Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Road Less Traveled

Next we were headed to Santa Barbara (just north of Los Angeles) for different adventures.

After our climb on Thurs. we were feeling a little worn out so Friday we sport climbed at Civilization crag at the first pullout. Not being too ambitious we led a few easier routes and top roped a couple of harder ones. We also checked out some new easy routes on the backside.

After climbing we drove as far as Pahrump and spent the night in a cottage in the RV park associated with the winery (only in America!) and had a nice supper at the winery restaurant.

Saturday we headed west. The obvious route from Vegas to LA is on the interstate, but that isn't our way. We first headed through Death Valley National Park. We had planned to take a smaller road through part of the park but missed the turnoff, which turned out to be a good thing because when we passed the other end of the road it was closed due to washouts.


We passed an area of large Joshua Trees and stopped to take photos of the flowers. I wonder why the Joshua Trees are much larger in some places than others - presumably some combination of moisture, weather, and soil. The flower clusters are large, these were about the size of a loaf of bread. And the petals (?) are thick and almost rubbery.

Joshua Tree flowers

Around Bakersfield we passed through various orchards. In one spot the trees were thick with flowers and the petals were covering the ground. The sun was shining but the clouds were dark, making for dramatic lighting.


There had been winter storm warnings for parts of California and several of the roads we took through the mountains weren't recommended in bad weather. Luckily we just got some light rain. The sun shining through the dark storm clouds made for dramatic lighting and we stopped several times to take photographs. The GPS estimate of our arrival time kept getting later with every stop.




It was getting dark by the time we got to Ojai (pronounced oh-high) which was too bad because the steep winding road dropping out of the mountains would be impressive in daylight.

We played our usual game of picking somewhere to stay based solely on location and names in the GPS and ended up at Chantico Inn.

Sunday we had a short drive to Santa Barbara so we went for a walk on the trail connecting Ojai to Ventura. The rain we had encountered in the mountains had made it here overnight and the morning was fresh and clean, the air cool but the sun warm.

We made a stop in Ventura to visit the Great Pacific Iron Works, the original Patagonia retail store and the location where Chouinard started what became Black Diamond and Patagonia.

We had lunch at the restaurant on the pier in Ventura, watching the waves roll onto the beach and the seagulls soar on their endless scavenging rounds.

Our first stop in Santa Barbara was at the zoo, mostly to renew our membership. We wandered a little bit and caught a keeper talk about their two aging Asian elephants. We even got to see the elephants get their daily pedicure :-)

We found our Airbnb apartment without too much trouble. Nothing fancy but a lot more reasonably priced than most other options around here. The California coast isn't a cheap place.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we start learning to fly :-)

See also Shelley's blog post about the drive

See all 28 photos as a slideshow or overview

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