Here we go again, the Lindstroms always have a story to tell. I always say that things happen for a reason. While staying in Barstow we did not have the opportunity to visit our friend in Huntington Beach because John had to repair the damage to the airbags in the truck. Little did we know that on the very the day we would have gone, there was breaking news that a male suspect was in a standoff with police and SWAT right in that area and although it would have made for a yet another great story, I’m glad we were not there.
We left Barstow and drove to Santa Barbara uneventfully. We began to see some greenery and then a bit more until we saw tree farms and even several orange groves. We hadn’t seen orange groves since leaving Florida, over a year ago. However, we knew, that soon we would be seeing the Pacific Ocean. We felt a sense of excitement and smiles creeping on our faces.
We arrived in Santa Barbara and once we got set up, we took Jackson for a ride and some lunch.
We visited Stearns Wharf which was built in 1872. It is the oldest operating wharf on the West coast. I was amazed that we could drive on the pier. I had never strolled on any Pacific Coast pier, let alone drive on one. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I suggested John ask the attendant if we would be able to turn the truck around at the end. John didn’t and wouldn’t ask and told me not to worry about it. I guess I was on a need to know basis. As we were slowly driving on the pier, one of my many thoughts was “this is actually pretty cool, we are actually driving over the Pacific Ocean”. Unreal!
By happenstance, we chose the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company which is apparently very known for a variety of seafood delicacies and not just limited to oysters. It did not disappoint! I had a cioppino, which is a local crab claw, shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels in sauce served in a bread bowl and topped with parmesan cheese and John had a lobster roll. The last time he had one was in Maine over five years ago. We had forgotten how delicious fresh fish actually tastes.
Adjacent to Stearns Wharf is one of the oldest working harbors on the West Coast. There were countless boats and sailboats, many of which serving as residences.
Joe and Melody Maggio, friends from Florida suggested that we not miss visiting Solvang. We had never heard of that town before and were so glad we went as we really enjoyed it. On our way we drove through the emerald green hills of Los Padres National Forest and then the Santa Inez Valley. The sky over Santa Barbara was hazy the entire time we were there and as soon as we crossed the mountain range it was as if a curtain had been pulled aside. The beautiful blue sky appeared and it was noticeably warmer.
We stopped at a vista point and ran into three original Model T’s which where parked while their owners enjoyed a picnic lunch.
Solvang (meaning “sunny field”) is known as the Danish Capital of America. The history on this town goes back to 1911 when three danish immigrants wanted to purchase land to build a school in Iowa and could not find anything affordable. They were told about a tract of almost 9,000 acres in the Santa Inez Valley so they saw the land and bought it for a really good deal. Imagine that! It became the Danish American colony of Solvang, California. They subdivided the land into plots for farms and homes and the profits were used to build a school and a lutheran church. The feel you get when visiting reflects the town’s Danish culture. Main Street is called Coppenhagen Drive and other streets have Danish names as well. The town has about 5,400 residents with about only 10% actually being Danish.
The school was built and so was the lutheran church. From it’s ceiling hung a miniature of the “Marmora” from the 1870’s. A Viking tradition views the church as a ship that takes people safely from the storms of life.
This was one of the first buildings in Solvang and it served many purposes. It was the first college, then as a location for church services until the present danish lutheran church was completed and later it became a restaurant and it remains as such today, called, A Bit of Denmark, where we enjoyed yet another delicious meal.
The town was lovely and we wish we would have known about it before as we easily could have taken several days to explore its restaurants, bakeries and unique shops. Sadly, it was time to return and we took the coastal route.
With so much yet to see and do we had to make a difficult choice and went whale watching. Everyone who has ever gone whale watching knows there is never a guarantee of seeing whales. We were so fortunate to not see one but two humpback whales each over 40 feet long. They are such amazing creatures. Their tales are like our fingerprints. There are no two alike as that is how they are distinguished.
Santa Barbara was a beautiful coastal town, one we would return for sure, but it was time to continue on.