Archive for August, 2014

Urban Adventure: Train to Santa Barbara – Walk to Butterfly Beach – Coast Village Road

On August 2nd, 2014, my friend, Lori, and I went on another Urban Adventure with The Valencia Hiking Crew. This time our destination was Santa Barbara, which I had only passed through on my way to Solvang with my parents. I apologize in advance for my crappy photos. The marine layer was pretty thick and my phone camera doesn’t have a flash.

Since we had people boarding the train at practically every station on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, the plan was for everyone to be in the last car. However, at our station there was a large group hanging out on the platform where we guessed the last car would stop so we were plotting and planning how to jump on ahead of them. Luckily, the conductor asked each of us if we were with the Senior Group or the Hiking Group and showed us which train car to get on.

I’m glad I didn’t have time to eat breakfast because Jackie had stopped at Porto’s and had pastries for everyone and John had made quiche!

Our first stop after arrival was the 1916 Allan Herschell 3-abreast carousel in Chase Palm Park. What a treat! If you bring kids, be sure to stop there. They have a playground that looked like a lot of fun.

Next, we walked a path that went around what I thought was the Zoo, but was actually the Andree Park Bird Refuge. A book has been written about the interesting recluse who donated the money to create the refuge and a movie about her is also in the works.Can’t wait to tour her 1930s estate one fine day!

The bicycle path turns by the Santa Barbara Cemetery. A short walk past that, we arrived at 1001 Fairway Road where we all ran up to the gates to see where Ty Warner (Beanie Babies) lives in a 18,000 square foot, $200 million, “palatial estate dominated by an Italianate mansion“.  All I could get a picture of was the beautiful entrance inside the gates.

We continued along Channel Drive and turned up Butterfly Lane, which should probably be renamed Pig Lane after seeing one particular yard. We crossed under the 101 freeway via an art tunnel to reach Coast Village Road where some of us branched off to have lunch at Cava.

On the way back to the train station, we passed two beautiful hotels, The Montecito Inn and the Biltmore (both of which, I believe, are now owned by Ty Warner!!!) before heading down to the sand.

Lori and I got in a couple extra hours and a few extra miles since we decided to take the later train back to Los Angeles. We walked up State Street, stopping for an iced coffee at The French Press and taking a tour of the amazing Arlington Theatre.

Back on the train, as we oooed and ahhhed over the gorgeous sunset, we couldn’t figure out why we were so exhausted. It turns out the original mileage calculation was off by about 3 miles so we ended up walking almost 11 miles!


Further Reading:
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
The Best Last Place: a history of the Santa Barbara Cemetery

Categories: Adventures

Nothing Like Climbing Stairs In A Sauna

L.A. was like a sauna the day author Charles Fleming took us on a variation of one of his Secret Stairs walks in Echo Park. Luckily he went at a leisurely pace so no one died. I, however, almost died when one of these fig eater beetles


Fig Eater photo from

was flying around our table at breakfast! In the process of screeching and swatting at the beast with my menu, I bumped the table, splashing coffee everywhere.


Categories: Adventures

Temescal Canyon and Malibu

Temescal Canyon is one of my favorite hikes so when my friend Lori and I couldn’t find any organized hikes that interested us last weekend, I suggested Temescal.

If you go, make sure you take the trail to the right, unless you like steep hills with no shade. The one on the right is a nice, one-man trail that winds it’s way up the mountain more gradually and has more shade. On the way down we passed a lot of inexperienced hikers on their way up the Ridge trail who were sweaty, red-faced, and gasping for breath. I hope they made it to the top to experience the amazing views.

Just remember: Temescal Canyon Trail is to your right. Temescal Ridge Trail is to your left. Canyon Trail = shade. Ridge Trail = direct sun…hot…bad.

After a delicious lunch at Malibu Seafood, we strolled the beach, which was dotted with these, by-the-wind sailors, poor things,

By-The-Wind Sailor

By-The-Wind Sailor – Photo from

and then drove down to check out the progress of Malibu Lagoon. Where are the pictures of the Lagoon? I didn’t take any so that should tell you just how impressed we were with the progress. We walked to the pier and then back to the car, planning to grab an iced coffee or some ice cream at Malibu Country Mart before heading home.

Unfortunately, Lori’s key fob malfunctioned and her car thought we were trying to steal it so it was honking and wouldn’t let her start the engine. Luckily, AAA showed up less than 10 minutes after she called them. The guy wasn’t in the best mood and got frustrated easily. When he finally stopped the horrible honking and got the engine started, he told Lori she should only use the key for the doors until she could have the alarm and key fob looked at.

I wish I had a picture of the look he gave her when she asked him if he thought we could stop to get a coffee! He advised us to go straight home and not stop anywhere, so that’s what we did.

Traffic was such a mess that it took us two hours to go the 12 miles over Kanan Dume Road, but we had had such a fun day that we didn’t mind.

Categories: Adventures