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URBAN HIKE

Urban Hike: Hidden Valley
updated: Feb 05, 2011, 9:30 AM

By Stacey Wright and Peter Hartmann

What do a gate of locks, a long line palms, a whole mess of duplexes, the ultimate man cave, Chumash hair brushes, an old friend, abandoned farm equipment and a little orange trailer have in common? Why, Hidden Valley of course.

We urban hikers continued our quest of walking each and every street within the city limits of Santa Barbara. All 256 "centerline miles" of them to be exact. And so, with the thoroughness of a window washer, the inquisitiveness of a 5-year old, and the dedication of an Edhat staffer, this week we hit the streets and headed into Hidden Valley.

This neighborhood's motto must be "If one is good, more is better". Hidden Valley is the land of plenty: plenty of locks on the gates; plenty of palm trees in the distance; plenty of duplexes (hundreds x's 2); a bunch of abandoned antique farm equipment; two retirement communities (Val Verde and Vista del Monte), and plenty of neon lights and man toys in one guy's garage. And then there's the little orange trailer that's just too darn cute not to be noticed.

We hiked Palermo, Calle de Los Amigos, Pescadero, Casiano, Venita Ln., Mariana, La Cumbre Circle, Chico de los Amigos starting at Pesecadero and Palermo and ending there too. We decided to walk these streets so that we could finally finish this neighborhood.

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The weather this late Sunday morning was a beautiful 72 degrees and sunny. The walk was flat and easy.

We started our urban hike later than we would have liked to, and stopped way too many times to call it efficient. We first stopped and chatted to Chipper, a 3rd generation native who had interesting stories to tell about old Santa Barbara and the good old days down at Pershing Park.He's definitely a local's local.

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So we took a cool photo of him in his man cave and also one of an old photo he had in there depicting the motorcycle race track that was a part of Pershing Park in the 1930's. A copy of this photo also hangs at Harry's.

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After resuming the hike, and photographing a few more cool things , we were beginning to once again feel efficient in our task. Just then we bumped into Peter's kindergarten teacher from Roosevelt School, Miss Robeson. The last time they saw one another was 25 years ago; and after nearly 50 years as teacher and student, we took a breather and stopped for a chat. Miss Robeson was out with a couple of her friends taking an urban hike of their own. She was sharp as a tack and so the reminiscing began...You gotta love the Santa Barbara water - there must be extra minerals and magic in it that help people remember all things wonderful and nostalgic.

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We found a lot of amazing things in this quaint, out of the way neighborhood. Aside from the reoccurring theme of the "land o' plenty", this little corner of Santa Barbara had treasures unexpected and delightful. For one thing, many of the trees in Val Verde are identified by plaques so there is no question about the type of tree it may be. And when one looks toward the sea in that neighborhood one will surely see the repeating pattern of palm after palm, which years ago lined the entrance to the Shah of Iran's sister's estate.

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We found a road that lead to a site that was at one time slated to become the newest elementary school - but instead, it is now leased by the school district to farmers who grow organic produce...and they seem to keep the property quite secure indeed with a multitude of serious looking locks on the entrance.

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And then there are the trails cut into the hillside at Val Verde to offer residents a little urban hiking experience of their own. If they venture up them, they will find a grove of teasels, a thistle-like plant used by the Chumash as brushes to tame their lush black hair.

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And that's not all - there's also abandoned antique, horse-drawn farm equipment that litters a small field at the west side of Val Verde.

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And despite its randomness, we simply can't help but tell you about the little orange trailer that lives on Palermo, just waiting for a road trip to some exotic destination.

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Peter's favorite aspect of the hike, captured by a photo, is the documentation of the reunion between himself and a wonderful teacher he had, beginning when he was just a 4 year boy.

Stacey's favorite aspect of the hike, captured by a photo was the multitude of locks on an official looking gate. How many locks does it take to secure a garden gate, anyway?

We came to Hidden Valley with a sense of duty to wrap up a previously partially walked neighborhood, and left feeling on top of the world. As usual, many surprises were ours on this Sunday morning. So as always, we encourage you to go out into the world, hike the streets of our town and above all, expect the unexpected.

 

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