Is Tahoe’s Real Estate Market About to Repeat Itself? Will You Miss Out?

Luke Curran compared the cost of living in Lake Tahoe to other real estate markets.

Google Maps
“As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” – Mark Twain

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Part One: Market

5-Year Time Frames 2015 -2020

In the summer of 2015 an article quoted Chase International’s take on home prices.

Lake Tahoe home prices continue to rise 14 percent to $525,000. Overall sales around the lake dipped slightly from this time last year, with Incline Village seeing decreases across the board and Tahoe City seeing healthy improvements.

Courtesy VanceFox.com

Sotheby’s International Realty Sierra compared 2015 Incline Village/Crystal Bay Real Estate Market

  • Non-Lakefront Properties improved since our first post recession, come-back  year in 2013.
  • A relatively strong supply of inventory exists in our Incline Village and Crystal Bay
  • Lakefront condo sales dropped from 14 in 2013, to 13 in 2014, down to just 7 in 2015.

In the winter of 2016 Deb Howard & Co of South Tahoe Real Estate described the South Shore Lake Tahoe market as experiencing

… slow but steady growth, both in sales and pricing projected at 5%

Courtesy of Tahoe Luxury Properties
  • Tahoe-Truckee real estate market for luxury home sales decline at end of 2015
  • Luxury home sales in North Lake Tahoe and the Truckee area down 39 percent from the 82 high-end sales during the fourth quarter of 2014 20 percent decline

But, overall 2015 was a good year for the housing market in general in this region.

“Inventory levels are starting out 2016 traditionally low.”

Courtesy of Tahoe Luxury Properties

In terms of luxury sales, Truckee communities boasted the most with 24, followed by North Lake Tahoe, West Tahoe Olympic Valley and then Alpine Meadows.

Realtors looked favorably towards 2016.

Why?

South Tahoe Real Estate explained it this way.

With the inventory available coupled with homes still priced at 5-6 year lows and very favorable interest rates, the conditions are attractive for savvy real estate investors who want to get into the Tahoe-Truckee market

When things start to normalize again both the buyer and seller have peace of mind.

The good news –  at the macro level:

  • US underlying economic fundamentals are forecast to be stable
  • GDP at 3%,
  • unemployment decreasing to 5% and
  • interest rates hovering at historic lows of 4-5%
  • all of which contribute to consumer confidence uptick!

The good news – at the overall Lake Tahoe Real Estate Market level:

  • Stabilized values remove years of uncertainty and drive a new infusion of qualified home buyers, investors and vacation lifestyle buyers.
  • Value pricing coupled with low interest rates favors a diversification of a financial portfolio toward tangible investment – read “real estate.”
  • Attractive investment property opportunities with  favorable returns on investment (ROI). Lake Tahoe’s lack of inventory keeps prices moving up.
  • Lake Tahoe emerges again as a revitalized resort community with four season to enjoy quality-of-life and lifestyle desires.
  • The beauty of the area draws investors and second-home owners heavily from the San Francisco Bay Area where record amounts of wealth have been created over the last few years.

And that translates into demand for Lake Tahoe real estate and drives growth at a rapid rate.

Luke Curran compared the cost of living in Lake Tahoe to other real estate markets.

www.SeniorLiving.Org

When you add up the major expenses – housing costs, groceries, utilities and transportation –  because of the area’s small population, the cost of living is lower here than in most cities.

In fact he says …

  • The cost of living is 15% higher in San Francisco than it is in the Lake Tahoe area.
  • The housing costs 49% higher in San Fran.

But, according to Chase International

Photo credit: Selbe. on Best Running / CC BY-NC-ND

Mark Twain agreed when he wrote in “Roughing It” in 1880.

“As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”

Approaching Lake Tahoe today, there’s no denying the unique rural atmosphere with small lakeside towns.

Whether you travel to the North Shore via I-80 or to the South Shore via US 50.

Steps:

22) Selectively evaluate the best quality-of-life communities to live in and weigh the tradeoffs of risk and rewards for accruing real estate appreciation along a progression of rural and small towns that meet what your pocket books can afford.

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on Topix.com.

34) On your visits look for any newer developments that may trigger changes in neighborhood patterns. New construction in or around the neighborhood? Major regional economic adjustments? Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests? Rezoning, and dramatically rising/falling land values?

Market

Looking back in hindsight the realtor consensus pegged 2012 as the bottom of the market.

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Listings
Depressed home pricing motivated buyers due to historically low-interest rates which averaged 3.657% for 30 year fully amortized conforming loans. 

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program, Lake Tahoe

The 2015 – 2016 season may turn out to be the perfect winter.

Everyone relishes the thriving economic conditions after suffering through a series of abnormally dry winters.

Most realtors in the Lake Tahoe region point to a home and second home market that has been on an upswing for several years.  

In fact, Tahoe Mountain Realty said …

“Sales in the Lake Tahoe region surpassed $1 billion for the third consecutive year.” 

Tahoe Mountain Realty Property Alert

The absorption rate — the supply of how many homes are for sale compared to the supply of properties that were in demand and could be sold at the current sales pace —  revealed a more balanced market.

Tahoe Mountain Reality wrote that 

“the region is now balanced with a 6-months supply available.”

In the luxury real estate market Lake Tahoe experienced the most significant surge in new home construction in over a decade especially in 

  • Martis Camp, 
  • Gray’s Crossing, 
  • Lahontan, 
  • Schaffer’s Mill 
  • and Old Greenwood.

5-Year Time Frames from 2009 — 2014

Not that long ago, during the winter of 2011 – 2012, the absorption rate for South Lake Tahoe was driven by the trend of short and bank-owned (REO) sales. 

That market was out of balance which realtors say is roughly 2 to 4-months supply of inventory.  

You’re in a “buyers market” if it takes longer than a 4 months absorption rate.  

Buyers simply have a greater selection of properties to choose from. 

 If the sales pace picks up and only takes an estimated 2 months or less to clear the inventory of homes, then you’re in a “sellers market.” 

Sellers face less competition from fewer available choices for motivated buyers.

South Lake Tahoe, realtors claimed in 2012, hadn’t seen a balanced market for quite some time. 

Looking back in hindsight the realtor consensus pegged 2012 as the bottom of the market.

Luke Curran wrote in 2014 how the Lake Tahoe real estate market at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 was stronger than ever.  

But, within a span of a year home values dropped like a stone.  

To the bottom of the lake.

If you had wanted to sell, you missed your top dollar opportunity.  

If you had the cash and a little foresight you could have taken advantage of the decline in prices.

Kelly Smith in the fall of 2010 speculated about Truckee homes, condos and lots sales between 2008 to 2010 picking up due to the declining values in both Truckee and Northstar.

Writing about West Lake Tahoe over the previous 3 years Kelly said the decrease in value on average amounted to a historic trend 

North Lake Tahoe from Incline Stateline to Tahoe City didn’t fair any better. 

David Westfall pointed to the impact of California’s long-term drought on the local ski and snowboarding resorts.

“Perhaps no other community was as impacted by successive dry winters as Northstar.” 

But the timing was ripe for substantial investment in Northstar from … 

  • Vail Resorts, 
  • Mountainside Partners and 
  • Kennedy-Wilson. 

Luke Curran described how real estate market differs among subdivisions of the Lake Tahoe area.

For instance, condos on the west shore are pricier, while in 2014 the market for condos at Squaw and Alpine hadn’t grown as rapidly as other areas.

During the winter of 2012 -2013 in February the Yee Hedley Group compared year-end 2012 to 2011.  

The Yee Hedley Group Featured Listings

They found positive signs in the MLS listing inventory.  “

It was at an all time low, just like the good old days back in 2004 and 2005.

That’s not all.  

They documented signs of 

… dramatic improvement upon comparing overall home sale statistics from 2012 to 2011.”

David Westfall, a month earlier, in January 2013, assessed the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee markets.  

