Dan and Hannah Hike the East Fork of the Cold Spring Trail in Montecito, California

Learning just last week (January 2020) that the Cold Spring Trail had officially reopened after the January 2018 debris flows through Montecito that took the lives of 25 people, Hannah and I take The 101 north from Carpinteria.  Winding through Montecito, we come upon the trailhead parking at East Mountain Drive in twenty minutes.

EF Carp to EF

At the trailhead, where once East Mountain Drive crossed the Cold Spring Creek, now a forbidding chain link fence blocks all but foot traffic.  Following the yellow lines dividing the former road to the creek’s edge, we look over to the road forty feet beyond.  There is no evidence of any bridge abutments, let alone the bridge that washed downstream from the amazingly powerful flow of water, mud, car-size boulders, and trees.

CSE 1AAA chain link fence

CSE 1AA road to nowhere

CSE 1 where once there was a bridge

Immediately, we have a choice of two trails thirty feet apart.  A hiker returning from her climb suggests the second trail which will take us along the creek bed to the east.  It turns out to be a fortunate choice as we head into the mountains on the shady side of the East Fork of the Cold Spring Creek.


CSE 1B D at trail sign

We choose the East Fork this morning

CSE 1A H at start of trail

As a narrow single track, the trail has overhanging trees providing protection from the penetrating sun.  As the trail’s soft, moistened dirt caresses our feet, the switchbacks take the hurt out of the climb on this 67F morning on the central coast of California.

CSE 2 Falls

We come across a small waterfall, which begs to be videotaped.  Enjoy.

Easily crossing the creek two or three times, we climb further into the mountains in light shirts and shorts.

CSE 1E more of trail

High above the valley, those more adventurous than us can go further up the mountain.  Opting for the trail to the right back down, we have a steeper descent (due its one mile length as opposed to the 1.5 miles we took to climb up) on a trail with full sun that has switchbacks with views to the Pacific.

CSE 3 trail turn down

CSE 3A valley below heading down

Santa Barbara County looking out to the Channel Islands

CSE 3B dusty trail

CSE 3E H above trailhead

Looking down to the trailhead

Though the Thomas Fire of 2018 denuded the landscape and made it ripe for the deadly debris flow, Mother Nature takes a W today with regenerative green carrying the day.

CSE 3F H at switchbacks

After we park in downtown Montecito to pick up the Thursday special, Mojado chicken burritos, at Los Arroyos, I wonder if you can guess which is the car we rented from Enterprise?

CSE 4 Montecito cars

Post script – Click here for Ray Ford’s history of the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow of January 9, 2018.  Ray Ford pictures from 2018

Cold Spring Ford 1 fire in Montecito

Cold Spring Ford 2 CS canyon

Cold Spring Ford 4 shed in tree

Cold Spring Ford 5 CS trailhead

Cold Spring Creek after the debris flow


Cold Spring Ford our trail coming back

East Fork of the Cold Spring Trail after the debris flow

Dan and Hannah With Their Son Will Hike the McMenemy Trail in Montecito, California

Before Hannah and I hit the beach this morning in Carpinteria, our son Will, still not adjusted to the three hour time change from the East Coast, gets up very early and runs five miles through predawn Carpinteria to the high school; he then warms down by walking with us for three miles on our Pacific sands.  Ah, to be healthy at 36!  And at 72!

SY map

Returning to the San Ysidro trailhead with Will this morning, we have a new trail in mind, the McMenemy Trail.  This trail has been inaccessible due to the devastating debris flow of 2018 and then the heavy rains of 2019 throughout Santa Barbara County.

McM 1D W and H on trail

Will and his sweet Mama

Shaded by Eucalyptus trees, the McMenemy (pronounce enemy with an M) Trail is soon a meandering series of switchbacks up the hillside with views to the Pacific.  As Will and Hannah hike ahead, I think of our third child.

McM St mikes

Through his public school years, Will balanced sports, studies, and friendship without obsessing in any one area.  As a Division II basketball player at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, Will had his most fun athletically when he left the team his senior year and played intramurals with his buddies.

McM Brooks

Brooks, the big brother

With his wife Laurel and our nearly two-year-old grandson Brooks, Will eagerly awaits May when he will double his fun as his family will grow in an unexpected way.

