It’s been a long time since the Sandwiches had a real vacation–and, technically speaking, this was Baguette’s first. Yes, we’ve gone out of town to visit family, but we’ve also stayed with them, so there’s been a bit of a safety net. After some discussion (consisting in early stages of “Hey, did you want to go somewhere this summer?”) and some rudimentary budgeting (consisting largely of “It costs how much to fly to Kauai this year?”), we settled on Santa Barbara.
Next up: Where to stay. Unfortunately, the condos in our price range were not available in our date range, which meant that we needed to find a hotel. Motel 6 to the rescue! I’ve never stayed in a Microtel, but this is what I’ve imagined those are like: tiny, with the basics (although this room does have a surprisingly large bathroom, all things considered). But it’s clean and mostly in our price range, so here we are. And on the whole, it’s been a good base of operations. So what have we done from this base?
The Santa Barbara Zoo is just off the 101, close to the ocean, and home to the first capybara I’ve ever seen. Unless you count the ROUSes from The Princess Bride, of course.
Bridlewood Estate Winery features not just a few racehorses, but also one of the few chardonnays I’ve actually enjoyed. I’m not a big wine drinker (or drinker of anything, really, other than water), and I don’t tend to like wines that are too dry. This one wasn’t, so I bought three bottles. Baguette of course drinks no wine at all, and she’s a little afraid of racehorses, but that didn’t stop her from calling out “Wicket!” in an attempt to get their attention. (On this trip, we learned that Baguette thinks all animals–and some humans–are her dog.)
One late afternoon, we went to Hendry’s Beach (that’s the local name–the “real” name is Arroyo Burro Beach). This is Santa Barbara’s dog beach, and there were dogs as far as the eye could see. Baguette wanted to run after each one of them, but was easily distracted by the ocean–she loved the waves and the sand, and had a wonderful time on Baby’s First Beach Trip.
At the heart of town, Stearns Wharf is home to the Ty Warner Sea Center, where Baguette touched a shark and was delighted to find any number of fish, sea stars, and otters which are apparently named “Wicket.”
Mr. Sandwich and I found the dioramas of elk, bears, birds, and newts at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to be delightfully old-school–although upon reflection we realized that neither of us has been in a natural history museum since perhaps the early 1980s, with the result that we don’t have the slightest sense of what is new-fangled in this field. It’s possible that the process of reinterpretation has passed right by this subset of museum management, and it’s also possible that modernity has passed us by, since I actually said “new-fangled” out loud today.
Santa Barbara is home to two wading pools; we went to the one at West Beach. Since Baguette loves the pool (a recent discovery that has helped us conquer her fear and loathing of all things bath), we thought that an 18-inch-deep one might be just her speed. She had a wonderful time, although her big discovery was the tiny shower (a place to rinse feet, for those of us taller than an elf). One can only speculate about possible changes to her opinion of normal-sized showers.
For a change of scene, we spent a couple of late-afternoon hours at Shoreline Park, stretched along the clifftop overlooking the ocean. You know you’re in an upscale park when people are grilling not hot dogs, but lobster. Speaking of lobster, you’d think by now I’d know enough to put on sunblock. Apparently I spent so much time worrying about whether I’d applied enough to Baguette that I neglected to remember that even the English think I’m pale. Now I have an odd assortment of gradated tan lines along my arms, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to peel soon.
Fortunately for my sunburn, our last activity (on the way out of town) was the Santa Barbara Greek Festival in Oak Park. Oak Park is very shady, with lots of trees–it is aptly named. We thought the festival sounded like fun, and we were pretty sure Baguette would enjoy it. She loves music and dancing, and we were pretty sure a Greek festival would offer her that entertainment. And indeed it did! She just has no idea she was there, because she fell asleep and stayed out the entire time we were there. But while she missed the festival, she also stayed asleep for nearly the entire drive home. And much as we enjoyed our vacation, it is good to be home.