Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside!
There is sure to be much beauty and fun awaiting us on this next leg.
Did I say beauty? Our friends in Noosa, Greg and Andrea, who moved from Santa Barbara recently, asked their good friend here in Santa Barbara, if we could stay for a night or two. We arrived at Paul Schulte's ranch, Rancho Dos Pueblos and took the directions given by him which led us down through the ranch and onto a private beach. Just us, a beach, a deck, palm trees, Hawks flying overhead, Blue Jays in the trees, geese, white heron, a few flocks of Terns, the crashing of the ocean and a seal came in close by too, as well as some grey Pelicans bobbing up and down in the ocean. Oh, also a beach style pub area. Oh man!!! We did not want to move from this position at all, it was just so private, special and so beautiful. Google it, it is amazing!
Considering we had moved from a very busy camp before, where we had been packed in like sardines, this was heaven, to be all on our own.
Sunset at Rancho Dos Pueblos
The beach was just beautiful
We awoke to another beautiful mist free day at our private sanctuary and enjoyed watching the ocean, whilst having breakfast. We could have stayed here all day, but we needed to go and see Santa Barbara. We were about 12 miles north of the town. Eventually we found a suitable parking spot for the RV; no parking of RV's on the beachfront as apparently they block the views! So we parked in town for $20 all day parking. Greg had told us about the good views to be seen from the courthouse and he was right, they were amazing, 360 degree views. The highest structures being church spires.
From there we took a shuttle down State Street, this street is where the majority of shops and the restaurants were located. We had a lovely walk along and around Stearns Wharf, watching the fishermen haul in lots of Mackerel. We chatted to a local fisherman who told us that for some reason 'The fish were running the best in a long while'. We were headed for the very long stretch of East beach front, when the wind came up even stronger than earlier and a huge sand storm started and eventually we decided to rather head up State Street and wander through the shops; good call. Guess what.....H&M had a few items just waiting for me to purchase. The courtyard shopping area of Paseo Nuevo was well laid out and again, a very Spanish feel about it. We found a camera shop in State Street and I was able to replace the lost lens hood, which I had replaced in Carmel with a cheap one which did not work. When will we learn!?
The impression we had of downtown Santa Barbara was chic dress, no obesity, clean and tidy. A nice place to visit and although not busy at all, quit a few tourists around.
Santa Barbara Warf
Courtyard Area in shopping Mall in Santa Barbara
When we were walking down Anapamu Street, back towards where we were parked, I noticed what I thought was a grasshopper. What attracted me to it was the fact that it was emerald green. I thought 'wow our grasshoppers are not that pretty' and then I realised it was a tiny Hummingbird. Of course, true to form, by the time the lens was on it, it flew away, not to be seen again. These Californian birds will just not allow me to photograph them.
The ranch on which we were camped, is also used as a wedding venue and the reason we could only stay for two nights, was that a wedding was to take place over the coming week-end. When we returned from the city visit, the crew were out in full force, banners were up, lights strung between trees etc. it would certainly make for a wonderful wedding setting. I took a walk back up the road, to the barn, leaving Chuck in charge of the bbq. The barn was a buzz with about eight men working furiously, putting in false flooring and stages, lights being strung up, curtains hung up and all being overseen by a party planner. The barn was taking shape really well, but heaps of work was still to be done, this was 7pm and it would need to be complete by the following afternoon for the wedding on Saturday. Mmmmm.... I could see why they're working overtime.
Lights in the Barn - heaps more to finish before the wedding.....
We so enjoyed our last night in our little piece of paradise with the last rays of sun twinkling on the crashing waves. Due to the fact that the seaside areas get very busy and camp sites booked up over week-ends, by the locals, we headed for the hills, to avoid the crowds.
Last view of the beach
We didn't have too long to drive, only around 30 miles north east. We stopped in at the Danish town of Solvang. Wow, we really liked this pretty Hansel and Gretel type layout and I spent ages trying to spy 'our Mary', but she must have been in the real Denmark with Freddie and the family. We meandered in and out of the lovely shops, visited the Hans Christian Andersen museum and failed at getting into the first RV Park we tried, 'The Flags RV resort'. We knew we could get a space at Lake Cachuma but hoped we would be able to get a better site, here in Solvang. The weather the last few days had been very warm and it was actually very hot walking the streets of Solvang. We were both absolutely taken with this village, packed with bakery shops, antique, gift and Christmas shops, cafes, coffee roasters and windmills. The streets were named such as Copenhagen, Kroneburg etc.
