Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rainbow Snow Cones & Juice Bar, Santa Paula, CA

Rainbow Snow Cones & Juice Bar
933 Yale Street
Santa Paula,  CA
Santa Paula is an interesting place. 15 minutes from Ventura by freeway, it could be a different world, reminiscent of the small western towns my family would drive through on our way to some national park or other on a family vacation when I was a kid.

My family and I go there every few weeks because of the Regency Santa Paula 7, which shows first run films and who’s matinees are only $5. The large popcorn has free refills, and we always sneak in sodas, so I can take the whole family to the opening weekend of something without having to get a second mortgage.

Place with ping pong
A few weeks back, after we gorged on popcorn watching “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” I told the kids we needed to take a walk and we drove the short distance to downtown Santa Paula.

No Signage
Many of the buildings date back to the turn of the 20th Century, when Santa Paula was a booming oil town-Union Oil of California was headquartered there, along with being in the middle of a good farming and ranching area. Now, the buildings are generally a bit run down, and have shops that I’m not quite sure what they sell. The clientele now is mainly Mexican, with Mexican restaurants, tattoo parlors and junk stores, along with a handful of  "98 cent+" stores all run by Asian families. The majority of the businesses are geared toward people far more Mexican than I. Still, the area is trying to get back on it's feet, with many of the businesses appearing relatively new, and some rather high end restaurants sprinkled the town.

Fresh fruit in the cooler
While visiting one of those shops on our walk, we walked into a place with a friendly proprietor, a ping pong table, and stock of what seemed like work pants and shoes, along with other seemingly random items in a store that was probably a haberdashery or shoe shop 60 years ago, and the proprietor asked if we were enjoying the evening. I said that we had just gone to the movies and now I thought a stroll was in order. He asked if we had headed to a nearby Baskin-Robbins, and I said that I was thinking about going to a Fosters Freeze for a dipped cone after we were done walking around. Then he said we should check out the ice cream place around the corner, that they made their ice creams and were pretty good.

Our Order
We thanked him and followed the directions he gave. There were no signs outside the building, but there was a line, which we stood in. It had been a hot day, which made the inside of the shop just about unbearable, and I wondered if I really needed to stand in line for this. Most of the people in the shop were speaking the Spanglish of the area, and the menu was written mostly in Spanish. People were ordering fruit drinks, which looked fresh and natural, unlike the Jamba Juices of the world, and fresh fruit bowls with chili powder sprinkled on. There was also a noisy shaved ice machine. There were two tables inside, and no place outside to sit.

Finally, we got to the front. There were 10 or so flavors of ice cream, and all were made on site. I went with a coconut-pineapple, which had both chunks of pineapple and coconut in it. My daughters had vanilla and cookies and cream, while my son had a shaved ice.  

Like Coldstone, the server would mix in a topping, which we all took advantage of. The ice cream was good, not quite as heavy as the super premium Ben & Jerry’s, but certainly with a lot more natural flavor than Rite-Aide, and a better taste then Baskin-Robbins. I picked up a card, which identified the place as Rainbow Snow Cones, Home of the 50 Flavor Wagon. The ice cream with the toppings mixed in was $1.95, and the shaved ice was $2.

I went back again yesterday, and this time was craving the ice cream-always a good sign. I had pistachio, which was very good. My kids went with either cookies and cream or vanilla, and were also happy to go back too.

If you’re looking for ice cream in Santa Paula, I’d definitely head here. I’d like to try their fruit drinks, which also looked good, and I’ll report here.

Sept. 8, 2012 Update

It was warm today, so I tried the shaved ice. Good shaved ice should have the texture of snow, and when it does, it absorbs the flavors. This was good shaved ice, and for $2, a good value. Next, I'll have to try one of their fruit drinks.

Friday, August 3, 2012


In the last few weeks, I've met two Olympians, Tony Azevedo, Captain of the US Men's Water Polo Team and three time Olympian and Dain Blanton, Volleyball gold in 2000. Both were out selling products, Azevedo with his sponsor Zumo Water Polo gear and Blanton with "Focus on Freshman,"an Academic Innovations program for schools, but I spoke briefly to both and the both came off as genuinely nice guys that really did want to promote their sports and be positive role models.

As I think about it, I've met many Olympians before. I swam against John Moffet when we both age grouped 40 years ago-I could beat him then, but not for long. I swam on the first club team coached by Dr. Dave Salo, though I was at the end of my swimming career and he was at the start of his coaching career. That team, the Downey Dolphins, doesn't seem to come up in any of his biographies that I found on line. (Dr. Dave did remember me when I saw him a a coaching conference 10 years ago-I don't know if that was good or bad). In college, I lived in the next dorm room to Bruce Hayes, who after coming from the LA Olympics anchoring the 400 meter relay for gold had the worst dorm mate that anyone could imagine. Kevin Young, who'd win a gold in Barcelona in the hurdles, also lived on that dorm floor, and was in my back up band at the dorm floor talent show (I played a very bad version of the Surf Punks, "Shark Attack," and we wrote a song called "Dorm Food Blues").

Actually, as I write, I've had a few other brushes with athletic greatness-but not in sports like football or basketball. Pete Cutino, the considered by many to be the John Wooden of water polo, once dropped by where I was coaching to chat. The most insightful thing he said to me-"It takes a lot of work to get a little bit better." He gave me almost an hour of his time, and copies of his coaching book, and I believe that he was pleased that I knew who he was. Cutino had actually dropped in cold to the school I teach at, the place where he started the water polo team almost 60 years ago, and I was very much aware of the school's place in Water Polo history.

I coached against John Siman, who was on the '84 Olympic Water Polo team, and worked with Dave Laut, the bronze medalist in '84 in the shot put, during the 6 months prior to his murder. I coached against high school water polo teams led by current women's Olympians Kami Craig and Brenda Villa, and remember them both as being pretty much unstoppable. In one instance against Kami Craig, I told my player how to defend against a specific move, and Kami did it anyway. My girl looked up at me and said, "What do I do now, Coach?" My response was something along the lines of there's nothing you can do except applaud, that's why she's on the National Team.

There was some point that I was going to make, and I should get back to it. Some of them I met before their Olympic Greatness, some after, but all seemed to some way stand out.

I've never been the best, or even among the best, in anything. That's not bad, mind you. The vast majority of us are no where near the best in anything that we do, and many of us would do well to remember that. The people above, at least at one  brief point in their lives, were either the best or among the best, and there is always something to be learned from that.

I made my son come to see Azevedo, even though he doesn't want to play water polo. My rationale was that even if we were going to see the world's greatest Pick-Up Sticks players, there is something to be learned. I've met many gifted athletes-but there is something more that makes them the best, something that can't be quantified. Azevedo was very astute about judging his own talent, and the outlined the steps he took to become what he is. It is work and sacrifice, and there aren't any shortcuts.