Santa Barbara Coast: from Beer Country to Wine Country

Have you seen those Dream Big (#dreambig) commercials for California?  The commercials are geared toward tourists and the commercial plays off the stereotypes of Californians.  What are those stereotypes?  Before you watch the commercial on Youtube or read any further, brainstorm some of those stereotypes about Californians – what are they?

The commercial starts by saying that people think that Californians are a “bunch of dreamers” with our “heads in the clouds” and that we live in a “fantasy world”. 

After 16 years of living in Santa Barbara, I feel confident in calling myself a “Californian”.  However, having grown up in Colorado and Wyoming, I can tell you that I learned those stereotypes about Californians from TV and from other people who visited the Golden State.

I moved to Santa Barbara when I was 25 because I was and still am a dreamer (like the rest of those other Californians apparently!)  California is the place out west that you move to after all, to pursue your big dreams.  And for the past 16 years, I have pursued my dreams in ways that I couldn’t have in any other state.

Drone footage of Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara, Ca.

We can’t help but live in a fantasy world as the commercial eludes to – as you’ve heard, California is a place that you can ski and surf all in the same weekend.  We have rugged lands, mountains and then sandy beaches and ocean.  How can your head not be in the clouds when there is something blooming all year around?

Take this past weekend – it’s a perfect example of the California lifestyle and the fact that we live in paradise.

Weekend Warrior

After work on Friday (I have another job -- many Californian's have 1-3 jobs to live here and yet we are still "chill"), I went to a therapy/meditation appointment (wow, is that a California stereotype or what); it was my first time doing such a thing and it actually really helped to "chill me out".  I was all smiles the rest of the night.  The rest of the weekend was picture perfect California living.

I needed a girl’s getaway, so one of my best gal pals drove down from Santa Cruz and we met in Los Olivos for wine tasting and then had a picnic in wine country at Andrew Murray winery off Foxen Canyon Road -- wow, the wildflowers (poppies mostly!) are amazing this year from having some rain!  After wine tasting and a picnic, we drove back to Santa Barbara where I then met friends in the hip Funk Zone in Santa Barbara for pizza and local beer at Fig Mountain Brewery. That was Saturday.

Solvang's Scenic Views

Roadside Views in Solvang, CA

Roadside Views in Solvang, CA

Sunday, I hopped back in my car and took a road trip up Hwy 154 to wine country again, this time going to Solvang.  I took a detour for a country scenic route and drove through the gorgeous countryside of Alisal Guest Ranch and then found myself at the Nojoqui State Park, where I hiked for about 10 minutes to a gorgeous, fresh water, waterfall.  Good thing I had my hiking shoes in the backseat.

After hiking, I found myself meandering through the country road and came across "The Farm Stead" on Old Coast Highway Road near Gaviota and Highway 101.  I had to stop for some organic goodness.  I picked out carrots (mostly for my pet lop bunny Amos), heirloom garlic, fresh rosemary, honey and tangerines.  I also fed the little piglets while I was there.  And the farmer who sold me the veggies before he headed back out to the field, gave me a delicious recipe using the garlic, beans and olive oil I had just purchased.

Have you been to the hot springs in Gaviota?

Gaviota Hot Springs

Gaviota Hot Springs

Seriously, how could my California Sunday get any better?  Well, it did as California would have it.  I hopped back on the 101 South and exited to Lompoc, except I turned left into the mountain area instead of heading toward Lompoc (which is a very scenic drive by the way).  I parked and hiked 10 minutes up to the Gaviota hot springs where I happened upon what would appear to be hippies to many, but they were just your everyday LA-moved to SB-pot smoking relaxed Californians enjoying the hot springs.  I took off my hiking shoes and dipped my feet in the hot water while we chatted about the hot springs in Ojai, Big Sur and Montecito.  I was taking mental notes.  My new friends and I agreed to meet at the best kept secret in Goleta -- the Mercury Lounge for a sour beer later that week.  I was chilled to the max as a Californian might say in 1999. 

I put back on my shoes and skipped down the trail back to my car.  Back on the 101 South now, with nothing but Pacific Ocean views.  The Central Coast is amazing.  Crazy yellow blooms in the rolling green hills to my left and blue ocean on my right.  I had 30 minutes back to Santa Barbara to sing to my favorite tunes -- Amos Lee was perfect for this Sunday.

Goleta Beach

Beachside Bar Cafe on Goleta Beach in Santa Barbara

Beachside Bar Cafe on Goleta Beach in Santa Barbara

Upon entering Santa Barbara, I was hungry for fish tacos, so I exited toward UCSB and headed for Beachside Bar and Cafe.  They have the best food, view and oldies music playing in the back ground.  As if my day couldn't get any better, I parked and noticed that the lifeguards were training -- beach dudes with surf boards on the beach.  Well.  It was time for a walk on the beach before I had a light dinner.  I took off my hiking shoes and slipped on my flip flops (or as my mom in Wyoming calls them "thongs") and I walked along the beach.  I reflected on my day, took a deep breath of gratitude and realized I had gone from fresh water frolicking at the waterfall, to warm mineral water in the hot springs in the hills to now cool salt water on the beach rushing over my toes.  

I brushed the sand off and found a cozy spot inside Beachside, ordered delicious fish tacos, calamari and an 805 beer and listened to the oldies playing in the background -- the song -- "All I have to do is Dream" by the Everly Brothers.  What a perfect song and ending to my dreamy California day.  So I guess I have become the California stereotype and I can't imagine life any other way. I am a dreamer.