Visiting Sam in Santa Barbara | California | Living in Mexico

Visiting Sam in Santa Barbara

The penultimate stop on our current trip to California is to visit with Samantha and her family, and to hobnob with the rich and famous. Jean is checking to see if Oprah is in town. You know how it is—so hard to hook up when we're all in the public eye.

Cassie, Sam, Jean and I had an elegant lunch at exclusive Pizza Mizza in La Cumbre Plaza, adjacent to the Hope Ranch.

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Santa Barbara is a city that does not suffer riffraff. We were able to dine undisturbed by the little people, protected as we were by strict regulations. Thirteen of them.

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Before being allowed to patronize La Cumbre Plaza establishments, visitors are required to memorize the provisions in the Code of Conduct, and provide the administration with copies of their D&Bs. I particularly like Rule #6, a prohibition against "Failing to be fully clothed, or wearing clothing which is likely to provoke a disturbance or embroiling other groups or the general public in open conflict." Translation: No sluts or gangbangers." No embroiling, indeed.

Rule # 11 says you can't bring "... animals onto center property, with the exception of animals in the company of, and trained to assist, physically challenged persons."

That rule is so not right. Looks like you have to demonstrate your "animal" is trained. (You don't want to come right out and say "dog," do you?) How to demonstrate proper training? You have to carry its diploma? Moreover, they're using the hideously PC designation, "physically challenged persons." If I were paraplegic or blind, and trying to describe my condition, the word "challenged" wouldn't be the first one to come to mind.

To complete the idiocy, that little mailbox-like thing on the next column back is a dispenser for plastic gloves, so you can pick up the poop left by your seeing eye dog. That is, if you somehow manage to sense that your dog just pooped. And if you feel around carefully for the dispenser.

I think parts of California, especially places like Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, are becoming just a little fussy, don't you?

Offended by La Cumbre Plaza's hostile dog policy, we retreated to a nearby beach which allows, even encourages, dogs—off leash!

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Here, Cassie avidly observes assorted dog behaviors, in this case, butt-sniffing. (Well, we all have to learn this stuff sometime.)

Maybe Santa Barbara is a little fussy. But maybe fussiness pays off. The wonderful dog beach is an example; a facility that makes provisions for a special interest group that, in other places, is simply ignored. The city gives meticulous attention to its gardens as well, the "crown jewel" of which is Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden.

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I think it's the best municipal garden I have ever seen. Maybe that's not saying much, but for me at least—wow!

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This park is full of serene corners—a bench under deadly nightshades,...

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... a pond full of carp and turtles. The turtles are not welcome at La Cumbre Plaza, of course. Unless they're service turtles, that is. Alice Keck Park even contains an audio guided walk for blind people. (Oops. Visually challenged persons.) It guides visitors to plants with distinctive smells or textures, and is fascinating even for the sighted.

All that fussiness can produce drivel like La Cumbre Plaza's Code of Conduct. But it also produces dog beaches and gorgeous gardens. No wonder Oprah lives here. We were disappointed that she wasn't in residence during our visit.
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