Santa Barbara’s location is a strip of land that, at one end, borders the Pacific Ocean; on the other, it climbs into the sudden, steep Santa Ynez Mountains. These two regions are differentiated not only by topography but also by the north-south running U.S. Route 101, the only freeway in the vicinity, but an important one that brings life to the area as it makes its way from north Los Angeles to Washington state’s blustery Olympic Peninsula.
Carpinteria is not Santa Barbara. Some might call it a suburb, and from the single freeway running through it, which connects Ventura to Santa Barbara, it goes fairly unnoticed. I like it this way: subtle. And so I’ve returned, this being my second time.
There wasn’t a lot between Visalia and Ventura. There was Bakersfield, of no significance at all, and a long stretch of highway that from the sky might have looked liked a mosaic of semi-trucks and bulky, concrete gray overpasses. There were few of the latter in the deserts and mountains of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, whence I came. Now I am noticing the reappearance of overpasses, and I think they mean to tell me I’m nearing civilization.