He found a silver lining for single family homes.

“Depressed home pricing motivated buyers due to historically low-interest rates which averaged 3.657% for 30 year fully amortized conforming loans.” 

Sotheby’s International Realty published year-end reviews of Lake Tahoe sales from 2012 to 2015. 

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Listings

In addition to the numbers they framed the real estate market.

“It spans 72 miles of Lake Tahoe shoreline, two state lines and a handful of California and Nevada counties and four multiple listing services – North & West Shore, East Shore, Incline Village and Truckee.”

Sotheby’s agreed with Luke Curran who wrote in the spring of 2014, 

“Buyers want a low price on a home and after the value of the home has gone up, and they sell it, they want a profit”.  

Before you make the big financial decision to purchase or sell a home in the Truckee /Lake Tahoe you need to drill down into the micro market data. 

Sotheby’s farms the 

  • North & West Shore, 
  • East Shore, 
  • Incline Village, 
  • Truckee, and 
  • South Lake Tahoe markets.

Luke Curran broke the Lake Tahoe down into five areas he covered: 

  • North Shore, 
  • West Shore, 
  • Squaw / Alpine, 
  • Truckee and 
  • Northstar.

David Westfall breaks Tahoe and Truckee into 10 micro market neighborhoods, 5 apiece.

Tahoe:

  • Alpine Meadows
  • North Shore
  • Squaw Valley
  • Tahoe City Area
  • West Shore

Truckee:

  • Donner Lake
  • Glenshire Area
  • Golf Course Communities
  • Northstar
  • Tahoe Donner

Part Two: Is Tahoe’s Real Estate Market About to Repeat Itself? Will You Miss Out?

Steps:

22) Selectively evaluate the best quality-of-life communities to live in and weigh the tradeoffs of risk and rewards for accruing real estate appreciation along a progression of rural and small towns that meet what your pocket books can afford.

25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.” 

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on Topix.com.

34) On your visits look for any newer developments that may trigger changes in neighborhood patterns. New construction in or around the neighborhood? Major regional economic adjustments? Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests? Rezoning, and dramatically rising/falling land values?

 

Time to Circle the Lake and Discover Your Next Adventure

Packed in SUVs like sardines, they imagine sliding and skiing and all the fun they bring chasing runs when the lifts open.

 

Yup, Gold Hill. And, then finally Virginia City, brief home of Samuel Clemens where he became Mark Twain.

Part One: Tahoe

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

What if your designer spouse, roommate or mother felt the Washoe clock was so valuable that it proudly sat on your contemporary living room wall, but in a square designer frame?

If you took your marker and drew a line from the center of the lake to the upper left-hand corner at the top of the frame through the clock – lake’s “9” and “10” you’d find Tahoe City on the lake’s border.

And, Olympic Valley (Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts) Northstar Resort and Truckee.

Most of the tourists originating in Silicon Valley and Sacramento take I-80 northeast to Truckee for quick access.

Packed in SUVs like sardines, they imagine sliding and skiing and all the fun they bring chasing runs when the lifts open.

They connect to Northstar and the lake by taking SR 267 from Truckee and on to Olympic Valley over CA 89.

Actually, if they craved fresh powder at Kirkwood, or at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort they’d opt for the southern route choosing US 50 leaving Sacramento.

Many choose that route to take them into South Lake Tahoe at the “6” on our Washoe clock.

You can too.

Check first with Siri.

No law against it.

But, after a stop at Sierra-at-Tahoe, and continuing on, you eventually connect with the 89.

The road.

Not on your loved one’s square-bordered contemporary clock face.

Following Lake Tahoe’s western border travel south, between the “9” and the “6,” you’ll come to the intersection where the US 50 and CA 89 meet.

Which is a good thing, trust me.

The 50 north takes you to the southern corner of the lake where Stateline (Nevada) and South Lake Tahoe (California) border each other again at “5” on the clock.

There you’ll find the gondola taking you to Heavenly Mountain Resort just on the California side of the border.

Slowly glide up the mountain top to where you can snowboard and ski all the runs that crisscross back and forth across the state lines.

Then 50 connects the south lake with the north lake following  the eastern Nevada shore until “3” on the ticking clock face, near Glenbrook.

It picks up Route 28 to complete the circle once you pass Lake Tahoe State Park and pull into Incline Village.

But, forget all that.

The part about traveling north.

When US 50 connects to the Luther Pass Road (CA 89) (formerly known as Emerald Bay Road and West Lake Boulevard) somewhere between Echo Lake and Meyers, you travel south for a while until near Sorensen you exit onto Carson Pass Highway (88).

From there it’s a long hop and a skip past Caples Lake until you find Kirkwood Meadows Dr. and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, duh.

Oh, and while we’ve mentioned Glenbrook, the 50 these days takes you east where you can connect with US 395.

You go north on the merged US 50 and US 395 until just south of Carson City, NV.

Then the 50 continues east, now called Lincoln Highway, until just beyond Mound House.

Drive to Route 341 and take it north from the 50 intersection.

Continue until the Route 341 forks and take Route 342 just south of Silver City.

Guess what’s up next?

Yup, Gold Hill.

And, then finally Virginia City, brief home of Samuel Clemens where he became Mark Twain.

And, if you are still playing along with us, Virginia City sits almost directly east of Truckee.

In the upper right hand corner of your spouse’s, roommate’s or mother’s framed Washoe-manufactured leaf-shaped tick tock clock.

Enough about that for now.

During the summer of 2015, you’ll recall we noticed an emerging trend first in Durango and then in the Summit County, Colorado, ski and snowboard resort towns.

The local real estate markets began heating up.

Before we continue our story about Lake Tahoe (and later Mammoth Lakes, California) let’s visit the pros and cons of investing in real estate.

Especially in light of the equity locked up in Baby Boomer households given some of the reverse mortgage scenarios and calculated risks.

Steps:

(32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

In Search of Oprah – at the Bacara, San Yisidro Ranch or in Montecito?

It’s a popular destination for politicians, celebrities, and royalty, and was recently named “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller.

 

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “You’ll do what millions of others do and still feel like you’re contributing something different.  It’s because you really are.”

 

Final installment of Steve and Emma’s Empty-Nest Adventures in Santa Barbara..

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Part Four:  Morning for the East Beach Grille in Paradise

Part Five:  Authentic Lifestyles and Cozy Couches

On Sunday, the final day of our long Veterans Day Weekend we made arrangements to meet our fellow Scorpios for a quick sight-seeing tour of the Greater Santa Barbara highlights –

  • The Ritz-Carlton Bacara,
  • The El Enchanto Hotel, the 
  • San Ysidro Ranch and finally
  • Montecito for dinner at the Honor Bar .

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “You want your work to be artful and useful, or you’d rather not turn it in at all.  The thing is, you’re not the best judge of this today.”

Today was Sunday.

Dave dropped by the Hotel Santa Barbara  for a leisurely continental breakfast in the lobby before heading down the coast near Ventura to catch his fill of waves. 

After leaving our luggage with the Valet and making arrangements for picking up our car after our Montecito dinner we were picked up by our friends and headed north towards San Luis Obispo in search of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Here’s how The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara’s website describes their 80 acre property:

“Low-rise villas with wrought-iron balconies.

Beaches that glow under the sun.

The water at your doorstep.

Vibrant blues and intricate patterns.

Food that is meant to be savored with the sunset.”

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara embodies the charm, beauty and energy of the Mediterranean

in the heart of Santa Barbara, offering ocean-view accommodations,

an indulgent spa and dining that celebrates local ingredients.”

Okay.

We agree on almost every point except for that part about being in the heart of Santa Barbara, right?

I’d argue that the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street is in the heart of Santa Barbara, but I’m not a copy writer.

It’s Zip Code belongs to Goleta and expands to Gaviota and another section north of Solvang and Los Olivos.