Solvang - Always thought the windmills were a Dutch thing, but seems the Danes do them too
We needed to secure somewhere to camp, so we left Solvang and drove to the state park at Cachuma Lake. They had heaps of space for us as it was a large park. Although we could not see or smell fire, this was one of the areas which had been burning up until very recently. The firemen were using the park as their base, to keep watch on the fires and be able to move in, if and when needed. So we felt very safe having the forces on hand. We found a lovely camp site and spent the afternoon bird watching. We were surrounded by more birds, seen in one space, since being in America. The tree above us had a hidey hole in which a family of Blue Jays was nesting. The Woodpeckers were peck pecking in the trees, Hawks were flying low over us and there were other birds flittering around. Very good experience for my ornithology.
Due to the extreme drought conditions, it was very dry here. The 'grass' was just remnants of brown and there was a fair bit of dust flying around, the lake was not at all full either. But having said that, it was a lovely park to stay in and we had no close neighbours, such a bonus. The Santa Ynez Valley (wine area) and Solvang both on our doorstep and only a short distance back to Santa Barbara made this a good stop. As the sun began to set, the small birds all made their way to their homes and then the hoots of the nocturnal owls began....so special to be at one with nature.
We awoke to birdsong and the pecking of the Woodpeckers.....had breakfast watching the squirrels popping in and out of their burrows.....but we needed to move on. Charl checked our schedule and found we were running two days behind. We must have enjoyed ourselves somewhere and overstayed the welcome.
.....Aaaahhhhh....but in the end it is always the call of ocean that we yearn for so we headed south to Ventura. Once again, we climbed up steep roads and then had to step on the brakes for the steep and winding down hill approach, passing vineyards and very interesting topography of the area. As we approached the south, along Highway 101, it became greener, and the highway was lined with Plumbago and Oleanders which led us into the seaside town of Ventura, the gateway to the Channel Islands.
We had conflicting reports about this place, some said yes and some said no. But given it was a week-end we didn't have much choice, we needed a night here before we could move on to Malibu, our first choice, but which was booked out until Sunday. Well our take on it.....yes and no. It was a good stop, we enjoyed our twenty four hours here, but it was not a 'must see' destination. There were some odd street names around here:
Santa Claus Road, Screaming Eagle Highway, and Purple Hearts Trail.
We found another pool noodle use. There were many cyclists to avoid on the roads and one clever chap had a bright pink pool noodle jutting from the side of his bike, about a metre into the road. So not only could one could see him very well in the distance, but also it forced the cars to keep the obligatory one metre distance from the bike. Clever.
There was a surfing competition taking place at the beach, so we watched the surfers having a great time in wonderful surf breaks. The annual Noosa Surf Festival organisers, would give anything for breaks such as these. We got back onto the scooter and tried to find a cafe to have a sundowner, but all the parking (even for scooters) was paid parking at exorbitant rates, so we headed back to our own little spot for an evening 'spot'.
Wall of surfboards making a fence at the Coffee Shop in Ventura
Another beautiful morning to wake to. We had a later than usual check out time; times vary between 10.00 am and 12 noon, the most common being 11.00 am. Check in is usually around noon, but we had one place where we could only check in after 4pm. We took the scooter and had one last look around the town, then back to camp to pack up and then drove along the Pacific Coast Highway and further south to Malibu. We had to begin on Highway 101 and though the traffic was so congested, our coast road choice was a great one. We passed some lovely beaches and found a little spot to park, where we had our lunch overlooking Leo Carillon beach.
View from our lunch Stop
Our RV campsite in Malibu was stunning. On a cliff top overlooking the beach and not a busy camp at all, which is always a bonus. A while back I mentioned that we may have to invest in an electric barbecue, due to the extreme fire danger. We have managed well with using charcoal and even wood fires in some areas. However at this place absolutely no fire of any description allowed. Fortunately we always have something in the deep freeze that can be heated, for those 'in case' moments.
Once settled here, we took the scooter along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at a few beaches and eventually the Malibu Pier. We needed to do some people spotting so headed to Nobu, but guess what? Saw Nobudy!!! Heaps of fancy cars, Porsche's by the dozen, Mercs and Audi's and most being valet parked, we sure hit the spot of the celebs!
