SAILING AWAY

We had a wish – to take a boat ride, but the place we saw advertised was closed.

But then someone suggested we try the the sailing school because “sometimes they take people out.”

When I called and asked if they had openings for two people, they said that they did – on their sunset sail.  “But,” the lady said, “this isn’t the boat we usually use, it’s a lot smaller.  I think you’ll like it.”

The “substitute” boat turned out to be a 42-foot Catalina big enough for six passengers and the “captain.” The other four passengers were a family from North Carolina.

That ride turned out to be one of the great highlights of the entire trip – and unbelievably, it only costs us $25.00 a piece. The whole experience was so absolutely fantastic that we would’ve been willing to pay a lot more.

We met at the sailing school in early evening – a beautiful night, just perfect for sailing. The captain was friendly and chatted with us – more of an informal conversation than a memorized speech.

Though he did point out TY WARNER’S HOUSE.  (In case you can’t tell, so many people showed us Ty Warner’s house – it became a joke – as if that was the only thing to see in Santa Barbara.)

As we left, we saw some type of regatta in the distance making the scene stunningly beautiful.

The captain told us that he’d first take us out to see the sea lions.

And that’s what he did.

After about 20 minutes, he put up the sails – and when he did so – Cindy got to be the captain and pilot the boat.  And actually continued at the wheel for quite some time.

EL PRESIDIO REAL DE SANTA BARBARA

We got off at the downtown trolley stop mainly to see the Presidio.  Like many historic building in cities (think Alamo), you are walking down a street lined with shops and restaurants and then suddenly – there’s a building out of the 1700s. In fact, to visit the entire site, you need to cross two busy streets – a juxtaposition of old and new.

The Presidio was a military installation built by Spain back in 1782 and is, in fact, the last military post built by the Spaniards in what is now known as the United States. One of the buildings in the complex is the second oldest building in California.

The site has museum exhibits and archeological digs, plus several buildings. Ironically, the Presidio was not attacked (at least not in any major military effort) during its sixty years of existence, but was damaged by earthquakes which ruined much of the original structures.

Interesting stop – especially if you’re interested in Spanish/American history.

We then headed back to the main street and our trolley stop. While waiting, we grabbed a drink from Starbucks and then sat outside at one of the tables, taking in the sights and sounds of Santa Barbara.

A TOUR OF SANTA BARBARA (AND TY WARNER’S HOUSE)

Santa Barbara has a lot of things to see and to help you see them, the town has trollies that take you to one worth-seeing-site to another. You can get off when you want and on when you want.

Ok, second thought, not all the sites were worth seeing – like the country club where Kim K. had her wedding reception. No pictures there.

Anyhow, we rode around as the friendly trolley driver/tour guide (another person from Chicago) told us all the little factoids about Santa Barbara – and also about his life. And about how Ty Warner (of Beanie Baby fame) was building a house there in Montecito.

We drove down windy roads and then past the Montecito Inn which was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1928 and is the inspiration for the Rodgers and Hart song “There’s a Small Hotel.”  Although the inn has been remodeled several times since Charlie was there – it is still (so we were told) filled with Chaplin memorabilia including a film library.

And then by the place where Ty Warner of Beanie Baby fame was building his house and then we went around some more roads.

And pass the place where Ty Warner of Beanie Baby fame was building his house.

We then headed downtown away from Ty Warner’s house and got off at a site-worth-seeing.

MISSION SANTA BARBARA

Mission Santa Barbara is one of those Franciscan Missions you learned about in school – I’m guessing fifth grade, the big learning-about-all-the-states year.

Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen raised the cross here on December 4, 1786. The original purpose was to reach the Chumash Indians. Then later the Mexicans took back the mission and secularized it. But then the Franciscans gained control again.

Ok, if you really want to know the history of the mission, you can check it on the web.

One of the most interesting sites at the mission was the Australian Moreton Bay Fig Tree. Sometimes trees are fascinating, you know?

Here are some pictures of the mission.

Well, except for the crepe – that has nothing to do with the mission.

I won’t mention the name of the place where we went for supper the night before. Their specialty was crepes and being someone who likes crepes (I make them myself, in fact), I thought it would be good.

Wrong!

The vegetables tasted like they were straight from a can and overcooked. (Later looking at reviews of the place on the web, I discovered we weren’t the only ones disappointed.)

One indication that this wasn’t the best place around was when they couldn’t give me change because “we haven’t done much business today.”

Oh, well – one bad vacation choice among many good ones.

Back to the mission and the cool Australian tree. (By the way, we were actually at the mission twice that day – once before the “marine layer” lifted and the other after. Can you tell which of the mission pictures was taken when?)

