Day 251—Thelma And Louise 2012: Day 3—Slow Road To Santa Barbara

The day started and ended great; in between were a few bumps in the road to Santa Barbara. We slept late at the Wayside Inn and finally got on the road about 11 AM because at 10:45 I discovered that for some reason I had in my mind the trip to Santa Barbara from Carmel was about 2 hours…not the 5 hours Google maps suggested when I finally got around to double checking our route. And that was if we went Highway 101, not Highway 1, our preferred route. So, an afternoon sightseeing trip in Santa Barbara, courtesy of our old high school friend, Susan, who we’re going to finally meet up with tomorrow, was out of the question.

Honora drove today. There were quite a few road delays, starting with the 15 minute delay leaving Carmel when we were stuck behind a huge delivery truck that was stuck under a tree branch in a narrow road with no way around. Highway 1 road improvements made for a couple of additional delays, one about 30 minutes when we were stopped atop a bridge so I had lots of opportunities to take photos of stunning views, as did just about everyone else stuck on this glorious sunny day. In addition to the road delays, I made Honora pull over frequently so I could indulge my inner photographer. During most stops, either she or I were asked to take photos of other tourists but I didn’t want a stranger handling my D800 so I took the one of us myself using my tripod. Then we spent quite a long time behind a slow driver with passive aggressive tendencies who seemed to be enjoying leading a pack of frustrated and irritated drivers through the winding, hilly road with few passing opportunities. Just before San Simeon, Honora spotted what she thought were logs on the beach; we realized it was elephant seals and in September, juvenile and first year seals haul themselves out of the water to rest. They lolled on the beach and flicked sand on themselves. A fascinating spectacle to watch. After a late lunch in San Simeon, we drove through to Santa Barbara without stopping. But we were committed to driving Highway 1 and after passing through Guadalupe, we putted along behind a colossal tractor moving at a snail’s pace between fields of what we think are kale. When he finally pulled over to turn and we drove by, he dwarfed us.

Finally, about 6:30, we found our hotel in Santa Barbara; beautiful in the photos and with glowing reports on Trip Advisor but in reality, while clean, we were wedged in a rather unsavory part of town next to an apartment house with laundry hanging from the windows. Our room, with windows on three sides, looked out over the apartment with the laundry in the windows, the baseball field with stadium lighting, and a narrow hallway looking at the backdoor of another room. We were both distressed at the prospect of spending three nights in this hell hole and promptly went on line and found another possibility. We drove to the new hotel; we were definitely not going to book sight unseen. It’s lovely, across from the beach and we’re booked for tomorrow night and Sunday night. They also have a nice restaurant with an outdoor patio so we decided to eat there as it was almost 8 PM. Our meal was delightful: we shared an appetizer of crab cakes and I had blackened ahi tuna on a bed of greens with mango salsa, almonds, kalamata olives and goat cheese. We also had some Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. Our table was next to a fountain and since it was too dark to photograph our food, I took this shot of the fountain.

Despite the delays and the disappointment of our hotel, all’s well that ends well. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The scenery on trip down was breathtaking, the Pacific was gorgeous, the seals were entertaining, Honora and I had a great time, and I captured some beautiful shots.