Friday, July 26, 2013

Santa Barbara: Road Trip and More

Combine flying, a road trip, and a beach wedding and you get our recent trip to SoCal.  The purpose for the trip was our nephew’s wedding on the beach near Santa Barbara, but we decided to make a mini road trip of it.  We flew to San Jose--it’s far too expensive to fly into Santa Barbara’s small airport--and drove to the wedding venue.  
It had been forty or more years since we’d driven this part of US Hwy 101 and we’d forgotten how incredibly boring the drive was.  Finally, we got over to the ocean and stopped for a walk about and lunch in Pismo Beach.  
Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach Attractions

Far more entertaining than the dry, brown grasslands between San Jose and San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach was a welcome break from the tedious drive.  The clerk in the surf shop

 where I bought my California “baggies” (at least that’s what we used to call our surfing shorts in the dark ages of the late 60s when Anne and I hung out at Huntington Beach every weekend) suggested that the Cool Cat Cafe was good for a quick sandwich.  The waitress in the cafe said she could beat the expiration time on our parking meter

--and she did.  We were now refueled physically and mentally for the rest of the day’s drive to Solvang, the Danish inspired resort town about an hour north of Santa Barbara.
Solvang (Danish for “sunny fields”), founded in 1911, is similar to Washington state’s Bavarian modeled resort Leavenworth, only with the Danish/Scandinavian theme.  The three blocks of the village are filled with bakeries, restaurants, and merchants.  

If you are into buying souvenirs or cuckoo clocks the shopping is good.  If you’re beyond that stage of life, stick to the bakeries.  
Danish Mill bakery

We did find a fine little hat shop where both Anne and I found our type of souvenirs to wear. 

In the morning a latte and danish at the Danish Mill Bakery (one of about six in the three block area of downtown) was almost mandatory, then, since the comp breakfast at the King Frederick Inn was just more dainty danishes (Or are they dani?), it was back downtown to the Solvang Restaurant for a real breakfast.  The highlight of Solvang was the Santa Ines (or Ynes) Mission. 

This Franciscan mission is one of the 21 Spanish missions stretching along the El Camino Real, the King’s Highway, US 101, from San Francisco to San Diego.  

Mission Garden

Established in 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis, the mission was home to the first learning institution in the area, a seminary.
Taking the back way from the Santa Ynez valley into Santa Barbara, Hwy 154, we ventured up to Chumash Painted Cave Historic Park.  “Up” is the operative word for this side trip--the three-mile almost single-track road with few passing places climbs at a dizzying pace up the mountains above Santa Barbara eleven miles northwest.  

The small sandstone cave protectively blocked by an iron gate houses some fine paintings most likely done by Chumash shaman.  

The paintings, as much as 1000 years old, are thought to reflect Chumash Native cosmology, but the exact meanings of the paintings are lost in antiquity.  
From the cave to Santa Barbara’s harbor was a short drive, 
Santa Barbara 

but it was pleasant to walk along the beach from the harbor to the pier 

and have lunch of chowder and bread at Moby Dick’s Pub.  Most enjoyable was the small water taxi/tour back to the harbor from the pier.  

Two more Santa Barbara sites we visited--by this time more and more time was taken up by wedding activities--were the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (not worth a stop on your trip or a photo from mine) and the jewel of the California missions, Old Mission Santa Barbara.  
Old Mission Santa Barbara

The lovely exterior view rivals that of  Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson and inside is a great small museum, lovely chapel, and garden.  

The mission was dedicated in 1786 and then had to be rebuilt in 1820 after being destroyed by an earthquake.  
The monks give up worldly goods, except Birkenstocks.

A visit to Mission Santa Barbara is certainly a couple of hours well spent.  
Now to the wedding.  Our nephew Bradley Stryker, actor/filmmaker (, married Caitlin Cromwell, actress (, in a beautiful beachside ceremony.  
Father of the bride Sheldon Cromwell and Caitlin.

The Wedding Venue

Caitlin and Bradley

The Strykers

After the ceremony a full blown reception/dinner consumed the rest of the evening.

Television actor Alex Quijano roasts the happy couple.

The final part of the trip was again a boring drive from Santa Barbara to San Jose (which included a stretch of typical SoCal traffic--45 minutes to go seven miles) and our flight home.  The highlight of the return trip, though, was the flight attendant on Southwest who presented the required safety information as a comedy routine, which included such gems as:
--”We don’t expect cabin pressure to drop--if we did, we wouldn’t have shown up today--but if it does, stop screaming, let go of your neighbor, and put the mask on before helping others who need help like husbands, politicians, and children.  If you have more than one child, first help your favorite or the one with the most potential and then help the rest.”
--”In case of a water landing in the large body of water between San Jose and Portland, a life vest is under the seat.  Pull the tab to inflate or, if you’re macho, blow in the tube.  When you get out of the puddle, creek, or swimming pool you can keep the life vest as a souvenir of your SW flight--free.”
--”It is illegal to tamper with or destroy lavatory smoke detectors.  If you do, there is a $2000 fine, and if you wanted to pay $2000 to fly from San Jose to Portland you would have booked on United and flown through Denver.”
You know, almost everybody listened to the safety announcement which could have ended, “Thank you for flying Comedy Central.”
         A beautiful wedding and an outstanding road trip!

