A Travellerspoint blog

Day 177 - Santa Barbara & Solvang

We continue heading North on Hwy 1 and Hwy 101 today, through lots of beautiful scenery and some dangerous hillsides.

sunny 63 °F

This morning, I found out that the name of the state beach we camped at was Thornhill Broome Beach, which isn't even shown on our maps and atlas. It also seemed that the waves weren't quite as big as last night. They weren't. It turns out that yesterday's storm had caused unusually high waves all along this section of the California Coast. The ones where we were had washed up water and debries all the way to the road in some sections (not by our RV, but at other sites).


It's probably good we didn't know how high the water got as we probably would have left for higher ground. However, we got through the night just fine and woke up to some more beautiful beach scenery. This is a shot of the bluff just to our north. The cut between the rocks is for Hwy 1. When we drove through it, quite a few people had parked, hoping to catch a glimpse of the whales that migrate through here this time of year. We had also watched for them some, but haven't been fortunate enough to spot any yet.


It was still fairly cool, but I figured it was about time at least one of us got our feet into the Pacific Ocean, afterall, we've been driving along it since Saturday. Mom also decided it was about time a picture of me got into the blog - a rare occurance since she left her camera behind in Miami (& I'm too lazy to mess with tripods unless absolutely necessary).


Again, I wanted to try to make some progress today - but we also both wanted to start doing a little more sightseeing. So today, we tried to find a little balance between the two. We pulled off in Oxnard when we saw workers out harvesting strawberries in February. I guess that's the normal season for down here - but seems awfully early to me (I get mine up in WA in July I think).


We also passed orchards with ripe lemons all over the trees and some sort of crops under some sort of structure that looked like beans or raspberries. We have a bit of a beef with Oxnard however, I pulled off because they had signs for Tourist Information, but after driving around in circles a little, I finally went in one of the businesses where the tourist info was supposed to be only to find it had been moved - but they hadn't moved the signs! Oh well, guess they should just rename the signs - "Tourist Misinformation" for now.

But we got to Hwy 101 eventually and continued North on it. It has cute little signs to remind you that this was once the famed 'El Camino Real' - the route the Spanish explorers and missionaries took in the 1700's and 1800's when California was a Spanish territory. (Mom also likes the pretty, yellow mustard flowers behind the sign.)


A few miles up the road I pulled off when I saw a homemade sign advertising Avocodo's at 4 for a Dollar! But, as we pulled off, we also saw this big sign:


It turns out we had stumbled into La Conchita. This little town, population 338 in 2000, was in the national news in 2005 when a massive mudslide destroyed 13 homes and killed 10 people. The slide occurred in part of the area of another big (but less deadly) mudslide in 1995. Geologists have since declared the entire area to be unstable and, while the town claims there had never been a mudslide prior to 1995 (in the history of the town that is), the geologists say there have been slides here for thousands of year, some much bigger than the two recent ones. Looking at the hillside, I'd have to agree that it doesn't look like a very safe place to live.


But the folks still there don't want to move and probably couldn't sell their homes anyway, so it's still a town. The highway sign wasn't lying - a local vendor had set up a fruit stand out of his van and had lots of local fruit. Most were very reasonable prices, the avocodo's were big and cheap - only the strawberries were too steep for my budget - so we stocked up and got back on the highway (and away from that nasty hillside).

Soon after we arrived at Santa Barbara, which has a special place in Mom's heart. Her brother and mother both lived there at different times and she has fond memories of visiting them and walking on Stern's Wharf out by the beach and marina. Even though we'd both been to Santa Barbara before, I figured it was something we ought to do again, and a typical CA Coast stop for a trip such as this. The beach was quite beautiful, and even though it was still cool, the surfers didn't seem to mind.


Mom seemed to really be enjoying the sunshine, meeting people and talking about our trip. I walked a bit further to take some pictures and she struck up quite a little conversation with these girls from the local college.


This was right by the famous dolphin statue at the entrance to Sterns Wharf, sort of the middle of the beach and downtown area.


We walked out most of the way on Sterns Wharf. Mom bought a Santa Barbara sweatshirt and postcards. I got a refridgerator magnet and squashed a penny. We also ate lunch at one of the cafe's on the Wharf - good food, but I ate too much. One of the shopowners we talked to said the wharf had been closed yesterday due to the rough surf - up to 25' waves!


From the wharf, I had a closer view of the Marina to the north. I was really surprised when a surfer appeared on one the the waves alongside the marina - it looked too close to the rock jetty to me, but he seemed to know what he was doing I guess. Other than that, it looked a lot like the marina's back home.


Here are a couple more shots of the beach and town, lovely place to visit but I couldn't afford to live there!


So we headed back to the RV and made our way back to El Camino Real to head north again. We tried a couple more times to stop at some beaches, but being unwilling to fork over $9 just to even stop for a few minutes, we mostly just kept driving. Mom got one shot of a railroad bridge we had to drive under to get to the gate and find out we couldn't afford the beach...


I also pulled over to take a couple of pictures of the scenery. With all the rain they've had this winter, the state is very green and beautiful. This part of Hwy 101 is one of the most scenic, you drive through ranches and still along the coast, my favorite part so far. At Gaviota, the Highway turns inland and through some very rocky terrain - including a tunnel we had to navigate.


We drove away from the cost for a short distance and finally made it to Solvang. This is a small town that was founded by Danish educators in 1911 to escape the midwest winters. It was a fairly normal town until the 1950's or '60's when a developer started building some things to look more 'Danish'. The idea caught on and now this is quite the little Danish Tourist Mecca (town). It's nicely done and quite pleasant to walk through, although by this time Mom was quite exhausted. We bought some pastries and a few small things, then decided to call it a day.


BTW - Ronald Reagan's ranch, the 'Western White House', is only about six miles from Solvang.

Anyway, we drove back about four miles to Hwy 101 where I had seen an RV park. The rates weren't too unreasonable and we've settled in for the night. I went ahead and did the laundry (Mom is just too tired) so we could get an early start tomorrow. We may go back up towards Solvang, there is a Mission nearby we might check out as well as an Ostrich farm Mom though looked interesting.


Miles Driven - 103, Cumulative - 17,258
Camped at Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground, Bueliton, CA

Provisions Obtained - Gas $39.65 for 12.167 gallons at 127,057
Lunch at Char West Fish & Chips, Sterns Wharf, Santa Barbara
Danish Pastries at Solvang

Wildlife Observed:
Hawk in Oxnard (I did take a picture, didn't upload tho)
Brown Pelicans, seagulls, pigeons, coots and other birds, Beach at Santa Barbara

Posted by jl98584 21:46 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Nice day--except for those obscene fees to see the beaches! Solvang is very attractive, and Buellton is where the Andersen split pea soup headquarters is, if I remember correctly. And I wonder if that wharf in Santa Barbara is the same one Bob and I walked out on a few years ago when we stopped there briefly.

And here we had 4" of snow last night, more all day today (but warm enough this afternoon to melt some, which now tonight leaves a layer of ice under the new snow), another 2-4" predicted for tonight, more for tomorrow, etc.

I went to campus this afternoon and brought Laura and her laundry home, then took her back for a class at 7:00. She studied in the windowseat between laundry loads while I did stuff at my desk. It's always fun to have her.

by msj

Yes, Anderson's Pea Soup is in Buellton, and yes it's the same wharf. Mom has been visiting it off and on for many years.

Ice is nasty to drive on, but snow can be very beautiful of course. We've been on an extended summer to some extent on this trip, so haven't seen much winter this year.

by jl98584

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.