Since I was born without the grilling gene, much to Hannah’s chagrin (make that horror!), Will takes control of barbecuing, be it fish, burgers, steak tips, or chicken when we get together.  I figure, we each play to our strengths!  Do I hear an Amen!  Tonight in Carpinteria, he will lightly char chicken chunks to a barbecue crispness for our dining pleasure.

On his last visit home in York, Maine where Hannah and I still live since we moved from Arizona in 1982, Will looks for things to do to support us around the house when he comes home.  He gets right to mowing our lawn, solidifies our brick walk with polymeric paver sand, and puts cold pack tar from our garage to our sinking driveway to provide a smooth ramp in for our cars.  Yeah, he plays to his strengths.

McM 2B D and H

Reminiscing done and now the steepness of the climb getting my full attention, I join Hannah and Will for views of the mansions of Montecito as well as the Pacific coast shoreline out to the Channel Islands.

McM 2D D on trail

McM 2A mansions

The McMenemy is a moderate workout with a 1000’ of elevation gain into the Santa Ynez Mountains.  While the trail is mostly dirt at the lower elevations, it is rocky into the mountains.

McM 2B sandstony trail


McM 1B stoney creek

Creek crossing

Once at the high point, we swiftly descend on the dusty and rocky trail back to the San Ysidro Creek.  Fording the miniscule creek, we retrace the first mile of the aforementioned San Ysidro Trail back to the trailhead.

McM 4A Los Arroyos facade

McM 4 Arroyos daily specials

Driving into downtown Montecito minutes away, we order take-out from Los Arroyos, our favorite Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara County.  Today’s specials (take-out and specials are how Hannah and I roll) are chicken burritos (Dan) and steak burritos (Hannah and Will) topped with a chili-based mole (pronounce mol-lay) sauce has a chocolaty look.  The special includes ice tea, which both Will and Hannah claim is the best they have EVER tasted.

McM 2C D and H closeup

Proud parents

And by the way Will and Hannah each hit 30,000 steps!  It’s the least we can when Will comes to sunny California in January.

Dan and Hannah Make Things Happen for Their Son Will in California

Will Carp Beach 1

Carpinteria morning

Environmentally-induced exercise is in our DNA.  Hannah and I began running regularly in 1973 at the start of the running boom.  After running five times per week for thirty years, we woke one morning to hear our creaky knees say no mas.  Our three kids, Molly, Robyn, and Will,seem to have the same genetic predisposition to move and groove.   As you all know, motion is lotion.

Will Carp Beach 2

The beach at Carpinteria with Santa Ynez Mountains in the distance

Ergo, prior to our son Will heading to Anaheim, California to represent the athletic department of Ithaca College at the 2020 NCAA Convention, he takes the Amtrak north to spend a few days with his sunshine-induced, exercise-crazed parents.

Will early Carp with H

Will and Hannah on the bluff above the beach in Carpinteria

Before breakfast, Hannah and I walk three miles at the Carpinteria Beach just 300 yards from our winter rental.  Will does us five better by running five miles before he joins us for a cool down.  He’s on his way to a day of 30,000 Fitbit steps!

SY map

After Hannah’s to-die-for buttermilk biscuits and my oatmeal with blueberries, chia seeds, flax, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, protein powder, raisins, and cinnamon, Will is sufficiently fueled to hike the San Ysidro Canyon just twenty minutes away in Montecito.

Will 2 H and W at start of trail

Will 2A H and W on trail

Will and his mom on the San Ysidro Trail

The San Ysidro has become our trail of choice when we introduce visitors to hiking on the Central Coast of California.  On this typical January day in the 60s, we skirt the now bowl-shaped ravine, scoured by the January 2018 debris flow.

Will 2C W and D

Will and his pop

Will 2E on trail with H and W

Will and his mama

With Will in the lead, he takes it easy, well aware of the years of exercise recorded on his parents’ 72 year old bodies.  With a 1000’ of elevation gain to a dribbling waterfall this dry winter of 2020, the trail is always one we try to determine exactly where Hannah fell in 2017, the year before the catastrophic, channel-changing debris flow of 2018.  Check out the pictures below.

Will 3 where H fell

Though the landscape has changed because of the 2018 debris flow, we think this is where Hannah fell 25′ in 2017


Will 3A H near her fall

After a short siesta, Will and I take our beach cruisers to ride the Carpinteria Beach at mid-tide.  Will can both bike on the wet sand and take selfies, a talent that he has not as yet passed on to his old man.

