Rob Lowe, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah and Arnie all apparently have homes in Montecito. It’s that sort of place – just far enough from Hollywood to be a practical commute, but just far enough to be a relatively calm environment.
For us Montecito is the home of our local supermarket. Not a bad supermarket, but strangely devoid of celebrity sightings in our, admittedly limited, experience. We stopped in at the supermarket again today to buy some picnic supplies as we headed up into the hills behind Montecito for a walk. There appear to be two prime walks in the hills, although the surrounding forest is covered in tracks: the Hot Springs Walk and the Cold Springs Walk. We opted for the cold approach on the basis that it appeared more scenic and in spite of the dire warnings of poison oak infestations. Jennifer and I separately researched poison oak and then collectively completely failed to be able to identify any beyond a vague possibility. Of course we didn’t test our identification by actually touching any, so who knows, we might have been right.
The trail we took winds steeply up into the hills. The first few miles follow a creek that is currently on the dry side of impressive, but still has that quiet tree-shaded environment that makes your average river so poetic. All too soon you start heading up a series of steep switch-backs up into the hills. And all too soon we realised we’d been resting on our laurels since the Inca Trail – and our laurels were feeling the pressure. in the course of about six kilometres you go up a kilometre which proved surprisingly hard going along the very broken trail. Any pity we had for ourselves was overwhelmed by the people whizzing past us on bikes or on fleet feet. I did keep hoping that one of the toned speeding bodies would turn out to belong to a celebrity… but alas.
As we ascended to the heights the views grew ever more spectacular, even as the environment grew ever drier. Behind us yucca and cacti spotted dry, sand cliffs. In front we could look out over a forest of green to the Ocean and the islands.
We were immediately struck by the different perspective from up on high when we saw the oil rigs in the straight. From our rental home it appears that the oil rigs butt right up against the island on the other side of the straight; but from the mountains it’s clear that the rigs actually sit closer to this side of the straight.
We had our picnic in the shade of a tree on the top of the hill, looking out over the haze to the Pacific. Then we took a deep breath and headed back down hill. Thanks to a bit of assistance from gravity the downhill run took remarkably less time than going uphill.
We drove back down through Montecito past some huge houses. We’ve got absolutely no idea if they belong to celebrities or just very rich people. But it’s mildly amusing, given the Sydney-sider’s obsession with real estate, to be somewhere that is categorically more expensive than Sydney.
We have another five days here. And I figure that if we eat a great deal of cereal and so go to the supermarket often we might still run into Jennifer Aniston getting her groceries.