Very upmarket eating and drinking places
On our way back to the park, we passed an area, belonging to the university, which had many, predominantly American flags flying, so we stopped to look. There were over 4,000 flags, each one 'planted' in memory one of the poor folk who lost their lives in the September 11 tragedy. It was a very sombre time as we looked at the flags from different countries, thinking of those innocent lives lost, the families affected, who will never be the same again....sad, but a wonderful tribute to these people whose innocent lives were taken for no rhyme or reason.
One Flag for each loss of life in 911. Mainly American, but quite a few other Nationalities also
On a happier note, our next door neighbour to be, Jacqui, backed her van and car in, next door to us and we got chatting. This lovely young, confident lady of 33 years, has taken to the road all by her lonesome. That is one heck of an achievement and I could never dream of doing such a thing. She is a travelling nurse, so she can work wherever she decides to stay for a while, what courage that must take. You go girl!!!
We decided to take the easy way out, in order to see a few things around the city of Los Angeles, and that was by doing a tour. They would collect us at the park and we could sit back, relax, not have parking worries and just enjoy the sights, which is exactly what we did.
We were collected at 9am and driven to Santa Monica, where we started the tour. Goodness, we saw a lot. Beverly Hills suburbs were similar to Peppermint Grove (WA) and Bishopscourt, Cape Town. We drove past Century City, Fox Studios, LA country golf club, saw Hugh Heffner’s house, also where Jackson, Presley, Lucille Ball, Peter Falk and Charlie Chaplin lived, to name a few.
A typical Beverly Hills type scene
We drove along Route 66 for a short while (it is 2 000 miles long), drove through West Hollywood, stopped at the Farmers Market for lunch. Walked the walk of fame and saw the Gabriel Mountains, Hollywood mountain sign, and walked down and around the beautiful shops of Rodeo Drive.
The Walk of Fame - lots and lots of stars. This is where it all began
Since it was 35 degrees and we did a fair bit of walking in the sun, we were both absolutely exhausted when we got back to our RV some seven hours later in the day. Oh dear, perhaps we need a holiday?? Even the cupboards had heated up that much that when we took out a packet of crisps, the packet was very warm - I guess said cupboard faced the setting sun.
And of course it would not be complete without the Hollywood sign
Another hot day to awake to and onward to Santa Monica. We had it on good authority that Arni cycles around the Santa Monica pier.....we looked and looked but no Arni to be found. He was most likely working on his upper arm muscles and not cycling whilst we were here.
Paul, our best man at our wedding has a twin, Gaston, who lives in LA and we had arranged to meet up with him whilst we were here. We met Gaston at Ye Olde Kings Head, Santa Monica Boulevard for lunch. Oh what a wonderful call back the past catch up this was. We were only so sorry that his wife, Theresa was not able to join us. Unfortunately too soon we had to move on to our next stop, and so had to say au revoir, and hope to catch up in the not too distant future, either if they visit us in Noosa, or if we link up in CT. Can you believe that on the way to our stop, we had traffic congestion on a six lane freeway? We certainly did, but we were in no rush and in holiday mode.
A Selfie at the pub with Gaston
Arrived at our RV camp on Dockweiler Beach, right on the beach! There were lines of fire pits placed in the sand for all and sundry to make fires. A loooooong boardwalk situated between the park and sand which extended for miles and miles. So we settled in and down and then a while later, took our chairs and sat on the beach watching the sun set - magical.
Sunset at Dockweiler Beach
Later in the evening, when I opened one of the cupboards, I could smell alcohol. Now I have a penchant for sniffing the good stuff, but it should be in a glass and not in a cupboard. Where was this coming from? I thought it rather strange to be in the cupboard. It transpired that with the previous day being so hot, a bottle of wine which was stored in the cupboard, had exploded due to the heat and that had caused the new aroma in the cupboard. The fact that we were now one bottle of wine down was tragic, we are not always close to bottle shops, never mind the cleaning up that was needed. The good part of the story, is that it could have been far messier had it of been a bottle of red wine! Yeah, I know you are thinking 'why the heck was the wine in a cupboard and not in the fridge?' Easy answer.....the fridge is, in comparison to size of the RV, not your standard household size fridge and we are limited as to what we can and cannot stock. The men would like the booze to take precedent, but I'm afraid the food takes number one in my fridge.