Will 4 on beach cruisers

Will zzzzz

Dining on take-out of Los Arroyos grilled chicken burritos washed down by a Dos Equus, Will is no match for his three hour time change and the fact that he awoke at 3A in New York this morning; he heads for bed at 730P.

I am sure he is well aware that we will not let up and have a full day of activity for him tomorrow.  Oh yeah, mission accomplished; Will hits 32,000 steps, a current Rothermel Family personal best.

Dan and Hannah Hike the Bluff Trail at the University of California, Santa Barbara 2020

UCSB calle ocho

Our winter rental ranch house in Carpinteria

Let’s lay all the cards on the table.  The stories from the West Coast are true!  California is one muy expensivo place to live.  As homeowners in Maine, Hannah and I couldn’t own a comparable home here in Carpinteria, let alone in upscale Montecito or Santa Barbara.  The modest three bedroom ranch we rent in winter (their off-season) is valued at $1.3 million.  Click here to check out our VRBO.  Who else can’t afford to live in Carpinteria?  Their teachers, fire fighters, and police!  In their dreams.

UCSB gas prices

Gas price in Carpinteria with my one-speed beach cruiser in the foreground

Check out these gas prices in Carpinteria when gas is $2.65 in Maine.  That said, California is a leader in reducing emissions and giving a sh** about the Climate Crises that has our lives staring down the gun barrel of trouble with a capital T.

Stepping down from soapbox, I present to you one of the jewels of the University of California system – The University of California, Santa Barbara.

UCSB map

Twenty-five minutes north along The 101 are the bluff trails of UCSB.  Even for Californians, the total cost of one year at UCSB is $36K.  Out-of-state students pay $64K for this selective state school (36% acceptance rate).

UCSB 1A east cliffs

Parking at the Goleta Beach State Park on the first Tuesday in January, we walk a half mile along the coastline to the bluff trails to enter campus.  Being low tide, we take the stairs down to the surfer’s beach to check out the cliffs above us.  A year ago at high tide, we saw officers on a ski-do rescue a distressed surfer.  Click here for that story and pictures.

UCSB 2B north cliffs north

North side


UCSB 3A from the beach north

North side

Once on the north edge of campus, Hannah and I take another bluff trail facing the Pacific.  Much of this Campus Point is covered with ice plant, an exotic invasive scourge that competes with native plants by forming thick mats that cover the landscape.  It’s California’s bad brother to the South’s kudzu.  Click here for the kudzu blog.

UCSB 4 ice plants

Ice plants

UCSB 4A heron with ice plants

Up close and personal with a heron among the ice plants

Easily descending on a trail to the beach, we see three coeds dive into shoreline surf of the 59F waters of the Pacific this first week of January.  When we ask how it feels, one claims it’s amazing!  But for us, we believe the math: 59F is 59F.

UCSB 5 apts on cliff

Off-campus student housing at UCSB

UCSB 5A deck above cliffs

Over time, the bluffs they are acrumbling.  Notice the vulnerability of the deck this winter of 2020.

UCSB map to PT

After two hours of hiking/campus walking, we lunch at Pilgrim Terrace in Santa Barbara.  PT is an affordable living complex of apartments whose director John believes that if his lower income residents have at least one nutritious meal per day in a social setting, their health will improve dramatically.  To that end, the complex grows vegetables on site.

UCSB towers of lettuce

Towers of lettuce grow efficiently at Pilgrim Terrace

To raise funds, PT allows others to lunch for a mere $7.  Check out the lo mien shrimp dish (count ‘em five shrimp) with roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts, a green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, cottage cheese, and, a personal favorite, croutons.  In addition, the pea soup has kale for those of you who donate blood and need to raise your hemoglobin level.

UCSB 9 PT meal H

Lunch al fresco at Pilgrim Terrace in January

Our treat next time you come to California’s Central Coast.

Dan and Hannah Hike Romero Canyon in Montecito, California 2020

Romero mapOn this mid-January Wednesday, it’s a simple 15 minute drive from Carpinteria to the trailhead of Romero Canyon in the foothills of Montecito.  Parking near the trailhead at Belle Vista Drive, we see the road again in rough shape but nothing like it was in 2019.

