Originally published 1 January, 2015
The view headed south towards Santa Barbara
We started out in Santa Maria (the first of the Santas), a town surrounded by farms. In our travels, we saw miles of strawberries, grape vines, brussel sprouts, orange trees, and lush green fields. I'm sure the 20 plus inches of rain they received recently didn't hurt. As we travel further south, this heavy cover of vegetation turns to desert. We begin to see cactus, scrub, and lots of sage brush.
On the pier in Santa Barbara
Our first stop is the town of Santa Barbara. It is sunny, and the weather is very nice. We wander the pier and the waterfront. It's a nice walk and we're happy for the great weather. Oregon was cold and misty, somewhat like Scotland. Southern California is sunny and clear, even if it's a bit cold (for here). Our next stop is the courthouse. No, we haven't done anything wrong. It is a tourist attraction in it's own right.
Open air interior of the Santa Monica Courthouse
The courthouse is a spanish revival style, and looks like the missions and similar buildings of old. It has open corridors and a clock tower that we climbed to view the town. It was a gorgeous old building and very different from the architectural styles back east. It was worth the visit.
Fast food Nirvana!
We head out of town and we are looking for lunch. I have ideas....and it's southern California. I start to watch for an In-n-Out Burger! They are the holy grail of fast food burgers and I have one whenever I come out west. I also bought a t shirt! Lunch was a burger, but it was a good one.
View from the clock tower on the Santa Barbara courthouse
After lunch in Ventura, we head down the 101. The recent heavy rains caused landslides that have blocked about ten miles of the coast road. We wind up coming back to the coast road via Malibu Canyon and drop right into downtown Malibu. I had this picture in my head of what Malibu would be like...based mostly on watching the show "Two and a Half Men". It was.....kinda accurate, and kinda not.
We saw all matters of exotic cars on the road. We also passed Anthony Michael Hall (Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Dead Zone, etc.) walking on the side of the road with two other guys. Parking in Malibu is a nightmare and the beach isn't accessible unless you own a house (the beach is fenced). From the road it looks...kinda shabby. I guess I just expected it to be more grand. From the beach side, the houses look much nicer, even if they are only a few feet apart. Any that are for sale....expect between 2000 and 3000 sf. And expect a price around 10 million.
New years evening at Santa Monica
We keep moving down the pacific coast highway. It has become VERY urban. We are surrounded by "town" and don't see much nature anymore. We come to the famous Santa Monica Pier, and it's mobbed. We feel obligated to stop nonetheless. We walk the pier, and watch the people.....and it was actually fun! We watched the sun go down, and walked a bit more. Then we started south.
Huge crowds on the pier
The sun sinks into the Pacific
It's dark at this point but unlike our previous travels after dark, we can tell what our surroundings look like. The guide book said that the beaches south of Santa Monica are "industrial", and "gritty". This is pretty accurate, evidenced by the large amount of industry and oil refineries right off the coast highway. Some of the places we're driving through seem kinda rough. We decide at this point to press on to San Diego and spend two nights there. This will leave us a whole day to explore the city.
We'll comment on San Diego tomorrow.
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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