A Travellerspoint blog

Santa Barbara (Photos Added)

Is there More to Santa Barbara than Sterns Wharf?

sunny 66 °F

Not too much actually but I wanted to find out, so Friday morning we headed out from the campground, back over San Marcos Pass, to Santa Barbara. (Actually, the Pass isn't too bad in a car!)

First we visited the Visitor Center, which is right across from Sterns Wharf. After picking up brochures, maps and discussing options with the staff, we decided to drive down "State Street", which is the main drag, and see what there was to see. It is very picturesque and it seems almost the whole city uses old Spainish style architecture. But besides shops and cafe's there didn't seem to be too many reasons to stop - on some trips, that would be reason enough I suppose, but nothing jumped out at me and said STOP (and there wasn't any easy parking) so we just ambled along. They do have an art museum, but with Mom's legs I figured we'd better plan on a limited number of functions so decided to skip that this trip.


We needed to find a post office, so using the map from the visitors center we turned off to the next block and mailed some stuff. Across the street was the Presidio of Santa Barbara, so we decided to visit that. I let Mom off at the corner and drove a couple of blocks farther to find a parking spot. Right next to where I parked were some very interesting looking cactus, long stem almost like a minature tree.


Then the Presidio:


This was where the town was originally founded as a Spainish fort in April 1782. Over the years, many section had been destroyed but a couple have been preserved and the chapel section reconstructed. They do have a painting of what it probably looked like originally.


So Mom & I went through the sections that they have:


There were a number of exhibits showing how people lived during the time the presidio was active.


Behind the living quarters were small gardens and also a larger garden area behind the chapel. I was impressed with how much fruit was on the lemon and orange trees! They must like the climate here.


There was an entire room dedicated to Pottery, which I won't bore you with, but you might find the exhibit of how they made and used Chocolate interesting!


Finally we also went through the Chapel. This is a reconstruction, but they did a very good job and were very careful to be as authentic as possible. The Father's quarters were off to the side.


We decided to skip the Santa Barbara Mission since we had both seen it before and seen quite a few missions over the years. Another place that looked like it might be worth a visit was a "Ronald Reagan" center. I never agreed with his politics but Mom thought he was 'cute' and I thought it might be informative. However, it turns out it is closed on Fridays (the day we were there), so we had driven back to it for nothing. It was pretty much across the street from the beaches and wharf, so I drove across the street and parked at the beach. I debated whether to spend some time on the beach, but although the sun was out it was still quite cool so we decided to go back to Sterns Wharf afterall. Mom was pretty tired out from the Presidio, so we took the wheel chair for this jaunt.


The views along the beach and wharf are quite lovely as usual in any weather.


We walked all the way out to the end and decided to 'do lunch' at Moby Dicks. Very nice over the water dining if you're ever in need for such a place. Again however, we ate too much...


And of course the beaches and palm tree's are what make Santa Barbara what it is.


And shore birds...


So we spent a little more money on souvenirs, had a little too much to eat, took lots of pictures and headed back over the pass for a good nights sleep.

Posted by jl98584 10:01 Archived in USA Tagged of santa wharf barbara" "presidio sterns Comments (0)

Trip Progress (Placeholder as of 5.8.2013)

Just a Placeholder entry to summarize our status until I get the real blog entries caught up

sunny 66 °F

May 7 - We Made it Home! Got to Shelton Tuesday evening about 7:30 PM. Will spend a day or two recovering and unpacking the RV, doing laundry, etc. There will be a couple more blog entries as I catch up the last few, but otherwise this is the end of the trip and the blog!

May 6 - We are in Salem, OR. My aunt called tonight and we plan to visit her tomorrow morning, then will probably head home to Shelton tomorrow. If Mom's too tired, we'll stay here tomorrow and head to Shelton Wednesday. Either way, the trip is almost over.

May 5 - We are in Cottage Grove, OR. Easy drive today, stopped at "Heaven on Earth" for lunch (very good), will spend some time checking out Cottage Grove in the morning, then head north to Salem and find a campground for the night, visit my aunt Gen Tuesday, then head the rest of the way home...

