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

By Stacey Wright and Peter Hartmann

Thank you all for your encouragement, ideas and warm responses! We are pleased that ya'll think this is as much fun as we do…and now, to answer a few of your questions, and reply to your comments.

The Ambassador stairs are on West Mason, and were part of the magnificent Ambassador (Potter) Hotel. The hotel opened as the Potter in 1903 and in 1919 became part of the Ambassador Hotel chain. Unfortunately it burned to the ground shortly thereafter, and despite plans to resurrect it, that was not to be. Neal Graffy wrote a wonderful history of the place that appeared in Edhat on January 24, 2010, which tells how even after the hotel had burned down, the hot springs made money as the Burton Mound Sulphur Baths. The article is definitely worth looking at…and after you learn all about this historic SB landmark, hit the streets yourselves and locate the steps…they are also in the vicinity of three other local landmarks - Sambo's, the Veteran's Memorial Building and Burton's Mound, which is still strewn with shells and other artifacts from an old Chumash Village located on the mound.

Regarding if we hike from home each time…well, no. We love downtown and do our best to get to our starting points either on foot or by public transportation…the 25-cent shuttle is great for that. But sometimes we drive to a location and strike out from there. A few times, in an effort to minimize extreme backtracking, we have even taken two cars (oh the shame of it!) and parked on down the line so that we could make a 1-way hike. This was the case for a part of Mountain Drive (it was threatening severe rain and we were determined to get that piece marked off the map), Northridge (yes, if you must know, we walked DOWN the hill) and a part of the Riviera.

We have not yet hiked Otono (should we keep our eyes open for something in particular?), and since it appears to be in the City, we will be hitting it hard. It really doesn't matter that it's a puny little cul de sac. In our hearts and minds, all city streets are created equal and all deserve full recognition. In fact, on New Year's Day, we thought it would be fun to walk Nirvana and Halcyon, which are off W. Pedregosa. Nirvana was, well, heavenly…but Halcyon was a little less grand. In fact, despite being on the map, it's nothing more than an unimproved strip of wild grasses…we took a picture of both streets nevertheless…

When we hike we make it a point to walk the "wrong way" on the one-way streets - you'd be surprised at how much different the perspective is than what you get from driving or even biking it the legal way. And while we haven't yet gotten to Hubba Hubba Lane (it appears to be right on the border of the county), or even Curley Ave., we will definitely do Curley. In fact, we hope to cover Reddick in that very same hike. We have done nearby Lucinda Lane and were impressed and inspired by the Mid-Century Marvelous architecture and great views. We also did the Primavera/Rosario/Verano area (near the 154 and State) and we remember the morning well. We had Peter's 15 year old daughters as guest walkers with us…they are learning some of the neighborhoods, just in time for driver's training! It was a gorgeous morning and we saw many wonderful things along our route.

The Mesa is indeed, a world unto itself…during our Mesa hikes we have commented to each other that the folks up there seem to love their "yard art'. And by the way, we did too. We've noticed that each neighborhood seems to take on its own unique character; and when one resident does something to the outside of his abode, others seem to follow suit. On the Mesa, people seem to especially love flags, mobiles/wind chimes, sculptures and VW bugs!

We feel fortunate to have been published by Edhat, and really thrilled that you are along for the ride, or "streetwalking" as NATIVE1 pointed out. We only wish that Elmer was still around to fix us a coke at the end of a long hike…he really did make a mean Coke!

Next time, as promised, we will tell you about our hike on the lower Eastside, specifically on Punta Gorda, which we made days after the senseless killing in that neighborhood. We'll even talk about bulb outs and crosswalks in general, and let you know how these urban hikers feel about them...until then expect the unexpected in your lives.

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 136735 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-15 11:24 AM

Fun, Fun, Fun ya gotta love it! Enjoy......


 COMMENT 136758 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-15 12:25 PM

so cute! I love your quest and it's fun that you're sharing it!


 COMMENT 136803 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-15 03:02 PM

Thanks for sharing (and the great attitudes)!


 COMMENT 136840 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-15 06:04 PM

Thank you for the updates Stacey & Peter!....really enjoying your adventure and photos, keep it up.


 COMMENT 136888 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 07:22 AM

Great pics...love the giraffe, and the little animals on the mail boxes, and the stone wall treatment. Thanks for including us all with photos. I would love it if some took-up this idea and did photo-hikes of the major trails around S.B. in the Spring when all of the flowers bloom following such a wet rainy season...it would be great to see all the creeks looking so full, and even Red Rock Canyon and Figeroa Mtn.


 COMMENT 136896 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 08:14 AM

Brings back memories... We lived on Rosario for 5 years in the early 1960s before San Marcos Pass Road was improved and the first row of houses along the road were demolished!!!

Wish I still lived in SB to join to take those walks!


 COMMENT 136902P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 09:00 AM

Could you post the link to Part 1? I can't locate it and it sounds worth a read!


 COMMENT 136911 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 09:32 AM

When I first moved to SB from NY 3 years ago, I fantasized about doing this......but in a car :) Now I don't have to....I can explore vicariously through you two! Thanks!!


 COMMENT 136924 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 10:37 AM

I love urban hikes an often walk home (to San Roque) from work (downtown) via the Upper East Side and Riviera. San Roque and Samarkand also offer some great hiking opportunities.


 COMMENT 137061 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-16 05:36 PM

try the hike on La Goleta road - at the top are views of the avocado orchards across the valley to the north and east and ocean to the west and south. Miss that place a lot


 COMMENT 137290 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-01-17 10:50 AM

Thanks for the inspiration to get out there and see the beauty and wonder in the ordinary streets of SB.


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