Zip Code: 93117

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Exurb Society -WIES

08Y1S2, Executive Suites, 30-44,  Couples, Midlife Success, Affluentials (Mission Viejo, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

Permanent Temporaries

Interim Middle Managers – PTIMM 

22Y2S3, Young Influentials, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Suburbs, Middleburbs (Tempe, AZ)

Community Neighbors:

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

35Y2C2, Boomtown Singles, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, City Centers, (San Marcos, TX)

Even as the neighborhoods become more remote as you fan out from Santa Barbara the degree of affluence and status falls within the upper 15% to 50% of all lifestyles.

Residents in the Wealthy Influential neighborhoods tend to be midlife successful couples also living in Mission Viejo, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The remaining lifestyles fall closer to the midpoint of affluence, are classified by Claritas as “Mainstream Singles” falling in the broad 25-54 year old age range – also calling Tempe, Arizona or Napa, California or San Marcos, Texas home.

Next up?  

We back tracked and drove about 25 minutes on winding foothill roads until we arrived at the Belmond El Enchanto for drinks and an appetizer as we overlooked the Santa Barbara harbor

According to their website the resort was popular with the Plein Air School of artists.

Belmond El Encanto’s former 1920s glory has been lovingly restored to become one of the most celebrated resorts on the West Coast.

The restoration process helped to highlight the original Spanish-colonial and Californian craftsman styles, with modern additions including a zero-edge outdoor pool and sumptuous boutique spa. Here, every sense is heightened.

The Belmond El Encanto joins Stearns Wharf, The Santa Barbara Zoo, The Santa Barbara Bowl and tony streets with exclusive homes tucked away from sight.

Zip Code: 93103 

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers 

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 45+ 55+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Affluently Elite – WIAE 

01M1S1, Upper Crust, 45+, Couple, Affluent Empty-Nests, Elite Suburbs (Half Moon Bay, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

10M1C1, Second City Elite, 45+, Couples, Affluent Empty Nests, Second City Society (Ft. Myers, FL)

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

27M2C2, Middleburg Managers, 55+ Couples,  Conservative Classics, City Centers (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

You’ll find very few 25-54 Mainstream Singles in these neighborhoods.  Instead you’ll see wealthy couples at midlife, in their empty nest years or nearing retirement, if they haven’t already.

The most affluent, upper crust lifestyle calls this part of Santa Barbara home, like they do farther up the coast in Half Moon Bay, California.

Watching the sun set over the channel almost lulled us into bliss.  Until we collectively realized we had one more stop to make before dinner.

Higher up on more twisty canyon roads took us to San Ysidro Ranch in the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We peeked into an original 1825 Old Adobe Cottage as sunset light was beginning to fade.

Santa Barbara Independent writer,  Tyler Hayden, put it this way.

The ranch was originally part of a 1769 land grant by Charles III of Spain, served as a sanctuary for Franciscan monks before becoming a citrus operation and then eventually a hotel.

Spanning 500 manicured acres with broad views of the Pacific Ocean, the San Ysidro Ranch ― currently owned by Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner ― consists of 41 cottages and suites, multiple wedding venues, and award-winning restaurants.

“It’s a popular destination for politicians, celebrities, and royalty, and was recently named “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller.”

As the sunset, we were glad we at least got to see it while we strolled around the grounds and imagined staying here on some future trip.

The ranch shares the same zip code with Montecito and Summerland and includes the most affluent lifestyles – Wealthy Influentials and Wireless Resorters.

Zip Code: 93108

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Affluently Elite – WIAE

01M1S1, Upper Crust, 45+, Couple, Affluent Empty-Nests, Elite Suburbs (Half Moon Bay, CA)

Exurb Society -WIES

08Y1S2, Executive Suites, 30-44,  Couples, Midlife Success, Affluentials (Mission Viejo, CA)

14M2S2, New Empty Nests, 55+, Couples, Conservative Classics, Affluentials (Indian Wells, CA)

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR

09M1T1, Big Fish Small Pond, 45+, Couples, Affluent Empty Nests, Accumulated Wealth, Landed Gentry (Mammoth Lakes, CA)

Maturing Resorts – WRMR

11Y1T1, God’s Country, 30-44, Couples, Midlife Success, Landed Gentry (Boulder, CO)

Historic Montecito Inn

Even more exclusive estates behind walls and private, gated driveways hide affluent celebrities and the rich and famous.

Could that be Oprah’s or Ellen’s compound over there?

We’ve always enjoyed spending weekends in Santa Barbara, especially at the Montecito Inn once owned by Charlie Chaplin.

On those getaways we’ve strolled along Coast Village Road to the Honor Market next to the restaurant for coffee  and we ordered artisanal  pizza to eat back in our room at the inn.

This was the first time we ate dinner in one of the booths surrounding the wooden bar in the center.

It’s not the biggest restaurant, which is maybe why we’ve ate and drank cocktails outdoors at their patio tables before.

Or maybe why our Scorpio friends warned us and then gave us a demonstration.

They told us there’s a rule that if you’ve finished serving a table on your way back to the kitchen, pick something up from a table.

What?

Watch.”

And  with that a server came by and started clearing our table of half eaten salad plates and rolls while we were still enjoying our conversation.

Scorpio stingers were at the ready when a half empty (or half full) beer glass became a table-passing- server target.

Hold on there.  I’m not finished. We’re not finished and we’re in no hurry.”

Especially, when it came to end-of-a-long weekend traffic flowing through Los Angeles and into South Orange County.

We joined other vacationers on Highway 101 heading south after 7pm.

As we neared Ventura for some reason my mind wondered to La Conchita.

We passed it on the way up.

I remembered it was prone to large landslides that have wiped out homes and even killed local residents.

The worse of these was the tragic slide on January 10th, 2005 when a huge rain-caused side killed 10 residents.

Okay.

Enough about natural disasters.

I didn’t want to spoil the good vibrations.

Closer to Ventura and the beach and waves breaking on the shore I wondered how long Dave would want to work remotely?

If he’d want to pick one of the zip codes that included neighbors closer to his age and interests?

But, that was a conversation we’d take up again at Thanksgiving, only a couple of weeks away.

Steps:

21) Spend the time to find the best place to live and invest. It will be worth your while. The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life. 

32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

33) When you move, will your established neighbors share your same values? Does your new home have potential over the long-term to develop into a high appreciation real estate investment while being affordable for mid-life or empty nesters? Do the weather patterns in winter or summer make you want to live there year round, or only on a seasonal basis. Does  your new community offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities?

 

Authentic Lifestyles and Cozy Couches

“Keep an open mind, because your first idea isn’t always your best.  Don’t worry, your aha! moment is coming.”

 

The early adulthood Millennials were in full spirits at the wine and beer bar sitting on cozy couches.

 

Part Five of Steve and Emma’s Empty-Nest Adventures in Santa Barbara.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21) “You’ll find yourself cobbling together new theories based on new information that has come to light.”

While we explored the East and West Beaches, David caught some Ventura waves.

He confirmed what we heard before that Santa Barbara, while offering everything else you could possibly want in a coastal resort town, didn’t generate the kind of surf diehards craved.

Wave Break at Rincon

For that you had to travel north up the coast, or south past Carpinteria to Rincon or Ventura.

Driving 25 minutes or so, really isn’t too much to ask, right.

But after a morning of surfing and the drive back, well, he was tired.

So Emma and I hung out in the late afternoon at the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street while he returned to his bedroom and tried to take a nap.

Turns out, he’s renting a place minutes from the hotel while working remotely from his Irvine employer.

And, turns out that he couldn’t drift off to slumberland.

So he decides to walk over to join us since everything we had considered for the night on the town was just a few short blocks away.

We walk together near the original Presidio, the second red rectangular box of the three on the map.

We’re always craving authentic Mexican food and found it,  the top right hand red rectangle.

