San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, California

San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara

A beautiful morning in San Luis Obispo and then off down the coast towards Santa Barbara.   

This time, we decide to cut off Highway 101 and head off into the peninsula where Vandenberg Air Force Base and the city of Lompoc are.

This is another area not unlike the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State or the Invercargill area in the south of New Zealand’ South Island.   Places where no one goes because they are just passing through to some where else.   You have to explicitly want to go to these places because they are off the beaten track and that lends them an interesting sense of charm and isolation that is quite their own.

We passed through a town called Guadalupe, which I’d never heard of.  It looks prosperous and happy.   Most of the people there seem to be of Hispanic origin.    We drove off the main drag and into the suburbs which is our usual M.O. when investigating a new place.  There were a lot of old U.S. ‘muscle’ cars in evidence.   Or, as Colette calls them, ‘cars as big as a tennis court’.

Back on the road, I take a small side route that looks like it will eventually wend its way to Lompoc and pass near Vandenberg AFB.   I explain to Colette that Vandenberg is where the U.S. launches all of its military satellites from while all the manned missions originate in Florida.  She wants to know if this is where the ‘stealth’ planes are but I say that I don’t think so;  I think they might be in a mysterious area referred to as Area 51 over in Nevada.

We pass the entrance to Vandenberg which is quite large and ostentatious.   It makes me remember my days in the military and how, if you were traveling on assignment, you had the right to stop into any AFB and request a bed for the night.   Ah, but that was a long time and several wars ago.

Lompoc appears and we stop at a Safeway for lunch and then walk over to the adjacent Starbucks for some coffee.   I’ve been looking around and I’ve been coming to the conclusion that this town is awash in both military money and in Government retirees.   I can’t point my finger at any one thing but I can just feel it.

I think about my friend, Mike D., who is in Brussels working for NATO as a U.S. government employee.  He’s just on the brink of retirement and wondering, as a single man, where to go and what to do.   I’m thinking he should take a good look at Lompoc.   He’d probably like it a lot.   Better, I’m thinking, than Sacramento where he’s currently thinking to settle (yuk!).

As we look around, Colette and I are both noting how many HUGE vehicles there are.   Monster trucks and SUVs are everywhere.   Most with a single small person driving them.   Environmentalists mock this by calling the women who drive such monster SUVs, “Soccer Moms”, because that’s all they use these tanks for; to take the kids to soccer practice or to go shopping.  American consumerism.

That provokes another conversation about Americans comprising 4% of the world but using 23% or its energy.   As always, the phrase, “No single raindrop thinks it is responsible for the flood” comes to mind.

Off towards Santa Barbara again in the beautiful sunlight.   No one in New Zealand would believe it’s the mid-winter here on the 30th of December.  That’s the equivalent of June 30th in the southern hemisphere.  Tee-shirt weather, put the windows down weather.

We pull into Santa Barbara and decide to stay.  We love this place.   Rooms are more expensive now that we’re on the brink of New Years and everyone’s ready to party.   But, we pony up the money and forget it.   We’re here now, settled, for two nights in a beautiful place.   What’s money for if it is not to buy you these experiences?

We’re a bit confused about where our room is relative to the downtown area.   Downtown is on State Street and our room’s on State Street.  Must be close, right?

We begin walking in the nice late afternoon air.  An hour and 15 minutes later, we arrive downtown.  Whoops!    But, walking is, perhaps, our favorite form of exercise and there’s lots to see and take in when you walk.   So, ok.

The trees downtown are wrapped with holiday lights and pretty and the streets are busy with shoppers and walkers like us.  We wander until we find a nice Irish Bar and restaurant; Dargen’s Irish Restaurant and Pub.  Yum….   A Corona beer for me and a mineral water for Colette and two bowls of nice French Onion Soup and all is right with the world.  Two Irish people in an Irish Pub; what more could anyone want?

Out for another walk through the downtown and the lights and people and then off for the 75 minute walk back to our room.

Good day!

dennis

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