Romero 1 trailhead road

2020 (the creek naturally flows over the road)


Romero 2019 road

2019 after debris flows

Fact is, the rainy winter we spent in California last year is a distant memory as we have had 11 straight sunny days on the Pacific.  We’ve had effective temperatures in the 70s! Though the daytime highs are generally in the low to mid-60s, as a trained meteorologist (by that I mean I watch the Weather Channel), I add 8-10F to the ambient temperature (temp in the shade) to get the true “feels like” temperature in the sun.  Please, it’s not rocket science!  I just do the math!

As we begin the dusty trail, we see what appear to be volunteers with white flags.  As we approach them, I ask, What are you doing?  (By that I mean que paso?)  They tell me and now it’s time for you to figure out what’s up from the pictures below?  Answer at the end of the blog.

Romero 2 flags

Romero 2A flags

The trail up Romero Canyon is relentless (by that I mean there is 1500’ of elevation gain in just over two miles of hiking).  Popular with mountain bikers, the Romero Canyon trail has the distinctive jingle of bike bells when riders approach.  The bells are free and available at the trailhead.  Throughout our two hours on the trail, we see five or six rockin’ riders; we are never startled by their passing.

Romero 3D Hannah with bell

Romero 4C better biker

With little rain since December, the trail is dusty with creek crossings that we take with a simple step or two.

Romero 3 trail with H

For the most part tree covered, the very rocky trail meanders into the mountains for a mile and a half with vertical drops of 20’ or more just a few feet from the trail.

After our final creek crossing, we follow the mostly shaded switchback trail into the mountains.  Our turnaround point is the fire road; there is much more hiking into the Santa Ynez mountains available for the adventurous.

Romero 4A H on upper trail

Romero 4 D at top

Adventurous we are not today, so we return for the trailhead knowing that we love our hikes of about four miles roundtrip; they are our bread and butter, our peaches and cream, our yin and yang, our Ali and Cat… I think you get the idea.

Romero Canyon?  It’s a workout but worth the effort.

White flags?  The volunteers are taking a tick survey.  Really, active ticks in January?  Yes, in California.

Dan and Hannah Return the San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California

SY Dr. A

Dr. Aganostou working his magic on Hannah

This morning we return to hike up San Ysidro Canyon in Montecito; later tonight we will look out over the Pacific to thank a trio of our lucky stars.  Three years ago Hannah fell 25’ down a steep, sharp-rocked canyon, ripping her leg open to the bone.  Perched on a rock, 30’ above the unforgiving creek boulders, Hannah was rescued thanks to our son-in-law Tip.  Thanks to our daughter Molly who raced ahead with our grandson Owen to the trailhead so an ambulance was waiting for Hannah.  Thanks to Dr. Aganostou of the Cottage Hospital ER in Santa Barbara for stitching her back together.


SY 1 H at trail head

Having been to this fateful canyon three times before, Hannah comes to the trail without fear or dread but cognizant of how the stars aligned for her to hike another day.  If you know Hannah, you are not surprised to learn that she was truly grateful that it was she, not Owen, Max, Molly, or Tip who fell down the canyon that day in February 2017.

SY 1A creek and trail at the start

The no longer V-shaped canyon after the debris flow of 2018

SY map

Today, we drive The 101 highway to Montecito, then on to the trailhead on Mountain Drive.  On this early January 60F morning, we take to the narrow, single track trail where creek side houses are being rebuilt, two years after the Thomas Fire that raged in this and other Montecito canyons (the year after Hannah fell).

Denuding the mountainside of all vegetation including large trees, the fire paved a path for torrential rains to cause mud, car size boulders, and rock debris to overwhelm the creek bed and inundate the creekside neighborhoods.  Tragically, 23 people died and two children were never found.

SY 1B D on fire road

In sight of the mansions, we take to creek-side fire road heading into the mountains.  Passing a first, then a second flexible debris flow net across the creek, we see a curtain of metal rings that hang high enough above the creek to allow for wildlife and water in the creek  to pass through but are still able to trap and block debris in case there is another catastrophic natural event.

SY 2A H on trail with nets in distance

Debris flow nets in the distance


SY 2B nets closer

A closer look at the debris flow nets over the San Ysidro Creek

SY 2BB nets better

Up close and personal view of the debris flow nets


SY 2 H as trail narrows

One mile in, we take to the trail that narrows as we walk single file stepping higher into the Santa Ynez Mountains; it’s a moderately strenuous workout with 1000′ of elevation gain.

