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.

 

 

Stranded in Mono Lake

At the end of an hour it approached a jutting cape, and Higby ran ahead and posted himself on the utmost verge and prepared for the assault. 

 

On Hwy. 395 between Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes
The agony that alkali water inflicts on bruises, chafes and blistered hands, is unspeakable, and nothing but greasing all over will modify it– but we ate, drank and slept well, that night, notwithstanding.

 

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.

Calvin Higby and Mark Twain decided to explore the area in and around  Mono Lake.

They surveyed all its wonders in a small boat to explore the lake, just as a storm brewed.

Things go from bad to worse.

Adventures in the Eastern Sierras

But we found nothing but solitude, ashes and a heart-breaking silence. 

Finally we noticed that the wind had risen, and we forgot our thirst in a solicitude of greater importance; for, the lake being quiet, we had not taken pains about securing the boat. 

We hurried back to a point overlooking our landing place, and then–but mere words cannot describe our dismay–the boat was gone! 

 

 

Surely, they felt.  There’s couldn’t be the only boat on the lake today.

The situation was not comfortable–in truth, to speak plainly, it was frightful. 

You Can Imagine Twain Hiking the Terrain

We were prisoners on a desolate island, in aggravating proximity to friends who were for the present helpless to aid us; and what was still more uncomfortable was the reflection that we had neither food nor water. 

But presently we sighted the boat. 

For over an hour Twain and Higby paced up and down the shoreline.

It drifted, and continued to drift, but at the same safe distance from land, and we walked along abreast it and waited for fortune to favor us. 

At the end of an hour it approached a jutting cape, and Higby ran ahead and posted himself on the utmost verge and prepared for the assault. 

If we failed there, there was no hope for us. 

The winds didn’t cooperate as hoped for.

But when he gave a great spring, the next instant, and lit fairly in the stern, I discharged a war-whoop that woke the solitudes!

But it dulled my enthusiasm, presently, when he told me he had not been caring whether the boat came within jumping distance or not, so that it passed within eight or ten yards of him, for he had made up his mind to shut his eyes and mouth and swim that trifling distance. 

Only a long swim would probably do them in, but safe in the boat they made little progress.

Boating on Mono Lake in “Roughing It”.

When we had pulled a mile, laboriously, we were evidently in serious peril, for the storm had greatly augmented; the billows ran very high and were capped with foaming crests, the heavens were hung with black, and the wind blew with great fury. 

We would have gone back, now, but we did not dare to turn the boat around, because as soon as she got in the trough of the sea she would upset, of course. 

Our only hope lay in keeping her head-on to the seas. 

It was hard work to do this, she plunged so, and so beat and belabored the billows with her rising and falling bows. 

Both drenched by the alkaline sprays they pushed on forward, against the storm winds.

But things cannot last always. 

Just as the darkness shut down we came booming into port, head on. 

Higby dropped his oars to hurrah–I dropped mine to help–the sea gave the boat a twist, and over she went!

The agony that alkali water inflicts on bruises, chafes and blistered hands, is unspeakable, and nothing but greasing all over will modify it– but we ate, drank and slept well, that night, notwithstanding.

But Twain surveys Mono Lake’s near unchanging landscape and asks an almost universal question on every visitor’s lips.

Mysterious Nature of Mono Lake

… picturesque turret-looking masses and clusters of a whitish, coarse-grained rock that resembles inferior mortar dried hard; and if one breaks off fragments of this rock he will find perfectly shaped and thoroughly petrified gulls’ eggs deeply imbedded in the mass

How did they get there? 

Well, of course, if he were alive in the winter of 2009, he’d have his answer.

Tufa is rock composed of calcium carbonate, or common limestone. 

It is formed when calcium-rich underwater springs in the lake combine with carbonates, known to cooks as baking soda, in the water. 

The result is calcium carbonate, which settles around the springs. 

Decades or even centuries later, these tufa formations slowly grow into towers that may climb to more than 30 feet tall. 

All this takes place underwater.” 

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.

Twain

“… picturesque turret-looking masses and clusters of a whitish, coarse-grained rock that resembles inferior mortar dried hard …”

Mark Twain
Shuttling as much as he did between Carson City and Virginia City, it was San Francisco that captured his imagination – but it was Mono Lake that almost killed him – and his curiosity.

 

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.

On Hwy. 395 between Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes

We had just visited Lake Tahoe, where Mark Twain set the forest on fire and now Mono Lake appeared before us – the scene of another of his misadventures –

According to the 2009 LA Times article, Twain once said

“There are no fish in Mono Lake – no frogs, no snakes, no pollywogs – nothing, in fact, that goes to make life desirable.” 

