Wed. Mar. 20, 2013:
Breakfast consisted of Cherry Coke Zero and butter toffee peanuts, not exactly the greatest or healthiest. It was also really messy; I got bits of toffee coating all over the bed, my belly and my book. We got a ride from the hotel down to the rental car place and soon enough we were on the open road, driving north along the Pacific Coast Highway. It was indeed very pretty, as expected.
Our first stop of the day was at the Getty Villa, same guy as the Getty Centre. It was designed like a house in Pompeii- before the tragedy. There were a lot of statues of Greek and Roman gods, old armour and jewelry. The main piece on display was a statue of a lion attacking a horse; it was amazing how much detail there was around the mouth of the lion and in the neck of the horse. There were mind-bogglingly intricate pieces of hand-blown glassware dating back to 100BC-100AD. I could not stop staring at them, they were tiny with gorgeous little details- all made of glass. For some reason Getty had a real mummy in his collection, it was more than mildly unnerving to think of this rich oil tycoon purchasing a mummy for his gallery. The one downside to being there so early was that the place was rampant with schoolchildren. We found refuge outside in the botanical garden; you could still hear their loud high-pitched voices in the distance. In the garden we witnessed a hummingbird hovering in place, drinking nectar. It almost looked fake; I was tempted to wonder where the wires were. On our way out we stopped by the café; however it was lunchtime so the place was packed.
Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway we saw miles and miles of gorgeous scenery, further beautified by three pelicans flying by. The thing about the PCH is that it a scenic highway, it does not have a lot of exits let alone highway rest areas. When we saw a McDonald’s while driving through a town, we pulled in. Well, sort of. Brent missed the turn and instead we ended up in the KFC parking lot so we split up. I went to McDonald’s and Brent went to KFC. We were going to split a small popcorn chicken with our McLunch, however KFC decided to stop making popcorn chicken. We had to eat chicken bites, chicken nuggets that tasted too much like real chicken that was unbearably greasy. The soft serve machine at McDonald’s was broken and so were my dreams of a sundae for dessert.
We drove by Pepperdine University, easily one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. They even have a sign warning against trespassing- I guess lots of people had wanted to see the pretty campus. The GPS kept trying to steer us onto the freeway, we ignored it a bunch of times and it finally gave up and let us stay on the PCH. My ice cream craving was only getting worse and then an 18-wheeler of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches drove by. For a while there was a naval base in between us and the coast, ruining the beautiful views. Instead the views were of migrant works picking crops in the field. Once we got back to the scenic part it was ruined again, this time by trucks pulled over in the beach parking. I guess it is a good place to take a nap? One guy had been there for a long time, there was a seagull perched on the roof.
We stopped at the Kalyra Winery because you cannot drive up the PCH in California and not stop for a wine tasting. I had a tasting flight, basically 1-2 ounces of 8 different wines (3 reds, 3 whites and 2 desserts). It was a nice way to try all the different wines without getting hammered; I ended up buying the first dessert wine I had tried. While I sipping my wines, the girl struck up some small talk with us. When Brent said we were from Toronto, she thought that was in Japan. Brent made a slight joke about that being wrong, but it seemed to go over her head. She really thought we were from Japan. I now had to fake a deep interest in my wine, so as to avoid the really awkward conversation about fitting in and learning the language and adjusting to a new country. Thankfully there was also a bloodhound dog bumbling about to distract me, he was so cute and soft. The winery was very low-key and laid back, not intimidating at all.
We drove back south to the Santa Barbara Mission. I was so excited; I thought this was the mission that they drive to in Vertigo. I was ready to climb up the bell tower and fake fall- only it was not that mission. Brent just chose it so we could see an old mission, and it was along the way to our next hotel. He chose a good mission to go see, as this was one of the only missions left that was still operating as an actual church. They had an exhibit about the earthquake that hit the area in 1925. And of course, we saw some more lizards.
Our dinner plans were cancelled because the taco place where we wanted to eat (Julia Child’s favourite) was closed. What kind of a taco place is closed on a Wednesday?! It’s the middle of the week! It was a short walk to the place from our hotel on the main street- we walked over to see if maybe the internet had lied to us and it was in fact open. It was not. But the internet saved itself, by giving us a recommendation for a Mexican restaurant that had been recently voted the best in Santa Barbara. And it just so happened to be two doors down from the taco place.
