July 22, 2015, Santa Barbara- The south-facing coast of California has fascinated me since I first came upon Santa Barbara, in 1980. My family only caught fleeting glimpses of the area in 1992, during a business trip to Santa Monica, and again in 1997, on our return from a visit to Santa Cruz. It was enough, though, to make Refugio Beach a favourite and to make a personal vow to visit the interior of the “Old Mission”, as the residents here refer to Mission Santa Barbara, two miles from downtown.
The day in this salubrious area will be posted in three parts: First, Lake Casitas, Carpinteria and the beach around Stearns Wharf are the foci of this post. Next, I will present the grand Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Lastly, the stage will be occupied by the Mission.
As I stated earlier, this is the only part of the California coast that faces southward. A compass on Stearns Wharf illustrates this.
I began the day, though, with a brief stop along the northern edge of Lake Casitas, a reservoir and fresh-water fishing mecca for local residents. The lake had been down, severely, over the past three years. It looked a tad healthier today, from what I had seen in earlier photos. Still, it has a good ways to go, and so a good, wet monsoon, followed by an El Nino soaking, would seem to be in order.
Carpinteria is the first beach town that greets the traveler, coming northward into Santa Barbara County. My main focus here was brunch, so I stopped at Jack’s Bistro and Famous Bagels. Being from the East Coast, I am fussy about my bagels, but the pancakes here are delicious and Daisy was a very nice server.
I took about a half-hour to look around downtown. Beach-wise, my main focus would be Stearns Wharf, so I did not pay to stop at Carpinteria State Beach. What caught my eye near Jack’s was the largest known Torrey Pine.
The town is named for the industrious nature that the Spanish noted in the Chumash people.
The historical museum did not open until 1, which would have set me still for two hours, and I was itchy to get to the Santa Barbara Courthouse, a marvel of architecture and interior art. So, here is the south patio of the museum.
The branch library, across the street, also has a Spanish flair.
Santa Barbara’s main beach is a volleyball mecca, and there were at least five matches going on, as I walked from my parking spot to Stearns Wharf. The tide was low, so there are no dramatic scenes in this post. Nevertheless, the harbor is a beehive of activity and Stearns is one of the few wharves onto which one may drive, if that is your wish.
The downside of the harbor is evident here. There are three oil platforms on its outer edge.
Earlier energy quests inspired this “Moby Dick” depiction, by Beth Amine. Her original work was lost, when Stearns Wharf burned in 1998.
Santa Barbara decorates its roundabouts well, especially downtown.
Here is a bicycle roundabout, near the Volleyball Courts.
If I get back here sometime on a mini-jaunt, the focus would be on Refugio Beach and Goleta. For this trip, though, spending more time downtown was in order.