SY 3 H on narrow trail

SY 4 h close up family picture

Hiking on, we continue to puzzle out where Hannah fell.  We can’t be sure since the canyon has been scoured and re-sculptured due to the 2018 debris flows.

SY 5 where hannah fell

We think this is where Molly distracted our grandsons, Owen and Max, while Tip rescued Hannah in 2017.

SY 5A cliffside where hannah fell

This just may be where Hannah fell

Today the trail to the falls is blocked by branches purposefully left to keep hikers out.  Today the falls are a shadow of what they are when it rains.  Check out the falls in 2017 and 2020.

SY 7A more falls 2020

The San Ysidro Falls trickle down in 2020 with the branches blocking the trail to the base of the falls

SY 2017 falls

At the base of the same falls three years earlier (2017)

After hiking two miles up the canyon, we return with none of the drama of three years ago.  Sometimes routine is good, very good.

Click here if you have not read Hannah’s terrifying descent off the San Ysidro Trail.

Dan and His Fascination with California!  The Getaway Part 2 of 2

In part 1, readers learned of the backstory of why it’s California, not Arizona and Florida, in winter for Hannah and me.  Part 2 lets you in on our getaway.

Flying is Hannah’s least favorite way to travel.  On the other hand, I am no fan of cross country road trips; you see, I can do the math.  Planes allow us to get from coast to coast in six hours; it’s five days of mind-numbing tedium to cross the good ole US of A by car.

Leaving home in York, Maine mid-Friday afternoon during first week of January, Hannah and I spend the night before we fly out of Logan Airport with Molly’s family in Massachusetts.  Playing Uno, then Legos with our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), we read to the boys before bedtime.  While Tip is out with his buddies digging Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for the night, Hannah and I settle down with Molly for evening wine and then Wegman’s subs that Molly provides for us all.  Hannah and I know how fortunate we are to have Molly in our lives; she’s a daughter who is a friend, who thinks of us regularly, who is as just as active as we are so hiking together works really well; and she is just damn good company night in and night out.

I recently found this quote that spoke to me.  It’s not enough that you love them, they must know that you love them.  – St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier.  I’ll check in this weekend to see how I am doing on that score with her.

Getaway 1A window seat

At 515A, Molly drives us to Logan in the pre-flight dark.  Since Hannah and I know when we are going to California each year, we are able to purchase tickets seven months in advance when the prices are at their lowest.  How sweet is $378 each non-stop, round-trip Boston to LA!  As such, you might think Jet Blue might value us as customers.  But noooooo.

Getaway 1B from window seat

Hannah is exiled to seat 12F by the window while I am ostracized in 12A by the opposite window.  Jet Blue punishes us for our timely purchase even though they have had the use of our money for seven months.  They rightfully have earned a 2 of 5 rating!

We suck it up, watch the excellent Downton Abbey movie while the pilots work their magic.  In a move that defies physics, the pilots take us to LA by way of the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Arriving 45 minutes early at 1120A Pacific Time, we take the LAX shuttle bus to Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  Literally in 20 minutes, we are heading north on The 405 to Carpinteria 85 miles away.  Travel tip, it’s so worth the extra dollars to rent from a brand name company like Enterprise; we get such good service and personal attention.

Getaway map of lax to carp

Soon we are on The 101 through Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura and by 2P arrive in Carpinteria.

Getaway 2 on the beach at Carp

Within a half hour, we are walking the sandy beach by Carpinteria State Park in shorts and tee-shirts in January!  Our getaway is complete; our escape has begun.

Carp Sunset 1

Carpinteria sunset

Dan and His Fascination with California! The Back Story Part 1 of 2

Carp Sunset 1

Carpinteria sunset 2020

At this moment, Hannah and I are flying over Iowa on our Jet Blue flight from Logan Airport in Boston to LAX in southern California.  For the seventh winter running, we have come to the Golden State to take a big bite out of the Maine winter.

boston to la map

So, why California and not Florida or your home for ten years, Arizona? you ask.  There’s something about California that has had a hold on me since my teenage years.  Here’s the back story.


During the mid-1960s in suburban north Jersey, I was buried on the depth chart in the pecking order at Fair Lawn High School.  Neither a Rah-rah (class leaders, athletes, the good looking, and/or cheerleaders) nor a Bopper (a hood with a black leather jacket), I did have my core of close friends.  Truth be told, we were all two or three orbits out from the In-Crowd.  (Somewhere beyond Uranus – that’s always funny.)

