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LA to Santa Barbara

Saturday, April 22, 2006, Carpinteria (just south of Santa Barbara) CA
Yesterday we finally made our way out of Los Angeles. It was certainly an experience. Juergen did finally get used to driving our large vehicle in the ultra heavy traffic, and I must say he did an excellent job of it - I won't say I couldn't have done better, because I just couldn't have done it at all! The freeways are unbelievable - I've never experienced such traffic! And it was like it most of the way out here yesterday afternoon, since there is no road other than a freeway to get here. We arrived at the Carpintaria State Beach - our preferred campground - at about 5.00pm, only to find that we should have made a reservation, because it's the weekend. We decided to drive back down the highway and stayed in a Ventura County beach campground which was very expensive, without any 'hookups' - power, water etc. - and which transpired to be a bit of a party place for the younger set who go there to surf. Needless to say, we packed up early this morning and made our way back to Carpintaria, in the hope that somebody had vacated - and were successful. The only noise here so far seems to be the trains and one of our neighbours who should be told by a loved one that he really can't sing!!!
Our last week in LA was punctuated by visits to the chiropractor (my back is improved, but not yet perfect), searching for the perfect outdoor chairs (success finally on Wednesday), finally getting our car CD player installed (Pete will be pleased to know we can now listen to some of his multitudinous music collection we brought with us), and spending a lot of time allowing me to be flat on my back. We did get to see some of the sites, which did make the stay more interesting overall than just mechanics' workshops and shops!!!
We seem to have developed a habit over the years of going to a coffee shop on Saturdays for breakfast, and we can't seem to get out of it. Last Saturday we spent part of the day walking down the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica (this seems to be the main shopping street and is also a pedestrian mall). We happened upon a creperie where we had excellent coffee and excellent food to go with it.

On Wednesday we left Malibu to go to Long Beach again so that we could spend some time with Suzy before leaving the area. The Golden Shore RV Park was pleasant, except for the fact that you could hear traffic from 2 major freeways! We had dinner with Suzy on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and also met an Australian couple from North Stradbroke Island, who were also travelling in a Big Foot camper and had been since July last year. We learnt a lot from them just chatting and sharing experiences. Jan and Dee will be heading home next month, but are planning to leave their camper here and come back sometime next year and travel some more. I guess we are not the only crazy ones here!
On Thursday we caught the Metro from Long Beach up to North Hollywood and checked out the stars on the Walk Of Fame, Grauman's Theatre and also the Kodak Theatre. Check out the photos. From there we went - also on the Metro - to Union Station. I certainly recognised it from some old movies. So we have been a bit the 'tourists' in the city of Angels...
Today, after checking in to the Carpintaria State Beach campground, we drove on to Santa Barbara and continued our Saturday breakfast tradition at Joe's Café. It looked like a place out of the forties, with mirrored bar, booths and tables. The food was good, but the coffee less than perfect - I'm trying to be polite!
Santa Barbara is a truly beautiful city. All low white or pale coloured buildings with red tiled roofs, and lots and lots of trees and beautiful gardens with giant agaves interspersed with low flowering shrubs and ground covers. We even drove past a junior high school that was such a nice building, we stopped and photographed it. The town is built up the side of a mountain and we drove one winding road after another as we drove higher and higher. It was certainly obvious that the higher you went the higher the real estate prices! And even more beautiful houses and gardens.
And then back to the Carpintaria beach for some r & r - you know, the sound of the sea and the smell of salt air... wrong again - it seems that when Americans go camping they have to have a campfire, so the air is full of the smell of fire starting fluid followed by wood smoke. One or two wouldn't be so bad, but at every campsite? Still, we think to stay here another day and explore the town a little. And then move on slowly toward the Sequoia National Park to take a look at the world's tallest trees.

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