Address: 945 Ward Drive, #73, #93, and #139

Status: On the market

Prices: $419,000, $379,000, and $458,222

I discovered pickles last week. For most of my life, I’ve put pickles at the top of my list of least favorite foods. Every time I ordered a burger, I asked them to “hold the pickles.” While friends were pleased with the pickles that come as an unrequested side with a deli sandwich, my only thought was: “That bothersome green thing better not get any pickle juice on my roast beef and provolone.”

My picky distaste persisted all my years until last week when I tried a pickle, and I liked it. I didn’t just tolerate it. I actually enjoyed its tang and crunch, busting all my preconceived anti-pickle notions. The surprising pickle discovery happened on almost the very same day that I discovered my favorite new neighborhood. Despite my previous prejudices, Rancho Goleta, which is a (gasp!) mobile home park in (double gasp!) Goleta, bowled me over with its peaceful lakeside charm.

Planning one of my usual jaunts to visit open houses, I saw several open homes listed on Ward Drive. Since I’ve only known Ward Memorial as the way to get to UCSB and the airport, I ventured out to take a look.

My map led me off the 217 at Hollister, down Ward Drive, and past a cemetery and fields of vegetables growing in between industrial buildings, all with a countrified air of wide-open space. When I got to the entrance to the park, I followed the signs toward the three units that were open to view: 73, 93, and 139.

Parking in front of #73, I was impressed with how quiet the entire area felt. The birds chirping was the only sound I heard as I walked up to the front patio. Once inside, it was easy to forget I was in a manufactured home. Bright walls, brand-new carpet, and big windows give an overall impression of a sunny beach cottage. With two bedrooms, two baths, a den, and a separate dining room, this house feels at once comfortable and spacious. Surprises such as a Jacuzzi tub, a cedar-lined closet, and air conditioning wowed me at every turn.

Moving on down the street to #93, I found myself in a similarly large home with three bedrooms and two baths that had been updated with granite countertops. The outdoor space has a private fenced backyard and a covered carport with built-in brick barbecue. Huge plantings out front and two brick patios on the other side give this home an air of indoor/outdoor living in keeping with our climate and lifestyle.

I drove over to #139. It greeted me with an easy-care front yard of mostly rocks, with steps leading up to a large, felt-covered porch. This unit felt more like what I expected from a mobile home. Stepping inside, I found myself in a huge, open living room, with two bedrooms and two full baths beyond, plus a kitchen and laundry room. By now, I started seeing similarities in some of the window and closet configurations in all of the homes. I suppose it’s not surprising that these three homes, all of similar era, would have qualities resembling one another.

I had been told that there was a lake in the park, so on my way out, I wanted to take a peek. I followed the road as instructed and was delighted to see a small lake in front of me. Looking for a safe spot to park for a minute, I continued on around a bend in the road and was completely taken aback when the entire lakefront came into view. What I had initially thought was the lake was actually just a narrow portion. The vista now in front of me — with a bridge spanning across the lake, ducks swimming near a fountain in the center, and rowboats bobbing next to the waterfront houses across the way — was a scene straight out of an idyllic vacation storybook.

Had I not already been completely charmed by Rancho Goleta, this serene scene would have won me over. As sure as sour pickles are my new favorite snack, this sweet mobile home park is my new favorite neighborhood, and its central lake was the icing on the cake.

945 Ward Drive currently has several units for sale. Unit #73 is listed by Dan Failla of Coldwell Banker, #93 is listed by Ian Bentley of The Zia Group at Keller Williams, and #139 is listed by Debbie Law of Sterling Properties. Reach Dan at 708-1276, Ian at 456-3635, and Debbie at 448-9348.


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