Exploring Santa Ynez

Write one true sentence. "In Southern California, tis no fecking water there.” 
I manage a slight smile as the words of my father, accompanied by his Irish brogue, ring true in my head. Indeed, there has been no substantial rainfall here in the valley for quite some time. I’m on SR 154 also know as the Chumash Highway, the scenic alternative to U.S. Route 101, making the 30-mile drive east from Santa Barbara to the Santa Ynez Valley. 

It is bone dry and beautiful. Fires are common on this route, the passing scorched hills and drifting ash serve as an eerie reminder of the recent Thomas Fire which tore through sections deep in Los Padres National Forest, eventually becoming California's largest wildfire on record. 

It's a few days after Christmas. My body is slightly sluggish from last night’s holiday cheer but even more eager with anticipation to explore Happy Canyon and hike the surrounding Los Padres National Forest at first light. I make my way through the rustic scenery, enjoying the calm presence of grazing cattle, passing ranch-hands and grand horses as I careen through the twisty canyons.