August 24 – September 6
After a couple of doctor’s appointments on Monday (the curse of getting older) we took off on Hwy 101 for Santa Barbara. A destination and turnaround point for countless bike rides, we’d spent quite a bit of time there while Jessica attended UCSB and looked forward to reconnecting with the pleasant memories we shared of that time.
We checked into the Best Western Plus Encina Inn and with the assistance of a very helpful clerk schlepped our bikes upstairs to our nice appointed, but quite small room. This is an older property, but I was impressed with how well maintained it was, not always the case with aging facilities. This spoke well of the management.
After enjoying a cold beer we got back in the car and drove up to Isla Vista (IV), the neighborhood snugged up close to UCSB that is a universe apart for the students who live there and attend the school. Jessica and Kris lived here throughout the entirety of their college experience, as did his parents Kim and Marty years ago and I would venture to say that the apartments they (Kim and Marty) lived in where old and run down even then.
But that’s all part of the charm of the place and before eating, we drove up and down a few of the streets recounting the apartments that Jessica and Kris had lived in, separately and as a couple and it brought back many found memories. Our choice for dinner was a simple one, the first place we ate at when we brought Jessica to campus during move-in weekend and the last place, the day she graduated, Woodstock’s.
Known for good pizza and a nice selection of beer, we ordered a pitcher of M Special’s Sabado Tarde Tangerine Ale, at 4.7% delightfully drinkable and a medium sausage mushroom pizza which over the course of 30 minutes or so we dispatched leaving a couple of pieces to take with us back to the Best Western.
It was just the right way to finish up our nostalgia tour of IV and begin the next two weeks of our adventure.
Santa Barbara is a pricey place to spend time in, with the average cost of a hotel room running between $199 and $265 (per the California Economic Forecast in 2017), and so our rate of $183 meant that for the first time in a while, we didn’t get a free breakfast the next morning. We took advantage of the in-house brewed coffee in the lobby though and made do with energy bars to get us prepared for the 24-mile ride we got in, heading down to just north of Carpinteria before turning around for the return.
This route is a part of a long familiar set of rides we’ve done in this area, including a number of 100-mile (centuries) efforts from Oxnard, or Ojai and quite a few 70-mile bike club rides out of Ventura. Almost all of them involved riding around Lake Casitas, then through the nurseries and flower farms along Foothill Rd, either climbing up Toro Canyon Rd to head to Goleta (the centuries) or dropping down to Via Real and the Polo Grounds (the club rides) there before finally entering Montecito and Santa Barbara.
Along the way one passes through Summerland, home to the Big Yellow House where we enjoyed many memorable meals before it closed in 2006, in particular one when Joanna and I camped out at McGrath State Beach and drove up for dinner, a nice meal that became nicer when we drove back down the highway and a shining full moon tracked us all the way back to camp, its reflection on the water pointing at us like a lighthouse beacon.
We returned to the Best Western with just enough time to shower and pack before checkout and then, hungry from the ride, walked next door to the Live Oak Café. Too late for breakfast we dove into the lunch menu, starting with a beer for me and delicious Live Oak Lemonade (Muddled cucumber with a chamomile infused fermented vodka, lemonade, and sparkling water) for Joanna.
We then split a bowl of somewhat disappointing Butternut Squash Soup redeemed by a really good bowl of Kalua Pork (shoulder cooked in banana leaves with brown rice, pickled vegetables, edamame, marinated egg and black sesame seeds).
The bowl, at $10 was a bargain and the overall tab came to $37.54, not bad for a town known to be on the expensive side.
On the way out of town we stopped at a Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, which has stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Founded in 1946, the majority of its stores are independently operated by locally based, married couples. It had a warehouse style set up and prices were generally lower on many of the items one might buy.
We took off from there for our next destination, Jalama Beach County Park, a 90-minute drive up the coast. As we drove away, we talked about how fun the stop in Santa Barbara had been with a nice bike ride (which could have been longer) and the nostalgic return to Isla Vista. Although we’ve been here many times, the place just seems to invite you to come back. We may just have to take it up on that.
Sabado Tarde Tangerine Ale: https://www.mspecialbrewco.com/the-beers.html
Santa Barbara Hotel Prices: http://www.strsantabarbara.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/STR_Rates_vs_Hotel_Rates_Santa_Barbara.pdf
Big Yellow House: https://www.santabarbara.com/dining/review_read.asp?pk_restaurant=823
McGrath State Beach: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=607
Live Oak Café: https://www.liveoakcafe.com/
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market: https://groceryoutlet.com/circulars/storeid/326