Beautiful Santa Barbara

12/12/21

This place is so gorgeous.

The rain and lower temperatures are supposed to set in for the next couple of days, so I did my best to pack in all my sightseeing today.

First I went to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, just north of town. The ride there was beautiful, and I passed through a wonderful, tree-filled park on the way. There I met a woman at a picnic table named Angie, who is a van-lifer, and who had just arrived in Santa Barbara herself within the past few days. We had a cool conversation for a bit, marveling at this place and at the joys of the traveling lifestyle.

Then I climbed uphill to the garden. I was interested to learn that this particular botanical garden was the first in the United States to focus on native plants and trees, rather than showcasing collections from around the world, as many do. At first I was a bit disappointed to learn this, thinking this would mean there would not be much variety in the garden. But I appreciated the principle, and I ended up really enjoying the space, including another lovely redwood grove for me to sink into and savor.

On my way out, I met a family visiting from out of town—from New Jersey and the Bay Area—and shared a bit of my journey with them, showing them my bike and such. (If you’re reading this, family, it was great to meet you!)

Then I headed back toward the house, but not before stopping by the mission, which is one of the main tourist attractions in Santa Barbara. The architecture was pretty, and a man riding a cargo bike there with his two young kids complimented me on my Brompton, saying it was “on my Christmas list for myself.” Turns out that he and his family had just moved back to the area after eight years in Portland. What a small world. We talked Portland, Santa Barbara, and bike travel, and then continued on our separate ways.

When I arrived back to the house, two of my host’s adult children and their partners were there, cooking delicious food for lunch, and later dinner. We all enjoyed some vegan tacos together, and then I hopped back on the bike to make the most of the last hour of daylight: I wanted to see the downtown area in the daytime, and also visit the beach.

I was impressed by the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, including car-free plazas with outdoor dining. The business district was bustling.

When I reached the beach, I marveled at the beauty of the palm trees and the sun beginning to set. I saw a man bicycling his pug around; that was pretty adorable.

I pedaled a mile or two along the shore to meet up with the family again at Hendry’s Beach, where the sunset was really getting spectacular. (Main photo.)

I bicycled back home while the rest of them carpooled, so by the time I got back, the tofu curry and naan were almost ready. The food was amazing, and elegantly presented as well. (No photos; I was fully present at that time!)

After dinner we played a card game, and a few people played beautiful music on the piano.

What a lovely day.

Tomorrow I’ll head “backward” a bit, to the suburb of Goleta, to spend another night or two in the area. Not sure how much I’ll get out and about there, given the weather, but my new hosts sound really cool, so I’m looking forward to some good conversation.

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