Adventures in the Eastern Sierras

He and Calvin Higby – his mining partner — in “Roughing It”-

“… made a walking trip to Yosemite, carrying their packs, camping and fishing in that far, tremendous isolation, which in those days few human beings had ever visited at all. 

Such trips furnished a delicious respite from the fevered struggle around tunnel and shaft. 

Amid mountain-peaks and giant forests and by tumbling falls the quest for gold hardly seemed worthwhile”. 

More than once that summer he went alone into the wilderness “to find his balance and to get away entirely from humankind.”

Get rich schemes and tall tales – both consumed and sustained Mark Twain.

Shuttling as much as he did between Carson City and Virginia City, it was San Francisco that captured his imagination – but it was Mono Lake that almost killed him – and his curiosity.

Mono Lake at Dawn

Higby and Twain decided to explore the area in and around  Mono Lake.

They surveyed all its wonders in a small boat to explore the lake, just as a storm brewed.

Things go from bad to worse.

Twain actually said “They go from worse to a near fatal accident.”

First there’s the matter of all those seagulls.

Twain Least Expected to Find Sea Gulls

Mono Lake is a hundred miles in a straight line from the ocean–and between it and the ocean are one or two ranges of mountains–yet thousands of sea-gulls go there every season to lay their eggs and rear their young. 

One would as soon expect to find sea-gulls in Kansas. 

Then there’s the alien landscape with both hot and cold water.

Hard Boiled and Fossilized Sea Gull Eggs

The islands in the lake being merely huge masses of lava, coated over with ashes and pumice-stone, and utterly innocent of vegetation or anything that would burn; and sea-gull’s eggs being entirely useless to anybody unless they be cooked. 

Nature has provided an unfailing spring of boiling water on the largest island, and you can put your eggs in there, and in four minutes you can boil them as hard as any statement I have made during the past fifteen years. 

Within ten feet of the boiling spring is a spring of pure cold water, sweet and wholesome.

And that’s not the only odd thing.

Half a dozen little mountain brooks flow into Mono Lake, but not a stream of any kind flows out of it. 

It neither rises nor falls, apparently, and what it does with its surplus water is a dark and bloody mystery.

Though they arrived in the July, Twain and Higby couldn’t resist rowing 12 miles to the “big island.”

Curious “Big Island”

About seven o’clock one blistering hot morning–for it was now dead summer time–Higby and I took the boat and started on a voyage of discovery to the two islands. 

We had often longed to do this, but had been deterred by the fear of storms; for they were frequent, and severe enough to capsize an ordinary row-boat like ours without great difficulty–and once capsized, death would ensue in spite of the bravest swimming, for that venomous water would eat a man’s eyes out like fire, and burn him out inside, too, if he shipped a sea. 

It was called twelve miles, straight out to the islands–a long pull and a warm one–but the morning was so quiet and sunny, and the lake so smooth and glassy and dead, that we could not resist the temptation. 

They filled their canteens, just in case as a precaution and pulled ashore at their destination.

You Can Imagine Twain Hiking the Terrain

The island was a long, moderately high hill of ashes–nothing but gray ashes and pumice-stone, in which we sunk to our knees at every step–and all around the top was a forbidding wall of scorched and blasted rocks. 

When we reached the top and got within the wall, we found simply a shallow, far-reaching basin, carpeted with ashes, and here and there a patch of fine sand. 

In places, picturesque jets of steam shot up out of crevices, giving evidence that although this ancient crater had gone out of active business, there was still some fire left in its furnaces. 

Twain found the island’s single brilliantly green pine tree amusing.

It contrasted strangely enough, did this vigorous and beautiful outcast, with its dead and dismal surroundings. 

It was like a cheerful spirit in a mourning household.

Across the two or three miles they explored in vain. And then …

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.

Rafting

“Ready to surf? The turbulence sucked and pushed at the same time so we were trapped temporarily facing upriver as the back-wave swirled underneath us, like riding a bucking bronco.”

Surfing the Animas River
Durango Day Two: Rafting, Mountain Biking, Rodeos and Bar D Chuck Wagon.

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

Packing the fun into the final day in Durango.

Beautiful Animas River Flowing Past Durango

The next morning we walked down two blocks to “Mild to Wild’s” booth off of Main Street to board their bus to the Animas River.

We put in north of town.

Launching Our Rafting Fun

Local river guide, Brad, expertly guided us down the “2 and 3” rated rapids.

This wasn’t his only gig.

Support Your Local Guide

He guides on several rivers and planned to try it year ’round by getting passage to Australia and New Zealand.

With a mountain man look of black hair and black bushy beard, he memorized and quizzed himself with our names.

What a hustler.

The father of a family with us on our raft sold wave runners.