You see, my dad was the principal at FLHS when I was a student there.  Of course, that’s not his fault, but I was unable to break out of the expectations of how a principal’s son should behave.  I was not about to go Footloose on anyone.  And to compound the challenge, as a first child, I was born with the double obedience gene.

Carp Mamas Papas

With a transistor radio pressed to my ear, I listened to Cousin Brucie and Big Dan Ingram on WABC as I connected with the Beach Boys and the Mamas and Papas.  My head filled with what life might be like on the Left Coast.  You see, California seemed to be everything New Jersey was not.  Sunshine, palm trees, surfing, and especially surfer girls!

John Philips of the aforementioned Mamas and Papas spoke to me.  Go where you wanna go and do what you wanna do.  Pretty seductive to a dreamer like me.

Carp Sunset 2

Carpinteria sunset 2020

So the fascination with California comes from my desire to escape a teenage life of daily expectations and impossible standards, self-imposed and otherwise.  Escape from being the good boy, the dutiful one who was flexible to a fault.

As a college senior, I got 85% of the way to California by transferring to Arizona State University.  Upon graduation, I jumped at the chance to teach at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Anaheim, California (25 miles south of Los Angeles).  Though my teaching career ended before it began four months later due to complications with the draft during the Viet Nam War, California continued to have a hold on me.  Though Maine is home, my heart strings pull me to California each winter.

Carp Sunset 3

Carpinteria sunset 2020

And today landing at LAX, I am already California Dreamin’.  (You see, the Mamas and Papas were kind of life coaches for me.)

Dan and Hannah Hike with the Family Rawding at Rattlesnake Canyon in California

Rattle SB map

Hiking with our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten), and Max (pre-school) has become a family tradition for Hannah and me when they come to California.  Choosing the four mile round-trip Rattlesnake Trail, we have what is referred to online as the most popular hike in Santa Barbara.  Traveling a mere 12 miles from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria on The 101 north, we pull into the city of Santa Barbara Skofield Park.  A hopeful sign of the times greets us.

Rattle 1AA Omi and Owen at trailhead with sign

Rattle 1 Rawdings at the trailhead

Not two hundred yards away, we begin our trek by crossing the canyon stream.  Today, Tip calmly steps on stones 2/3 of the way across the creek, turns back with his hand reaching for first Owen, then Max, followed by Molly, Hannah, and me.

Rattle 1 Family R and H on trail

Tip, Molly, Owen, Hollywood Max, and Omi on the trail

Maybe half a mile into the hike, the trail diverges – to the right along the mountainside, to the left back to towards the river.  I swear that when Hannah and I were here two years ago that we hiked this trail to the right.  Click here for that blog.  My memory?  It’s not batting 1.000.

Rattle 2BB D and family on trail

Max, Tip, Owen, Omi, and Poppa on the tree shaded trail

Not my shiniest moment.  Climbing up and away from the luxury homes of Santa Barbara, we are soon walking single file on the steep mountain-side – Owen with his Omi and Max with me skipping along the trail.  As the trail narrows and falls away sharply to the creek, Hannah and I turn to the first team, their parents, to take over and guide them along the trail.  Later, three athletic women call this the “technical” path to the meadow on the Rattlesnake Trail.  My bad.

Rattle 2C another excellent family on trail

The Family Rawding far from New England

Eventually crossing back over the creek with Tip’s reassuring support, we reconnect with the original (and by that, I mean reasonable) trail, which is a gentler climb towards the mountain meadow.  A good hour and 45 minutes after we started we arrive at the meadow beneath the towering Santa Ynez Mountains.

Rattle 3A we six at meadow end point

Returning by way of the advertised main trail, we pass the mini-waterfalls (and by that, I mean tumbling cascade) during the rainiest winter in eight years.  On the main trail back, we do have two more water crossings.  At the second, Tip again confidently steps ¾ of the way into the creek, first lifts Max, then hoists Owen over to the other side.  Molly follows without aid as does Hannah.

Being a tad less agile than these athletic women, I reach down for the creek boulders to lower my center of gravity to steady myself.  At that point, Tip reaches for my hand to support me mid-creek.  As I’m about to step to the dry side, Owen reaches out his hand to get me to dry land.

Rattle 4A mini-falls on way back

Hannah sees it all and tears up.  Like father, like son.