May 4 - we are in Ashland, OR. Stopped by the Sundial bridge in Redding for a lunch break, very cool. Have made arrangements to visit my Aunt in Salem May 7th (Tuesday), so we have two days to drive about 250 miles, should be pretty easy travelling. Also, I got ALL my pic's for the past week sorted and organized, so it shouldn't take very long to get the blog updated.

May 3 - Left Fresno area and drove back up near Chico. My brother and his wife were both off Friday, so we decided to swing by for a brief visit. This turned out better then expected as my niece & nephew were there as well as my grand nephew. Also my cousin's stopped by with their daughter, who is getting married May 12th - so we got to see a whole bunch of people.

April 29 to May 2 - Sightseeing part of trip is largely over. We drove back down south to Fresno area to visit and are still here as of May 2nd. We plan to leave tomorrow (Friday morning) and start heading North finally. I think it will be easier on Mom to drive only about 5 or 6 hours a day, also may stop a few places along the way, so will probably get back to Shelton next Wednesday, end of trip.

April 28 - long awaited party/lunch with my uncle Al. My uncle Wayne also came, as well as several cousins, second cousins and my brother and his wife. Lots of fun...

April 27 - I moved the RV to the Napa Valley Marina for one night. They don't really allow RV's to stay there, but since my brother has a boat there (a 28' Cape Dory) and was coming down to meet us, they allowed it. We took my great nephew, Kalvan aged 3 to Train Town in Sonoma and also took my brothers boat out for a short jaunt. Will have pic's to upload from Traintown of course!

April 26 - With Mom resting up from all that driving yesterday, I took the opportunity to go wine tasting. First I toured the castle winery, "Castello di Amorosa". I took a lot of pictures and also bought some wine. Came back to the RV for lunch, then visited the Vermiel wine tasting here in Calestoga on my way to the Beringer winery - again too their tour and bought more wine. My wine cupboard (?) is wells stocked for the next few years.

April 25 - Mom & I drove over to the Sonoma valley to try to locate information and/or artwork by my great aunt. We weren't very successful in getting information, but had a good time tasting cheese, eating too much at the Basque bakery, and meeting up with my Uncle Al in advance of the big lunch Sunday.

April 24 - (I really have been doing this backwards, haven't I? The newest entry should be on top so you can check it and get out!) This morning i drove down to San Rafael and took the tour of the Marin County Courthouse, what can I say? Probably took 150 pic's, fabulous!!! Got back to Calistoga RV park early enough to take mom down to the Robert Louis Stevenson museum, not very big (one room), but nice. Then we went to dinner at the Culinerary Institute of America, very good but $$$.

April 14 - We left Los Padres National Forest (Solvang & Santa Barbara) Sunday and are in Pismo Beach State Park.

I plan to leave in the morning and drive up to an RV park in Morgan Hill. I may stay there for about a week, then head north to Marin County and or Napa/Mendicino area.

April 15 - 17 We stayed in Pismo Beach, then drove up to Morgan Hill. Again there is no cell phone service in the Thousand Trails RV Park (Ugh). They do have WiFi in the clubhouse normally, but none yesterday. Someone told me someone had shot out a transformer and taken out a fiber optic cable supplying internet to a wide area. Anyway, everything is fine. We drove to Monterrey/Pacific Grove today. I was planning to go to Carmel, but stopped so many times in between that we ran out of time.

April 18 - Took a day off so Mom (& I) could rest, did the laundry, etc., but generally rested. Finally had a really nice day weather wise! The propane heater in the RV croaked, so I made an appointment for Friday morning, 8 AM at Camping World in Morgan Hill. Not sure how long it would take us to get there, so we drove down tonight (Thursday night) and will stay here for the night). We'll make our plans for Friday based on what the mechanic estimates as far as how long it will take to fix. But we have plans to meet with my dad's cousin, Larry & wife Joan Friday at 4 PM in Cupertino, so will fit that in one way or another (we have the tow behind so can just leave the RV here all day if needed).

April 19 - Visited Egyptian Museum in San Jose, Awesome! Ate lunch at Black Bear Diner, too much food... Visited my dad's cousins, Larry & Joan in Cupertino...

April 20 - Mom was too tired to go to church Saturday so I headed back to the campground (long story). Anyway, there was some sort of bicycle race going on and the road to the last 2/10's of a mile to the campground was closed. The policeman said it would be at least another hour and a half before it opened, so I decided not to bother with one more night in the campground afterall but to drive on up to Calistoga Saturday instead. We did that and are safely parked in the Calistoga RV Park (actually, the Fairgrounds). It is very pleasant, Mom is sleeping, and I have good internet service so I'll get the blog up to date I think!