La Playa Azul Cafe didn’t disappoint

Maybe it started with the ice-cold blue margaritas.

Probably.

By the time we showed up the large outdoor patio had filled.

So we dined inside.

And got caught up.

We pepper him with parental variations of how are you doing, what are you doing, where are you staying?

He and I discuss books and music and podcasts we think the other might find intriguing.

Orange County’s Beach Towns

His Scorpio Mom wanted to indirectly get a reading on how he was feeling and if he was still reeling from his break up.

He traded one coastal town (Huntington Beach) for another (Santa Barbara) and his Mom wanted to know if he was happy.

And, I began the cobbling some Scorpio theories as Mom’s questioning shed new light.

Like, how much of a fit will it be for him to live here compared to Coastal Orange County?

First – Huntington Beach.

Where it is.

The mix of lifestyle profiles you’d find mingling in his former neighborhood defined by its zip code.

And, if not in one of Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods where else can you find that lifestyle?

Location At-A-Glance 

Region: Western United States 

State: California 

Travel Region: South Coast Region

County: Orange County

Patchwork Nation: Monied ‘Burbs

Town: Huntington Beach

Population Density: Second Tier Cities

Zip Codes: 92646

Profile At-A-Glance 

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Families, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 35-54, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors

Wealthy Influentials

Portfolio Locals – WIPL

04Y2U1 25-54 Mainstream Singles  Young Digerati  (Chandler, AZ)

29F2U1 35-54 Young Accumulators  American Dreams  (Naples, CA)

Affluently Elite – WIAE

07M1U1 45+Boomer Affluent Empty Nests  Money & Brains  (Seal Beach, CA)

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

26M2U1 55+Boomer Conservative Classics The Cosmopolitans   (Lakewood, CO)

Community Neighbors

PermanentTemporaries

UrbanTrapped – PTUT

61M4U3 65+Sustaining Seniors  City Roots  (Seal Beach, CA)

You might say Huntington Beach is a lifestyle mix of Seal Beach and Naples, just minutes away without traffic to the north  on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), with a dollop of Arizona (Chandler)  and Colorado (Lakewood).

Where Wealthy Influentials and Permanent Temporaries call home.

It attracts side-preneurs and artists and surfers and, well Portfolio Locals and Digitally Mobiles.

So if Kym, from the night before at Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room, who told us she was a newly transplanted stay at home mom from Arizona until her nest emptied, ever grew tired of Santa Barbara, then she could elevate Huntington Beach to the top of her bucket list.

So then, what about Santa Barbara At-a-Glance.

Where it is.

The mix of lifestyle profiles you’d find mingling along the State Street neighborhood defined by its zip code.

And, where else can you find that lifestyle?

Location At-A-Glance 

Region: Western United States 

State: California 

Travel Region: Central Coast Region

County: Santa Barbara County

Patchwork Nation: Monied ‘Burbs

Town: Santa Barbara

Population Density: Second Tier Cities

Real Estate Phase: Late-Maturity

Zip Codes: 93101

Profile At-A-Glance (Fall 2017)

Life Stage: Singles, Couples, Midlife, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 25-54, 30-44, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wealthy Influentials

Digitally Mobiles – WIDM

12Y1C1, Brite Lites, Li’l City, 30-44, Couple, Midlife Success, Second City Society (Santa Fe, NM)

Community Neighbors: 

High Country Eagles

Satellite Cityzens— HCESC

24Y2C2, Up-and-Comers, 25-54 Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (Napa, CA)

27M2C2, Middleburg Managers, 55+ Couples,  Conservative Classics, City Centers (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

35Y2C2, Boomtown Singles, 25-54, Single, Mainstream Singles, City Centers (San Marcos, TX)

Small Town Borders- HCSTB

60M4C3, Park Bench Seniors, 65+ Singles, Park Bench Seniors, Micro-City Blues (Palm Desert, CA)

Awesome View of Emerald Bay

So the State Street lifestyle community recipe includes the quality-of-life attraction of Palm Desert, Napa and Lake Tahoe (California desert, vineyards and an awesome mountain lake) with an out-of-state blend of San Marcos, Texas (historic river town) and artistic Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Digitally Mobiles, like in Huntington Beach?

Check.

But, only one Wealthy Influential lifestyle vs. four in Huntington Beach.

And with the other four falling within the High Country Eagle communities.

But, still two mainstream single lifestyles, 25-54 that loosely fit.

Oh, ok.

Cobbling this theory together has become a little too complicated, right?

That’s why before heading back to our hotel, we returned to State Street and mingled with all the 20-29 year olds, the transitional 28 – 32 year olds overlapping with 25 -54 year old singles and couples out on the town.

Oh, and we stopped in for some wine and entertainment and  games and, did I say wine?

Santa Barbara Wine Therapy

With a catch tagline: “Less Whine, More Wine”

While walking to the bar, Scorpio Mom tells me later, her number one son said he  just wanted his life back.

She feels he had looked forward to his next stage of development, “rooting and extending”, which we all usually embark on  between the ages of 30-38.

In Erik Erikson’s theory, you’ll recall, “rooting and extenders” embark on full adulthood near the end of his early adulthood .

Approximate Age: Early adulthood ( 20 – 39)

Significant Relationship: Friends, partners

Existential Question:  Can I love

Examples: Romantic relationships

Psychosocial Crisis: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Virtues: Love

The early adulthood Millennials were in full spirits at the wine and beer bar sitting on cozy couches.

We staked our spot out while listening to the solo singer near the entrance.

Not quite the caliber we saw the night before, but you have to start somewhere.

Another couple joined us at the edge of the glass coffee table after grabbing a board game and inviting us to join them.

We politely declined, soaking in the vibe where:

“Friends are therapists you can drink with, and therapy is in session.”

Scorpio Mom leaned in to conduct her own version of therapy, an intimate conversation I couldn’t make out.

She was busy cobbling her own theory.

Less complicated and more about love, romantic relationships and isolation vs. intimacy.

Maybe our other horoscope summarized an important message for me instead.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21) “Keep an open mind, because your first idea isn’t always your best.  Don’t worry, your aha! moment is coming.”

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Part Four:  Morning for the East Beach Grille in Paradise

Morning for the East Beach Grille in Paradise

It’s THE spot for enjoying breakfast after playing volleyball, cycling, skating and every kind of outdoor activity you can do at the beach.

Enjoying another day in Paradise without having to die,” Salty replies.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “Pay attention to the things you do when you’re supposed to be doing something else.  Those activities are more than mere distractions.  They are pulling you for a reason.”

Three empty-nest couples converge on the “American Riviera.”

One couple lives in Santa Barbara year round.

The lucky ones.

After an evening of walking, drinking, eating and grooving we’re eager to  experience things and explore places we haven’t been to for years.

Or at all.

Lobby of the Santa Barbara Hotel

So the next morning I quickly, oh ok, groggily drag myself down to the first floor lobby where you serve yourself a continental breakfast

I’m just there for coffee for both of us to take back to our room at the Historic Hotel Santa Barbara

Why bulk up when we’ll be rendezvousing with the lucky ones

First Scorpio distraction.

I notice the Hotel Santa Barbara’s Zip Code is 93101.

Hmmm.

Back to what we’re supposed to be doing on this staycation.

Drive from the hotel down Lower State Street  to the harbor and turn left on E. Cabrillo Blvd which hugs the beach and the sunbathers and picnickers on the greenbelt while  looking for a parking spot near the East Beach Grille.

Wait, second distraction.

Somehow we pass through an invisible boundary without realizing it.

We travel through a hidden portal into a different Zip Code (93103) as we search for a parking space on Cabrillo Boulevard.

But, we feel fortunate.

Not only because we’re meeting our retired-teachers-empty-nest friends, but for eating breakfast where the Santa Barbara locals hang out.

It’s THE spot for enjoying breakfast after playing volleyball, cycling, skating and every kind of outdoor activity you can do at the beach.

