Dan and Hannah Hike the Storm Ravaged Coast of Santa Barbara, California

Despite a rainy month of February in southern California, Hannah and I walk every morning before breakfast while here on the Pacific coast.  For me, sub-freezing, windblown, bundled up morning walks on the coast of Maine are just not my thing.  I wouldn’t disagree if someone said I was soft.  Here, just south of Santa Barbara, we have trails into the hills, sandy beaches, and walks through the neighborhoods above the Pacific, all in 50 degrees or more.  We indeed are California Dreamin’.

Go 1B tree on the cliff

Tree living on the edge at Goleta Beach State Park

Even on days when it rains, we can take to the hillside roads with our umbrellas for our two to three miles of a morning pick-me-up.  This Friday, with rain threatening again, we take to the nature trail that is the Ortega Loop above The 101 highway here in Summerland.

Heading back to our cottage by way of the main drag (Lillie Avenue), we pass the antique shops, the liquor stores, the Summerland Café, and then the fire station.  On the wall of the fire house is this sign to the right.

Wondering just what it might mean, I google The Safely Surrendered Baby Law.

Sum safe surrender site

Safe Surrender sign on the Summerland fire station

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law responds to the increasing number of newborn infant deaths due to abandonment in unsafe locations. The law’s intent is to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked.  Since 2001, more than 770 newborns have been surrendered in California.

Sum safe 2

You Go Golden State.   Damn, Californians have got to be so proud of their state!  Later, I learn from our social worker friend Maggie that most states have a variation of this law.  I had no idea.  This can be such a good and decent country.

Gol map of GB

Back in the cottage, we are housebound thanks to the deluge this mid-February Friday.  It’s an ideal time to head into Santa Barbara to the Paseo Nuevo Cinemas to see La La Land, the surprise non-winner for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.  Later that day, we learn that up to 70 mile per hour winds have lashed the area with heavy rains turning creeks and rivers into brown torrents of mud.

Gol 1A another buckhoe at beach

Early the next morning, skies are clearing but we realize that our plan to hike into the San Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara is out of the question; what with the heavy rain making the trails sloppy with mud and pools of water.  We don’t even think about the possibility that mudslides might block the trail or that the trail itself might give way beneath our feet.  Click here to read about one trail giving way while we hiked.

An obvious high and dry hiking choice this Saturday morning is the Bluff Trail that starts at Goleta Beach Park and wanders for two miles along the edge of the Pacific and the campus of the University of California – Santa Barbara.

Gol 2A UCSB coast line

Bluffs with UCSB to the left

Pulling into Goleta Beach parking lot, we join the gawkers who are out to see the crashing white waves that have closed access to the beach.  Marveling at the power of the storm-whipped surf, we spot the surfers who have found the silver lining to this bluff-pounding storm.

Gol 2D Han at coast

From the online Noozhawk: Weather and waves have never been kind to Santa Barbara County’s most popular park.   Officials have reported that over the last three years, Goleta Beach Park has seen 53,000 square feet of land eroded by storms and wave action, prompting regular emergency action to protect the shoreline, parking lots, a restaurant, and picnic areas.

Gol 2E han wide out at coast

Rock revetments (retaining walls) have been constructed along the shore in the past, and last year, a geotextile mesh was buried below the beach to hold sand in place before becoming exposed.  In January, a sand berm was put in place, and though it protected the beach during a storm, it was wiped away in two days.  More rock revetments were installed in February after especially powerful storms, and the pier was closed for a month for significant repairs.  Click here for the full article.

Gol 2 warning sign at UCSB

Fence between the bluffs and the UCSB campus

Noticing the heavy earth-moving equipment, we see that the sea is taking what it wants of Goleta Beach.  When Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy rings true as Mother Nature is more than just a little p.o.-ed this weekend.  Talking with a construction worker, we learn that the park is losing two to three feet of shoreline a day.

Gol 3B more of Pacific coast

Having hiked these very bluffs two weeks ago, prior to the recent triumphant Tom Brady Super Bowl LI with our Maine friends Donna and George, we see the receding shoreline despite the county’s best efforts.  My advice to you is go to this park as soon as possible, rather than see it later only in pictures at the local historical society.

Gol 3A more of pacific coast

On this four mile loop above the bluffs and back through campus, palm fronds are here, there, and everywhere as the raging sea passes for entertainment for the student body.   Walking in tee-shirts on the sunny, blustery afternoon, we are appreciative of the turn in the weather.

Upon our return to Goleta Beach, I capture the excavator in action.

Even in stormy weather California delivers; for the day after the rain washes down the hillside into the seas and reservoirs, there is no shoveling to do.  At this moment in Maine, two recent storms have dumped nearly three feet of snow on Chases Pond Road, snow that will still be there in April.

Here are two votes for California in winter.