Showing posts with label Santa Barbara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Barbara. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Getting our Kicks On Route 66

We began our road trip in Santa Barbara following Highway 101, that wonderful stretch of highway that follows the Pacific Coastline. We headed inland and around Los Angeles via Pasedena, looping just south of the San Gabriel Mountain's sparcely snow capped peaks.

We had just entered the desert country when the fancy little gizmo in the rental car alerted us to the fact that we were on the Historic Route 66. We don't use GPS things, preferring the old fashioned map system but this came with the car and it was on so it provided some entertainment. . .and we wouldn't have known we were on Route 66 without it as it wasn't marked by roadsigns. It was a kick so we should have suspected it, right?

Our route (pun intended) took us between Death Valley National Park to the north and the Mojave National Preserve to the south. A long barren stretch of highway - the topography a sharp contrast to the lush tropical beachside we had left.

The dry desert landscape was misleading as we found ourselves climbing - in fact reached 4,730 feet at Halloran Summit - much higher than our Snoqualmie Pass back in Washington State.

We made a brief stop in Barstow and had lunch - couldn't see much reason for staying there any longer (apologies to anyone reading this who lives there. . .but what does one do when one lives in Barstow anyway?)

We arrived in Summerlin, just northeast of downtown Las Vegas seven hours after we had left Santa Barbara. We had traveled 364 miles. Traffic nearing Los Angeles even in the middle of the day had slowed to a crawl and we slowed again as we circled the outskirts of Vegas, (photo taken as we crept past The Strip) but the rest of the trip had been open road and easy driving.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Santa Barbara's Historic Hotels

We love old hotels; those classic old structures from yesteryear that someone or some corporation has had the sense and cents, to keep operating. We had plenty to choose from in Santa Barbara - the tourist association lists six.

They don't always have the latest of gizmos, and they are not necessarily the best travel buy, but they offer a glimpse of both the present day and a bit of history to a trip.

Our first night was spent in the Holiday Inn Expresss/Hotel Virginia, 17 West Haley Street, about a block from State Street (the historic district's main drag) and the second night we moved to the Hotel Santa Barbara, 533 State Street. The first night's price tag was $169 plus tax and the second night (booked on Expedia was $147 including taxes).

Both hotels are from the 1920's so each room is slightly different - not necessarily large or sound-proof but delightfully charming and full of character. The Hotel Santa Barbara (pictured on this post) was actually a bit more upscale and far more spacious in the lobby area. A continental breakfast was included in the room price at each place.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Santa Barbara: The American Riviera

The sun finally came out Thursday morning, a virtual spotlight on this California town that advertises itself as being The American Riviera. With only a day to explore its beach areas and the historic downtown, the pedometer was recording in high gear.

If you have a bit more time, the tourist association has produced a brochure listing "101 Free Things to Do" but I filled a day exploring buildings and businesses that line State Street; the heart of its historic district. Red tile roofs, atop white stucco walls, the trees just leafing out and flowers in bloom made it seem a storybook setting.

Joel, who was on a business trip here, joined me in the afternoon so we headed to Stearns Wharf for a look at the Channel Islands, the beach and harborshops.
When the pedometer hit five miles it was time for a Happy Hour cool one at the Santa Barbara Brewing Company, 501 State Street. Revived and refreshed we headed to Pierre Lafond's Wine Bistro, just across the street and down the block at 516 State Street for wine, flatbread and some of the best mussels we Washingtonians have ever eaten.
(Our first rainy night in town we dined at Olio e Limone Restaurante, 17 W. Victoria, where the husband and wife team Alberto and Elaine Monello's staff prepared some melt-in-your-mouth raviolis for our dining enjoyment).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"It never rains in southern California. . ."

So goes the song from our younger days. . .and those of us who live in the sometimes unbearably wet Pacific Northwest would like to believe that refrain. Okay, so how could it be the sprinkles that began as was approached the Santa Barbara airport became a full-fledged downpour by the time we had retrieved our bags from the open concept baggage claim? Southern California - land of palm trees and beaches and Wednesday afternoon: rain.

Dug out those trusty umbrellas that are a permanent fixture in our luggage and put them to good use. Arrived at the hotel somewhat wet and cold. . .it wasn't a promising start to our 10-day road trip that will take us from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the desert lands of Las Vegas.

Thursday morning and the sun has returned. I am off to explore. . .will share my finds in the next post.


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