More pictures from the Rattlesnake Trail

RAttle 2AA O and P with O and M

Poppa, Owen, Max, and Omi on the trail where we never see a rattlesnake

Rattle 3 Nooshawk photo meadow

Rattlesnake Trail Meadow

Rattle 4B hail

On our descent, hail rained down on us all

Rattle 4 H on trail coming back

Rattle 4BB Molly and Max

Molly and Max with the Channel Islands of the Pacific Ocean in the background

Rattle 4CC Omi and fam on trail

Hannah – always pumped


Rattle 4AA Molly and Tip

Molly and Tip

Dan and Hannah Make California Memories with Owen and Max

Vent family rawding with O and P

Tip, Max, Molly, Poppa, Owen, and Omi at the beach in Carpinteria.  Yes, it was incredibly windy.

Heading West during their February school vacation week, our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, and our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten) and Max (pre-school) are coming to California for some R and R and some O and P (i.e. Omi and Poppa).  Hannah and I are pumped to ride the rails with our grandsons.  If it sounds like we are hobo wanna-bes, you just might be right as we do have wanderlust in our souls.

Staying in a rented house in Carpinteria a mere mile from the train station, Hannah and I have planned a twenty-mile train ride for the four of us to Ventura with its beachfront promenade, sandy beaches, and unexpected in-town adventure.

Vent map of train route

Carpinteria is 85 miles north of Los Angeles

Once the Amtrak Surfliner pulls into the Carp station, we climb the steps to the second deck where the comfortable window seats are.  With others buried in their phones and laptops, we four have the good fortune to get oceanside views.  Paralleling the six-lane 101 highway, we are traveling slower than the mid-morning traffic.  Rolling along between the mountains to our left and the multi-million dollar beachfront homes to our right, we have begun another adventure with our guys.

Vent 1AA train receipt

Vent 1B O and O on the train

Owen and his Omi looking out to the Pacific

Vent 1C M on train

Max checking out tides with the Channel Islands in the distance

Vent 1 H the drama queen

Yours and my favorite drama queen

Vent 1A P and M

Max ready for some crazy eights with his Poppa

Vent 1D boys holding their ears at train

The horns of the train are indeed LOUD!

Once in Ventura, we disembark at the County Fairgrounds, which is just a parking lot away from the Pacific Ocean.  Soon, we are strolling down the wide beachfront sidewalk among the President’s Day crowd enjoying another sunny day in Paradise.

Vent 2 on beach with surfer

With ocean temps near 60F every surfer wears a wetsuit

Vent 2A M on promenade

The Ventura Promenade with the Ventura Pier in the distance

Walking ¾ of mile towards the Ventura Pier, we hit sandy beach gold for two kids who have come from New England’s snow and temps in the 20s .  They race to the water’s edge, then run back before the incoming tide washes up over their feet.

Vent 2B M at beach

Vent 2C M at beach

Max with Owen in the distance

Vent 2D M at beach again

Just before lunch time, we head into downtown Ventura to meet up with our fish taco and pickleball friends, Bruce and Anneli.  They are our fish taco friends for last year they invited us out for lunch al fresco at Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack in downtown Ventura.  Click here for that blog.

Today, they surprise us with gingerbread cookies at the upstairs loft of their architectural firm.  Check ‘em out.

Vent 3 cookies with Anneli

Max, Owen, and Anneli

Vent 3A cookies with Bruce

Max, Bruce, and Owen

Max looks at one with the number 12 and immediately says, Tom Brady!  In addition to a pickleball player, there are two more challenging identifications needed.  The boys say lizard for one, but Bruce nudges them and says, It’s a little more than that.  He gives them “amphibian” as a clue.  Owen nails it “gecko.”

Vent 3B O and M with hot chocolate

Anneli wonders if they know the other gingerbread figure.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Max blurts out, The Eiffel Tower.  As impressed with our grandchildren as we are, they offer the boys hot chocolate.  Oh, they have one more thing for us: 30 minutes of Calilfornia love for us New Englanders.

Vent 3D six of us

Spending two winter months in California, Hannah and I are beginning to create a community of folks, like Anneli and Bruce, that is making Carpinteria a home away from home.  It’s the latest chapter in our journey – where we find good people again and again.

Vent map from york to carp

Sounds like a great road trip, but we flew from Boston to Los Angeles