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Santa Barbara Urban Hike
updated: Jan 08, 2011, 10:15 AM

By Stacey Wright and Peter Hartmann

Part One: Expect the Unexpected

Santa Barbara is a notoriously gorgeous place, and more than ever we think it's worthy of a close and careful look.

We are two "fifty-something" year olds who are lifetime residents of Santa Barbara. Together, we have decided to walk each and every street within the City limits of Santa Barbara just for the fun of it. Peter is a dentist, and Stacey is a long-time County employee who helps the elderly without family to look after them. Today we are a little more than half way through our adventure. According to Public Works, there are 256 "centerline miles" of streets within the City of Santa Barbara. For those wondering if we have included Coast Village and the Airport, the answer is, "Of course!" We have not undertaken this task lightly. With the thoroughness of a window washer, the inquisitiveness of a 5-year old, and the dedication of an Edhat staffer, we have systematically ticked off the streets and neighborhoods of this exceptional town.

How did two busy professional people with limited time and energy come to do this quest?

We both arrived in Santa Barbara as preschoolers. Each of us had teenage jobs as delivery people at a local drugstore; Peter at El Camino Pharmacy on Coast Village Road, and Stacey at La Cumbre Drug. One day, it occurred to us that even though, collectively, we had been on nearly every street in Santa Barbara, there were streets and even entire neighborhoods in which neither of us had ever ventured.

And so, in November 2009, we set out on a walk from downtown Santa Barbara, up and over the Micheltorena overpass and into the Westside. Thus began the first adventure in a wonderful journey of exploration of our hometown.

In the process of our undertaking to walk every public street, we have instituted a few rules … "The Rules" are: 1. We must walk together on all official walks, 2. We walk in the daylight hours only - we are there to explore, after all, 3. We may use an old fashioned map to guide us - no high-falutin' technology involved, 4. We are not permitted to use cell phones to talk or text during our walks, 5. We take at least one "photo of the day" for every walk made, 6. We wear our sunscreen.

Also, we don't have any special equipment or walking gear, other than occasional umbrellas. Because Peter wore his Topsiders on the first walk, he has committed to stick with this footwear until the final street is walked (he is now on his second pair of shoes). Stacey prefers sneakers or flip-flops, depending on the weather and the terrain.

Little did we know when first we dreamed up this idea, that we would be committed to this project for more than a year. We also failed to realize the sometimes incredibly complicated logistics of walking every street - preferably without having to backtrack. As it turns out, because of unavoidable backtracking, when all is said and done we will have walked considerably more that the 256 "centerline miles" of the City Limits. The good new is that our weight and cholesterol are both down, and our social consciousness is up, with minimal expense or effort. But most notably, we never could have dreamed how thrilling it would be to find unexpected treasures in every neighborhood in Santa Barbara.

Our journey is well underway and we have much to share with you. We plan on posting regular updates of our travels along the streets of Santa Barbara, and will include in each post photos of the wonderful things we encounter along the way. It is our hope that in reading our posts we peak your interests in the neighborhoods that heretofore may be unfamiliar to you, and that you, like us, undertake to get a closer look at them.

Stay tuned for our next installment. We will talk about our New Years Eve Wrap Up as well as our recent walk in the Punta Gorda/Salinas neighborhood. We think you will be quite surprised by our impressions and experience of these walks...

Walking feet.

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Our working map.

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Hollister and Fifth isn't either street.

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Goleta, but still the city.

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Rey, the olny road we never knew.

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Party in progress.

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A little bit of history.

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