Sunset was turning the leaves deep green by the time we made it to the Vista Point rest stop, and everyone was ready for the break. Aaron was beginning to feel a bit better from the food poisoning episode, but I was still pretty out of it and Zoe was burnt from picking up the slack. By Sunday morning everyone was recharged and we headed into Santa Barbara, ready to walk the boardwalk and have a day of exploring.Within acouple hours everyone was stressed and pissed off, I have rarely been to a place less welcoming. Don’t get mewrong, Santa Barbara is BEAUTIFUL, and that’s really it. The boardwalk was full of overpriced vendors and the beach was closed for a very sketchy “beach nourishment program”. They said they were putting sand back on the beach, but if that’s the case why was the water black and oily and why did the place stink like a sewage drain? Erosion, really? Nothing to do with the water levels rising? Hmmmm….. One can see the outline of the oil rigs along the horizon, few things are as poetic I’m sure.
Disgusted, we decided to hit up the main area of town, State St. and walked up and down about 12 blocks full of corporate shopping and coffee shops. Outside of one coffee place was the only worthwhile thing to happen the whole trip to Santa Barbara, a pretty girl singing her heart out with a guitar. I know, I know, cliche’ Californiamuch, but really. I’ve seen a lot of buskers in my travels and this lady has presence. It’srare to see a girl out performing by herself anyway and I was impressed at how animated and engaging she was Madeline playing for us
to total stranges and passersby. She hooked quite a few people, including us, to stop and listen for a while as we enjoyed our beverages. After a bit we tipped her and chatted a little, and her name is Madeline Meyer ( I was so happy, I lovethe name Madeline, so romantic, she said the same of mine :D) . What a vibrantly sweet soul, I wish her best is her singing career dreams. Wishing we could invite her out to the campsite without seeming like freaks, we continued on looking for McConnell’s Ice cream shop, since Aaron and I had tried it back in NM, and the main location was on State St. I’ve done quite a few of those kinds of tours- Ben and Jerry’s, Harry London, Hershey’s and whatnot- and typically the distrabution center is significantly cheaper, or at least has free samples. It was $5!!! for a single scoop! WHAT?!?!?! It was less than that for a pint at the store! And the handpacked pint was $9! DISGUSTING! Very frustrating, it is truly the best ice cream I’ve ever had, but that is lunacy- worth it if you find it at the grocer, not worth seeing the main locale. This was the worst example, but it was pretty much that way the whole walk, everything priced up to astronomical levels, even the local corner store was selling Tecate of all things for $4. Finally, pissed off and bored we decided to head back to the far more comfortable forest.
By tuesday a towtruck was eyeing us, though we hadn’t even seen a cop since we parked, so we decided to head down the road. We were planning on hopping vista point to vista point and enjoying the view for a bit, the city sucked but the landscape was delightful, but that didn’t work. We ended up out of the national forest area, and got kicked out of what we had thought was an abandoned camping area by a very sweet old man ( I am pretty certain if he was owner rather than manager he’d have let us stay, he thought it was pretty funny to find me up a tree with a book), and for lack of other options we stayed at Camp Cachuma. It was $23 for one vehicle, plus $10 for Zoe’s honda+trailer, so not horrible for one night with dumpsters, showers, and water spigots right on the edge of the lake. We made dinner to the shrill screams of the skinny blonde in the tent next to us. Apparently, the children were playing the wrong game, it was time to play THIS game now, and no you aren’t allowed to play in the grass, you have to ride your bike. We hid inside so we didn’t have to watch the little girl sit at the picnic table crying, and didn’t go outside to enjoy coffee until the “listen to your mother” guy had packed up the tent. Thought about having riotous loud sex to mess with them, but decided the kids would end up suffering the consequences, they’ll need enough therapy already. Other than that the place was well maintained, the staff was nice, and they certainly kept to the culture of the area with sky high prices on everything in the general store. It was a little upsetting that even are charging us thirty dollars for nothing more than a pretty parking spot, it was 50 cents for 3 minutes of water for the showers, but it does cut down on water waste. I was relieved to leave the areaBy the time we were headed out the next morning Aaron and I were totally healthy again, which means it makes perfect sense that then Zoe got sick. With what exactly is still anyone’s guess. She’s a vegetarian so she doesn’t eat the same stuff we do and it was days after Aaron and I had food poisoning. Nevertheless, she had a rough trip from Santa Barbara, so rather than pushing to Monterey, we stopped for the night in Santa Marguerita. A very nice cop showed up around 10:30 (it is the most likely time for them to show for vehicle camping, it’s late enough to be reasonably sure you are stopping for the night) and after Aaron showed him some of the folded steel knives he was working on (he was a little nervous about a cop asking to see ALL his weapons, lol) he said we could stay the night. Next stop MONTEREY!!