Brad’s interest perked up.

For the several hours he tried to get samples — shirts, hats, leads of equipment from him.

“I’m planning to get into sales he said.”

Meanwhile, we got into a water fight – fun for us, canned and scripted for them.

Prepare to Get Soaked

We soaked another raft, whose guide was rafting his last trip.

Brad barked the orders.

He caught my attention when he told us he thought we were ready to surf.

So we paddled back upriver to a hole.

Ducks in a Row

The turbulence sucked and pushed at the same time so we were trapped temporarily facing upriver as the back-wave swirled underneath us, like riding a bucking bronco.

What’s the term they kept throwing around – “ducks?”

We, all the rafters, kept our eyes peeled for the ducks – about 20 kayakers, shooting the rapids in and around us with their leader.

One “duck” kayaker dumped upside down and bobbed that way for a while.

Right-sizing a Tipped Duck

We maneuvered over to give him a platform for catching his breath while he righted his vessel and tried 3 or 4 times to get back in.

Making up for early morning and slow train delays the day before, we practically ran to our SUV to head out to Hassle Free bike rentals

We jumped at the chance to enjoy mountain biking adventures near the arena where Fiesta Days brought the rodeo to town.

After biking, we changed and retraced our path back to the Bar D Chuck Wagon for dinner

Old Time Chuck Wagon Singing Cowboys

And the show featuring aging Western singers full of themselves, yet somewhat entertaining.

Steps:

(21) Spend the time to find the best places 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.

Saturday

See the bear?” she asks. The kids’ eyes widened like saucers. “Yeah,” she continued. “They wrecked our car carrier and coolers …

Don’t Mess with No Bears
No sense crying over spilled milk, right?

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.

We spent Saturday hiking down the trail into Emerald Bay to check out the Vikingsholm.

Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay

A 38-room reproduction of a ninth-century Norse fortress from the land of my wife’s ancestors that flows through half of my kids bloodline.

After the tour we talked our way into D.L. Bliss State Park — at first they wouldn’t let us in for day use.

We found out the park is named in honor of timber and railroad magnate Duane Leroy Bliss.

His heirs donated 744 acres of land to the state in 1929.

It has since grown to 2,149 acres.

We just wanted to go to the beach.

Rubicon Point Lighthouse

And, I wanted to see the light house built in 1916, Rubicon Point Light.

For that minor request they kindly gave us permission.

Wikipedia says …

Over the years it has deteriorated to the point that many people mistake it for an outhouse; today, however, efforts are being made to restore the tower.

The lighthouse at Rubicon Point has the highest elevation of any American lighthouse; it stands 6,300 feet above sea level, at a point where it could be seen from most places around the lake.

Spotting Eagle’s Nests

We spotted an eagle’s nest in an old diseased, leafless pine tree along the way.

Heading for the Beach

The beach turned out to be a local boaters cove with about a dozen boats anchored.

Their owners had set up their portable grills on the beach.

Our kids climbed the rocks they found around the southern edge of the beach and swam in the ice-fed lake.

One day back at the campsite a woman walks over while we were cooking some breakfast.

See the bear?” she asks.

The kids’ eyes widened like saucers.

Yeah,” she continued. “They wrecked our car carrier and coolers …

Love Dem Bears

She had left them out against better judgement and in spite of all the signs saying bears were on the prowl for food.

Everything.

Including suntan lotion.

Need to be locked in cars, not tents.

Not anymore.

Bear lockers are the ticket.

Just ask the owner of the car in Truckee years later when a black bear turned up locked inside of his car prowling for something to eat.

Truckee Home Invasion

Another night in the camp latrine I overheard a guy telling another camper that only  black bears frequent the campsites.

The one sighted was about 5 feet tall.

Scary enough, right?

So you can see why we kept the discussion about bears to a minimum.

Especially at night.

We didn’t want to spook the younger kids, girls and wives.

Oh, ok and me.

Don’t Tempt Bears

Needless to say, when tucked away in sleeping bags in our tents almost any sound heard in the dark is sleepily interpreted as a would be bear ready to break in looking for something we forgot to lock up.

We still talk about it.

Sadly, when our vacation ended.

I couldn’t bear or bare returning by the long and boring way home.

Instead we took the scenic back roads.

Taking the Scenic Route

We drove counter-clockwise on the 89 to the 50  past the “Y”, north up the Nevada side of the lake and east out to the US 395.

We normally take US 395, the southern section, on our yearly trip to Mammoth Lakes but, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada range.

Over one pass we encountered three cows meandering on the pavement.

As I came out of a blind hairpin curve.

Just living large and enjoying their almost shortened life.

Steaks anyone?

No sense crying over spilled milk, right?

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.