Black Skimmers, Santa Barbara East Beach

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Spring Trip into England, Part 4

On this spring’s trip to England Anne and I visited many interesting places, some of which we catalogued in previous posts.  We also took note of some interesting place names, particularly the village names.  I thought I would use those names to tell about our visit to England.  The villages will be alphabetical, except for the most interesting name which I’ll save for last.
Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.  The name comes from bourton (OE, Old English) meaning a fort or enclosure.  So, Bourton-on-the-Water means “a fortification farm/settlement on the River Winrush.”    The village very well fits its name.  A wide main street has businesses on one side and the river flanked by more businesses on the other side.  
Anne, Bourton-on-the-Water, and the River Winrush

Ice Cream this way.

Ducks played in the small river and, although it was cloudy and in the low fifties, strollers relished the local ice cream cones they got from one of the local shops.

Buckfastleigh, Devon.  This small village on the eastern edge of Dartmoor is host to Buckfast Abbey and has a fairly straight forward etymology to its name.  All from Old English, Buckfastleigh comes from the combination of bucc or “a male deer,” faesten meaning “a stronghold,” and leah for “a forest glen or glade.”  Buckfastleigh, named for a thicket where bucks sheltered,  is a grand place for the monks to live and work. 
Add caption

All products of monasteries.

Beside the lovely church at Buckfast Abbey there is a nice gift shop filled with produce of local and related monasteries.

Cheddar, Somerset.  The name of the village and one of the world’s great cheeses has an interesting derivation.  Ceod (OE) for “hollow” or ceunant (Welsh) for “wooded hollow” combines with dor (OE) meaning an “entrance to a pass between hills.”  
Parking is at a premium in Cheddar Gorge.

Thus, Cheddar is descriptive of a gorge with many caves.   It also may mean a place with many people and many tourist shops and not enough parking.  
So, we bought our cheese from one of the "original" cheese shops.

There were, though, two cheese shops both claiming to be selling the “original” Cheddar Cheese.

Lower and Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire.  The Lower and Upper are from Latin and refer to village position on the River Eye.  The rest of the name derives from slohtre (OE) meaning “a slough, mire, muddy place.”  
River Eye flows past the village. 

Village housing near the mill.

Art classes outside while the weather was good.

We thought the villages were quite cute even if named Lower and Upper muddy place.  With its 19th century watermill, now an interesting local crafts shop, the village of 17th and 18th century houses was pleasant to walk through.
The Mill shop in Lower Slaughter.

Lower Slaughter local resident used to sitting for portraits.

Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.  The very busy Cotswold market town gets its name from its location in the marshy area (mor (OE) for ‘Marsh”) by the small River Evenlode, and tun (OE) for “an enclosure, village.” 
The Royal Mail box was one of the most exciting things in Moreton.

 But if you put it all together Moreton-in-Marsh really means the marshy town in the marsh.  About the only thing of interest in the village was the cheese shop, 
The only thing better than the post box was the cheese shop.

but it had no “original” cheddar.

Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire.  One of the more unusual village names turns out to be quite simple.  Stow is Old English for “a place” and wald is Anglican for “a forest, or high forest land.”  Thus, Stow-on-the-Wold is a place in the high forest.  While there is much forest around the village now,
I had to back up to get this photo.

Plenty of cement in the "place in a high forest."

the village itself is almost all stone and cement.  I will say that Stow had some of the most interesting shops of any of the villages we visited.

Tintagel, Cornwall.  With its castle the supposed birthplace of King Arthur, the village is a must for tourists.  Its name comes from din (W) for “fort” and tagell (Cornish) meaning “throat or constriction.” 
A bridge connects parts of Tintagel Castle.

Down actually looks steeper than up.

 A “fortification on a neck of land” is exactly what the village of Tintagel is.  The castle at the edge of the village is reach by a bridge and eventually will become an island.  
The Tintagel Castle Visitors' Centre from the castle.

View from the castle.

The climb up the steep steps to the castle is worth the effort.

Finally, we come to this village name: Mousehole, Cornwall.   
Mousehole shops sell...what else!

Pronounced “mowzel” and rhyming with “cowz’ll,” Mousehole was originally called Porth Enys which is Cornish for “cove near the island”--St Clement islet is 400 meters offshore from the harbour entrance.  The village, which Welsh poet Dylan thomas called “the loveliest village in England,”
Mousehole harbour and village.

Barely enough room for the local public transport.

 is one of the most picturesque and tightest we visited.  But no sources can tell us how Porth Enys came to be called Mousehole.  But after all is said and done, what’s in a name? 

This Story Might Ring a Bell

At the lovely Brechin GC in the Scottish Highlands we ran into a problem.  On the tee box of one hole was as sign, "Do not play until bell is rung."

We had seen nobody on the course in front of us.  We heard no bell.  We waited.  And we waited.  And we waited.  We were running out of daylight and, as much as we try to always follow local rules, we had to tee off without hearing a bell.  When we got over the hill there was the bell.  Nobody was playing behind us, but I had Anne go over and ring the bell 

so that whomever would follow us could be sure the bell was rung.  At times we just marvel at how confusing local rules can be.