California Day 6 Back To Agua Dulce: “Have A God Day” by Bill Pike 8/11/18


I was up early on Saturday morning. In a few hours, we would be packing up cars, rechecking the cottages for personal items, and driving back to Agua Dulce.

At the dining room table, I was checking e-mail on my computer, when another early riser, Ashley, joined me. She was firing up her computer to add the finishing touches to her project for the graduate class she was taking. With a piece of cold pizza from last night’s dinner, Ashley sat down and went right to work.

It was a while before the rest of the house guests started to stir. But when they did, starting the initial phases of packing was first on the list. Progress was made, and a small group of us started the walk to Jack’s Bistro and Famous Bagels for our second visit. The restaurant was busy, but the hostess found us a table near the entrance.  This allowed us to get a good luck at the large, black and white historical photos properly displayed along the walls.

We placed our orders, and it wasn’t long before the food arrived. Conversation subsided as our breakfast choices captured our attention.

After breakfast, the priority was clearing our belongings from the cottages and packing cars.

Abby took the lead in making sure we had our assignments, and it wasn’t long before the staggered departures were taking place.

Parker, Brandi, and Tyrell were heading to Ventura to visit with some of Parker’s friends. Rachel, Garth, and their children said goodbye to the beach and were soon on the road. Ashley and Elizabeth were thinking about making a couple of stops in Carpinteria before heading out.  And the old folks, Abby, Art, Betsy, and me would be the last to leave insuring that all was well with the cottages for their respective owners.

Pretty soon, Carpinteria was in the rear view mirror, and we were out on the highway winding our way past the Pacific coast landscape. 

Traffic was moving easily, and before we knew it, we were in Santa Clarita. 

We had an important stop at the kennel to pick up Lucy before arriving back into Agua Dulce.

Lucy was happy to be picked up as it sounded like all of the dogs in the kennel were barking their goodbyes to her.

It was good to arrive back at Abby and Art’s home. We unloaded, and prepped for a quiet afternoon by their backyard pool.

At the pool, Charlotte and Grayson were enjoying the pool time with their Dad supervising.

While watching all of this splashing and jumping, my old brain reflected back to a bumper sticker I had seen on the back of an SUV at an intersection in Santa Clarita, it said:  “Have A God Day.”

In world that seems to be in unrelentless turmoil every day, I wonder what that bumper sticker might mean to a person anymore? 

What is a “God Day”? 

Is it a day when all goes well for me?

 Is it a day when the world appears to be in less chaos with itself? 

Why is it that we are seemingly more uncivil with ourselves in our daily living?

Is it because we don’t have many “God Days” in our lives?

Carpinteria Day 5 by Bill Pike

Friday, August 10, 2018

Betsy’s brother-in-law, Art, his son, Parker, and Art’s son-in-law, Garth are in their own rights talented fishermen. A couple of fly rods had been brought along on this trip. This morning, Art was up early heading to the beach at low tide to “toss a couple of flies” in the inlet and to make his heart starter—coffee, at the other rental house.

I should add that Abby and Art’s daughter, Ashley, is no slouch with a fly rod, and she has the photos to prove it. But, on this trip, in between beach time, Ashley has been giving her attention to a project for a graduate level class she is taking. It is crunch time for getting this completed.

Betsy, Elizabeth, and I decided to try a different restaurant for breakfast. We ended up at Jack’s Bistro and Famous Bagels, a local favorite with a really diverse menu and large framed black and white photos that capture some of the region’s history. 

Breakfast was good, and I enjoyed every bite of my Veggie B-ggl. After breakfast, we checked out a few shops before regrouping and heading to the beach.

I had three things I wanted to check out today. I wanted to walk through the Carpinteria Garden Park,  the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park, and I needed to pickup some postcards.

The Carpinteria Garden Park just opened in November of 2017. It is located directly across the street from one of the houses we were renting. 

Word on the street is that the space was originally intended to become a skateboard park. Apparently, the neighborhood was relieved when those plans were taken off the table.

Every inch of space is nicely used, as the park has 104 raised garden beds that can be used by individuals and organizations. There is even a fruit tree orchard in the park. Flowers and vegetables of every type are present. But what really caught my attention were two massive pumpkins that some talented gardener has been nurturing. Potentially, these pumpkins could be prize winners at an agricultural fair.

