October 27, 2015 – Sun, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 20
Miles to Date: 9,059
States to Date: 25
Santa Barbara is paradise. The weather is perfect, the architecture stunning, the people thin and rich. That is, once you overlook the street people who have commandeered the best spots on the beach and all the parks. Even they seem pretty content to lounge in the lovely sea breeze.
I had an early morning interview with the city engineer responsible for overseeing the newly refurbished desalinization plant. Santa Barbara’s water woes are serious. Despite impressive conservation, they are siphoning the dregs out of their reservoirs. But, because this plant will come online and supply about 70% of Santa Barbara’s water needs, with the potential of meeting 100% of current demand, there’s a sense that the water issue is manageable, as long as you’re copasetic with processing sea water.
I spent the rest of the day playing tourist: the waterfront, the Mission, the beautiful shopping arcades, the elegant library. In late afternoon I visited the farmer’s market.
I’d spent a week trying to connect with my brother-in-law Matt, a long-time Santa Barbarian and neat guy, but plans never gelled. So, I found myself in paradise without a place to lay my head for the night. I could, of course, join the many other middle-aged homeless guys with bikes along the beach. But fate has been more generous to me than to them, so I figured I could cough up the cost of a motel.
In the meantime a local cyclist invited me for a beer at Figueroa Mountain Brewery in the funk district. I arrived early, snagged a spot at a community table, and before long was chatting with a personable IT wannabe explorer and a trio of Bakersfield guys on a business trip to the coast. When the men with expense accounts heard my story they insisted on buying me beer and dinner, Eventually, I met the cyclist, and her friends, as well as folks at other tables. When time came to disband Kerry, the IT guy, offered me the floor of his apartment three blocks away. Way more fun than a motel.
Interesting stop. It would be nice to hear that they are using solar energy to desalinate but I am not hopeful. More likely burning fossil fuels to create water. Painful irony there.
It is ironic. I will have the details in the full profile, but the Project Manage said they have a 98% efficient energy recovery system. Seems very high to me, but is so, that is pretty great.