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Who Says It's Called the Cacique Underpass?
updated: Apr 28, 2012, 9:00 AM

By the Urban Hikers, Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

As many of you know, since New Year’s Eve 2011 we’ve been bragging that we’ve systematically walked each and every street in the City of Santa Barbara. And that was the truth until April 2, 2012, when the City went and opened a heretofore closed part of one of the city’s streets. For 100 some-odd years, all was well with Cacique Street - and then progress got in the way. With the construction of the U.S. 101 also came the closure of a portion of Cacique Street. Then, on that glorious day in April, the street was reopened with a grand “ribbon-cutting” ceremony and an estimated crowd of 250 people, some of whom no doubt traveled from across the globe to witness this blessed event.

We, on the other hand were less enthusiastic about the new modification of our city streets. Not necessarily because we disapprove of the change, but rather because it meant we were obligated to hike this “renewed” little strip of street in order to retain our title and its accompanying bragging rights.

We considered the best way to hike this block or so, and in our ponderings came to the obvious conclusion - we needed to invite Edhat’s own, Roger Dodger, “Scanner Guy extraordinaire” to accompany us on this once-in-a-lifetime trek.

For those of you who know of and love Roger, you’ll understand...and for the rest of you....well, never mind.

After pleasantries and introductions, we set about the task of walking the underPANTS, as Roger has consistently referred to this little multi-million dollar project. Only a block or so long, it’s quite an engineering feat. It connects the lower Eastside to Milpas Street and the beach areas. It also has specially designated lanes for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.

In an effort to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of the underPANTS, we first consulted local historian Neal Graffy’s book, Street Names of Santa Barbara. From it we discovered that Cacique Street derives its name from Caribbean natives who referred to the chief as the “Cacique”. Neal goes on to explain that the Spanish, having spent some time in the Caribbean, adopted the word and applied it to the chiefs they encountered in California, although they changed the spelling and most likely the pronunciation to a more Hispanic version. Thus we ended up with a street honoring the local Chumash chiefs.

Not satisfied with the simple origin of Cacique, we furthered our investigation and discovered there are two significant retail brands who also utilize this exotic name. One claims to be “The #1 brand of Hispanic cheeses, chorizos and creams”; the other is used by Lane Bryant, a retail outlet for “plus size” women who boasts a line of bras, panties, sleepwear and “performance gear” they call “Cacique Intimates”. Did Roger know something we didn’t?

Generally speaking, we believe our stories have mostly reflected our moderate and tasteful sensibilities. However, this story begs us to depart temporarily from that path. Specifically we are moved to mention what Roger pointed out right there in the middle of the north-side sidewalk...upon first noticing a large brown stain, he declared, “Looks like a skid mark in the underPANTS to me!” And truth be told, we sort of had to agree....but then Peter looked up and saw what appeared to be a water leak at the seam of the underpass, and we surmised this is could be the real reason for this underPANTS phenomenon. But this is how rumors get started, folks.

As part of our official UH documentation, we shot this pic, which we really do hope is the final official UH City of Santa Barbara hike photo...unless of course another street is added to the city.

Recently we have started to venture into the coastal region of Montecito, and there we have found marvelous architecture, fascinating history and phenomenal scenery. We plan on returning to this hiking agenda in the future, but must admit that we were delighted to hike the newest city route in Santa Barbara, complete our official project, and BEST of all, make a new friend - the one, the only, the incomparable Roger Dodger, Edhat Scanner Guy. Thanks Roger, for the memorable hike!

As always we encourage you to go out and explore your town, meet your neighbors, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all, expect the unexpected.


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