Stompin’ Santa Barbara

Stompin’ Santa Barbara

A Story by barleygirl
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Throughout four years of high school, I rode a yellow bus for three hours every day since I lived way out in the country. Mine was the last bus stop. My older brother Gordon and I rode those last five miles on the bus alone together. So it was culture shock for me when I went off to college at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) at the oblivious age of eighteen.

Since my childhood home was so far from everything, we didn’t get any television reception at all. Not one single channel could be tuned in on our black and white TV set. There was no widespread cable TV service, nor were satellite dishes prevalent among households. Much of the United States had been getting a firsthand glimpse of war, with Vietnam film clips the first to ever be televised, but I was clueless about violent protests sweeping the nation.

When I moved to Isla Vista, a student community bordering the UCSB campus, it was a memorable experience for this country bumpkin in September 1974. People regularly pointed out the Bank of America building like it was a tourist attraction. Recently rebuilt and secured like a treasury vault, this bank had been vandalized and set on fire twice in 1970. Allegedly involved in financing Vietnam, students took out their wrath on this bank as a symbol of the much-hated war.

Another notable aspect of living in Santa Barbara in the 1970’s: a tar-covered coastline. After dreaming of white sandy beaches there, it was disappointing to find it impossible to take one single step along any beach without widespread globs of crude oil sticking to one’s feet and sandals. Forget about spreading a beach towel in the sand. Every student apartment in Isla Vista had shabby shag carpeting (lime green or burnt orange) dotted with clumps of brownish-black tar. Thousands of birds, fish, and marine mammals had been coated with crude oil and assigned a slow agonizing death.

Three million gallons of heavy crude spilled from an oil rig blow-out, creating an oil slick thirty-five miles long, located six miles off the California coast in 1969. It is the third worst oil spill in US history, behind (#1) the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, which gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for three months in 2010 and (#2) the Exxon Valdez oil tanker which spilled off the coast of Alaska in 1989. The Santa Barbara oil spill ignited anger toward President Nixon for his anti-environmental stance and launched the ongoing environmentalist stance of “no new drilling” along the Pacific coastline. Tar balls blemished the beaches for a decade after the spill.

With such historic tidbits simmering in my memory, it pains me to watch as the current US administration zealously undoes our environmental protections and greedily unleashes widespread mineral exploration upon the most scenic and delicate ecosystems across the west. The largely-deregulated fossil fuel industry will now be policing itself and I expect results to correlate with history.

Then there’s climate change with all related topics now shunned and off-limits. For the first time in memory, there are new rules banning which words can be used in government discourse and reporting! Despite government websites being scrubbed of all scientific information and research, steadfast friends invited our climate scientists to come on over to France and continue their good works!

After living through a six-year drought in California, in the summer of 2016, the raging Soberanes wildfire consumed 132,000 acres of wilderness a few ridges over from where I live. This three-month blaze seemed significant before we got hammered by the current fire season, still torching California as late as mid-December. No rain in sight, halfway through our 2017-18 rainy season!

The Thomas fire now rages between Ventura and Santa Barbara, with more than 260,000 acres of the coastal range blackened in a mere ten days. Recent ferocious fires are torching twice as much land in a fraction of the time, compared to past fires. Current blazes have destroyed approximately ten thousand structures in October (Napa/Sonoma) and December (Santa Barbara/Los Angeles).

Five recent blazes are high on a list of the twenty most destructive California wildfires ever . . . four in Napa/Sonoma (October) and now this current Thomas fire (#1).

Looking at recent droughts, fires, and extreme weather, we can’t forget the unprecedented hurricane season of 2017, which devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. It’s impossible for me to consider these extreme weather trends to be part of the natural cycles of our planetary climate.

But for me, I’m thinking back on a song by the band “America” . . . we often listened to “Ventura Highway” when we were going to college in Santa Barbara and cruising down to Los Angeles for some weekend fun. I remember eating family-style dinners with friends at the Big Yellow House in Montecito, an affluent mountain enclave where the Thomas fire is now screaming dangerously close by. And I’ll never forget skinny-dipping in Lake Cachuma of the Santa Ynez Mountains not far from where Michael Jackson would later build his Neverland Ranch.




