The Road to 65, Mile 236: Back to California, Day 6, Part 3: A Resilient Queen

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July 22, 2015, Santa Barbara- Mission Santa Barbara is the sixth  California mission I have visited, and only the second I have visited twice, along with San Diego de Alcala.  The first time scarcely counts, though, as the interior had closed.  The same is true of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which was about to close when we got there, in 1997.

Yet, let’s get back to the splendidly restored Santa Barbara, “Queen of the Missions”, and another erstwhile casualty of the earthquake of 1925.  The community knew only one thing to do, afterwards, and that was to rebuild.

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Even with its modern ambiance, Mission Santa Barbara exudes a strong spirituality, especially in its courtyard garden.

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The Tower at Pisa has nothing on this olive tree.

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This garden font was operating on trickle mode, enough to show the tenacity of the “Queen”, whilst also showing sensitivity to the overall situation in the State of California.

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This Mission is one of several which has one public entrance, through the gift shop, where a cashier collects the $8 fee (for adults, 18-64).  The restoration work has all come from visitors’ fees, so they’ve been put to good use.

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The bell tower, and much of the northern section of the Mission, are off limits to visitors.

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As with other Spanish colonial structures, the walkways are shored up by exposed beams, in the ceilings.

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Various small chapels are dedicated to Mother and Child, throughout the periphery of the Mission Church.

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St. Peter is shown, honouring his suffering Lord.

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The cemetery dates from the 1770’s.

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Garden plots and funerary chapels are common here.

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The doorway to the Mission Church is guarded by three skulls, so as to prevent malevolence from entering the sanctuary.

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Silence is maintained here, as the church is an active parish’s place of worship, first and foremost.

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The framed flat column is a unique feature of Mission Santa Barbara.  At least, I’ve not seen it in any other missions.  It is intended as a place to make offerings.

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Chumash art is found throughout the Mission, as well.  This chandelier anchor also guards against demons.

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The Chumash are among the first Indigenous nations to share their painting skills with Europeans.

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In the museum rooms, details of daily mission life are made clear.  This is a depiction of the friary kitchen.  It reminds me of its counterpart at Mission San Luis, in Tallahassee.

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Between the Mission Church and the museum, Christ is depicted as a man of strength and courage, comforting Mary Magdalene.

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This aqueduct was the place where Chumash workers would bathe, and wash their garments.

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Although La Huerta, the signature garden of Mission Santa Barbara, was off-limits, the Olive Trail Garden, as well as the Courtyard Garden shown aforehand, were open to visitors. I have become quite enamored of anything bright red, on this trip.

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It was hot, being mid-afternoon, so I bid farewell to the Queen of Missions, with a nod to its place in the skyline.

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Thus, my northward journey to the south-facing coastline began to wind down.  Eastward ho!  I drove to Santa Clarita, the recently incorporated (1987) conglomeration of San Fernando Valley communities, due east of Santa Barbara, and opted for the familiar format of Chili’s,in the Newhall section, as a dinner venue, foregoing a brief plan to head into the Saugus section of town, for a meal at Los Angeles County’s oldest restaurant.  It was getting too late,but next time out- Saugus, CA will be on the itinerary.

A few hours later, via Palmdale and Victorville, I made my evening destination of Barstow.  Motel 66 is a clean and eminently affordable Mom & Pop west side establishment, and I don’t need anything more. Tomorrow, I will head back to home base, through the familiar Mohave Desert and uplands of Yavapai County.

The Road to 65, Mile 236: Back to California, Day 6, Part 2: A Majestic Courthouse

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July 22, 2015, Santa Barbara- Like the Spokane County Courthouse and Tarrant County Building, in Fort Worth, Santa Barbara County Courthouse is the majestic centerpiece of its city’s downtown.  There are several architectural gems in the central core of this breathtaking mission city.  They are eclipsed by the hall of justice.  The building is a reconstruction of the first Courthouse, which was destroyed by the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.

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No detail, interior or exterior, goes unattended by the Courthouse’s housekeeper.

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This mural, by Marge Dunlap, is actually on the front of the County Engineering Building, adjacent to the Courthouse.  It is, according to the artist’s description, as abstract piece, showing trees as sentient beings that stand guard over the house.  There is no reason given for the two moons.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The Spirit of The Ocean Fountain was turned off, in keeping with the spirit of dealing with the drought.

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Various miniature sculptures and filigree adorn all areas of the exterior.

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Murals are found throughout the building, giving equal presence to the indigenous Chumash people and to the Spanish who settled among them.

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Tapestries line the wall, outside the central Court Chamber.

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In the  former County Supervisors’ room, now called the Mural Room, lies a more elaborate series of murals, showing the Spanish subjugation of the Chumash and other parts of Santa Barbara history.

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Here is the first floor lobby.  Note the Moorish influence, in the ceiling design.

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The Spanish also continued with Romanesque features, which appealed to the designers of the 1927 reconstructed Courthouse.

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More Moorish influence appears in the ornate blue and gold ceiling.

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This ceremonial planter is one of my favourites.

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Finally, here is another section of  Santa Barbara history, in the Mural Room.

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Here are a couple of other random samples of Spanish influence, on the architecture of the early 20th Century American residents of Santa Barbara.

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Despite its sprawling nature, Santa Barbara gave me a very comfortable, cozy feeling, as I walked about downtown.  Two miles east, the “Old Mission” awaited.

The Road to 65, Mile 236: Back to California, Day 6- Part 1,The South-facing Coast

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The town is named for the industrious nature that the Spanish noted in the Chumash people.

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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.

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The branch library, across the street, also has a Spanish flair.

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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.

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The downside of the harbor is evident here.  There are three oil platforms on its outer edge.

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Earlier energy quests inspired this “Moby Dick” depiction, by Beth Amine.  Her original work was lost, when Stearns Wharf burned in 1998.

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Santa Barbara decorates its roundabouts well, especially downtown.

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Here is a bicycle roundabout, near the Volleyball Courts.

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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.