Weekend Rain Excursions

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Right at the start of the long President’s Day weekend, I had an adventure. My friend Curran and I wandered just beyond the borders of Oakleigh to a sizable creek that was rushing and full of rainwater. This was at 1:30 in the morning. We decided after a while that the water was flowing too fast, and there was nowhere for the frogs to swim (There weren’t any frogs). Curran brought up the idea of building up a large dam to slow the water down and make a big pool. So we got out our phones, turned on the flashlights, and got to work. Right as we stepped in, the water sent a shock through me, as it was damn well near freezing. Nevertheless, we began rolling out large stones and stacking them in more or less a straight line. Some of the stones were slowly moved down stream, while others were violently rushed out of place as soon as we put them down.  We did this all with one hand holding our phones, and decided that this was not going to work. We abandoned our construction site and ran down to my house, where we picked up some essential tools: half a bag of Parmesan Goldfish, as well as some some headlamps. Curran and I arrived back at our dam and began patching the holes between larger stones with smaller rocks and at times sand or dirt. When we felt we had done a stellar job, we took a step back and admired our handiwork. It seemed like we had succeeded in making something resembling a shallow pool,  but the current was barely slowed and water poured from the numerous gaps in our wall. After numerous engineering attempts to patch up our holes and even redirect the flow of the creek to better suit our needs, we wandered off with smiles thoughts of all the frogs that would swim in our stream.

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The rest of the weekend I spent lazily stretching across my big purple couch or outside in the rain floating bottle cps down the many rivers created by the rain. I began thinking about the dam, and how well it had survived the downpour that day. I decided i needed to see it for myself, and walked up to the creek. Lo and behold, I could not see anything familiar. Nothing even resembling a wall. The water rushed, and my heart was crushed. While I was up there I did explore up and down the creek, and managed to find several mini waterfalls and the ruins of an old bridge from the early 1900’s, so it wasn’t all bad. I plan to go up after the next rain and see what I can do to rebuild and redesign.

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Above is the foundation of the old bridge I found. Feel free to comment and ask about my rainy adventures! Have a great day.

 

Untamed Wildlife

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Ever since I was little, the wildlife of Oakleigh has fascinated me. Whether it’s the towering redwoods or the little salamanders found beneath logs and stones, it all amazes me. There are countless species of birds, plants and animals, and each has a story.  When I was a young boy, my feet would rarely touch the ground. I would always be up in the Oaks, for which Oakleigh gained its name. Dozens and dozens of them twist their way up to the sky, some only a few years old, others over one hundred. Recently one of the largest blew over in a storm, thankfully not hitting anything important. It is always sad to see them go, but once they’ve fallen, you can see their hollowed out centers where owls, possums and even raccoons had lived. The raccoons are often considered a nuisance, but I think they’re incredible creatures. They steal food and dig through the trash, but they make it a comical sight due to their clumsy nature and not so subtle secrecy.

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Another notorious animal on the property, that quite recently scared me, is the Possum. Just the other night, a possum had crawled inside the house and was eating the cat’s food. It had sharp pointy teeth and beady eyes and seemed unafraid of me. I managed to get a picture before shooing it out with a broom. Boy was it BIG though. It freaked me out quite a bit. Nothing quite contrasts the ugliness of the possum like the Aloe Garden. Beautiful flowers in the early winter and spring rise out of thorny masses of leaves and show off their amazing colors. Started long ago by my father with just a few seeds, it has since blossomed into something of an art piece. The entire garden covers about a half acre, with aloes and succulents from all over East Africa. The aloes add a vibrant touch that compliments the grey and green of the oaks forest surrounding them.

Feel free to contact me through the comments or email (coletobias@gmail.com) if you want to learn more. Have a great day.

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History

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Oakleigh is a twelve acre property in, Santa Barbara, with a rich history. In the late 1800’s, it was owned by a retired ship’s captain, and given its current name. At the turn of the century, the estate changed hands and came to be owned by the Hewitt Reynolds(above). He started and was Headmaster of the Deane School for Boys, and built classrooms that still stand today. The school went bankrupt some years later in the 30’s, and Mr. Reynolds was forced to rent out different buildings to families. One of these was my family, the Sheltons. In the late 1940’s and 50’s a summer camp called Camp Lorr was started on the property. It took kids from around town and brought them on adventures in Santa Barbara including hiking, sailing and assorted art skills. The Sheltons were actively involved in the camp and some of them worked there.

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In the 70’s, my Great-Grandfather Rathburn Shelton (above) bought the property. The only condition was that he had to keep Camp Lorr running. His son, Steve Shelton took over as director and his other three sons had odd jobs here and there.  The camp continued to run for nearly twenty years, but was closed down in the late 80’s because of financial trouble. The next few years saw my father Thomas, move onto the property with his wife, my mom, Linda. Other families came and went, staying in some of the old classrooms or oftentimes in various huts and tents and tepees. In 2001 I was born, and we moved into one of the classroom buildings. Then in 2008 the Tea Fire came close to burning down some of the houses on Oakleigh, but it burned around the side of the property. Rathburn Shelton passed away in 2012, leaving ownership to his sons, who manage the property today.

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This is a picture of Rathburn, his wife Peggy, and their four sons, Ron, Steve, David and Jeff.

 

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This is one of the original classroom buildings, with old redwood trees from the beginning of the Deane School in the background. David Shelton, one of Rathburn’s sons lives in this house.