Or, was.

We were told the grille would be closing for renovation.

But, maybe what our friends actually told us, looking back now on our conversation, was that all the long time weekend hanger-outers like them were pissed that it could actually close.

Months later they began their grieving process when the beach tradition closed their doors for good.

When they were forced to say goodbye to the grille, “Just steps from the famous Santa Barbara East Beach enjoy breathtaking views with your breakfast or lunch sandwich.”

“Pancakes.”

“Have the pancakes.”

So, we followed them into the grille, gave our orders and returned to sip coffee.

And watch the parade of cyclists, skaters, strollers and power walkers pass by.

Oh, and observe how the locals and tourists flit the sea gulls, pigeons and other winged creatures away from their breakfast dishes.

What, maybe three or four minutes elapsed before the moms took out their smartphones and showed off photos.

“Wait, so you’re saying neither boys (Millennials) have kids or are married?”

Nope.

So we didn’t have adorable newborn iPhotos to flaunt.

“Wait, you’ll love this one.”

Swipe. Stop. Nope. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. Nope. Oh, here. See?

But, we brought them up to speed.

Orange County’s Beach Towns

David left Huntington Beach working remotely from his Irvine company a few blocks from our hotel.

Jeff switched jobs but still lives in Newport Beach a block from the ocean.

Pretty soon an alarm triggered.

It was time.

They have a lunch engagement, we don’t.

Like all hosts showing off their resort home towns, there’s a routine you follow.

Walk, walk, walk.

Back along Cabrillo Boulevard from East Beach past Stearns Wharf to West Beach.

The women converse.

We guys do too.

Mostly about travel tips and local insider tips.

Our friend says “Hi, how’s it going?” to a salty local parked on Cabrillo sitting on his tailgate as he wiggles out of the remaining part of his wetsuit.

There’s a dog in his, well,  dog cage.

Enjoying another day in Paradise without having to die,” Salty replies.

I figured they knew each other.

Nope, our friend whispers he thinks he’s homeless as we walk on our way west.

A third distraction.

What the heck is that over there on the greenbelt near enough to the sidewalk to catch my eye like a dog who spies a squirrel.

Kinda a rock of ages.

Something with a tacky plaque.

Dedicated to Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo who paved the boulevard we drove on roughly 475 years ago.

Or paved the way for a few hundred years of exploration along the California coast.

One of the two.

According to Wikipedia Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo sailed through,

… what is now called the Santa Barbara Channel in 1542, anchoring briefly in the area. In 1602, Spanish maritime explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno gave the name “Santa Barbara” to the channel and also to one of the Channel Islands.

So where’s Vizcaíno’s plaque?

Closer to West Beach?

Nope.

Sail By?

Channel Islands National Park; map courtesy of Lencer

In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed up the Santa Barbara Channel, and made first contact with the Chumash inhabitants of the area in October.

Cabrillo was the first European to navigate the coast of present-day California.

He died the following year and was buried on San Miguel Island.

Following the squirrel-like historical distraction a bit longer, The City of Santa Barbara lists seven historical timelines beginning with Cabrillo through the present.

Walking to West Beach on West Cabrillo Boulevard we passed more familiar scenery – restaurants, hotels and harbor sites.

Returning to East Beach Grille we parted ways.

We notice many of the other hotels we had considered and drove around to check them out.

Phew!

Getty Images

No buyer’s remorse.

Talking about buying we return to Lower State Street.

On a tip from our friends, we drive around looking for Chip and Joanne’s store off State Street.

No luck.

We return to the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street, but we two Scorpios part ways.

Emma with shopping on her mind hoofs it a while.

And I head upstairs to our room with other distractions weighing on my mind.

Like comparing 93101 to 93203 zip codes.

And a little more history to consider as we look forward to dinner and a night out on the town.

While musing over today’s horoscope.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)  “They’ll ask for your opinion when they want something else entirely— for instance, your attention.  Be wise to this.”

Tell me about it!

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

“On September 6th 1997, I was catching the last wave at the beach here in Carpinteria before getting ready for my gig.”

“The weather is great year round, the ocean is at our doorstep and the shopping, restaurants and vibe here is so perfect.”

Part One:  Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

Part Two:  Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Night out on the town.

Historic El Paseo in the Presidio Neighborhood is in a one block area bordered by State Street and Anacapa Street and by Canon Perdido Street and De La Guerra Street.

I guess Siri knew best, after all. No wait Emma did. But that’s another story.

There we found the three entertainment activities all in walking distance from each other and a short distance from the Hotel Santa Barbara on State Street.

Wine tasting at Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room.

Dinner around the corner at Wine Cask Restaurant

And, a concert at the historic Lobero Theatre.

“The Presidio Neighborhood is a vibrant few blocks in the heart of Santa Barbara, centered around the historical site of the last of the Spanish fortresses, or presidios, to be built in California.”

And the neighborhood had been the location of Santa Barbara’s Japantown and Chinatown as well.

Today it is marketed as home to “discoveries of hidden walkways, courtyards, and amazing architectural details set against the backdrop of the American Riviera and the Santa Ynez mountains.”

Our Scorpio friends purchased tickets for a concert, starring Michael McDonald a longtime Santa Barbara resident, and as we later found out, a benefit for TRAP – The Rhythmic Arts Project an educational program.

When we rendezvoused with our friends we soon found out the concert venue was just a parking lot away from the restaurant at the corner of Anacapa and Canon Perdido streets.

But first things first.

Wines Tasting

A stop at Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room.

“Located at the main entrance to the Historic El Paseo in the vibrant Presidio Neighborhood near State Street in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara!”

Jamie Slone Wines Tasting Room

We met Kym who told us she had been a stay at home mom in Arizona while Jamie, her husband, had been a race car driver.

When their twin daughters grew up and Jamie and Kym became empty nesters they felt it was time to explore something else.

Among other things, their website told us “Jamie and Kym Slone are an adventurous couple and after a 30 year journey of touring wine regions all over Europe and the United States their dream of producing wine was born.”

Along the way their interest in architecture and wine led them to visit and experience Santa Barbara, California, “The American Riviera.”

Like for countless others the Urban Wine Trail brought them to the Historic El Paseo in the “Presidio Neighborhood to enjoy some world class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some fabulous Rhone blends.”

They loved what they found, Spanish Colonial architecture, so much that they opened their own wine tasting room in 2012.

After a visit, who could argue with their conclusion?

“The weather is great year round, the ocean is at our doorstep and the shopping, restaurants and vibe here is so perfect.”

Dinner

Second things second

Our concierge at the Santa Barbara Hotel told us we’d find dining from casual eateries to world class restaurants and everything in between sharing The Presidio Neighborhood with Jamie Slone Wines.

So, our friends had heard about a great place.

“Santa Barbara’s culinary and wine landmark, the Wine Cask Restaurant.

Turns out they’re known for their farmer’s market ethos and “a touch of nostalgia.”

Important for the Santa Barbara upscale clientele.

We marveled at their giant fireplace, gold-leaf ceiling and what looked like elegant private rooms on our way to our table.

I’m not sure if I’d agree with their website’s description — “enriching, sensual experience of flavors, ingredients, and ambiance.”

After all, I’m a cheap skate.

But, I can agree with … “The restaurant is one of a handful in Santa Barbara that is operating at a truly fine-dining level, and that offers great wines by the glass (something oddly hard to find in Santa Barbara).”

Most importantly to me, I guess, was how much fun the four of us had together at dinner.  And with an eye on the time, we settled our bill and walked across the parking lot to the brightly lit Lobero Theatre.

Concert

Third things third.

Lobero Theatre.

The historic Lobero Theatre has been Santa Barbara’s home for great performances and memories since 1873.

Can that be true?  1873?

According to Wikipedia it was originally built as an opera house, in a refurbished adobe school building, by Italian immigrant José Lobero in 1873.

