Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Life's a beach in Santa Barbara...

One year ago today (it seems like only yesterday), we embarked on this amazing experience when we came to live here in L.A., so it seems only fitting that today's blog entry is all about our continuing Californian adventures.
Santa Barbara Beach ocean views
After taking Cooper to the Arroyo Burro Dog Beach on Sunday, we drove five minutes down the road to the Santa Barbara waterfront, home to a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, the harbour and Stearns Wharf.
Santa Barbara, California
We haven't been to Santa Barbara since we took the scenic Route 1 up the Californian coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with some friends about five years ago.
Colourful Santa Barbara
We have fond memories of the oceanside city, locally dubbed the American Riviera, as it was the first place we stopped off after the sprawling cityscape of L.A. and the golden, sun-drenched beach and pier seemed worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of city life. 
Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara beach
We'd stayed overnight and relaxed in the hotels hot-tub and dined out at a local restaurant more than ready to start unwinding into our Pacific Coast road trip.
Santa Barbara Beach waterfront
Anyway, it was great to be back there, this time with a friend and Cooper in tow. Sadly our pup wasn't allowed on this sandy beach, but we could walk him along the palm tree lined waterfront walkway beside it that runs the length of Cabrillo Boulevard.
Santa Barbara Cooper
But Cooper didn't mind. He was exhausted from his playtime at the dog beach and his swim in the ocean and so he was happy to walk along the grass pathway and find some palm branches to chew on - that's our pup! 
Santa Barbara pup
We strolled along and enjoyed the sunshine. They had an arts and craft show along Cabrillo Boulevard, which is a regular event and starts at 10am on a Sunday until dusk.
Tasty Santa barbara palm fronds for pup
We didn't stop to take a look though as Cooper was starting to feel pretty hot and bothered, so we walked just up to Stearns Wharf to take some photos of the pier and the impressive flocks of pelicans nestled on the beach.
Pelicans in Santa Barbara
When we'd visited all those years ago we'd walked out onto the pier and eaten out on the deck at a restaurant there (getting slightly sunburned in the process). 
Santa Barbara waterfront palm trees
Located at the bottom of State Street, the pier is about 130 years old and attracts around five million visitors a year, making it one of Santa Barbara's most popular tourist attractions.
Stearns Wharf Dolphin fountain in Santa Barbara
This time we didn't venture out onto the wooden Wharf, but just wandered past the entrance and the Dolphin Fountain there, which fascinated Cooper with its cool, trickling water display. He would gladly have jumped in and started paddling around if we'd let him.
Cooper at Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara
We thought local law enforcers wouldn't appreciate our 70lb Labrador doing that, especially as Santa Barbara County isn't the most dog-friendly place, as they don't allow dogs at any of their restaurants, even outside on the patio area.
Multi-coloured arch in Santa Barbara
As you can imagine that made it slightly harder for us to find somewhere to stop for a spot of lunch.
Arlington West crosses at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
Just beyond Stearns Wharf we saw this Arlington West Memorial on the beach. Apparently every Sunday it and ones like it are erected on the beaches of Southern California by Veterans for Peace, partly to help honour the fallen and wounded, but also to highlight the human sacrifice of war, amongst other reasons.
Santa Barbara waterfront ocean view
After getting some refreshments from Starbucks we jumped back into our car and drove back to Studio City where Cooper joined us for the very first time eating out at Aroma Cafe on Tujunga Avenue

He was very well behaved and calm, mostly because we'd worn him out at the dog beach and along Santa Barbara's waterfront, so together we enjoyed our food whilst the sun went down on a jam-packed day in sunny California.

Here's to the next twelve months...

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