Bug Turns 15: The Road Trip to Nowhere, Part 2
Wow. I have so much to say about my last post. I did beat myself up a lot about writing that. I’m learning and you are learning with me. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time but I thought it was normal. It’s not until recently that I’m realizing that not everyone experiences the world the way I do. One of my defense mechanisms is to apologize for everything under the sun so that no one can come at me unexpectedly and make me feel bad about something I’ve done. I overthink everything from everyone’s perspective (often reading my own writing over obsessively, imagining how other people hear it in their heads). It can be a real drag but it’s just something I do and I’m learning that I don’t need to do it. It’s going to take me a long time to overcome probably. I’m a people-pleaser by nature and I hate any kind of confrontation. So let me just smooth over everything! Crazy, I know. So that said, I had (and maybe still have) a lot of anxiety about sharing this trip. I feel like I have a target on me and some troll is going to find my weak spot and shoot an arrow right under my scales into my heart. It’s happened. But I need to be brave. I love sharing. I love sharing my pictures and my experiences. Describing the magic in a moment is my favorite kind of writing.
Before I continue I’m going to talk about the worst moment in Part 3 of this trip so if you are waiting in suspense I’m sorry. I will have to make you wait another day. And now that I’ve talked it up so much it will probably be anti-climatic so let me apologize for that too! Blah!
That night we pulled into Santa Barbara. I love Santa Barbara and it seemed like a good place to stay based on past experiences. I was so relieved to find that it was actually very easy to find a hotel that was open. I’ve visited the Kimpton Properties in Huntington Beach before so when I saw that The Canary had vacancy we jumped at the chance to stay there. I love Kimpton Properties. They are always so clean and chic. No, we are not made of money and it was pricey to stay there BUT it was Bug’s birthday present so we did not skimp. And the Kimpton Canary did NOT disappoint. The staff waited on us like we were queens. They even sent up sparkling water and small packages of cookies and gummy bears with a birthday wish for Bug. It was so sweet!
The only problem was that our suite was right underneath the hotel roof pool! Yes, that picture you see of the pool was right over our heads! Talk about freaky. I don’t know about you but all I could think about was the pool falling through the roof onto my head! And there was a high-pitched whining sound, probably a pump for the jacuzzi. At first we didn’t notice it, we were so in love with the room but then as things got quieter and we prepared to go to bed it become more and more of a problem. I have trouble sleeping because of worries already. The pool noise was really hard to block out.
So we called the front desk and they moved us to another suite on the other side of the hotel that was just as beautiful! We were spoiled rotten.
We settled in with our hummus, pita chips and farmer’s market snacks and made it dinner while Bug hooked her phone up to the streaming tv and we watched some terribly inappropriate show. It was awesome.
The next morning we woke up bright and early. We took a few photos in our photogenic hotel room filled with morning light.
Bug drank her sparkling cider she is so obsessed with and then we headed out in search of coffee for me and another great breakfast experience. I don’t know if this is normal or if I am passing on an eating disorder to my daughter but we love a good foodie moment. We get all warm and fuzzy remembering the great breakfasts we’ve had in different places. We definitely don’t grab a granola bar and eat to live. We live to eat great food.
Even during a pandemic Santa Barbara has plenty of options for great food. We asked our concierge for a recommendation and then headed off to the Cajun Kitchen right up the street. Have you ever had Cajun juevos rancheros?
The next challenge was where to eat our delicious breakfast. All the outdoor eating areas are shut down, naturally. Then we had a brilliant idea: let’s eat on the roof! Santa Barbara parking structures are known for their rooftop views. Bug’s dad and I used to frequent them often to get our bearings and take a few photos. So we drove to the top of a building and set up a picnic in the parking lot. It might look kind of silly but there weren’t really any parks nearby that we felt comfortable in and this spot was super sunny and nice and totally deserted. We spread out our trendy tapestry, added our sleeping pillows and had a fabulous breakfast picnic.
It was perfect.
Except there was a homeless guy on the street below us bellowing in pain. That’s Santa Barbara for you. Wealth everywhere and a huge population of mentally ill homeless people. It’s really really sad. The pandemic is probably only making it worse. Everywhere we went there were homeless people wandering aimlessly. I was so sad for the guy in pain. He was rolled up in a fetal position crying and yelling. We wanted to give him some of our food (we had plenty) but he seemed really scary and violent so we gave him a wide berth.