By the 1920s the building was falling apart.

“The Lobero Theater opened in August 1924, during a period in which civic groups in Santa Barbara were beginning to unify the town’s architectural look around a Spanish Colonial style.”

Since then it’s been a home to music, dance and theatre performances.

When we filed in and found our seats it was clear that this was a Baby Boomer crowd.

Up on the stage were kids and instruments and performers.

Turns out during the opening number it was the rhythm driving the fun they all had.

To be honest we didn’t understand what was going on.

We expected a concert by Michael McDonald solely.

What’s going on?

TRAP

What is this TRAP thing?

The Rhythmic Arts Project.

We were attending its annual concert and auction.

In the past Jeff Bridges donated a signed guitar. David Crosby signed a poster as part of a silent auction.

When the kids left and the rockers remained we wondered who they were and why were they there?

They swam in the same circles as many famous and supporting musicians over the years since the 60s and 70s.

And, they showed up to support Eddie Tuduri.

And his cause.

Tuduri’s professional drumming career, according to his bio,  has spanned over 40 years working with artists such as Delaney Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock, The Beach Boys, Dobie Gray, Del Shannon, Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band, Dr. John, Ike Turner and many others.

“On September 6th 1997, I was catching the last wave at the beach here in Carpinteria before getting ready for my gig.”

The body boarding wave he caught slammed him to the ocean floor, paralyzing him.

“I saw the beautiful Carpinteria sky and in the blink of an eye, I was back. I was clearly disappointed, the first words I uttered were, “Oh Shit”.

I was placed gently on the shore, but I was totally paralyzed.”

As the core founding story goes, during his rehab, he asked a friend to bring a pair of drum sticks and a couple of percussion toys.

“Other patients in the ward joined in on the rhythm and the happiness it created.

By experiencing these simple moments of joy through music with people outside of his career of playing drums as a living, Eddie began to understand music at an entirely new level.

The basic rhythms of percussion and clapping were making trauma patients feel alive and hopeful.”

No wonder, then the concert seemed like a family reunion of celebrities and backup singers and studio musicians.

To be honest, I didn’t recognize anyone else except for Michael McDonald.

The band “Pockets” with Bill & Tamara Champlin, Táta Vega, Amy Holland, or Carl Graves until they played some of their own hits.

It took a little digging, but here’s what I discovered.

Pockets were a soul group from Baltimore who had three top 40 R&B hits in the late 1970s best known for their single “Come Go With Me“.

Carl Graves smooth single “Baby, Hang Up the Phone” was a Top 20 R&B hit in 1974.

Graves sang with the band Skylark (which also included David Foster and singer Donny Gerard) who had a 1973 number nine pop hit with “Wildflower.”

 

Tata Vega

“Táta Vega has had an active career as a lead backing vocalist, working with Russ Taff, Stevie Wonder, Andraé Crouch, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles and Madonna, singing duets with Lou Rawls, Jermaine Jackson, Peter Rivera with Rare Earth and Michael Sembello. Vega is featured on the 2010 Elton John and Leon Russell CD The Union.”

Up next, Tamara Champlin.

She has performed with and written for singers such as Elton John, Leon Russell, Nicky Hopkins, Andreas Carlsson, husband Bill Champlin and son Will Champlin.

 

Amy Holland?

“Holland’s eponymous debut studio album, produced by the Doobie Brothers‘ former lead singer Michael McDonald, was released in 1980 and featured the hit “How Do I Survive“, which peaked at No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Holland married Michael McDonald in 1983.

The couple lives in Santa Barbara, California and has two children, Dylan and Scarlett.

In 1995, Holland was diagnosed with cancer, and after many years of therapy, she is now in good health.

In 2016, she released her fourth studio album, Light On My Path.

The album features a duet, “Prove That by Me” with Michael McDonald, in addition to background vocals by David Pack (Ambrosia), Joseph Williams (Toto), and David Crosby.

And, finally, Michael McDonald who released “Wide Open” in September, his first studio album in years and ended a massive US tour in Los Angeles in November.

I’m sure it felt good for him to be home.

It felt good to contribute to such a great cause.

And, you could tell it felt good for everyone to play with each other on stage.

Kind of a historical ’70s jam.

Almost as good as the kids felt to open the show.

Part Four:

Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Hotel Santa Barbara continues a grand tradition which began in 1876 when the City of Santa Barbara was still a sleepy pueblo. 

 

Owner Neal Callahan’s Name on the Building
Neal Callahan constructed the earthquake-destroyed hotel.  If you look at the front of the building you can see his name above the awning.

 

Part One: Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

The Valet attendant asked if we live in Telluride, Colorado.

Why?

Oh, yeah I wore a black hat bought on our Awesome Empty-Nest Adventures in Colorado.

He said his dad loves Telluride and may have a vacation home there.

I didn’t really listen as I did the mental calculation about how to park our car and cart our clothes in without tipping.

Self-Serve Room Cart in Lobby Near Elevator

Cheap?

Yup, plus we’re on the hook for paying $15 a day already for parking.

We chatted for a couple of minutes.

“If not Telluride, where are you from?” he asked.

Of course, I told him Orange County and then  launched into the traffic and accident and …

“Where abouts?” he asked.

Rooms at the Santa Barbara Hotel

Turns out his dad was in Ventura, so he called him to  warn him and to find out more about flipped car accident.

Then he leaves to check out when we can check in.

Emma joins our valet to see if we can be upgraded to a nicer room, since we have to kill some time.

But, no.

When we get the green light signaling our room is available, we carry our stuff into the lobby.

Classic Otis Elevator at Santa Barbara Hotel

The Ventura valet-son instructed us how to operate the old-time, double door elevator which took us to our fourth floor room that overlooked the hustle and bustle on State Street.

“The modern Otis elevator contains antique design elements including the original spring-loaded scissor gate.  Hop on board to enjoy the remaining  historic details.”

 

The lobby and ambiance so reminded us of the Montecito Inn, so we felt right at home again in Santa Barbara.

My wife inspected every nuance of our room.

She revisited a map handed to her by the registration hostess.

She declared each of our Friday evening events were all within walking distance.

And, then calculated just how long we could enjoy our non-driving relaxations before dressing for dinner and a concert.

Meanwhile, I conducted my deep, background research.

Oh, okay I got the history from a card on our desk next to the other card telling us how to log into WiFi.

Historical Society Shows Hotel Santa Barbara’s Earlier Days

“Past and Present

Hotel Santa Barbara continues a grand tradition which began in 1876 when the City of Santa Barbara was still a sleepy pueblo. 

Since the early days, a hotel has always been located on the site now occupied by Hotel Santa Barbara. 

Southern California Earthquake Data Center at Caltech

In 1925, a major earthquake destroyed much of downtown Santa Barbara, including what was then called the Santa Barbara Hotel. 

Vowing never to lose another building to an earthquake, the owner constructed a new hotel, the Saint Barbara, to specifications far exceeding those required at the time. 

Owner Neal Callahan’s Name on the Building

(Neal Callahan constructed the earthquake-destroyed hotel. 

If you look at the front of the building you can see his name above the awning.)

Apparently the Saint Barbara was not always quite a saint. 

Local legend has it that liquor was always available in the hotel during Prohibition, and that for years, a “secret’ gaming room flourished somewhere near the lobby. 

Clark Gable (Wikipedia)

The Saint Barbara eventually became The Barbara Hotel and a getaway for many of Hollywood’s brightest stars. 

“After the rebuild the hotel became a celebrity getaway. 

Clark Gable and Carol Lombard were frequent guests, and eyewitnesses claim Leo Carrillo rode his horse around the lobby on several occasions.”

Leo Carrillo (Wikipedia)

Following World War II, the area and hotel’s popularity gradually declined and eventually the doors closed to Hollywood’s celebrities and travelers from around the world. 

