Archive for the ‘General Travels’ Category

coastal ramblings

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Last weekend Angie and I decided to get away and take a trip up the coast. The Solvang century was last weekend and we had several friends that planned to go up to ride in it. We decided to head up Friday night. The drive up was quite frustrating as we hit traffic in almost every city. It took us six hours, when it should have only taken four.

We arrived at the hotel around 9pm. We unpacked and relaxed.

The next morning we got up and headed out for breakfast. We walked down the street and found a Sambo’s. I remember this place from my early days growing up in The Valley. I used to eat there all the time. I would eat pancakes and read the stories on the wall (in murals) of Sambo and his Tiger. This location appears to be the original one.

After breakfast we walked down to the wharf. We started our day geocaching. My GPS was missing a lot of information and I discovered later that the auto-import features of the web site didn’t work 100% of the time. I think I may have a problem with my USB ports on my laptop. I will have to take it in to be looked at.

We wandered down the wharf looking for the geocaches. There are two of them on the wharf. Unfortunately, we struck out on both of them. We went to the Maritime Museum on Sterns Warf. This was an interesting hands on exhibit but I found the video presentation of sharks around the US the most interesting.

After the Museum, we headed back towards the hotel in search of two other geocaches. Again, we struck out on both! This is just not our day. We went back to the hotel and hopped in the car to drive up to Solvang. The drive took us about 40 minutes. The traffic into the town was pretty heavy as a lot of people where trying to leave because of the bike event. The early riders had just about finished. We pulled into a nearby parking lot and walked to the main part of town.

We were both hungry so we found a nice restaurant and had lunch. I had a soup and sandwich and Angie had a hot vanilla and a danish open faced sandwich. It looked yummy. After lunch we did some site seeing and checked out a few of the stores in the area. We stopped in a wine store and found a bottle of desert wine. Once we open it (this week we hope) and drink it, I will let you know how it was.

We stopped by the mermaid fountain to hunt out a geocache. It took us a while, but we found it. Angie actually found it. We were too hung up on the description to find it. It took us stepping back and thinking to realize where it was.

We drove back to Santa Barbara, but on the way back we stopped at a rest stop that overlooked a dam. It was a very pretty area. We discovered that there were two geocaches here. We failed to locate the first cache, but the second one was ingeniously disguised. I actually picked it up one and didn’t realize it. Angie gave up because she was cold and sat in the car as I searched around trying to find it. So I just stood by the car thinking, if I was a cache, where would I be. I was reading the logs and one said it was 5 feet away from where they parked so I started scanning the area and realized where it was. I picked it up a second time and did the V8 head slap!!!

We arrived back to Santa Barbara and went back to the hotel and relaxed for a little while. I recharged all my electronics and worked on trying to figure out why I was having problems syncing the GPX files to my handheld GPS.

After resting for a little while, we went out to forage for dinner. We decided to try the surf and turf place on the wharf. The service was good, but the food was not that great. Angie ordered pork loin and it came out uncooked in the center. It was obvious when they brought her a new piece that they had nuked it. It was tough inside and the flavor was poor. I ordered the Chipino and it was pretty good, except I would not recommend Mahi Mahi as the fish. I prefer swordfish or shark. The strawberry shortcake for dessert was excellent though.

We walked back along the beach after dinner. There was a sand sculpture we didn’t see earlier that day, so it had to be done in the afternoon. It was a sculpture of two soldiers. We saw the next day it was for a display for the veterans. They put up hundreds of flags on the beach the next morning.

Back at the hotel, I logged my finds for the day and realized we only found two out of seven attempts. A pretty bad and depressing day for geocaching.

The next morning, we got up and headed out for some more geocaching. We started around the hotel and searched for more of them. One appeared to be on a property that was closed and the other was in an area that was too populated. So we decided not to search for those. We walked across the street towards the ocean and found our first for the day. My GPS took me directly to it. After finding that one, we decided to go looking for two of the ones we could not find the day before. Even after looking at the clues we still could not find them. I can only assume we are totally blind or they were moved/taken. We went back to the hotel and found the last one near the hotel. It was actually on the hotel parking lot property.

We packed up the car and hunted for a place to have breakfast. We stopped a small steak house that having sunday brunch. We ordered breakfast and relaxed. The day turned out to be a gorgeous one and it was a good omen for us.

After breakfast we drove back down to the water and parked the car. We headed out on foot and started searching for more geocaches. We started at the wharf and headed down the coast to the end of the park/beach. We then turned around and headed back to the car on the other side of the street. We ended up finding ten caches this morning. Most of the caches were easy to find, only two of them required a bit of searching to figure out where they where hidden.

Angie was getting really good at locating them. She walked right up to the last one and found it under the power meter. We walked back to the car and decided to drive down to the Channel Islands National Park. We had been there once before but they where closed. When we got there, we found an EarthCache. I collected the information we needed, then purchased an additional NPS passport book because ours was almost full. We walked along the harbor and found two more caches. These where pretty easy. The second one was a natural one disguised as a log. I found it right away after finding the one like it yesterday. We drove down to the Village to try and find the last cache before we headed home.

We parked and wandered around the waterfront. My GPS took me right to what I swore was the only place in the area to find the cache. Angie and I looked and looked for over 25 minutes. No luck…. We could not end on a negative note, so we decided to go grab dinner and relax. We stopped at a nice italian place and took our time eating. We watched the boats end their work day as the crew cleaned them drinking beer 😉

After eating we wandered back to the area and still had no luck. Whenever we thought we knew where it was, we where wrong…. We started expanding our search to a wider area. I put my logic cap on and thought “where could you be?” The clues didn’t help us much, but I decided to just sit and think. We were on the right track, but in the wrong area. There was a large family sitting on a bench about 30 feet from where our GPS took us, just at the edge of accuracy of the GPS. I sat on another bench looking and then I got on my knees and saw something underneath. I waited for them to leave (about 10 minutes) and went over to sit on the bench. I reach under and sure enough, there it was!

Hurray! We ended on a positive note. Now it was time to face the long ride home. Angie slept most of the way, but in the last hour we were able to get in an episode of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

Footnote (Final thoughts for the Day): On the way home we drove back down through Hollywood and I realized this was the first time in many many years I have driven the 101 during the day. When we got to Hollywood, I noticed something was strange….

For years growing up in the area, I have remembered the one building that always stood out for me. The Capital Records building stood alone and towered above all the other buildings in the area. You could see it clear as a bell from the freeway. This time I noticed that the building was missing, all you could see was the top spire of the building. The reason for this was because of all the building around it. Mostly of them where residential condos.

I thought to myself, “how interesting…” This is almost a microcosom of the record industry today. The people have risen up around it to obscure and dwarf the record industry…