Tuesday, April 1, 2014

24 hours in Santa Barbara

While our time in Santa Barbara was short, it was soooo worth it.

Call me crazy, but I've wanted to visit this place since the 1980s, when I fell in love with the soap opera, "Santa Barbara." Oh, how I loved Eden and Cruz. And Mason and Julia. And Gina and Keith. And Kelly and Geoffrey. But... back to Santa Barbara.

We stayed at a mega-big hotel, the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort.

It was right along the beach, which was nice for our morning walk to breakfast.

Which was absolutely delicious.

But the main reason I picked this place was that it was so big it had its own Hertz rental car office.

And it was very close to the train station. In fact, our hotel used to BE the train station.

How was it? Well, the Wifi didn't work very well. And the room was small. There were theoretically two queen sized beds, but does this look like a queen size bed? I mean, Alex is tall, but he isn't THAT tall.

Also - we weren't really in a good walking distance to a lot of places. We made do for dinner and breakfast, but if I had booked a smaller place closer to the main areas, we would have had dozens upon dozens of options (see? nothing nearby).

Our hotel did, however, come with its own geocache. Few things make Team Danger as happy as a geocache.

And the walk along the waterfront was lovely, albeit long.

Which gave us plenty of time for more geocaching.

After checking out, we explored the town of Santa Barbara.

This would be a great place for shopping. Just.. not with Team Danger.

I loved how even the chain stores, like Macy's, had architecture that complimented its town.

My favorite part of Santa Barbara, hands down, was its courthouse.

And then look at it from this angle.

I am sooooooo pea green with envy towards the lucky California attorneys who get to practice in this work of art.

Who wouldn't love to go to work here every single day? I've never, ever seen such a stunningly, perfectly wonderful courthouse. If only California didn't have the hardest bar exam in the country*, I'd move here in a heartbeat, just so I could go try cases here. *or offered reciprocity... grrrr....

Team Danger's favorite part of the courthouse? Dozens upon dozens of ladybugs were flying around.

And then we made the discovery that there were literally hundreds of them in the grass beneath our feet, so we went ladybug hunting.

Ryan collected over twenty, and was pretty upset when I wouldn't let him bring them with us. But I insisted we leave them to make more children happy.

After Carl tore us away from our beloved ladybug courthouse, we headed towards the Santa Barbara Mission.

Alas, we were running short on time, so we didn't actually go inside the mission.

We'd run long on geocaching and ladybug hunting. The sacrifices we make for our kids sometimes.

But our next activity for the day was calling, and the boys couldn't wait for it to start. Beach time!!

The boys didn't spend much time in the water, though, because we were way too excited about all the marine life we were finding thanks to the tide. In the picture below, what looks like rocks behind us is actually lots of different shells and sea critters.

Alex remembered from our trip to Florida that sometimes the best shells are found just underneath the sand. So he went to town digging away.

One of our earliest finds were these two sand dollars. They just inspired the boys to hunt even more, because there are few shells as beloved by Team Danger as a sand dollar.

Except for this one. Ryan hit the motherload when he turned over what looked like a huge rock.

We'd never seen anything like it before. Its been suggested that it's a sea snail, but if so, that's one frighteningly large sea snail.

We weren't the only ones excited to discover what surprises the Pacific Ocean had is store for us. See the three people behind us doing the same thing? Only, slightly better prepared since they came with buckets (hey, I had bathing suits for the boys. I consider this a major win in my book. But, yep, not so much for the boys who were clearly deprived children with no sand buckets.)

The skies were kind of gloomy while we were there, but happily, we saw no rain.

The boys had a blast collecting all these sea goodies. We let them pick out a few of their favorites, then we took the rest back to the beach for others to discover.

And then it was time to say adieu to the beach, in a failed attempt to circumvent Los Angeles rush hour on our way to Carl's grandfather's house.

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