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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Archive for Goleta

Stellar Santa Barbara Sunset

sunsetphoto

I took this photo last night at Haskell’s Beach, next to the Bacara Resort in Goleta. Enjoy – and season’s greetings from the South Coast!

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From the Bacara

A digitally altered view of one beautiful stretch of beach.

Seal the deal

Perched on a rock.From a distance (and in this sub-par photo), this seal just looked like a rock perched on another rock.

Then the rock went swimming as I ran by and I realized it was a little harbor seal, probably hiding out from the juvenile great white shark that has been roaming our coast this summer.

Or maybe it was lazy like me and wanted to sleep in. Glad I didn’t – it was a beautiful beach morning, between pelicans diving, seals snoozing, and a slow hazy burn off that made the landscape all sepia toned.

When I ran back down the beach, the lazy seal stayed put. Hope to see you again.

What a nice weekend

Sometimes the weekends in which you have no plans end up to be the most fun of all. I had a lot of fun with my friends and family, saw a good movie, rode my bike all over the place, ran really far, did chores and work, practiced some yoga and went for an awesome lunch and beach walk with my mom and dad.

I also dumped a glass of water on my personal laptop and drowned it (while sleeping), but moving right along…

Discovered that if you need a giant fork to accessorize your home, the new Pier One at the Camino Real Marketplace is where to find it. David Vo demonstrates:

David takes a bite.

Also, when you find bicycles on the street, they are probably broken. I was really enjoying this gunmetal gray salvaged beach cruiser I found until the chain came off while I was riding home last night. I just barely managed to stop before I ran into parked car.

Salvaged bikes can be dangerous

And now its time for another Monday. Let’s see what kind of adventures this week will bring our way.

Have a great day everybody!

Everybody loves a sunrise

As pretty as this one. Taken Wednesday morning on my run along the beach, from Devereux Point:

Sunrise over the Pacific

The ocean was flat as glass. Would have been a perfect morning for a paddle. But there was no one around at all, except me.

Further down the beach there were some other cool colors on one of the disintegrating retaining walls. I hate watching these walls fall apart/get burned as firewood/be dragged off by scavengers. Even though I secretly want to make a headboard out of a small section.

Retaining wall below Ellwood.The colors in the sky were long gone by the time I turned around to run home. It’s worth waking up early to grab a little bit of that beauty and put it into my day first thing.

Thanks for saying thank you

Yesterday I had two customer service experiences that were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. One was negative, nasty, and altogether unpleasant. The other was positive, kind and redeemed my hope in friendly sales staff – at least temporarily.

I have to observe at the outset that overall, I think customer service in Santa Barbara is trending in a very negative direction lately. I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life working behind a counter in a retail store, so I feel like my critiques here are based more on knowing what makes good customer service, as opposed to whining from the credit-card holder’s perspective.

My basic rules for good customer service are these:

  1. You do not have to say hi to me or greet me when I walk in. I am totally OK with being ignored up to the point I want to buy/order something.
  2. Friendly conversation during the transaction is certainly appreciated, but not mandatory.
  3. If you do not say thank you when the purchase is complete, or after I have thanked YOU for selling me clothing/food/something I probably don’t need, I will flip out.

And by flipping out, I mean that I will remember the experience, and I will probably not return to your establishment unless there is simply no alternative.

The primary targets of my ire here are usually younger clerks or counter staff who seem to have taken some kind of vow to do their jobs while being surly and speaking less than five words during the course of the transaction.  The main thing they seem to be missing is this: Your job is going to be way more pleasant if you engage with the public. I know retail is no fun, but sharing a “Hi, how are you, how is your day going?” is going to help, not hurt. The returned greetings and subsequent conversations are going to make you feel better about your job and your life. The day will go faster, and you might even feel like a real human being as a result.

I’m not going to recount the negative experience I had yesterday other than to say that it might be a good idea to avoid a certain major national auto service chain located on the corner of Hollister and Fairview. The staff working there yesterday was universally hostile, and I felt depressed and upset when I left.