© 2017 barleygirl



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Featured Review

Barleygirl,
Since we are in the same age range, I can identify with all aspects of your story. We are responsible for the way nature is rebelling.
I hate to see Trump undo all the positive work towards climate control.We are behind the clock already. I am glad you are safe.
We have talked before and the water situation will end up dictating world power in the future. Hopefully our better halves will lead our country to sane decisions on the enviorment.
Being a new grandpa, I want my granddaughter to enjoy all the beauty wonders life has to offer.
We have to defeat greed. We were wrong about drugs in the 60's but we nailed it on taking care of Mother Earth. "We have to get back to the garden."
Love and Blessings,
Richie b.

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Months Ago

I love this. I really love it. What a gift you've given me this morning! (((HUGS))) . . . Now I have.. read more
richieb

6 Months Ago

Margie,
Waiting to read your new poem! Hope to have a new story soon.read more
barleygirl

6 Months Ago

I checked out your page just now to see if anything new . . . eagerly awaiting!



Reviews

you tricked me you hippie you ;) i also was bussed to high school but went from the hood to the outskirts of the city to the school ..but i love the scene you set ..my kids all were first on and last off the buss in our little town where they grew up...i am so used to thinking of the 60s as a very positive time but all was not rosy was it ...so many challenges and changes .. i can feel that you have pain over the tragic oil spills etc ... i really like that heart dear friend ;)
E.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

Thank you for feeling my pain over our vast mistreatment of the planet & our fellow creatures. Even .. read more
Your memories go back decades and the Wild fires are burning your home state in a shameful way. Weather changes are the extremes of the problems out west with forest fires struck down by lightings and burning wildly in nature Must of the beauty of the lands were lost t the wild fires of recent times Every year the fires are getting worth Plenty of scientist agree the worlds weather is always changing. You have write na very nice article on the wild fires of the California Coastal areas and my we in the future get some relief from this type of actions. Year in and Year out that same story is told wild fires in California take there tool upon the lands and the people who Live in the valley of the Sun.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

I love what you're saying here. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back in a diff.. read more
"Looking at recent droughts, fires, and extreme weather, we can’t forget the unprecedented hurricane season of 2017, which devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. It’s impossible for me to consider these extreme weather trends to be part of the natural cycles of our planetary climate."

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A very eye-opening story to the past and current events happening in real time and with the auspices of a mad or poor leadership in Washington, D.C. and a crazy, narcissistic president. Like they say, follow the money trail, but we, the informed people will follow science and real patterns. I know you cherish those memories and you have a big heart to protect your wonderful state and the world. Kudos

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

Thank you so much for your most understanding words! I'm putting my faith in the more youthful & div.. read more
Sami Khalil

7 Months Ago

All true. You are welcome dearly.
Informed, interesting, terrible.. emotional words.

If only more people could read your story and straight-way find a mean of protecting our planet before it's far too late. Or maybe it always is.

Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

Here's my belief . . . the old white men are running the country now, but they are not supported by .. read more
Ambition has always fostered technological progress, but, unfortunately, greed has overtaken the sensible development. Pollution has now become rife, which is now revealing itself in the instability of our climate.
As political power relies on this technological growth, such theories are dimissed as cranky.
But somehow, each generation continues to adapt to these changing conditions and find pleasure in them.
(((Hugs)))


Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

The current regime here will do as they believe, while they are in power, but they do not have any b.. read more
Norman223

7 Months Ago

Unfortunately, it appears that the only path to becoming a decision maker is wealth, which in turn,.. read more
You’ve written us a time-capsule Margie. Well-written with wonderful storyline that kept my interest from beginning to end. So many memories were evoked by the facts, details & images you skillfully provided. Horrible some of what was happening then, as is now. But there were and are wonderful times too. Sad, horrific destruction in California now- tragic. My heart goes out & I pray for all affected. I hope you are safe my friend! I have family who were living in
Vacaville and have had to relocate to another state now because of the fires. I saw the Santa Ana winds and fires when I lived in West Covina in ‘78, and will never forget the flaming orange landscape and sky. Thank you for sharing your life, and for the Ventura Highway reference- I sing it all the time... Great writing as always! Take good care. :):)




Posted 7 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

7 Months Ago

Time capsule! I love that analogy! Due to my complete admiration for Sam Dickens' storytelling, I've.. read more

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Added on December 16, 2017
Last Updated on December 16, 2017

Author

barleygirl
barleygirl

Central Coast, CA



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Just loving life & sharing my blessings. more..

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