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Santa Barbara Malibu Creek State Park

8th August 2010

Taking in the Santa Barbara Culture and Just Killing Time with a Bit of Salt

    The day started with a stroll along historic Stearns Wharf, California's oldest working wharf dating back to 1872. It lay opposite Santa Barbara Harbour, home to over 1,000 fishing and pleasure vessels, and was a gateway to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands 24 miles away.
Afghanistan Protest on the Beach
    At one time many steam ships moored up to the wharf. It was closed during World War II, and suffered a major fire in 1998, but had sprung back as a tourist attractions with restaurants, gift shops and a sea centre.
    From the end of the wharf I could see a colony of oil rigs sprouting up on the horizon. On a clearer day I might have been able to see the Channel Islands. A brisk walk took me around the harbour and across the breakwater, where I managed to get soaked by a freak wave breaking over the harbour wall. Only a few trawlers could be seen in the harbour, the bulk of the craft being pleasure boats.
Santa Barbara Harbour with the Ynez Mountains in the Background
    On the way back along the Cabrillo Boulevard (named after the 1552 explorer Cabrillo who was one of the first to explore the coastal region), dozens of small stalls sold arts, crafts, trinkets, and clothing; a veritable honey pot for tourists on a Sunday morning. I must have been getting old, I had no enthusiasm for such stuff.
    Looking back inland, the clouds hung over the Ynez Mountains, as they normally did until noon when the sun burnt them away. The city was long and narrow, stretching across to the mountains. A devastating earthquake in 1925 forced the entire centre to be rebuilt, according to strict rules that dictated Mediterranean-style architecture. Santa Barbara was a quiet administrative centre with a large student population. It was often called the "Queen of the Missions" since Santa Barbara Mission was the most visited in the state. It was the tenth mission built by the Spanish (they used missions strategically to conquer the Indians), and was founded in 1786 on the feast day of St Barbara, four years after the colonists established a garrison here.
    With history in mind, I made my way up to the Historical Museum, and was warmly greeted at the entrance desk by an elderly Scottish lady with a cheery smile. She was keen to attract as much custom as possible, and the only means available to her was through word of mouth; the museum had no budget for advertising. The museum covered over 400 years of Santa Barbara history, from the time when the coast was populated only by the Chumash Indians, when they were conquered by the Spanish and brought into the Catholic faith via the mission, when Mexico took control, and finally the Euro-Americans took over. Chumash Indians still existed in small numbers, with Spanish names now of course.
Band Playing in the Sun
    The museum also housed a temporary exhibition of paintings and drawings by American artist Colin Campbell Cooper, who settled down in Santa Barbara towards the end of his career. He was the first artist to discover the beauty in sky scrapers, and produced a series of Impressionist style oil paintings of the monoliths.
    The exhibition spurred me on to visit the Museum of Art. It contained the expected collection of American and European art, but also contained exhibitions of Korean photography and Asian art. However, there was not enough to keep me interested for more than a couple of hours, so I left, and returned to the main thoroughfare where I spent some time watching another excellent group.
    I was now getting bored with Santa Barbara, and I was just killing time before I met up with Dan on Thursday. I made my mind up to move on the following day.
    To round off the day I went to the cinema to see "Salt", a good action packed spy thriller, pure escapism on my part. As I walked back to my hotel, I wondered how Dan was getting on in New York. He would be three hours ahead of me, so he would have had his head well down by now, especially if he was shattered with jet lag. His mobile would not work over here, so unless he called me by landline to my US mobile, I would lose contact with him until he arrived at Los Angeles airport. He was old enough and big enough to take care of himself. I was looking forward to meeting up with him again, getting all the inside gossip, and just having a cracking time together.
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Santa Barbara Malibu Creek State Park

Uploaded from Hotel State Street, Santa Barbara CA on 09/08/10 at 09:00

Last updated 10.8.2010