HIKING IN SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 2006

 

            In February of 2006, my wife, son, and I spent a weekend visiting our daughter who was teaching in Santa Barbara.  We drove up Saturday morning and spent Saturday afternoon on a long walk along the beach.  We saw surfers in the water wearing wetsuits, and students carrying surfboards on bicycles.  I have seen more bicycles around UC Santa Barbara than anywhere outside of China!

            At the northern end of the beach we went up a path to the top of the cliffs to the Elwood Main Monarch Buttery Grove.  There were thousands of butterflies hanging like thick clusters of leaves on branches of the trees.  It is one of the largest monarch butterfly sites in the US.  They stay there for the winter and huddle together to stay warm – like the penguins in March of the Penguins.

            There were interesting rocks along the beach, but some of them were covered in tar.  Sometimes you get the tar on your shoes or bare feet.  The tar is natural, from the oil deposits in the ocean basin.  There are oil well platforms offshore.  Data based on soil layers from some of the wells were analyzed by my wife for her geology master's thesis.

            We had dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in Isla Vista, the neighborhood next to the UCSB campus where Juniper has an apartment.  After dinner, my daughter and I went to a party hosted by some friends that she had met.  People ranged in age from her age to mine put on silly costumes and danced.  It was nice to see other people over the age of 30 who enjoy dancing!

            After a leisurely breakfast Sunday morning, we went on a very long hike in the Santa Ynez mountains which overlook Santa Barbara.  To get to the trailhead we had to drive through a shallow river that crossed the road seven times!  We hiked from the Red Rock Pools to Gibraltar Dam.  The trail went along a river bed and crossed the river about a dozen times. There were interesting slanted and folded layers of rock on the mountain slopes along the way.

            When crossing the river, we stepped very carefully from rock to rock to avoid getting our shoes wet.  A few times there weren’t enough dry rocks so we took off our shoes and tried not to slip on the mossy rocks.  I put my camera, cellphone, and wallet in a plastic bag in my backpack just in case I fell.  It was a struggle, but I kept my shoes dry until the tenth crossing.  Mid-stream I stepped on a rock that moved and my shoe got went.  After that I just walked through the water for the rest of that and the last two crossings – it was faster and much simpler, even though it meant soggy wet shoes.

            At the dam, we walked up a fire road from the bottom of the valley to the top of the slopes overlooking the valley.  There were some beautiful views of blue mountains as we followed the road back to the trailhead parking lot.

            The distance from the trailhead to the dam was only three miles in and three miles out, but with the slow river crossings and climbing up the road, it took us over four hours!  Fortunately, we had brought snacks and water as we always do.  It was warm and sunny with a breeze through the canyon so we were comfortable hiking.

            On the way back to town we stopped at the Stony Creek Tavern, a popular destination in the mountains for motorcycle bikers.  On Sunday's they have a live band and serve barbequed tri-tip sandwiches.  It was fun!

            After picking up our things at our daughter's apartment, we drove back to Whittier thoroughly exhausted.