Santa Barbara

Originally published 5 February 2014.

Off to Santa Barbara we go! After a beautiful run with my gal Val in her cute town of Camarillo, we set out for another Californian adventure! Her Steve told us about an authentic Spanish food stand in Santa Barbara, so that’s where we luncheoned. The Spanish settled California first, so that’s definitely an authentic taste of the state!

The place was called… something I can’t remember… and it was this cash-only, hole-in-the-wall type of place you’d only find if you were looking for it, which, of course, we were! I don’t remember the names of what we got, but here it is:

Watermelon water, 
beef taco with homemade tortillas, and cheese sauce
Tamale on the left, white sauce on the right!

We left full and happy. Now onward to the Santa Barbara Courthouse! Why are we excited about a courthouse? Because it’s one of the most elaborate, beautiful, classic courthouses in the country. People get married there (and not just a civil ceremony), it’s one of the top attractions in town, and even though it was constructed in 1929, it was intentionally built to reflect the city’s original Spanish culture. The murals on the walls are stunning, and the decor and building materials make you think you’ve stepped into Spain!

Val and I went all the way up to the top of the tower in the courthouse, and though it was overcast and chilly, we got some great views! You can see the Pacific Ocean from there, and on the other side you can see the mountains. California has a little bit of everything!


And off we went to wander on! The sun came out and made the whole day warmer and even more beautiful. The streets of the downtown area, particularly State Street, are populated with cute boutique shops and unique restaurants. There are elaborate old theaters still operating, and the city has done a beautiful job of landscaping! The Birds of Paradise flowers are my favorite:

Bird of Paradise

We found a cute coffee shop that does latte art and makes their pop tarts in-house, which is pretty much awesome, so we needed to stop in and taste what that’s all about! There’s a little area just off the main street with cute restaurants, shops, fountains, and statues, so we played around with them as well. One of the statues actually moves and plays music! I got my picture with a turtle-populated fountain, and Val got a picture of her pointing to the CORRECT place of a dolphin’s blowhole.

By mid-afternoon, we thought we’d better go see some ocean and then head out to the desert for hiking before the rains started up again. We drove to the Four Seasons, which is a stunning venue all on its own, and looked around in there for a bit. And just across the street is Butterfly Beach! It was windy, but the sun had warmed things up considerably, and sound of the ocean was like sweet, warm music. Could it possibly be January? The sand was still wet from high tide and the morning rain, and there were only a few people out on the beach. It was peaceful, and beautiful, and wonderful. I can’t wait to go back!


Off to Ojai! Ojai is a truly adorable little town in the desert. We took a windy, mountainous road to get there, with views of a lake and the sinking sun. It’s a whole different kind of beautiful! The clouds had come back by the time we arrived, and it had already started sprinkling, so we opted to walk around the cute shops in town instead of going for a hike and risk getting caught in a storm!

Night began to fall and we were ready to get home! Val took us home a way that included a lovely view of the Pacific. We arrived back in Camarillo just as the sun was setting. The clouds had lifted, the rain had stopped, and as we drove up, and up, and up the hill, we saw the Channel Islands in the distance! Val stopped so we could get some pictures, and they were totally worth it! The last few mornings had been foggy, so the Islands in the distance didn’t show up well until now. And how beautiful with the pink, orange, yellow, and red sunset as a backdrop!

But the best was yet to come…

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