April 21 - Met my aunt and uncle in St. Helena for lunch, checked out the area a little (not much)

April 22 - Long drive down to Petaluma where Mom grew up (one of many places), spent some time at the Library (now a museum) where they found a 1945 high school yearbook with Mom's senior pic!

April 23 - Mostly did errands, Mom was REALLY tired for some reason so she stayed in the RV and slept some, seems to have done her some good. There are NO laundromats in Calistoga, I found one up at PUC, but decided to go to Santa Rosa instead since there was also a Walmart and I need to get some lighter weight pants (my WA Carhart Jeans are a little too hot for this climate). Also found a place to get a haircut. LOT of driving for a couple of errands. Anyway, I will be on the docent led tour of the Marin County Courthouse tomorrow!

Posted by jl98584 21:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

RV Campground

Rancho Oso in Los Padres National Forest

sunny 68 °F

I decided to try taking a day off between excursions to slow down the trip for Mom, somehow I managed to keep just as busy as when we're out sightseeing? First, here is a view of the Rancho Oso campground from the road in:


Inside the campground, the first thing on the left is the horse barn:


The campground itself has a lot of horses and you can take various trail rides (for a fee of course). Other people also bring or board their horses up here, I guess there aren't a lot of places to ride in Santa Barbara.

We had our own RV to stay in but you can also rent trailers or cabins to stay here. In addition to the regular campground style cabins, this place has a few old west style cabins, covered wagons, and a teepee that people rent for their stay:


The campground has a number of facilities, including a Rock House that was built in the late 1800's or early 1900's when the ranch was a popular retreat for silent movies stars and other such folks.


Unfortunately, the lodge has not been restored to it's original splendor and in some ways looks like a typical (cheap) RV campground building, but there are enough traces of it's past to get an idea what it might have been like in the past. This is the main room showing a nice mural (this may have been painted later, I don't know):


Also around the large, stone fireplace mantel is a mural painted by Edward Borein, a famous western style artist who lived in Santa Barbara from 1921 until 1941. Part of the mural is covered in Plexiglass to protect it, so I could only photograph a small portion...


So, since this was our "day off", I decided to drive back up the road a bit to investigate something we'd encountered as we drove into the area. As we were coming down from the San Marcos pass, we suddenly found ourselves driving over a very long bridge over a deep canyon. This seemed longer and higher then most bridges so I asked Mom to write down the sign "Cold Spring Arch Bridge". I googled it at the lodge that night and found it was one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world (at least when it was built in the 1960's, not sure anymore). Of course, I had to go check something like that out so thought I'd just sneak off while Mom was resting in the campground. However Mom decided to join my in my little excursion so off we headed to find "Old Stagecoach Road" (from which I'd heard were the best views of the bridge). Turns out this really was an old stagecoach road!


Then, just past this sign - the Cold Spring Arch Bridge itself!


Again, I'd heard enough about this area by now I also had to drive up the road a little further where the stagecoach line (Wells Fargo I guess, based on the sign!) had built a relay station. It served customers meals and refreshments as well as being a place to rest the horses from the long, difficult journey. When it was no longer needed for the stagecoaches, it became a tavern and has remained in business ever since. They were just opening for lunch when we got there (about 11) and I couldn't let an opportunity like this go by. Mom was reluctant to get out of the car, but once she found a nice table across from the fireplace, she was right at home. She also enjoyed trying to identify all the odd ranch/stagecoach type stuff around the walls.


(Kinda makes me wonder if this was the inspirition for the Cracker Barrel chain?)

After eating way too much (and it was good), we headed back to the campground. While Mom took a nap, I thought I'd take the dog for a walk then work on the blog. However as I headed up a dirt path across from the RV (there are a LOT of horse trails around the campground), it kept going and stayed nice and easy to follow, so we just kept going. After a half mile or so, we came out just above the horse corrals, which would have been fine - but there was a sign at the fork in the road - "Waterfall Trail". The camp brochure mentioned that they had a waterfall trail, so I was kind of curious. It was getting late, but I figured we still had at least an hour or so of good light, so Grizzly and I headed up the trail. About 1/4 mile up the trail was a giant cistern, maybe 60' across. This is clearly the main water supply for the camp and turns out is spring fed! After the cistern, the trail changed from a nice, dirt road to something else indeed. Calling it a 'trail' is misleading, very rugged, lots of places where you need to cross the stream by picking out rocks (and hoping they are stable).


