Saturday, February 28, 2009

Santa Barbara

December 3rd to 5th

There are real contrasts moving down the Californian coast as you move out of the laid back, tree hugging, cannabis farming North to the La La land vortex of Ray Ban touting hollywood style posing... It's all getting very expensive. Camp site rates have soared from $3 per person to $5 and showers now cost 25c - it's all getting way too much. We enquire about rooms, but rates in Santa Barbera are in the $150 to $600+ range. We head back to the tent.

But Santa Barbera is just gorgeous.

The "American Riviera", coastline trends West to East, unique for the Californian coast. The palm tree lined town is backdropped by the beautiful Santa Ynez mountain range we just crossed, and enjoys it´s dream climate by a sea becalmed. The famous surfer dude beaches are further south where the coast resumes it´s more normal North South orientation where the waves pick up again.

Even the courthouse and former prison building here is stunning. Well, you can´t have the prisoners complaining can you....

You can take a free guided tour of the Spanish Colonial style building and see it´s facinating mural room, still a functioning courtroom. All four walls depict incredible historical scenes including Juan Cabrillo´s landing here in 1542 and the building of the famous Santa Barbara mission. There is a beautiful sunken quadrangle with gardens whilst the interior has Tunisian tiling and hanging lanterns in a Moorish style. It´s superb...

Hanging in the law library are ancient maps depicting California as an island some way off the coast of America.

Arriving back at the campsite we are warned we have outstayed our welcome and need to leave. Apparently there is a one night limit for tents to avoid vagrants moving in. We do manage to get a second night after persuading the gun toting ranger we only LOOK like bums, but it serves to highlight another side to Southern California.

Two other cyclists have moved in - Tim and Eddy from San Diego and we agree to leave together in the morning. Tonight a sunset... Tomorrow we ride in a pack....


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