The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park is just a few footsteps away from the beach. The park has a nice layout, with good information kiosks, well maintained paths, and vista points that capture nature in all its forms. Additionally, a tidal inlet helps to attract a variety of birds and sea life.IMG_1541

After walking through the Salt Marsh Nature Park, I made my way down to the beach for a bit. I took one last walk down to the inlet and back, and then sat for a while taking in all of the people.

It wasn’t too long before I departed the beach and headed into town in search of postcards. The Rite-Aid sold postcards. Interestingly, only a couple featured Carpinteria, the remainder focused on Santa Barbara.

As I was walking to the Rite Aid, I noticed the homeless gentleman I had encountered on Thursday sitting on a bench. It was sunny and unusually warm in Carpinteria today, so I bought a cold bottle of water for him. When I approached this gentleman, and showed him the bottle of water, he just motioned for me to put it on the bench where he was sitting.

From there I walked back to the house, wrote out my postcards, and then received a directions assist to the post office from Elizabeth. The walk wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t get lost. Bought some postcard stamps, put them on the postcards,  and mailed them.

Dinner for tonight was going to feature local pizza, a homemade tossed salad, and cupcakes. The cupcakes were in honor of Grayson who was celebrating his third birthday.

The afternoon had been moving along, but Art and I knew we had one more opportunity to visit the Island Brewery. So, we met Parker and his friend, Brandi, there for a beer. Saturday was going to be a busy day in Carpinteria—the town was hosting a beer festival.

As Art and I were leaving the brewery, we took a shortcut through an alley that splits two buildings, one holds the Island Brewery. A large door was opened along the side of the brewery. We poked our heads in for a minute to admire two copper tanks and some other large stainless steel tanks. An Island Brewery employee was there, and he invited us in for a closer look. We chatted with him briefly about the brewery and their beers, and then we headed back to the house.

Slowly, the family started to arrive. The pizza delivery was on time and delicious. Best of all, the birthday boy enjoyed his cupcake and presents.

Wasn’t too long, and the celebration was over.

 Saturday morning would be busy as we had to be out of both houses by ten.

Sleep sounded like a good idea.

California Day 4 Carpinteria: Another Lesson By Bill Pike

Our daughter, Elizabeth, has a keen eye. On Wednesday, I had talked with her about rising early on Thursday morning and walking around Carpinteria taking photographs.

When I checked on her around 6:20, she passed on my invitation. So, I organized myself and armed with my Canon Power Shot, a hand me down from our son-in-law, Doug, I left the house for the walk.

I was particularly interested in tracking down a weather beaten table and chairs outside of a local business that caught our eyes on Wednesday morning’s jog. As I passed by the merchants on Linden Avenue some were closed, but those offering coffee and food were getting ready to open.

At the top of Linden Avenue and Carpinteria Way, there is a narrow median that divides the street. At the beginning of this median is a flagpole that proudly displays the United States and California State flags. This morning there is no breeze so both flags are still catching some shut eye.

I make a left on Carpinteria Way. Seems like the table and chairs I want to see were further down the street, so I keep walking.

At some point, I note a gentleman walking toward me on the sidewalk.  He sees me coming and for whatever reason, this gentleman decides to remove himself from the sidewalk and walk along the street.

As we are just about to pass each other, I note he has homeless traits. He is overdressed in clothes and is carrying other items with him. And, as we pass each other, I can detect the need for a shower just like on days when I have depleted my deodorant from working in the yard on a hot, humid summer day.

Eventually, I cross over Carpinteria. I start to recall a number of the places we saw yesterday.  Just outside a custom framing shop, I see the table and chairs I’ve been looking to photograph.

The table and its six chairs are scrunched in among some plants and a tree. I have a sermon assignment to write for World Communion Sunday on October 7. Recently, tables have become of interest to me. I’m sure this one could tell some stories.

I snap a couple of photos and start walking again. I decide to walk back down Linden Avenue checking out the store fronts and some tall palm trees on a side street with a significant tilt at their tops.

In front of the parking lot for the grocery store, Smart and Final, is a common sitting area/bus stop. I note as I’m walking by, the gentleman I perceive as being homeless is sitting there by himself.