Grizzly was a much better hiker then I was, but we made our way pretty good. I finally encountered a series of very small waterfalls (maybe 1' high?), so began to wonder if the trail was so named because it followed a brook by small cascades of water?


But finally, we came to a very interesting waterfall, maybe 15' high. It didn't 'fall' so much as cascaded down the face of a large, flat rock. I'd never seen a waterfall quite like this. It was lovely.


I was pretty proud of myself for finding the waterfall! It was getting darker however, so we headed back to camp at this point and I did go work on the blog. Later I found out that there was another waterfall beyond this one that was about 30' tall, we hadn't gone quite far enough. Oh well, maybe next trip?

During our stay at Rancho Oso, we had seen quite a bit of wildlife (including birds). I may be the most boring person on earth, but I love taking pictures of the different kinds of plants and animals I encounter - so, to avoid putting you to sleep, have saved these for last.

One of the prettiest birds here was an Acorn Woodpecker. It took me several trys and a couple of days to get a good shot of one:


I also had trouble getting a good shot of a scrub jay, but this should do:


We encountered California Quail several times, they weren't too hard to photograph:


There were also quite a few wild turkeys here. A couple of them came down the hill every morning around 8, picking up bugs as they worked their way through the oaks behind the cabins. These two were over by the barn, so may have become domesticated - but they look exactly the same so I'm not sure.


Also the entire campground was covered with ground squirrels. They looked like squirrels, but acted just like prairie dogs, so they must be related. The ranger thinks they are ruining the park and there are so many tunnel's under the barn that one day it just may collapse. He's probably right and they are pests, but they are so cute I couldn't help taking pictures of them:


There are lots of doves, crows, hawks, vultures and sparrows but I thought I'd spare you having to look at those. We also other animals which I wasn't able to get pictures of (or good ones), including deer and humming birds. Then just as I was leaving the campground this morning (4/14) in the dry creek bed to my left was a large cat. It was about the size of a bobcat or slightly larger, but tawny. It definitely was NOT a house cat - my guess is that it was a young cougar. They do have cougars up here but this one was too small to be an adult, so who knows. Of course I was driving the RV and it ran off way too fast to even reach for my camera, but was exciting never the less.

Finally, one of the evenings even Mom got into the act and decided to see what was at the end of the fence up the hill from us. Proof that she still has a bit of curiousity left in her!


Posted by jl98584 20:43 Archived in USA Tagged rv rancho campground oso Comments (0)

Ventura Freeway & Solvang Danish Village

Summer has arrived. We go RV'ing through LA Freeways (Ugh!), through mountain passes, and becoming a real Tourist!

sunny 76 °F

Anxious to get moving again, I hooked up the car to the RV and headed north in I5. After stop & go traffic for somewhere between 20 and 40 miles (OK, I lose track sometimes), we blew right past the exit to Hwy 101 and ended up driving around in a circle by Griffith Park to get back on the Ventura Freeway. (I was looking for a "Highway 101" sign, not realizing it was the same thing as "Ventura Freeway". Griffith Park looked like it would have been a nice place to spend some time, maybe have a picnic, but the parking was on the opposite side of the road so I kept going.

The first stretch of the freeway went through Hollywood. We drove right past a large "ABC" building, which looked a bit old to me. Many of the exits had very familiar names, probably from all the TV Shows and Movies filmed in this area. The road itself is dated, the lanes seemed narrow (by today's standards) and there were lots of bumps and dips. Most drivers would probably never notice them, but in the RV they made it feel like we were on pogo sticks. Given a choice between bad road surfaces (Stockton, Tejon Pass) and dips and bumps (Ventura Freeway), I think I'd prefer the former?

Fortunately (or not?), my new navigator doesn't like to handle a camera much either - so there aren't any pics of me trying to survive the freeway but I'm still here so we must have survived! Once we got past the cities, it seemed like we drove forever through coastal mountains. Finally we pulled over in Ventura and fixed ourselves some lunch and walked the dog.

