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 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.
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,
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 (http://bradleystryker.com), married Caitlin Cromwell, actress (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2973504/), in a beautiful beachside ceremony.
|Father of the bride Sheldon Cromwell and Caitlin.|
|The Wedding Venue|
|Caitlin and Bradley|
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|