I stop at the corner to take a picture of the tilting palm trees. Then, I’m thinking to myself, I’m going to walk back up the street on the other side, and if the gentleman is still sitting there I’m going to buy him something to eat from the bakery I had passed earlier.

Sure enough, he is still sitting there.

So, I head to Reynaldo’s Bakery. It is loaded with all kinds of Mexican pastries. I’m overwhelmed by the selection, but opt to purchase a couple of Mexican sweet cakes.

I pay and walk across the street and approach the gentleman.

And I immediately make a mistake as begin my communication with him. I start with “good morning,” and then I ask him, “how is he doing?” He immediately responds, “I’m homeless.”

At that point, I think I said, “I know,” followed by “I brought you something to eat.”

He looks suspiciously at the Mexican sweet cake, and then I learn my second mistake. This homeless gentleman asks for coffee, and I explain I don’t have any.

At this point, I’m too disappointed in myself to think about getting some coffee, and I walk off— thinking to myself you just failed trying to be hospitable to a homeless person, you have a lot to learn about being a so called Christian.

Muttering to myself, I walked back toward the house, thinking about my mistakes in trying to be helpful.

At the house, I said nothing about my encounter, and I latched on to the group that was walking to the Lucky Llama for breakfast.


California Day 4 Carpinteria:  Train Ride by Bill Pike 

After breakfast, everyone was heading toward the beach. When I arrived, the junior lifeguard trainees were back for another grueling day, and the dead Sea Lion had been removed.

Abby and Art’s three year old grandson, Grayson, had been intrigued all week by the Amtrak and occasional freight trains that would rumble through Carpinteria. So at 11:20 this morning, his parents, Rachel and Garth, had purchased tickets for the family including Grayson’s older sister, Charlotte, to take the train up to Santa Barbara and back.

Even though the Amtrak California Surfliner was running a bit late, Grayson contained himself until the train arrived. When the train showed up, the family boarded, and I’m told Grayson enjoyed every click on the track up and back.

After they boarded the train, I walked back down to the beach. And, it wasn’t long before, our daughter, Elizabeth, and Abby and Art’s daughter, Ashley, had developed a plan for their fathers to take them to lunch at the Rincon Brewery.

Located on Carpinteria Way, this craft brewer was named after the famous Rincon Point a long time favorite spot for surfers to catch Pacific waves.  Our food and the beer were good.

From lunch, we regrouped, some returned to the beach, and Abby, Art, Betsy, and I worked our way to the local farmers market and the grocery store. Hamburgers were going to be grilled out, and we were picking up fruit and vegetables to support the meal.


A portion of Linden Avenue was blocked off. This shutdown allowed farmers and an assortment of vendors to set up on both sides of the street. Farmers markets have always interested me, no matter their size or location. I admire the diligence of our farmers.

This market was really special. Maybe the quality of the produce can be attributed to the strong farmer presence in the region, but table after table had top-notch displays of grapes, avocados, peaches, plums, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, leafy vegetables, oranges, melons, and even full stalks of celery.

Once we finished at the farmers market, Abby made a quick stop in the Smart and Final grocery store for a few more cookout items. Then, we reorganized all of our purchases and made sure they made it to the cookout house.

At some point, I took a shower, and then you guessed it— before making the walk over for dinner, another gathering took place at Island Brewery.


California Day 4 Carpinteria No Fog=Sunset by Bill Pike

At the end of a perfect sun drenched California day, there is nothing like a grilled hamburger with all the trimmings. The dinner came together well, and even better, no gray fog had blocked the sun.

After dinner, we all walked down to the beach. Turns out others in Carpinteria had the same idea.

For the first time since we had arrived on Tuesday, I could clearly see the outlines of the Channel Islands offshore in the Pacific and the oil wells in front of them were also more pronounced.

The sun was starting its departure. That, “Lucky old sun” was not going to gracefully disappear into the ocean with its mysterious green flash. No, on this evening, the sun would slip down behind the Santa Ynez Mountains.

There was a flurry of activity with our families. Photos being snapped, and group shots were organized. And as all of this was taking place, the sun continued to slowly, and silently slink down.

Inch by inch, the sun started to hide behind the mountains. Then in the second of an eye blink— the sun was spun away by the earth, gone until tomorrow morning’s sunrise.