Hwy 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara is all along the coast, so we did have beautiful views of the ocean, breakers, surfers, and ocean front homes. I figured we'd be coming back by car so didn't bother to pull the rig over for photo opps. In Santa Barbara, we turned inland again on Hwy 154 to get to the RV campground where I'd made reservations. On the map, it looked like a reasonable road.

Hwy 154, between Santa Barbara and Los Ollvos is also known as San Marcos pass. The road surface is good, but it is only two lanes and very steep. The east side of the pass had a sign showing a 7% grade and I doubt if the west side was much less then this. There were a lot of turnouts and also a lot of cars wanting to go over the pass much faster then I could, so I pulled over a LOT.


Of course, the flip side of this is that the views were pretty cool. The channel islands are just off the coast from Santa Barbara, both of which you can see clearly from the pass.


There are also a lot of lovely wild flowers in this section of the country, most of which I don't know the names of.


18 miles after leaving Hwy 101, we finally found the RV campground, Rancho Oso, in the Los Padres national Forest. It is billed as a "Guest Ranch & Stables" which I guess is true since they have a lot of horses. You can rent a small cabin or covered wagon to stay in, but since we were driving our own 'wagon' of course we just set it up in any empty space. My plan was to spend Wednesday in Solvang, take Thursday off, then Friday in Santa Barbara. (Mom gets too tired if I try to schedule activities every day.) Since we'll be spending time in the campground Thursday, I'll write more about it then. (btw - that is my rig just to the right of the little blue car - my Kia Rio).


So on Wednesday morning, off we went towards Solvang. On the way, we passed through the small town of Santa Ynez. It looks like this was a smaller old west town from the late 1880's that is now being updated with newer 'old west' style buildings. There were a couple of interesting looking museums and shops, but everything was still closed so we drove on to Solvang.


Solvang is also a very small town that was founded in 1911 by Danish settlers who were interested in preserving their way of life. It is now a very Danish themed small town that has lots of shops and places to eat - and mostly caters to tourists. It was a sunny day with bright blue skies, but started off reasonably cool (high 60's). At first there were very few tourists wandering the streets and there were plenty of parking places in the middle of town. This all changed as the day wore on, the temperature rose, the number of tourists increased and the number of parking places decreased (if indeed there were any). But we were set and headed for our first shop.


We have both Mom's wheel chair and her walker in the back of my Kia Rio (now that's a feat - fitting those in the back of such a small car). Mom has difficulty walking, so I was planning to use the wheel chair - but she decided to use the walker instead, probably because it made it easier to go through all the shops! We probably spent 30+ minutes in the first shop, a clock store (with lots of other stuff also of course). We also made our way through a toy store and another brick-a-brack shop when we decided to try a Danish Bakery. Mom ordered a cream puff and I got an eclair.


We spent quite a lot of time going through shops and not as much time taking pictures - but of course a couple of windmills needed to be captured!


It felt like we bought everything in town, but after we got back to the RV and sorted our loot, I hadn't spent as much as I'd feared. On the way out of town (Sunday?), I may go ahead and stop at a couple of places again to pick up a couple more things. Mom actually walked much farther than I expected or thought she could - a little over three blocks, both ways, plus a few million steps through several little shops! I offered to get the car and pick her up, but there were plenty of shops to see on the other side of the street also, so she elected to walk the whole way. (She was VERY tired by the time she got back to the car though).

After the Danish Pastry shop, neither of us felt very hungry, but there's no way I'd be this close to an Anderson Pea Soup restaraunt and NOT eat! So we drove another 3 miles to Buellton and located one of my favorite eateries.


I guess I'm not the only tourist fond of pea soup, the place rather caters to people like us (look closely at the faces!)


So we also had lunch, I had the Travellers Special (as much pea soup as you can eat), and Mom had Fettuchini Alfreado (she doesn't like pea soup). We both liked the gift shop however, and a few dollars poorer we headed back to camp. Mom took a nap, and I took advantage of the guest lounge wifi to finally upload my pictures from the San Diego Zoo last Sunday.

By this time it was quite warm (high 70's), still sunny, well fed, and with a fair share of souveniers from Solvang and Anderson Pea Soup - I really felt I'd been on Vacation!

