Day 22 Goodbye Santa Monica! Hello Pacific Highway!

Wah! I don’t want to go.  It helps slightly that the weather has taken a bit of a downturn with the wind coming up last night.  Beautiful this morning though.

Packing wasn’t too bad with leisurely time to do it an we were away by about 8.30am.  Headed for Malibu.  The elusive suburb that we never really found the centre of last time.  I’m not sure where all of the movie stars live.  Most of the houses back onto the Pacific Highway.  There are some in the hills but not many.  Also there is very little beachfront in most places. The waves almost lap the footings of the houses.  A decent storm would take them away.  It never ceases to amaze me how desert like the hills that tightly hug the right side of the highway look.  Although having driven from Las Vegas through the desert I now realise that it probably is desert on the other side of the hills!

Just out of Santa Monica, in fact it was just around the corner from where we were staying, I saw the Getty Villa on the right and we detoured to try to look at it.  It is supposed to be magnificent.  Sadly, it is not open on a Tuesday!  Unlucky!

It was all very familiar as I drove this way last time.  We stopped at the same shopping complex.  This time I was in search of immunity pills to protect me from the cold that hubby developed a few days ago and that Poppy is complaining of today.  Astralagus.  The shopping complex at Malibu has quite a good range of little shops, including a Vitamin Barn. Maybe Jennifer Aniston has bought her vitamins in that very shop…  We got a coffee to go from Starbucks.  Who know who has also used that same Starbucks…

We drove on up the road, following the coast on the Pacific Highway (1) and eventually found the more movie star worthy part of Malibu.  It was around Point Dume on Cliffside Drive and I don’t think we got that far last time.  Very exclusive and massive properties!

We were going to stop in Paradise Cove as my brother told me that it was a lovely spot.  However, we would have had to pay for parking and that seemed ridiculous when we had parked 2 blocks from the centre of Hollywood Boulevard for free and in fact hardly paid for parking at all in Santa Monica.  It looked tiny anyway and we didn’t have a lot of time.

The beaches were not that great and it was all very dry looking.  At one point the traffic was stopped completely in both directions as a portable life guard shelter was moved across the road.  It must have taken at least 30 minutes…

We head on into Oxnard and Ventura.  I directed hubby into any little seaside coves, hoping for the spectacular scenery that was promised on this route.  By the time we reached Santa Barbara at lunch time I finally realised that we had been wasting our time.  The more beautiful scenery must be from Santa Barbara onwards.

We pushed on into Santa Barbara which was gorgeous!  We started at Stearn’s Wharf with fish and chips (not great).  When completed In 1872, it became the longest deep-water Wharf between San Pedro and San Francisco. Named for its builder, local lumberman John P. Stearns, the wharf served the passenger and freight shipping needs of California’s South Coast for over a quarter century.  He had built it privately out of a sense of frustration at the inadequate wharf that was originally in Santa Barbara.  It then greatly boosted the economy.
Stearn WharfStearn Wharf  Santa Barbara

Then we walked up State Street which was full of cute shops.  We bought some pop at Rocket Fizz.  State Street was quiet long and lined with restaurants, boutique shops and also major department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom’s – heaven!  It was so picturesque!
Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Rocket Fizz Santa Barbara Rocket Fizz Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Santa Barbara

At the end of our State Street walk we veered right to find the County Court House which was recommended on Tripadvisor as being gorgeous architecture with great views.  It didn’t disappoint.  The mosaics were great.  The mural room was beautiful and the views were wonderful.  From the top of the viewing tower I looked down over the office of county records.  It reminded me of my favourite book character, Kinsey Millhone (by Sue Grafton).  She was always going to the office of country records to look up various records.

We walked back down State Street to find that while we had been walking, half of the streets had been closed off and a farmers’ market set up that looked remarkably like the Santa Monica one.  We couldn’t believe how quickly they had done it.

We headed north again and our highway veered inland at Gaviota into the hills which were very green by now.  It is so fertile in this area and full of wineries.  We had also noticed the crops beginning before we got to Santa Barbara.

Our 16 year old wanted to see the Vandenberg military airbase and it was pretty much on our way so we veered left into Lompoc.  By now I realised that we were definitely in Kinsey Millhone territory.  Her parents had been from Lompoc and were killed in an automobile accident there.  This led me to Googling the fictional town of Santa Theresa that she lived in and I found that it had been modelled on Santa Barbara which is where Sue Grafton lives!  I wish I had known that when I was there.  I thought that I had read that it wasn’t modelled on any particular town.  I had walked the very State Street that she wrote about.  The office of county records would have been the one that she wrote about!

Lompoc was nothing of note.  We headed on through to Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Nothing to be seen there.  It is a secure base with a Visitors Office (i.e. pass office) and you need to be accompanied by a member of staff.

We drove on through Santa Maria.  Fairly nondescript as we passed through on the Main Road and accommodation looked not as nice and more expensive than Pismo Beach which was only 20 minutes away.  I looked up accommodation online and booked Cottage Inn by the Sea.