After breakfast we packed up our little picnic and got back in the car and headed for the coast. We took a quick detour down to the beach. We watched the skaters in the skate park on the boardwalk for a bit and then wandered down the deserted Santa Barbara pier. I did feel guilty for being out in such a well-known tourist spot. It did seem unfair that we were out enjoying the ghost town that is Santa Barbara these days while everyone else hunkered down at home.
The sun was super bright so we took a few photos and then got back in the car ready to hit the next spot.
That spot was El Capitán State Beach. We drove down a gravel road through a wooded area and at the end of the road we were greeted by the most lovely little rock-and-stick-covered shallow beach that wasn’t that crowded at all. We quickly learned that it wasn’t crowded because it’s not that comfortable to lounge on a rocky stick-covered beach but it was soooo pretty!
The sun was out in full-force so we set up a little shelter with our tapestry and made a little camp. I wished we had brought our pillows with us as I moved my butt around to avoid the pokey-ist of sticks but if propped up against a log just so, you could enjoy the beautiful fresh air and mist from the crashing waves. It was pretty enough to paint!
And so I did of course! That’s the fun of these stops with no plan or schedule. We have all the time in the world to paint! We don’t need made-in-China souvenirs to capture our memories when we can capture our own with my handy dandy little makeshift water-coloring kit. I was in heaven.
Bug seemed pretty content too.
I keep a parasol in my car because I am that photographer who knows it will come in handy for shade AND photo-opportunities.
Have parasol, will pose. :)
Lots of “us” photos.
We stayed until I finished my painting and then packed up again to head north. Every time I say the word “north” it makes me want to sing the North to Alaska song. Why do I even know that song? It’s something from my childhood and super catchy.
We took a detour up the 101 towards Solvang and stopped to take a few photos of some emus on the side of the road. If you look really close you can see them. I guess during normal times when there is not a pandemic going on you can actually get close enough to the emus so that they don’t look like bushes but that part was closed, of course. Mental note to visit that emu farm someday.
When we got to Solvang I started to realize that this trip was probably a mistake. Solvang was so crowded. People were everywhere eating ice cream and wandering the shops. It was too crowded to stop. We did stop but we quickly realized it wasn’t for us. Of course right about then I realized I neeeeeeeeeded to use the restroom but there wasn’t a public restroom anywhere. Long gone are the days when you can pop into a Starbucks to find a clean empty restroom. What a nightmare. We drove all over trying to find a place we could stop but nothing seemed safe. Finally we just decided we would head north to the next town: Pismo Beach. There’s got to be something there…
And that is when things got even worse.
I read every word of your post, so excited for you and Bug. Ages and ages and AGES ago, my husband was stationed at Vandenberg AFB an hour north of Santa Barbara. It was one of the happiest (and most broke) time of our young lives and I remember that pier at Santa Barbara. And the art walks on the sidewalk along the beach. My husband’s hours were so long, sometimes working 7 days a week for weeks at a time and on those rare days off we’d buckle our baby girl up into her car seat and off we’d go to the very places you are mentioning.
I’m sorry about Covid and how it just makes everything so difficult and scary. I would have freaked in Solvang too- those pastry shops were amazing but in the time of Covid, in those narrow streets? Yikes. I hope you’ll be able to go back when this pandemic is over.
But you brought back so many happy memories from the mid 80s for me and it’s been like a virtual vacation looking at all the pictures. I hope Bug had a good birthday and your road trip was a good decision- you took wise precautions and I’m glad you were able to figure out how to create an adventure when so much is shut down.
If you’re driving from Solving back toward the 101, Los Olivos Grocery is the place to stop and pee. Doesn’t help you now, of course, so… File that info away for future trips, I guess?
good to know! thanks Sonja :)
Oh, how I relate to you and the way you’ve described yourself in that first paragraph! That’s me. So me.
And if the tables were turned, I’d feel guilty too. But as I read your words and see your beautiful photos, I think how good for the soul this trip must have been for both you and Bug. So I’ll suggest again that you should not feel guilty.
Thanks, you. I’m working on it. My word of the week is “gentle.” I’ll have to blog it.