Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Anniversary Trip Day 2

July 25, 2014
A Day in Santa Barbara

It was a beautiful morning, much cooler than the day before, and clear skies all around. A perfect day for going to a beach! But first, we went a little out of our way again for a letterbox. This one took us North on I-14 and West on highway 138, to a quiet and peaceful spot by a lake. 

After this, we headed South on I-5 and West on highway 126 to Ojai. Lots of back roads and small towns, but it was totally worth the drive through the beautiful Angeles National Forest. We had been planning to go camping there that night, and so we stopped at the rangers station to ask about camp sites and the roads. They told us the roads up the mountains and through to I-5 shouldn't be a problem, but since it was hunting season, they couldn't guarantee there being any campsites if we didn't get there early. We took all this information and headed out West the remainder of the way to the Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Barbara.

Driving South on I-5 was lovely and easy drive, thanks to it being downhill. Uphill may have been a different story for the Yeti!

Another beautiful lake hiding between the mountains

It was an easy drive here on a Friday morning!

Took a letterboxing break on highway 150 at a scenic look at the Ojai Valley. It was so beautiful and green, despite the drought California is in. The drought was much more evident in other places, such as along I-5 through the National Forest.

We had considered doing a longer hike for the next day, but instead decided to try to "take it easy" and not do anything too strenuous. ;)

Finally - the Pacific Ocean!! We had been waiting far too long to see this!

Once exiting in Santa Barbara, we decided to park in a lot near the beach, find a map, and go from there. We found a great lot with relatively cheap parking for the day, and after visiting a nearby visitor's center, we planned out what we wanted to visit for the day. We decided it was all within manageable walking distance from where we parked, making it easier to enjoy the city without the stress of driving around. Our first stop was the ocean!

There were lots of people, but it wasn't entirely too crowded, and we were able to enjoy getting our feet wet and walking along the waves in peace. The weather was just perfect, everything you'd hope for at the ocean!

Facing West, toward the Wharf.

Rocking our matching flip-flop tan lines. We're so married. ;)

Facing East. I love the view with both the ocean AND mountains!

Celebrating 363 days today! ;) 

We walked over to the Wharf/boardwalk area and walked to the end before choosing a spot for lunch.

Facing West

Our view at lunch! There were signs there reminding guests that California was in a drought and they wanted to conserve water, but our waiter came by many times, eager to refill our glasses every 2 minutes, even if we only took a sip. Later, we'd be wishing for this kind of service, but it seemed a little over the top at this point!

The awkward dolphin painting that was directly across from us…we got to enjoy gazing at it for the whole meal! :P

Walking back to the beach, enjoying the deep blue water!

On a clearer day, we might have been able to see the Channel Islands South of us, but not today!

After lunch, we decided to take a walk down State Street to the Santa Barbara Courthouse. We heard it was only 11 blocks from where we were, which sounded like no problem!

We loved the colors, architecture, and variety of trees around here. It's such a beautiful city!

I took the above picture because I was so intrigued by the way the tree on the right looked. I didn't get a closer shot, and we started wondering if it was fake, like a disguise for a pole. But looking through other vacation pictures, I see it around other places, such as in parks. I've looked online trying to identify it, but haven't seen anything like it. If anyone does know what it's called, please let me know!!

Walking under I-101

I love the colors and architecture everywhere - they make all my pictures from this city look beautiful!

Vines growing up the building

We made it to the courthouse! It's free to tour and definitely a must see if you're visiting.

The colorful stairs leading upstairs to the Mural room and the bell tower!

Looking up at the ceiling!

Inside the mural room.

Looking out at the courthouse courtyard.

Next, we took the stairs up to the bell tower. Here's the inside!


Several flights of stairs later, we are now overlooking this beautiful city. I believe this is facing Northwest, but I'm not sure on my directions here!


Zoomed in on the Mission - it's another 11 blocks North, and that's where we walked next!

Facing East

This one's easy - we're facing South toward the ocean!

I love looking down on these roofs!

Smiling because we're sneaky and found the letterbox ;)

Back on ground level, planning our route to the Mission

There were less people walking, and we started to leave the downtown area and walked through more of a residential area. It was a bit warmer here than it was by the ocean, but still felt great to us.

We were still loving the variety of trees out here! Everything is so green as well! :)

We're here! The Santa Barbara Mission.

Touring the inside

The Sacred Garden

Holy water - it's filled to the brink and just looked so cool!

Curtis found a map-puzzle thing and of course he had to put it together. (Yes, we denied a child the opportunity of doing it herself. My husband really. loves. maps.) :)

There were awesome chalk drawings on the pavement outside the Mission

Grabbing another letterbox before walking home! The walk really didn't feel like anything to us, but later I looked up how far we went and found out that it's 6 miles round trip from the beach to the mission. A year ago, I don't think I could have done all that, but today we still felt great!

This tree had epic above-ground roots.


Still admiring trees. We're so Arizonian. ;)

The Santa Barbara Presidio. We were too late to tour it, but just wanted to see it.

After one more walk along the beach, we went out in search of a park with a letterbox series. It took some time and confusion, but we were able to find it without having to do any backtracking.

The trail started through a woodsy area

Sunset! We still have 6 boxes to get!

One of the boxes led us down a secret trail...

And we found ourselves back at the ocean! It was a perfect, peaceful point to enjoy the water, sunset, and letterbox!

There's an oil rig way out there!

Gotta love auto-timer! It can get the best pictures of us. :)

One last picture of us and the ocean. Until next time, Pacific!

We finished up boxing in the dark, and thankfully we were able to find all boxes and only ran into a skunk that left us alone. I'm not sure how far we walked this evening, it was somewhere between 2-4 miles according to the letterbox clues.

As we hiked, we debated what we should do. While camping in the forest sounded fun, it was already dark and it didn't seem likely that we'd get a spot. We discussed just camping in the back of the truck, but then decided that there's no use of going out and driving up a mountain if it's dark and we can't enjoy it. We hadn't had any truck problems today, but didn't want to push it too hard, just in case. And most of all, we REALLY wanted to go back and see the Whispering Giant statue in Desert Hot Springs. It was 3 ½ hours away, and we had hotel reservations for the next night in Yucca Valley, which was just a half hour from Desert Hot Springs. However, we would only be able to see the Giant the next morning from 9-1, and it would be closed on Sunday. 

Finally, we decided to start driving East and camp just East of Palmdale, where we were the night before. We were mostly just backtracking, but that was fine since we had already seen the road we were going to take earlier that day. The next morning, we'd continue on our way to see the Giant, hopefully before it got too hot. We went back into Santa Barbara to get fuel and dinner, and started heading East around 11. Even at this hour, the interstate was still very busy outside of LA, making us even more thankful we didn't drive through that city. We drove about 2 hours until finally stopping for the night in Pearblossom, CA.

End day 2: Drove 300 miles, walked at least 8 miles, found 14 letterboxes.

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