Carol Anne Blanchette
Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Recreation & Other Activities
Okay, you caught me - I'm not working all the time. I like to get outside and play. I don't think I would be nearly as productive in my scientific endeavors if I could not balance it all out with a good dose of recreation. It's important to feed the mind, the body and the soul by getting out and having fun. In the words of John Ray, "Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there...""
California is an amazing state. It is nirvana for pop-culture, nouveau politics and of course is the source of much entertainment for the world. There is great cultural diversity - I think it is one of the few if not the only state in the union where white people are a minority. Most important, however is the geography itself. The diversity of environments and habitats is amazing. Within a few hours you can drive from a Mediterranean coastal climate on the Pacific Ocean through the desert to an alpine mountain habitat. Within about 100 miles, you can go from the lowest point in the continental US (Badwater, Death Valley) to the highest point in the continental US (Mt. Whitney). Actually there is uniquely punishing ultramarathon called the Badwater 135 that begins in Badwater and ends on Mt Whitney if you are interesting torturing yourself by running across that temperature and elevation gradient. The amazing geography of California provides phenomenal recreational potential, especially if you live on the coast like me, and don't mind driving. I spend most of my time in Santa Barbara and along the coast, where surfing, paddling, biking and climbing are the main forms of recreation. My home away from home is the eastern sierra. Over the last decade I've spent increasing amounts of time in and around Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Lone Pine and the mountains of the eastern sierra. Unlike the west side of the sierras which gradually slope upward through increasingly higher sets of foothills, the eastern side of the sierras shoots straight up from the desert floor of the Owens valley to over 14,000 feet. The sierras are amazing and it's easy to see why John Muir became such a famous vocal advocate for wilderness and why Ansel Adams found such artistic inspiration here. The east side and the mountains of the sierra have provided me with endless recreational opportunities; hiking, alpine climbing, skiing, and snowboarding. In the spring when the weather is warm and the days are long you can ski in the morning and climb in the afternoon. What more could you ask for?
I started climbing when I lived in Oregon and spent a while at Smith Rocks (a.k.a. sport-crag-heaven). The climbing in Santa Barbara is not great, although there is a lot of interesting history; many of the routes were first ascended by the likes of Yvonne Chouinard and his compadres. The rock is mostly sandstone and the routes are short. There are a few nice multi-pitch trad routes out at Sespe Gorge. This is a great place to "learn-the-ropes" of multi-pitch climbing and placing gear. We occasionally make the trip down to Joshua Tree National Park. There are tons of great climbs here, the weather is good and the rock is sharp as hell. Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas is also a favorite. The rock is beautiful and there are loads of long, multi-pitch relatively easy (and hard if you like that) things to climb. There is a narrow window in spring and fall to climb. Winter is butt-cold, and summer is unbearably hot. The best thing is hanging out at the campsite at night and seeing beautiful desert in one direction and the un-natural, freakish glow from the lights of Vegas over the hill.
Skiing & Snowboarding
For the last several years I've been fortunate enough to own a deeply discounted season pass to Mammoth Mountain. This has greatly increased my snow-time (as well as the mileage on my truck and friends' vehicles). Santa Barbara is not particularly close to the mountains, so it depends how badly you want to get there. Mammoth is a 6-hour drive from SB. Not too bad, and time flies when you have friends to talk with and good music. I know the drive like the back of my hand and it's relatively enjoyable once you get out of the greater LA area. The name "mammoth mountain" is no joke -- this is one big mountain. I'm still not bored by the terrain and the snow conditions can vary widely. I'm mostly a snowboarder, but have tried in the last few years to get back into tele skiing. Many of my skiing partners are telemark skiers and I get endless shit for "riding" all the time. I still have way more fun on a board, but the teles provide a nice challenge. I have a pair of K2 HeliStinx. They are really light and as the ad says "they cut a turn like Joe Montana can throw a pass" (that's actually why I bought them). My old Burton Air snowboard was recently stolen at Mt Bachelor in April by some desperate soul. It was beat up beyond belief, so if you the thief are out there reading this: Thanks, you did me a favor. I bought a Steepwater board at an end-of-the-season price. Steepwater is a small, local (Mammoth Lakes) snowboard company and they make great freeride boards. Please don't steal my Steepwater! This is the nicest board I've ever riden.
Of course if you live in Santa Barbara, you have to surf. It's fun, it's free and has great zen-like qualities. If you ever wondered why surfers are so laid-back, give it a try and you'll see. When there is swell and waves are big, you are constantly paddling to the point of exhaustion. When waves are small you spend a lot of time sitting around outside the lineup and you get a chance to look around and see cool things. I've been buzzed by dolphins many times, and it's always amazing to see how large they really are when you are right next to them in the water. Surfing is one of the few things that can make me excited about getting out of my bed at 5AM. It is just a great way to wake up and get in touch with the world around you.