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.”
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
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.
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
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” byForbes 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
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.
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.
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.
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. Doesyour new community offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities?
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.
60M4C3, Park Bench Seniors, 65+ Singles, Park Bench Seniors, Micro-City Blues (Palm Desert, CA)
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?
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.
Cobbling this theory together has become a little too complicated, right?
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.
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.
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.”
“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?”
So we didn’t have adorable newborn iPhotos to flaunt.
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?
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Top two highway driving songs on my playlist.
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, 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.”
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels —
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields.
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
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.
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
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
Smooth sailing turns into unexpected parking lot bumper-to-bumper as we turn into the Ventura Freeway (101) from the 405.
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.
“Wait, have we already driven through Ventura or are we still on the way to Ventura?”
And, wait what’s that up there ahead?
Traffic moving shrinking from two lanes down to one lane – actually half in the slow right hand lane and half on its shoulder.
Two fire trucks.
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.
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.