SEA URCHINS

I have always enjoyed hanging out on piers and watching boats/ships. I like watching ships go through locks. I like watching ships floating by on the water.  I like watching fishing boats coming in with their catches of the day. (I remember a gloomy afternoon on Cape Cod, watching the men bring in lobster. I could have stayed there for hours.)

Now, in Santa Barbara, Cindy and I wandered out on the pier. We had no destination in mind, just wanted to see what was what.

And happened to hit the time of day when the fishing boats bring in the sea urchins. Boat after boat, net after net, hundreds of sea urchins dumped in bin after bin after bin.

Something about seeing all the urchins moving around in the bins was ….   Actually, I don’t know how to describe it – a mixture of emotions – but a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The colors were exquisite – purples and pinks and reds.

I asked what would happen to them and was told that they are sold to sushi restaurants for the eggs.

… a reason to be glad I don’t like sushi.

 

SANTA BARBARA

So we made our way to Santa Barbara – and then spent the next few hours looking for a motel.

We had reservations for all other nights, but had trouble finding something online in this area – so took a chance.  Seems as if everyone else was also visiting Santa Barbara. Even some of the clerks told us that it was unusual for them to be full early in the afternoon – and no one knew exactly what was going on.

Eventually we found one in Goleta.

That settled we wandered down to the pier, just in time to watch the fishing boats come in.

SOLVANG

We then wandered down to Solvang which in Dutch means “sunny fields.” This is a  Dutch town which was founded back in 1911 by some Danes who wanted to get away from midwestern winters. (Why would anyone want to get away from midwestern winters?  I don’t understand?)

Anyhow, the town looks very Dutch with windmills and a Hans Christian Andersen statue and a Hans Christian Anderson museum. Solvang is also the home of Mission Santa Ines, one of the National Historic Landmark Missions.

Our first goal was the Book Loft being that that’s where the Hans Christian Anderson museum was located – which we found. The museum itself is on the second floor of the coffeshop/bookstore and is a small room which reminded me of some of the antique shops I’ve been to – stuff all over – first editions, original artwork. (As someone described it: a cute museum in a cute shop in a cute town). They could do a lot more with it – actually fixing it up would be a a fun and challenging project.

No one was around – just a cluttered display of memorabilia.  A review by a visitor said, “You learned he wasn’t a handsome man, judging by his statue – a large nose, a top hat and a talent for loving ladies who didn’t like him in return.”  (By the way, he is the author of The Ugly Ducking, The Little Mermaid, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and dozens and dozens of other children’s stories. He also wrote travelogues.)

(From the museum brochure: “It was to this naive and direct approach that he owed his world fame: anyone anywhere could, and can, understand him. Of all the writers of this world, Andersen is the only one to be read everywhere.”)

After meandering among long-ago-tales, we went back outside and wandered around looking for somewhere to have lunch. We ended up at The Mustard Seed, a restaurant with a pretty patio (and very bad reviews on the web, but we didn’t know that until later).  I had the French dip and it was good – especially compared to our supper (more about that later). Mostly I remember the yellow jackets.

The other thing we decided to do was stop at one of the Danish bakeries – having lived in one of those probable midwestern cities from which the Solvang citizens escaped – I know about Danish bakeries. We went to Mortensons and bought some treats. (Could I just say here – we ate very little junk food on this trip! This, however, was a worthwhile bakery stop.)

And that was our experience in the Dutch world of Solveng.

THE BEACH AT SPOONER’S COVE (MONTANA DEL ORO)

So we drove through the eucalyptus grove, rounded a curve and there in front of us was the magnificent Montana del Oro beach – Spooner’s Cove.

We had heard that this is a favorite place to view beautiful sunsets, but being that we were there 9:00 in the morning and were once again dealing with marine layer – I have no proof that the sunset-viewing recommendation is true.

Montana del Oro is named mountain of gold because of the many golden-colored wildflowers spread across the park – however, with the exception of the field where we saw the deer, we didn’t see any wildflowers, so once again I cannot personally back up that statement. But the park has more than 8,000 acres (one of the largest of the California state parks), so there was a lot we didn’t see.

The cove itself was worth the trip. The rock formations are angled – all the same angle, so even though you were standing straight up and down, you felt as if you should be leaning.

The water crashed into the rocks – look at the one picture and you see the water forming a miniature water fall.

Interestingly, Cindy bent down to pick up a rock (the beach is covered with pebbles, rather than sand) and was surprised to find it very lightweight – later I read that they’re a type of shale.

Most of the time we were there a young couple was taking pictures of their baby – probably about a year old – playing in the pebbles with the cove in the background. I’m sure they must’ve gotten some good shots because they took about 300 of them – but then again, I’ve been known to take a few pictures myself 🙂