first fell in love with the Coastside in 2014, years before the Half Moon Bay Review was even a glimmer on my horizon. During a drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I rounded a bend in the road near Pescadero. Flanked by wind-whipped seas and lush marshlands, my jaw dropped to the floor, where it stayed for the rest of the drive. As I sipped soup at Sam’s Chowder House, I remember thinking, “Wow. It doesn’t get any better than this.” 

Some five years and 300 stories later, that remains true. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past year covering the Coastside as a staff writer for the Review. During that time, I’ve tracked mountain lions, investigated the properties of coastal fog, written about giant pumpkins and much, much more. That feeling of stunned amazement hasn’t waned once.  

But that doesn’t do justice to what makes this a truly special place — the stories. From the marshes of Pescadero to the bluffs of Montara, there are stories waiting to be unearthed in every creek and crevice. And even if they might seem like tales about community events, new school programs, land deals or local politics, if you look closer, they’re about so much more. It’s been a privilege to shout those successes, and struggles, from the mountaintops.  

As a reporter, you get used to being on the fringes. “I’m just a fly on the wall,” I often tell people at events and meetings. I’m delighted to say that, here on the Coastside, you haven’t allowed that to happen. You’ve invited me into your meeting halls, your parks, your classrooms and your homes. Rather than keep me at a distance, you welcomed me with open arms. 

This week, I’ll be making my way across the United States to move back to Connecticut, where I grew up. For almost a decade, I’ve been a rolling stone, moving about the country as I pursued my passion for writing. Now, I’m ready to start gathering some moss near the people closest to me. But I’ll never forget the time that I spent on the Coastside. I know I’ll be leaving more than a piece of myself behind. 

In short, I’ll always be grateful to everyone here who took the time to share his or her story with me. Thank you for becoming such a pivotal part of my own story, too. 

Alex Orlando is currently driving across the country with his pet bunny.  Which is one of the reasons he was beloved in the office.

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