A Wet Hike, Cold Spring Trail

When it rains, many people seek shelter. One certainly wouldn’t think of hiking up a steep mountain in the rain.

Well, a friend of mine and I decided to brave the latest winter storm swinging through Santa Barbara and go for a hike. Equally distant from both of us is the Cold Spring Trail, located along Mountain Drive in the foothills above Montecito. Even in dry conditions, our route climbs 1,300 feet over 1.6 miles and culminates at a man made stone BBQ. A BBQ? Yes.

We threw on our rain gear and headed up, up and up passing brown geckos, creeks and burn areas as we went. Tangerine Falls were not as impressive as previously, but given the dry conditions as of late, we were surprised to see as much water falling as we did.

Passing Tangerine and proceeding up the conditions became wetter and colder. The canyon behind the falls is remarkably untouched and presented some of the best hiking scenery I’ve had in a while.

At the trail end stands a wonderfully built BBQ hearth from stone situated under a tree. I can only imagine how it got there, but fear the chaos that would occur if a fire was ever lit in its hearth.

After regrouping, putting on dry clothes and noticing a size-able increase in the rainfall, we headed back down. The muscles that weren’t sore yet, quickly found themselves put to use as we descended 1,300 feet.

With many creek crossings, we had plenty of chances to practice our rock hopping skills. Crossing a creek relies on a few things: 1) how well you balance, 2) how well you can leverage momentum, 3) the distance of the crossing, and 4) the shape of the rock. So, it is no wonder that I got my feet a tad wet, slipping a few times and dunking my foot in the cold water. Even my friend was challenged at one particular crossing where the rocks were pointed, spaced apart, and he launched poorly off the shore.

Arriving back at the trail head, I was disappointed to see someone had put a road across the trail. 🙂 It was such an awesome hike and I was happy to see the rain had kept the fair weather hikers at bay. We live in such a beautiful place, we should always enjoy it, wet or dry.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It is with great pleasure that I say farewell to 2010 and greet 2011 with open arms.

2010 was a very exciting year for me:

1) I finished 5 sprint triathlons! Read more at http://aricintraining.com

2) I set the foundation for my triathlon training dashboard. More to come later.

3) I survived a near death experience thanks to being stung by a bee while riding my bike!

4) I am the author of one of the top not for profit flight simulator blogs in the world. Check it out: http://arealityofmyown.wordpress.com

5) I learned the value of what it means to be honest and sincere in a good friendship.

6) I was able to help a leading cloud computing company understand their business better with some creative analytics and visualizations.

7) learned that I still have a lot to learn.

8) Universal Studios Hollywood is a much smaller park than I expected.

9) I learned how wonderful it feels to have someone by your side through thick and thin.

10) I know that for all the wonderful changes that occurred during 2010, I know 2011 will have many more to come.

11) Learned that there is never a perfect answer to anything.

Overall, I think 2010 was a year of challenges that truly tested my devotion to achieving my goals. I know that I will only achieve them if I am consistent with my perseverance.

Cheers to an awesome 2011!

The French Press – Santa Barbara, CA

Paid a visit to The French Press, located at Figueroa and State Streets in Santa Barbara, CA.  This particular slender, yet long location has always had a coffee shop of some sort occupying it.  The new occupant is a nice refreshing take on the modern, upscale coffee shop.  The light colored walls, mild hard wood floors and dark hard wood counter have a nice comforting feel.  Even the metal tables and chairs out front with desert scape plant center pieces offers a sharp contrast to the cozy interior, yet is inviting to the eye. 

While this establishment does not offer any plush seating, the high quality coffee, yummy pastries, and soothing atmosphere definitely make up for it.  I will gladly spend more time enjoying their offerings and hope you will too!

The French Press
1101 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
805.963.2721

Yelp Review Page

(please note, I am not affiliated with The French Press in any way.  I am a Santa Barbara resident that loves to coffee shop hop around town in search of great coffee, atmosphere, and plush seating!)

Java Station – Plush Seating, Great Music, Great!

Hi All,

I am here at the Java Station in Santa Barbara (review: http://bit.ly/zA4BA). I have to say that I am impressed with the amount of plush seating surfaces, including to giant couches, about a dozen arm chairs, including a reclining la-z-boy. They even have an enormous fireplace, plenty of tables, outdoor seating, and free wifi. At the moment, the music is quite nice; a baroque classical selection that sounds like it may be local radio. Nice touch!

I ordered a large iced coffee and an orange, cranberry muffin. The iced coffee is a little weak, but tolerable. However, the perfectly moist and not too sweet muffin rocks. WHile I was ordering they had some pretty mean looking brisket they were prepping for catering. One gentleman ordered a beautiful avocado, cheese, and tomato on toast that looked as if it was out of Sunset Magazine.

Overall, Java Station is a far cry from the stuffy old mattress salesroom that occupied this same space almost ten years ago. Perhaps I am happy the mattress sales business went belly up as Java Station is a great place to kick back and relax. I will hold off on an official rating until I visit a few more times, but I am looking forward to coming back… especially if the awesome classical is still playing.

Cheers,

Aric
Out and About in Santa Barbara

Where Are the Couches and Coffee in Santa Barbara?

Ever since I started my so called "vacation" this week, I find myself visiting a variety of coffee shops throughout the Santa Barbara area.  However, visits to certain coffee shops have been limited in duration because of seating material.  Hard wood chairs are notorious for their lack of comfort after a period of time. In fact, things can get quite tortuous in the area of the bum without proper padding.  But it seems that most coffee shops have turned toward hard surfaces, such as wood, and digressed from the more comfortable, plush couches and arm chairs.

Here is a little history of me and coffee houses.   I grew up in the age of the up and coming mom & pop coffee shops that offered giant couches in which to enjoy the coffee drink and pastry of your choice.  In fact, I frequented a variety of these establishments with my mom, a talented blues musician who hosted many open mic nights.  All of these establishments featured large, overstuffed couches that were fabulous for kicking back and even catching a snooze.  As I got older, the couches seemed to get smaller, but the experience of kicking back on a nice comfy couch never wavered.  Entering into college back east, the couch became an appointment part of my studies, spending many cold, winter nights with books and notebooks on the couch at the corner coffee shop with the roaring fireplace. Yes, couches, coffee, and I go way back.

Jumping forward to last week, I started to think about the lack of plush seating in many area coffee shops.  While I am sure there are numerous business reasons for ridding coffee shops of plush seating, there is simply something missing.  It is almost as if coffee shops have become less intimate, sterile, fast food institutions that offer a perception of character, but leave you hanging when you actually try and find it.  

So, I have to ask, where in Santa Barbara can I go to enjoy a coffee on a couch?   I think this is the true purpose of my vacation.  To wake Santa Barbarans up to the fact that their town is lacking one important ingredient… a mom and pop coffee shop complete with fireplace, couch, homemade pastries and baristas that know your name (Look out Norm, Aric is hitting the town!).

The first step in proving the missing ingredient really is missing is simple: inventory all of the existing coffee shops, their amenities, atmospheres, etc to see which existing shop comes close.  If one does not come close enough, then I must challenge someone with enough capital to create such a place. 

Well, there it is, the beginning of a project to discover the coffee shops of Santa Barbara!