that the alley has survived even after full cleanings.
Nowadays, it is a mix of gum, paper (bubblegum wrappers), paint, cookie fortune pieces and who now what else. People have left figures, fraternity letters and mounds (like a mountains of gums, yuck!).
My husband did the classic photo were he appears to be licking or biting the wall. I couldn’t do it after taking a detailed photo. The smell is very strong when you get close. Besides, I didn’t want to “accidentally” touch the wall. This is quite a spectacle and there is a lot people hanging around and waiting for you to get out of their way for a photo opportunity.
Well, I can say I visited Bubblegum Alley. So what? At least, I can think about San Luis Obispo and smile.
Have you visited Bubblegum Alley? Let me know in the comments section below.