Completing the Coast (Santa Barbara to San Anselmo)

Marcia and I are back home in Sedona tonight after a two-week vacation that took us from Los Angeles to Marin County, with a variety of stops along the way. With this trip behind us, we’ve now traveled the American Pacific Coast by car from the Mexican border to within a stone’s throw of the Canadian one, over the course of three separate vacations. It’s been a great experience for us, as our lives have generally revolved around the East Coast and the Midwest, so it’s been good to spend so much time in the setting sun quadrant of the country from our home base in Arizona.

I posted the first week’s worth of photos mid-vacation, here. Highlights of the second week included Solvang, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Monterey, Point Reyes, The Albany Bulb, San Francisco (including a Grateful Dead pilgrimage stop outside of their famous 710 Ashbury digs) and a pretty incredible rental home atop a vertiginous hill in San Anselmo with a formidably steep, mostly one-lane approach drive. After a few times doing it in a larger-than-optimal rental car, our white knuckles dissipated enough for us to film it. Want to see? Click here. And while you’re over at Youtube, you might also enjoy our video of some deliciously disgusting elephant seals we saw on the coast just north of San Simeon, who look like over-stuffed sausages and sound like a pile of farts. Here’s them. Glorious!

At each of our four overnight stop sites, we had what we’d consider to be a signature dinner. First up, The Lark in Santa Barbara. Then The Sardine Factory in Monterey and MADCAP in San Anselmo. The last dinner of our vacation was spent at the lovely Acquerello in San Francisco, an elegant experience with some sublime tastes as part of their four-course prix fixe offering. (We did a ten-course tasting dinner at MADCAP, which was also a wealth of wonderfulness and pleasures to the palate).

We really have gotten to enjoy the general vibe found in most of the cities we’ve visited in Coastal California, as the politics typically match our own, the climate is pleasant, and there are ample cultural and dining opportunities that align with our tastes and preferences, so I expect we’ll be going back in the years ahead. Right now, fresh off of our most recent trip, we’d probably pick Santa Barbara and its environs as our favorite California region where we’ve spent more than a single night. I mean, I’ve been happily singing Camper Van Beethoven’s song about not going to nearby Goleta for 35+ years, but I still went there and enjoyed it a lot. Sorry about that, CVB Dudes. All of that being said, we were a bit bemused-to-annoyed when we had lunch in equally nearby Montecito, the emergent hot real estate community for the Hollywood fabulous set, and we had to listen to a creepy conversation at the next table between a “casting director” older than me, and a cute-ish, young-ish actress from Brazil looking to make her mark in American cinema, apparently by spewing the most vapid narratives about her party time life to impress the old man. Ewww.

Also ewww, and the one thing we experienced in several places that we really didn’t like: the California dogs-go-everywhere fetish. We had lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is known for being extravagantly pet friendly (apparently Doris Day is to blame), and I was flat out grossed out to be sitting at table in an otherwise nice restaurant with a nervous little rat dog at my feet, eating a bowl of boiled chicken available on the menu for a cool $18. Of course, dogs are sloppy eaters, so the chicken ended up all over the floor, where it was ground underfoot by the oblivious and entitled humans at the table next to us, while I tried to eat my Pasta Bolognese. Blecch! Perhaps a controversial position on my part, but I will never consider any restaurant that welcomes dogs (excluding legit service animals, obviously) to be a “fine dining” experience. (And before you feel enraged enough to comment about me not understanding dogs and how they add value to your lives and yadda yadda yadda, please know that I do understand those things, as I was raised in a household that always had dogs in it as valued family members. We just didn’t take them to restaurants with us, or deprive them of their dignity by dressing them in expensive doggy costumes).

Oh, and I think another side light to the dogs-go-everywhere thing that was amusing to me on this trip was seeing a variety of horrified and hyperbolic signs all over San Francisco about the perils associated with coyotes being sighted in the city. Ye Gods! Fetch the smelling salts, Scooby! This bemuses me because we see coyotes here all the time, including in our yard, and on our golf course, and when we hike. And I like seeing coyotes all the time. Smart and handsome animals. But I suppose I might feel differently if I was dragging a coyote snack dressed as a giant bumble bee around town on a string. Apparently many urban Californians do. Different strokes, I suppose.

Anyway . . . that bit of snark aside, it was a truly great vacation, and I snapped lots of photos as I always do. You can click on the picture of me and Marcia and San Francisco’s famous “Painted Ladies” row houses, below, to see the full album. Our next adventure will be in a couple of months, headed up to Zion and Arches National Parks in Utah. You know where the photos will be posted. Stay tuned!

Pretty Lady, Painted Ladies, and Some Lucky Guy.

3 thoughts on “Completing the Coast (Santa Barbara to San Anselmo)

  1. I have the pleasure of staying with friends who have a house in (roughly) Mill Valley, which is not too far from San Anselmo in east Marin. All I can say, after watching that video of the drive, is that it looks like east Marin, and the narrow and vertiginous roads are pretty typical. You can see why wildfires are a real concern!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey howdy!!

      It was certainly amazing and beautiful up top where our house away from home was, and we really liked the area a lot. I know that if I actually lived there for a long time, I’d quickly get used to the road . . . but for the week we were there, every time I was in the car near the top, my brain would be going “Oh, Sweet Jesus, please don’t let another car be coming my way so that I have to back down . . . “


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