Please don't worry if you can't get ahold of us, these "Thousand Trails" RV campgrounds seem to all be located off the beaten path and again we have no cell phone service. They have wifi in the guest lounges, but I can't access the internet from the RV so must find other ways to stay entertained. I brought about 50 DVD movies along (only picking out ones I thought Mom would also like, so no sci-fi or war movies). So far, we watched w "Roman Holiday". I forgot RummyCubes, so we are having to make do with Gin Rummy for now.

Tomorrow we'll 'do' Santa Barbara!

Posted by jl98584 16:45 Archived in USA Tagged solvang Comments (0)

San Diego Zoo & More (Photos Added)

We visit the San Diego Zoo in 1/2 a day

overcast 65 °F

Funny weather down here, it has rained off and on, but while we were at the zoo it stayed overcast and dry. This was actually pretty nice, if the sun had been out it would have been pretty hot.

We spent about 1/2 day at the San Diego Zoo on a Sunday and had a great time and took lots of pictures (of course). However the campground we stayed in last night (17 miles east of San Diego in the hills) had NO cell phone service, so I'm updating the blog a little late.

First I realized the Zoo was in between where we were driving down from LA from and the RV Park I planned to stay in, and the Zoo's web site said there was plenty of RV parking available. Hmm, not sure what they meant by that - but we did manage to drive the RV into the Zoo's parking lot and found room way back by a couple of buses. Unfortunately it was very steep so I had to shut the fridge off for the day - but there doesn't seem to be any long term damage from that (melted ice cream).

The parking was free - but that's about the only thing that was. This is a fairly expensive zoo to visit. Throughout our visit various zoo employees expressed how much they appreciated all of us spending money there to support their conservation efforts.

My pictures of the zoo enterance didn't come out that good, so I'll just let you know what we did. First we decided to take one of their double decker tour buses around the zoo. Some people told me it would take several days to go through this zoo and I was only going to spend a half day there - so I figured the bus tour would give us an overview at least.


I took a lot of pictures from the bus, many of them didn't come out very well - but a few were 'keepers'. The bus tour lasted about 35 minutes, after which I decided to rent an electric scooter for Mom. She's turning 86 in June and has had difficulty walking for several years now. Before they let her take off, the attendent required her to take a driving class...


By this time, it was past lunch time so we headed to the Sydney Cafe, which several people had recommended. (Warning - a 'you were there' photo, for those who hate vacation photo's just skip ahead...).


Now to the Zoo itself - it is very large and has a lot of animals. Rather then bore you with pages and pages of animal photos, I'll insert a bunch of thumbnails in here that you can expand if you want. Sometimes I took pictures of the zoo signs, so can identify the animals - the rest are just to get a flavor of the many animals at the zoo. I think I heard it is the third largest zoo in the world?

First the Animals:


A couple of snakes (we didn't see that many, perhaps because we skipped some sections of the zoo - also didn't see many primates although they had a very large primate section):


There were quite a few birds of various sorts. Many were part of the zoo's exhibits, but manly also just flew in to take advantage of the zoo's bird feedings. (I just included the turtles here because they didn't really fit anywhere else?)


Although I think San Diego has a separate botonical gardens, the zoo seemed to include many different types of plants and took as much pride in their plant species that it almost seemed a botonical garden as well. I won't bore you with all my plant pic's (or all my pics of anything, although it may seem like I included everything) - but a couple are appropriate to get a feel for what the zoo includes:


Finally, we waited in line for a long, long time... (Mom of course had the difficult wait of sitting on her scooter)...


Then we got to see three giant panda's, an 8 month old cub, his mother, and in a separate cage, his father. Here are the cub and his mom:


This morning, after doing some laundry, we drove back to LA to 'meet' a long lost cousin for dinner in Pasadena. We just got back to the RV and will crash here (in LA) for the night.

Tomorrow we will drive up to Santa Barbara area. I made reservations to stay in a nice RV part there the rest of the week, so we should have plenty of time to update the blog as well as do some beach going, Solvang, etc.

I also made reservations at an RV campground in Morgan Hill (south of San Jose) for next week, so will be able to spend some quality time in the SF Bay Area.

Posted by jl98584 22:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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