Another hot start to the day and even hotter after a lovely brisk walk along the Marvin Braude boardwalk on the beach. The council have kindly built a long cement walk, shared by cyclists, so one doesn't have to get sand in ones shoes, all very civilized and the boardwalk extends for miles.
We took the scooter to Venice Beach to check this famous beach out. There were two options of getting there. The three mile boardwalk or the 8 mile drive, (which, due to traffic congestion, took a half hour each way). Weird hey? Not as weird as the odd bods hanging around Venice beach. We've never seen so many odd, stoned people in a short 1.5 mile stretch of walk before! The most entertaining for us, was the beautifully designed skate park. Now, not to offend any of our skate boarding friends, but often weirdos hang out at these parks, but here, they were the nicest, friendliest, best dressed people!
Beautiful mural at Venice Beach
Also spotted Arni/Orni...but not at the pier....but here....we got the incorrect info that he was at our previous spot, but there he was supposed to be for real, unlike here!
Arni - not the real one!
I am no prude but last year our two youngest grand-daughters did this same walk and I am very pleased, due to some of the smutty slogans, that they were too young to read at the time!
Skateboarders at Venice beach
We both had a great time at this stop, felt very comfortable here and if there had of been more for us to see and do, could easily have lingered longer, but, it's time to hit the road Jack....oops sorry...Chuck!
On the road again.....to Huntington Beach.....Highway one, with a short stop at Rodondo beach. OI VEY!!!! Gladys, our GPS, must have taken some of that good stuff from Venice beach yesterday, (although she wasn't with us on the scooter), because she was all over the place with her direction!! She caused us so much stress and we were at one point, in eight lanes of traffic, in the fastest lane, with her telling us 'to keep left, keep left' there was no bloody place to turn right Gladys!! From now I guess you are gone girl, to be replaced with another voice, perhaps one that will give us better directions! We will alter her voice to that of a man, child, cowboy, whatever it takes to get rid of her nonsense!
After we settled into the camp site we went for a lovely evening walk along the beach. We have found the beaches along this part of the coast, to be very deserted. We were not happy with our site as we got a strong sewage smell and as it was after office hours, we had to call the owner in. His attitude was neither aggressive nor sympathetic, rather a bit of 'could not care less' but we changed sites and we were much happier. However a total rip off for this site at $85 per night for a place that was full of permanents, had no view or anything much to offer and in dire need of maintenance. Never mind.....upward and onward....and we made the best of the situation. Also a no BBQ campsite, but fortunately we had heat up meals in the deep freeze. There were fire pits on the state beach across the road, but quite frankly I would not have felt happy there, given the few homeless we saw hanging around earlier in the day and the lack of people on the beach.
I disturbed the birds at Huntington Beach
The scooter has really come into its own along the coast. Charl is a good driver, but even so, I am beginning to think I am not earning a medal, but a gong!! I'm only used to short hops on a scooter in Noosa, from home to the beach, which is about 3ks along a 50km/hr speed limited road. However, we have been clocking up much more than that and on three lane roads at between 80 and 90km/hr.
Today we set off for Newport Beach and Balboa Island. Balboa Island is one of three manmade islands in the Newport Beach area. It was a pleasant 'scoot' and we both loved the area of Newport. Very fancy upmarket homes, lovely area. So many huge yachts; well, Newport is famous for its yacht building.
Beautiful homes on Balboa Island
The obligatory amusement park
We found a small parking spot for the scooter and took the very efficient three car/passenger ferry across to the island. The ferry, (not sure exactly which one of the three), was featured in the 1949 movie, 'The Reckless Moment', starring James Mason and Joan Bennett. Due to the fact that there was more than one ferry, there was no wait time at all. After our excursion over there, spending most of our time watching young skim surfers, we headed onto Highway 1 and found the Shake Shack, a little further down south. Andrew and Debbie, we could imagine you and the girls sitting there, last year when you were in this area, very pretty views and lovely shakes too. All in all about 25 miles covered.
Skim Surfers - they run from the shore and skim into the huge shore-break
Chuck has enjoyed a few swims and I a few beach walks, so all in all the Californian coast has been good to us. Now, not to make our grandchildren jealous, but our next stop may well be Disneyland. Nothing booked, update in the next blog.