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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Let’s take a walk

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours …but it is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walking

On Saturday my friends Ana and Ehsan and I decided that we needed an outdoor adventure. Credit for our particular route must be handed to Ana, who took my idea that we should drive in the car to go for a hike in the Santa Barbara County front country, like many Santa Barbarians do on the weekend. Then, I suggested, we could stop at the historically rustic Cold Spring Tavern on the way back to town. Ana had a better idea. Why not just walk to the Tavern?

If you are familiar with the roads leading to CST, then you would likely dismiss this idea mere seconds after it had landed in your brain. Ana, instead, looked at a map. An adventurous cyclist, she had ridden many loops up Old San Marcos Road, over Highway 154, up Painted Cave and onto East Camino Cielo. Upon reaching 154 and Camino Cielo she would turn down the highway for home. We could cross over and turn right onto Stagecoach Road, which would deposit us right at the Tavern’s front door just down the hill about a mile later.  So why not walk that way?

A good part of this route is parallel to the course formerly traversed by the rough and rugged stagecoach drivers who transported travelers between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara in the 1860s. In fact, that’s why Cold Spring Tavern exists – so that said weary travelers, who might be accosted by bandits along the winding track or just sick to their stomach due to all the rocks and jolting rhythm of the stage, could have a brief respite and a tasty beverage. They could travel by rail on the Pacific Coast Railway narrow gauge to Los Olivos, but the tracks ended there. After a night at Mattei’s Tavern, they’d take to the stage to Santa Barbara, where they could board a steamer for Los Angeles at Stearn’s Wharf. Now that was traveling!

Our walk was perfectly pleasant. We scooted to the edge of the roads for cars and motorcycles and they moved over for us. We took plenty of snapshots, told a few dozen stories, and enjoyed scenic views once we cleared the cloud cover halfway up to Painted Cave. Took a short break to see the Chumash Cave paintings, stopped for every historic marker, and arrived at our destination approximately 11 miles (four and a half hours) later. It was enterprise and adventure at its finest. Then we had a lovely tri tip sandwich and a beer at the tavern while listening to some bluegrass music, and prevailed on our good friends Chris and Melika to transport us home again in one of those new-fangled automobiles.

Three Musketeers under a rock.

Three Musketeers under a rock.

Will stop for cave paintings.

Will stop for cave paintings.

She's stretching. Or singing. I'm not really sure which.

She’s stretching. Or singing. I’m not really sure which.

Ana. Always.

Ana. Always.

Fueled by Kombucha. At least, that's what the label says.

Fueled by Kombucha. At least, that’s what the label says.

The beautiful Cold Spring Arch Bridge.

The beautiful Cold Spring Arch Bridge.

Fremont and Foxen were here on Christmas Day, 1846, headed to capture Santa Barbara for America.

Fremont and Foxen were here on Christmas Day, 1846, headed to capture Santa Barbara for America.

Ehsan was telling me about Iranian government, history and politics. Fascinating stuff.

Ehsan was telling me about Iranian government, history and politics. Fascinating stuff.

A walker's reward

A walker’s reward

The quest of Ehsan is complete!

The quest of Ehsan is complete!

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