Thursday, July 06, 2006

Santa Barbara weekend

This past weekend Kim and I went on a little trip down the coast to Santa Barbara. As usual there was plenty to do, see and eat (oh the food, more on that later) in SB. We left bright and early Saturday morning with our first stop being Hearst Castle.

We went on a tour of the castle and as impressive as the castle was, our tour guide was useless; so I'm not sure it was $24 / person well spent. I should re-iterate that the castle itself is magnificent; especially the two pools.

After spending a couple of hours at the castle (and watching the movie that is included with the tour (I enjoyed the movie BTW)) we were back on the road. The weather that day was a bit interesting by the coast (clear inland but cloudy/foggy by the coast) which made for some interesting photography; hence we stopped frequently so that I could get in a couple of shots.

One of the things you may notice as you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (or Highway 1) are lots of fennel. I was a bit surprised to first discover fennel last November, but this time they seemed to be everywhere. Most of the fennel was green and fresh this time of the year, however by the fall they seem to dry up and become tasty. I wonder if anyone would mind if I 'harvested' a little bit?

Another sight you may notice in the distance as you approach Santa Barbara are the many oil platforms off off the coast. They are actually much easier to spot at night when they are all lit up. I though it was a bit strange when I first saw them since I don't usually associate California with oil production.

After checking into our hotel in Goleta, we immediately proceeded to the first of our Santa Barbara good eats. One of the things I love about visiting Santa Barbara are all the good places to eat there; they're good not only because the food is really tasty but also because they aren't necessarily hard on the wallet (I bet Rachel Ray could easily make an episode of her show here). We had 4 really tasty meals (3 of which are pictured at the top): first the Cafe Buenos Aires (good food and amazing caipirinhas); next lunch at Chilangos (the finest shrimp tacos I've ever tried); followed by dinner at the Montecito Cafe (amazing food, great service and even though the Montecito Inn is $250+/night the food is great value); and finally another lunch at the Palace Grill (fine Cajun food).

On Sunday Kim wanted to go fishing on the Goleta pier (first thing in the morning); so I tagged along and did some shooting. At first she wasn't having very much luck (not many others were having that much luck either), hence the pouting face. Then out of nowhere she caught a Halibut, on a spoon no less. Sadly the little guy was too small to keep so back into the water he had to go. However it was enough to give Kim something to smile about (at least for a while, since she didn't catch anything else that day).

On Sunday afternoon Kim convinced me to try ocean kayaking. We rented a kayak for a couple of hours and let me say it is one of the most frustrating things I have ever tried. We just couldn't get the damn thing to go straight. I'm not sure I would want to do that again. However between kayaking sessions we stopped off at a beach for a while and did some body surfing (or tried at least); that was a lot of fun (though the water was quite cold).

On this crazy weekend we also managed to visit an orchid farm (where Kim bought a vanilla orchid), the Santa Barbara zoo and the Santa Barbara Mission. The mission (pictured to the left) was somewhat interesting but nothing spectacular. I enjoyed the zoo; though it wasn't that large (it only took us about 2 hours to see everything) I liked the blend of flora and fauna.

Overall it was a fun filled weekend with plenty of things to see and eat.

Technical Specs: Shot with either the Canon 1Ds2 or 30D. All 30D were with the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS (a fantastic walkaround/vacation lens).

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