The hotel wasn’t reopened until the late 1960s, and in 1975 was purchased by Rolland and Venetia Jacks. 

With the help of their children they revitalized the hotel and for many years served both residential and leisure guests. 

By the mid 1990’s the Old Town area in which the hotel is located had improved so dramatically that the Jacks concluded it was time for a major renovation. 

The hotel close for renovation in November 1966. Nine months and $ million  later it emerged as a reborn classic … Hotel Santa Barbara.”

But, enough about that.

That was then.

Time to join the bustling parade buzzing on State Street below our window for our night out on the town.

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

Quick Getaway to Santa Barbara

We’ve always enjoyed spending weekends in Santa Barbara, especially at the Montecito Inn once owned by Charlie Chaplin.

Magic of The American Riviera
Emma gets the best deal at the Santa Barbara Hotel, evaluates many weighing price, location and reviews.

 

Road Trip!

A three-day getaway.

Kind of a staycation.

Santa Barbara. It just doesn’t get any better.

Another of Emma and Steve’s awesome empty-nest adventures searching for reunion destinations.

Why?

This time a celebration of three Scorpio birthdays.

Santa Barbara, California

Three empty-nest couples converge on the “American Riviera.”

  • One couple visits twice a month staying Thursday through Monday each time.
  • One couple lives in Santa Barbara year round.
  • And, we visit our son, post-breakup and move-out-of-Huntington Beach rental.
Orange County’s Beach Towns

In Santa Barbara he’s renting a room  while working remotely from an Orange County technology company headquartered in Irvine, California.

Who?

Three of us have “Scorpio” birthdays. And, only the good stuff applies.

“Beneath a controlled, cool exterior beats the heart of the deeply intense Scorpio.

Scorpios On the Loose in Santa Barbara

Passionate, penetrating, and determined, this sign will probe until they reach the truth.

The Scorpio may not speak volumes or show emotions readily, yet rest assured there’s an enormous amount of activity happening beneath the surface.

Excellent leaders, Scorpions are always aware. When it comes to resourcefulness, this sign comes out ahead.

Strengths – Passionate, stubborn, resourceful, brave, a true friend.

Likes – Truth, facts, being right, teasing, longtime friends, a grand passion, a worthy adversary. 

Dislikes – –Dishonesty, passive people, revealing secrets.”

Where?

Emma and not-a-Scorpio Carol plan the trip.

Santa Barbara Hotel

Emma gets the best deal at the Santa Barbara Hotel, evaluates many weighing price, location and reviews.

She quickly eliminated eight profiled on John Dickson’s Santa Barbara Hotel Lodging Guide.

  • Avania In – One block from the oceanfront, beaches and harbor.
  • Inn By The Harbor -Spanish Colonial Tradition near the beaches and yacht harbor.
  • Lavender Inn by the Sea – lavender gardens and two blocks Stearns Wharf and bike path
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites – Boutique hotel on historic State Street
  • Harbor View Inn – Boutique resort hotel across street from West Beach
  • Brisas del Mar, Inn at the Beach – Santa Barbara classic villa two blocks from harbor
  • Pepper Tree Inn – on 5 acres of tropical gardens
  • Hyatt Santa Barbara – Historic resort, built in 1931

Not-a-Scorpio Carol and her Newport Beach husband stay in Montecito, at a cottage they rent on an estate, twice a month to be near their married daughter and their grandchildren.

The only thing we Empty Nesters live for.

When?

They leave from Newport Beach traveling on the Interstate 405 and US Route 101 on Thursdays after 7 pm and don’t return to Orange County until Mondays after 10 am to miss the majority of traffic.

What?

Google shows us details about our 148 mile road trip which if all goes well lasts for 2 hours and 33 minutes.

Give or take, don’t you know?

On the road to the American Riviera.

Feeling Willie Nelson in our bones.

We can’t wait to hit the road.

Escape.

Freedom.

Top two highway driving songs on my playlist.

One of America’s hits, “Ventura Highway”

About a month earlier we weren’t able to attend an “America” concert at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano with our friends. And we missed a visit to the Newport Beach house they’re currently renting after building and selling a spec home in Shady Canyon.

“Ventura Highway” theme for the Road Trip (vs. “Horse With No Name” about which decades earlier my mother grilled me about the meaning of the lyrics.)

Dewey Bunnell from back in the day

Dewey Bunnell, according to Wikipedia, explains:

“I remember vividly having this mental picture of the stretch of the coastline traveling with my family when I was younger. Ventura Highway itself, there is no such beast, what I was really trying to depict was the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, which goes up to the town of Ventura.”[

Next up?  Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty.”

Jackson Browne’s Open Road Anthem

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels —

Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields.

In ’65 I was seventeen and running up 101

I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on …

 

Great.  Just great I need to crank back on Jackson’s song.

We’ve planning a trip to Italy in a year with another couple.

Emma updates Elle on what she learned from other friends about recommended tips and ideas

Typical South Coast Regional Traffic

Traffic defines the boundaries of every day bubbles- traffic to and from Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and finally Santa Barbara counties

Expected traffic traveling north in Los Angeles on the 405.

Mulholland Drive
  • LAX airport congestion.
  • Up the incline past Westwood, the Getty Center, and Skirball Cultural Center to the crest at our old exit Mulholland Drive to Emma’s parents former home on Tobin Way,
  • The 10 to Santa Monica

    View from the Getty

Emma gets an update from her younger brother. We admired their refrigerator on our epic, awesome empty-nest adventure in Dillon, Colorado.  And trekked to Cathedral Rock while swatting mosquitoes away.

They recently returned from a trip to Australia having briefly met David for a quick lunch and stopover before moving on to New Zealand.

David had been in Australia and left the same day to Bali

Wait, what, not on this section of the freeway.

Smooth sailing turns into unexpected parking lot bumper-to-bumper as we turn into the Ventura Freeway (101) from the 405.

Exit signs we expect to miss in a blink of an eye

The irritating kind at exit signs for Moorpark around Thousand Oakes.

We normally expect traffic when the Ventura Freeway drops  into the valley at Camarillo and Oxnard on its way to Ventura.

The kind of traffic that encourages In-and-out slalom lane-switch drivers

The kind of traffic that encourages your driver to space out and lose track of just exactly where you are.

Isn’t this the two-lane just south of Santa Barbara?

“Wait, have we already driven through Ventura or are we still on the way to Ventura?”

And, wait what’s that up there ahead?

Lights flashing.

Traffic moving shrinking from two lanes down to one lane – actually half in the slow right hand lane and half on its shoulder.

OMG

  • Two fire trucks.
  • An ambulance.
  • Two California Highway Patrol cruisers and maybe a motorcycle cop.
  • One small car crunched like an accordion.

Another flipped up and balancing on its side with the bottom blackened where everyone can see the drive train and muffler and motor.

Wow.

Karma caught up to a slalom lane-switcher?

“How long, maybe 5 minutes or 15 minutes, will it take before drivers resort back to their bad old habits of trying to get ahead of everyone else?”

Earlier I had fantasized the two-lane portion of the 101 was actually that section leading into Carpinteria and maybe Summerland and maybe Montecito – near the Olive Mill Road exit – at the southern border of Santa Barbara.

Ventura, California

Rincon is tucked slightly off Highway 101 between La Conchita and Carpinteria.

The neighborhood of La Conchita has suffered from large landslides in the recent past that have wiped out homes and even killed local residents.

Rincon County Beach

The worse of these was the tragic slide on January 10th 2005 when a huge rain-caused side killed 10 residents.

Carpinteria’s home to ten beaches alone.

But, no.

Turns out we were just south of where the 101 grows multiple lanes – maybe 3 or 4 – but who’s counting.

More waves. More lanes. Less Traffic.

It’s that section where everyone can drive 70 miles per hour while spreading out and while looking out the drivers side window to absorb the surf pounding the beaches bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Wave Break at Rincon

Later, we discovered that’s exactly where our son drives to surf.

