My strategy to head out on a walk without researching an area first comes with risks. I went to the neighborhood of Hidden Valley, wedged between Hope Ranch and Las Positas, planning to focus on the loop west of Hidden Valley Park.
I was thwarted by road construction, however, and even if I could have driven over there, I later learned that it’s the Valle Verde senior living complex, and “‘passing through’ is not allowed” during Covid, according to signs. What I saw of the compound from the street was appealing. (The “human good community” phrasing rankled less when I discovered it’s the name of the developer, not a saccharine slogan.)
I parked near the intersection of Veronica Springs Road and Torino Drive, and, as usual, I was soon worrying that I wouldn’t come across anything worthwhile. I mean, I’ll always find something that tickles my interest—even if it’s just a mysterious pile of dirt or a tree in bondage—but I wouldn’t want those to be the highlights of a blog post.
If I had found this palm frond near the end of my walk, I probably would’ve taken it home. I finally got my husband to agree to put a frond above the sofa in our living room, as a placeholder till we find—and agree on—a piece of art, which could take years. Again, exciting to me and no one else.
Also, the houses I first came across weren’t the nicest, and as this site has grown, I feel less comfortable shining a light on homes where people might not have the time or money to maintain the property well. But then I hit a pretty street and my spirits perked up.
I would seem to be the perfect demographic for a silly-walking zone, but (a) the sign was angled in such a way that I wasn’t sure whether I was entering or leaving, and (b) I didn’t see a sign indicating that the zone ever ended.
Hidden Valley is home to another retirement community, Vista del Monte, besides Valle Verde. (Do you think there’s a Jets-vs.-Sharks turf war between the two? Are intermarriages allowed?) It could very well be a lovely place to live but, with the exception of the pool, it was boring to walk by, so I wandered a different direction.
And then there was a clump of houses that all had detached garages, which I don’t see the appeal of. To clarify: I don’t care that the garage is detached—the weather here certainly supports such a choice—but half the house has to look out onto a wall.
Lucky for me, right when I hit a stinky part of the construction, I came upon an entrance to Hidden Valley Park. The long, skinny park runs along Arroyo Burro Creek, with a playground at one end and a lengthwise trail.
I was the only person on the trail, which probably wouldn’t be a worthwhile destination from across town but if I lived nearby, I could certainly see the charm of walking a dog through it. As can others, judging from the small garbage bins to encourage proper poop disposal.
Speaking of creatures, Hidden Valley has more than its share of animal-inspired yard tchotchkes. I suspect the people in the second house pictured below would like me to point out that the Elmo is not theirs, but their neighbor’s.
And I couldn’t say for sure, but this might be an extremely rare non-ironic flamingo yard ornament.
Walk With Me…
• Voyage to the Heart of the San Roque Spider Web
• Where the Streets Have Full Names
• Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
• On the Golden Slope of Eucalyptus Hill
• The Past Is Still Present in Old Town Goleta
• The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
• The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
• Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
• The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
• The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
• Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
• Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
• Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
• In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
• Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
• Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
• E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
• Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
• Whitney Avenue in Summerland
• School House Road and Camphor Place
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