With Lake Piru visible below, a California Condor barely visible above, Dick waves and shouts to draw the bird’s attention. The condor ultimately came directly overhead. December 1970.
I went to school in Santa Barbara with the grandsons of Dick Smith, the backcountry denizen who roamed the local wildlands on horseback accompanied by his dog, and for whom Dick Smith Wilderness was named. I also worked for several years with the wife of his son and they lived a block away from me.
I’m not sure to what extent Smith’s son shared his father’s appreciation of the wilderness, but he did love the ocean. Whenever I saw him around town he usually always had his surfboard in the back of his truck. He was also a craftsman. One day, his eldest son invited me into his house and showed me the miniature wooden surfboards his dad crafted in his spare time. I was impressed.
But I have to confess to not always getting along with Smith’s grandsons and that I was a total jerk at times. It’s something I’m embarrassed about nowadays.
I’m not sure if their mom ever knew, but she was always very kind to me. Her youngest son grew up to be a giant broad shouldered man and could probably beat the hell out of me nowadays. Lord knows I once deserved it!
In later years, I would learn about the legacy of their grandfather and what he did to preserve so much of what I have grown to cherish. Would that we were all a Dick Smith.