There and north of Santa Barbara is where he can more consistently find surf-able waves.

Surf’s Up?

So, over the years we’ve driven through Santa Barbara many times on our way up the Central Coast to Cambria and less frequently to Big Sur.

Historic Montecito Inn

We’ve always enjoyed spending weekends in Santa Barbara, especially at the Montecito Inn once owned by Charlie Chaplin.

Stearns Wharf

Usually we spend time at Stearns Wharf or the Funk Zone, but not a lot of time on State Street.

Which is what triggered an argument.

About directions.

As the driver usually, I’m involved.

Not this time.

Time to reconsider arguing with Siri.

Emma kept telling Siri, “No.”

That’s not the exit we should take.

I’d drive on to the next exit.

“No”

Next?

“No”

And, then this.

“Oops” the apology to Siri.

“Yes, ok you were right all along.”

We arrived at 2pm a little too late to stop on the way for lunch and a little too early to check in.

Santa Barbara Hotel

Santa Barbara Hotel

We’re cheap travelers.

So once Siri directed us on what seemed like a convoluted route involving a maze of one way streets we first drove past and then returned to Valet Parking on a side street.

The Valet attendant asked if we live in Telluride, Colorado.

Why?

Part Two:  Hotel Santa Barbara’s Grand Tradition

Part Three:  Night TRAPs – Walk. Drink. Eat. Groove.

 

 

Rustic

“Now in the summer there are about 1500 people living here with 2 grocery stores, two gas stations and 4 saloons. In the winter about 400 people, 1 grocery store, 1 gas station and 4 saloons.”

Silverton’s Extreme Winter Sports

Southwestern Colorado: Durango, Pagosa Springs, Telluride and Silverton.

Back to our summer vacation.

Reading between the highlights and headlines.

Checking out high quality-of-life mountain resorts on our bucket list.

Southwestern Colorado Travel Region

We planned our itinerary as efficiently as possible to visit as many up-and-coming resort locations on our vacation as we could.

In the Southwestern Colorado travel region we could check off three already:

Durango, Pagosa Springs and Telluride. And, another innovation growth stage candidate – Silverton.

But there were plenty more throughout the state.

So many towns to visit.

So little time.

And, it would be impossible to visit all the ones on our bucket list.

Over a two week vacation.

So we stuck to our regional plans to sample as many as we could.

The night before at our hotel we found ourselves right behind the Silverton Durango – the Durango train depot and roundhouse — and the hub of the city.

We jumped into the indoor pool before and briefly, and for the first time on our trip, unanimously agreed on the first adventure of the next day.

Durango to Silverton

We planned our first excursion from our “Durango Basecamp” to Silverton.

After missing the early morning train to Silverton, we opted for the bus tour later, instead.

“Stand-by?” For a bus!?

Not what we wanted to hear.

Luckily, a friend tipped us off before the trip.

He owned some property in Durango, had planned to build on his lot, but a divorce came between him and his dreams.

Fast forward years later.

He bought and renovated another home.

We visited him during the summer of 2015.

But, enough about that.

Now.

His recommendation?

Durango Train Station

Take the Silverton narrow gauge one-way, but not up and back.

Try a bus, or maybe a jeep tour.

Because, the train is so sllllooooooowwwww.

And, it’s not like we’ve got a precious vacation day to waste standing in line.

Well, we were still shocked.

We grumbled for a while trying to figure out how to kill about an hour and come back in time to stand by for the next bus.

But as it turns out, after schmoozing with the driver before we boarded we scored some seats after all.

We caught the 11:45, and still had plenty of discovery time.

And, we enjoyed the winding Durango to Silverton road with his local insights.

I guess we lucked out, when the 20-something bus driver announced:

“Unlike the other guides who came to Durango from Florida or Minnesota, I’m an original — born and raised in Durango.

I know every mountain, river, lake, tree, plant and all the local history — so sit back and sleep if you want, but I’ll make the hour trip as entertaining as I can.

Just ask away — any questions.”

Here’s what I picked up from the scenic Q & A.

  • Construction began on the narrow gauge railroad line in 1881 between Durango and Silverton.
  • Nearly a year later it was completed and began hauling mine ores – over $300 million — throughout the years.
  • For roughly eighty years.
  • Durango became cut off from the rest of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the late 1960s, isolating the remaining narrow gauge track along the 45 mile route between the two towns.
Narrow Gauge Hugging Animas River Canyon Walls

So, today for us tourists, the locomotives operate 100% on coal-fired steam and were manufactured by the American Locomotive Works in 1923 or Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925.

All the coaches are from the 1880s era — many originally build in the 1800s.

The trip hugs the walls of the Animas River Canyon, rises to 11,000 feet and takes you back to the Silverton frontier days through history, forests, and natural wonder.

Downtown Silverton

We endured the Colorado afternoon rain.

Feeding Bus Loads of Tourists Lunch

We lunched, walked the main street, and visited Blair Streets once booming bordello district.

I guess you could say we did what every other tourist did.

We window-shopped.

We snapped pictures of a street that looked like it could have been the backdrop for the “Gunfight-at-the-O.K.-Corral.”

Snowboarder Performing Jump Silverton, Colorado, USA

The bus driver told us Silverton had 300 inches of snow each year and because of avalanche danger nothing was built on the other side of the river.

I loved his line …

“But, kids, there aren’t any snow days, because everyone walks to the one room school which could fit in this bus.”

“Look up on the hill,” he said.

There protecting the mining town was a monstrous statue, Christ of the Mines Shrine, built in 1958 -1959 as a tribute to all those who worked the mines.

Christ of the Mines Shrine

“One Sunday, the only time the mines around here weren’t working, a nearby lake broke through the ground and flooded the mines.

No fatalities, but if it had been on any other day of the week, at least 150 god-fearing souls would have been lost.”

He also said only the hardy stick around in the winter.

“Now in the summer there are about 1500 people living here with 2 grocery stores, two gas stations and 4 saloons.

In the winter about 400 people, 1 grocery store, 1 gas station and 4 saloons.”

He also told us that Silverton sits in a small valley called Baker’s Park, named after Charles Baker who led a small expedition to the area around 1860.

After the Civil War miners began flooding into the area, when it was still Ute Indian Territory — originally their hunting grounds.

And here’s another coincidence for you.

It has something to do with the only way into the area at that time – Stony Pass Trail.

A member of Baker’s original party of prospectors – George Howard, founded a town named after himself.

That’s right.

A long lost ancestor?

Turns out he was quite an entrepreneur.

Here’s how the story is told:

“When George decided he needed to build a log cabin, he put the free enterprise system to work. George hauled in a large stack of logs and set a barrel of whiskey next to it.”

“As the thirsty miners came into the area over the Stony Pass Trail, George would offer them some refreshment.

When the miners began to feel the effects of the free refreshments, George would ask them for a little help on his cabin.”

Before long he was the owner of the first permanent settlement.

In Howardsville.

According to Dee Brown:

“The Ute’s were Rocky Mountain Indians, and for a generation they had watched the invading white men move into their Colorado country like endless swarms of grasshoppers.”

Did they realize what was to become of them right away?

Don’t know.

  • But we do know that the Brunot Treaty negotiated with the Utes ceded the area to U.S. and by 1873 more than 1500 mining claims had been registered.
  • And, as our bus driver told us, Silverton as a town was plotted in a year later 1874.
  • But, in the early days Silverton was hard to reach.
  • With the railroad coming in 1882, getting supplies to Silverton was less of a problem.
  • In less than three decades, as Brunot had pointed out to Chief Ouray, you couldn’t turn away the hoards of get-rich-quick miners if you wanted.

In fact, mining hit its peak between 1900 and 1912 when San Juan County’s population swelled to 5,000 people.

Turning from facts to fun.

An excerpt from Book Three in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams.