Thousand Steps Beach

Thousand Steps Beach

Thousand Steps Beach is a rocky beach below homes high on the bluff  near Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara, California.  To reach the beach at low tide, requires a long hike down a stairway.  The concrete stairs, originally constructed in 1923, have what seems like 1000 steps, but is actually closer to 150. On our recent holiday to California, we enjoyed watching the sunset from Shoreline Park and searched out Thousand Steps Beach one evening but returned the next morning to discover that the tides, at high tide, cover the entire beach and come up several feet on the concrete stairs which explains the erosion of the steps on the lower half.  So pretty that I had to take a posed picture of C2 and her fiance on the steps.

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Another fun find on our journey was the largest Moreton Bay Fig Tree in the United States.  It is hidden behind a very active Amtrak Train Station near State Street and the Stearns Wharf and was planted in 1876 and is estimated to be 80 feet tall.  There are signs all over it to keep folks off but when we stopped by two young kids were climbing all over her grand branches.  Hard to resist.

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It was a beautiful day to explore all of Santa Barbara and beside finding the majestic fig, we explored the more common tourists stops of the Courthouse and Mission Santa Barbara as well as walked State Street (all shopping and restaurants) and the wharf area.  While we were visiting some foolish tourist from Chicago, drove his car off the side of the wharf. Thankfully, he had just dropped of his wife and daughter at the ice cream store before he drove his rental off the side of the dock.  Something about mistaking the brake for the gas pedal?  How do you explain that one around the water cooler?

We had lunch on the one rainy day at the Cold Spring Tavern, outside of SB, warmed by a two-sided rock fireplace and great service. This place was originally a stagecoach stop back in 1865 and has been serving good grub ever since. We sampled buffalo burgers, venison and Tri-tip sandwiches.  Tri-tip is everywhere in this part of CA as I learned it originated just up the 101 at Santa Maria as a great cut to prepare like we do brisket or pot roast in Texas.

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As an alternative to wine, which is everywhere in these parts, we enjoyed an afternoon of watching bowl games and drinking Davy Brown Ale at the Fig Brewing Company  located near our motel.  We did the wine tasting thing, driving up into the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, but I have to say after a couple of stops, all four in our party were done with commenting about how “oaky” or “spicy” we found the small sips. How many souvenir wine glasses and bottles of wine can a girl pack in her suitcase?  Three to be exact.

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New Years Eve we dined at The Lark in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara.  We sat outside between a heater and a fireplace on a very cool night, after a day of rain. The highlights for me were the oysters on the half shell sprinkled with chilled wine granita and salmon roe along with the scallops swimming in a lobster bisque.  Our dessert and New Year toast was with a great bourbon just to warm up.  Why is it that some of the warmest places to visit often seem the chilliest when you are not expecting it?

Did you know that Santa Barbara is very proud of their tacos?  Taco Trail is how it is billed. We tried a couple different varieties at La-Super Rica.  We were hyped up for fish tacos but on the night we visited we were limited to only beef and pork.  My favorite was the hand-made tortillas made fresh for each plate, grilled just right, as well as the general vibe of the place. The prices can’t be beat at $2.50/taco for most options.

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As always, travel experiences often bring surprises, plans not quite to perfection, but always we learn something new and unexpected about ourselves, the world we live in, as we take a thousand steps and more together in 2017.  Try not to fall off the dock.

Aspen Leaves in the High Country

Aspen Leaves in the High Country

As the temperatures begin to get colder, aspen, cottonwood and willow in the eastern Sierra Mountains suspend production of chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis, and attempt to save energy in anticipation of the coming winter. As the chlorophyll left in leaves breaks down (and with it the green coloring), other colors begin to shine through.  And boy do they.


RM and I had the opportunity to drive over 1,000 miles this last week exploring over a 1100 square miles of Yosemite National Park along 214 miles of paved roads as well as the surrounding areas near Milo Basin and Mammoth Falls to the east of Yosemite.  We also drove through the Fresno Valley area and found it to be traumatized by the infamous California drought.  Very sad to see first hand.

But the leaves.  Oh, my.


We timed our trip in hopes of experiencing cooler temps and a bit of a nip in the air in mid October in the mountains and we were not disappointed.  We had sunshine nearly all week with just a dusting of snow on the highest elevation the night before we departed.  Nearly a perfect week of viewing the changing season up close and personal.


Happy Fall y’all!