Los Agaves had a huge menu. It took me a while and a lot of flip-flopping before finally deciding on the chicken mole Pablano. I ordered it because it is one of the main dishes in Mexican cuisine and it sounded delicious. And the menu said it was really hard to make with lots of different ingredients. Brent ended up ordering what I had been considering: picadas (chorizo and other meats on top of flat breads). And he ordered a quesadilla. Brent finally got to try Negro Modello beer, I opted for Jarrito. I was not even sure what it was. Turns out it is a Mexican soda available in a wide range of flavours.
Throw in the free tortilla chips and we were in for a feast, an enormous feast. We made a mistake saying yes to a second (and a third) basket of tortilla chips. But we simply could not help ourselves: they had 6 different house made salsas and guacamoles! By the time our mains arrived we were half full already. The menu had lied, or at least misled. It was supposed to be two pieces of chicken. What I got was two quarters of chicken: half a chicken. I sat there are stared at it for a second, half a chicken smothered in sauce atop a bed of rice. The waitress offered me some flatbread for piling rice and chicken on. I did manage to eat most of it, leaving behind mostly chicken bones- and all the beans. We ended up with a lot of leftovers and sadly no room for dessert.
Overfed, we walked south in a feeble attempt to get down to the beach. What we did not realize is that first we had to bypass the freeway. We turned back and headed towards the main street, which for sure went down to the waterfront. Along the way we saw an actual functioning Blockbuster. It w
as a sight to behold. We passed a church that had been converted into a skateboard shop, aptly named Skatan. As soon as we got to the Santa Barbara Pier I perked right up, forgetting how full my belly was. I even considered having an ice cream cone, but it was too cold and I was too distracted. There were pelicans dive-bombing into the water trying to catch fish. Then a shiny black head surfaced and disappeared before Brent could see- he did not believe me until he saw the seal himself later. Until then I had just been “seeing things” and there was no “seal”. I had refused to leave my spot, waiting for it to re-surface. It felt good to be proven right.
We had a nice walk along the pier; the beach was out the question. It was too cold to take our shoes off and nothing is worth sand in the shoes. A guy with a parrot on his shoulder getting into a car distracted me for a second, but then it was right back to watching the pelicans dive. I just could not get enough of it. But then I got to thinking, this was the ocean I was staring at. How cool would it be to see a dolphin jump out? And then to make things even and not so hokey, a shark to jump from the opposite direction? And then to make things less macabre a whale to surface, blow some water out and swim back under again? Is that really so much to ask for from the Pacific Ocean? That’s the least it could do to make up for always being too cold to go swimm
ing. The whale was added to the montage a little bit later, when I read a sign at the end of the pier saying that whales migrate to this part of the ocean because it is calmer.
As we turned around to head back I was faced with a nice surprise. The sun had started setting over Santa Barbara and the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous, the pink and orange streaked sky over the sailboats and palm trees. Even the seal came back to watch the sunset, and avoid my camera. The elusive seal proved impossible to photograph, so while I have no proof, I did see that seal!!! It only occurred to me halfway though that I should adjust the colour balance, as my photos were looking nothing like the sunset. I did end up getting my photograph of a dolphin jumping, but it was just a statue at the entrance to the pier- with the sunset in the background for added effect.
Rather than going back to the hotel I went out shopping. It sucked until on my back to the hotel, on a whim, I crossed the street to Urban Outfitters where I hit a gold mine: babushka and cupcake shaped lip glosses, a red wallet with white polka dots (seeing as my US wallet was barely holding together with electrical tape) and some chicken wing boxers for Brent. I wanted to buy more but it would not fit in my carry-on. To top off my successful shopping trip I stopped at a self-serve frozen yogurt place. People in the US do not understand how self-serve frozen yogurt works. They would wait until the person was done picking flavours and move in a straight line. That is not how it works. If the flavour you want is not blocked, you go for it. You do not stand there like an idiot holding the whole line up. That is why the place was packed. It was awful.
On my way to the mall I had passed a guy singing really bad karaoke really loud across the street. Two hours later he was still there, belting out the “tunes”- if you can call them that.
While I was out Brent had gone a soda run and bought some more Jarrito (fruit punch). We had not anticipated needing a bottle opener for it. After a few failed attempts, I finally managed to pop open in the doorjamb- spilling fruit punch on the wall and my sock and hurting the side of my hand from smacking the top against the doorjamb. Victory was delicious.
Day 6 celebrity sightings: 0, we were too far from LA. I did see a bride-to-be, just thought I would mention it, that zero looks really sad.