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A Perfect Day in Isla Vista

Sunrise to Midnight, the Ideal Way to Unwind


The weather in Isla Vista is gorgeous this week. I’m debating ditching every responsibility I have just to stare at the ocean. Undoubtedly, an hour at those cliffs would be part of my perfect day in Isla Vista.

A while ago, when I was home in the Bay Area, I picked up a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle and read a piece about the perfect day in San Francisco. The original article was penned by local author Jack Shelton back in 1961, and it outlined, hour-by-hour, how to spend the most splendid day in the city by the bay.

Nicki Arnold

It got me thinking about how I would spend my perfect day in I.V. Lately, with the sun perched up there just so and with my classes and job taking more time away from me, I find myself daydreaming about that ideal day far too much.

So, for your reading pleasure - and to perhaps quench my thirst for it - here it is: The Perfect Day in Isla Vista.

6 a.m.: Wake up in the dark to the beats of Jack Johnson, a man so quintessentially I.V. he deserves some sort of award. You might scoff at the early time - anything before 10 a.m. is death to some of my friends - but you have to get up that early if you want to catch the stunning sunrise. Take a seat on top of the rocks at Campus Point and watch the sun peek over the Santa Ynez Mountains. Don’t be too loud; morning in I.V. is the quietest time of day, the only time when the entire area seems at peace. It is at these hours when I.V. seems the closest to perfect that it will ever be, and for this reason, early morning is absolutely my favorite here.

7:30 a.m.: Walk along the cliffs in front of Manzanita Village, admiring the ambitious early morning surfers. Make your way down Embarcadero del Norte to Starbucks for some caffeine. I know it’s a sin to suggest mega-corporation Starbucks when quaint, local Java Jones is just down the street, but I guess I’m just a little devilish - I actually prefer Starbucks. When you pass the homeless guys who will undoubtedly be hanging out in the fishbowl - the plaza-ish area in front of Starbucks, Subway, and Caliroll Express - flip them a couple coins. Grab a newspaper and enjoy your drink slowly and deliberately.

9 a.m.: Isla Vistans will be rousing themselves out of bed by now, biking to and from class. Wander through campus, taking time to listen to the hustle and bustle of busy college kids. Make your way to Davidson Library and search for books on your favorite subject, just for fun, just because you can. Hop on the computers and get lost on the Internet.

Noon: Your stomach is probably rumbling out of your body by now, so hop on your bike - in my Perfect Day, you can just pick up a bike at any rack - and head back into I.V. to grab a sandwich and a pitcher of beer at Sam’s to Go. Meet up with some friends who are between classes - or are just waking up and love nothing more than beer first thing in their mornings.

1:15 p.m.: Now that you’re fed, what I’ve dubbed “The Afternoon Lazy” should be taking over your body, and you’ll need to take a little nap. Grab a towel and head down to the beach. Spray on some sunscreen, make yourself a sand pillow, and let the waves lull you to sleep. Ignore the hoppy sand bugs as best you can.

3 p.m.: Brush the sand off, put your shoes back on and head to campus to listen to a lecture. For something typically liberal college-esque, sit in on Aaron Belkin’s Military Sexuality - or, as he has renamed it, Blind Citizenship and American Demonology. It’s a crash course on queer theory and gays and lesbians in society, specifically the military. Don’t you dare whisper to your neighbor, though; Belkin has no qualms picking you out and asking you to shut the heck up.

5 p.m.: Go for a run. Start at your house in I.V. and go to Sands beach, past the snowy plover protection area, then up on the cliffs toward the Ellwood Butterfly Preserve. The butterflies will likely only be there in December or January, and this Perfect Day takes place during the longer days - August or September would probably work best - but the cliffs give you a spectacular view of the Gaviota coastline anyway.

7 p.m.: After completing your run and showering, plop down on a friend’s couch for Jeopardy! If you’re feeling particularly crazy, grab a beer and play the Jeopardy! drinking game: every time you get a question right, dole out a drink to one of your friends.

7:30 p.m.: Bike over to I.V. Market or Keg and Bottle to pick yourself up a 30 pack and red cups because - you guessed it - it’s beer pong time. Gather your friends and set up shop in somebody’s backyard. Don’t forget the music. (Please, please, anything but rap.)

10 p.m.: Now that you’re feeling a bit tipsy, it’s probably time to dance your butt off until you’re sober. Clear a dance floor and make sure your playlist includes “Shout” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.” Honestly, no party is complete without Culture Club.

Midnight-ish: Unless you’re at the most fabulous party ever, meander home, double-checking your pockets to make sure your keys and cell phone haven’t jumped out. It might seem early, but based on experience, I’ve learned that nothing good ever happens after midnight, and you always want to leave the people wanting more. Plus, you’ve got to wake up early again tomorrow if you want to catch the walk-of-shamers on their way home.

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