On the flip side, after work I stopped by Whole Foods to grab some dinner supplies. As usual, I picked the wrong line (I’m really gifted at this). The wait took a little longer than it should have, maybe five minutes, because there was an issue with the customer ahead of me. But when the time came to pay, the employee (whose name was Bryan) thanked me for my patience and apologized. Instantly I forgot that I was waiting and in a hurry. I thanked Bryan for acknowledging the wait, and we proceeded to have an interesting conversation about customer service in Santa Barbara and how it has been going to the dogs. (Turns out we are both local natives who lament the tragic new absence of bookstores downtown.)

So this is a thank you to Bryan at Whole Foods and all the other SB customer service folks who are swimming upstream against a current of rampant surliness. Just say thank you. That’s all it really takes.

Common Sense

In other words, your common sense is greatly appreciated.

The Goodland

Sometimes its hard to object to graffiti that you agree with. Here’s an example:

Farren Road. View of the Goodland.

Farren Road*. View of the Goodland.

They call Goleta the Goodland. It’s a moniker that speaks to the communities’ rural roots, deep in the agriculture industry. Cattle raised at Rancho La Goleta beginning in the 1840’s and lemon groves planted in the late 1800’s kicked off the local economy. There’s still plenty of working ag in Goleta – certainly not as much as there was 50 or 100 years ago, but lemon trees, avocado groves and small production farms still make their homes here. You can find neighborhood farm stands (see photo below) and lots of backyard gardening.

Really Fresh

On Cathedral Oaks at Winchester Canyon Road

I used to joke with my friends that Goleta’s unofficial city motto should be “Goleta – let’s start over,” because the city developed in such a scattershot fashion. Retail centers on both sides of the freeway, centered around strip malls and shopping centers, do not a community make. Old Town Goleta, home to its eclectic mix of locally-owned restaurants, pawn shops, working-class apartments, mechanics and convenience stores, is not a magnet for foot traffic. On Calle Real, across the freeway, people drive rather than walk from their bank to their drugstore to Trader Joe’s. The newer Camino Real Marketplace is a popular hub for dining, farmer’s markets and shopping, weighted heavily toward the UCSB crowd.

I had to live in Goleta for a long time (more than 10 years, truthfully) before I could see beyond its flaws. It turns out this little city has many charms, and you just have to look closely to appreciate them. A few of my favorite things and places that make Goleta a good place to call home:

Rural roads: Running on Glen Annie and Farren Roads makes me feel like I am running in Santa Ynez. There are cows, open space, quiet views and few cars. There’s also charm – like this dino that’s been lurking around Glen Annie and now has an official fence-sitting mascot spot.

Dino

Glen Annie dino.

Goleta Beach: There’s talk that the county will finally start charging for parking at Goleta Beach soon, which really stinks. It’s a meeting place for runners and swimmers, a family hangout in the summertime, the lunchtime spot for us Fairview office drones, UCSB’s satellite parking lot, fishing pier for Goleta locals, and home to the excellent Beachside restaurant. You can’t walk as far as you can from Hendry’s, unless the tide is way out, but GB has this mellow vibe that just can’t be beat.

Ellwood Mesa: I never get over how few people I see out on Ellwood and at the beach below. The best kept secret of Goleta is the trails and coastline between UCSB and the Bacara resort. If I run out here in the morning, the rest of the day becomes irrelevant – it’s already been a good one.

The Mercury Lounge: The only truly great bar around here. They have good wine, free popcorn, live music and pool. They don’t have a sign. What more do you want?

Fairview Gardens and Lane Farms: Agriculture within the city is hard to protect and harder to make a living from. These two small farms manage somehow, and we’re all better for it.

Goodland Kitchen: Goleta doesn’t have a lot of great restaurants, but the few that are here are special. Goodland Kitchen has only been in business a couple of years and has become the go-to healthy lunch spot for foodies and techies alike. Their salads are marvelous, as are the bread and butter pickles that come with their grilled cheese sandwiches. I could eat lunch here every single day, and some weeks I do.

Goleta’s going to change a lot in the next ten years, and probably for the better. There are a lot of people here who care very much about preserving what’s good about this little city, so much so that a major development, the potential Bishop Ranch, was recently turned down for development by the City Council. That was a brave decision, and coming on the ten year anniversary of Goleta’s cityhood, it says a lot about where we are going as a community. It made me really proud to live here, in the Goodland.

*Footnote. I recognize that Farren Road is technically not in the city of Goleta, but under the purview of Santa Barbara County. Still, close enough.