Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pup treads the boards at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara...

No, this blog post isn't about our pup taking to the stage and having a 'Marley moment' but about his first time on a wooden pier, Stearns Wharf, up in Santa Barbara.
cooper on Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara
With our friend visiting from the UK we thought we'd kill two birds with one stone and drive up to Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara to let Cooper play off-leash at the dog beach and to show our friend more of Southern California as we drove up the coast
Santa Barbara shoreline
After our pup had tired himself in the ocean and racing along the sandy shore, we drove down near the harbour in Santa Barbara and took a stroll along Stearns Wharf which allows dogs on-leash on the pier.
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
Around five years ago, when we leisurely drove up the Californian coast along Route 1, our first overnight stop was in Santa Barbara and we dined at Longboards Grill on Stearns Wharf on their sunny deck (and pretty much turned bright red like true Brits let out in the sunshine).
Longboards Gril at Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara
Along with some other dogs on the Wharf, there was also some bird and sea-life along the pier to see.
Pelican at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Harbour is a feeding ground for over twenty species of bird and we were lucky enough to see this Brown Pelican strutting its stuff on the boards.
Brown Pelican at Stearns Wharf
Other local bird-life include the occasional Great Blue Heron or Snowy Egret, along with Long-billed Curlews, Sanderlings, Sandpipers, Surf Scoters, Common Loons and Western Grebes to name but a few species.
Brown Pelican at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
This inquisitive Brown Pelican seemed used to humans and was probably hoping for an easy bite to eat from someone, rather than 'high diving' down below the ocean's surface for its usual fish supper. 
Stearns Wharf sea-life
Even though some of the bird-life here feed on small crabs, I doubt they'd take on this monster from the depths.
Crab from the deep at Stearns Wharf
This alien-looking critter was caught by one of the men fishing from the end of the pier. Personally I wouldn't let my fingers get too close to its sharp pincers.
Jason and cooper at Stearns Wharf
Cooper was very well behaved on the pier and even managed to wangle a bite of an ice-cream from a bunch of Harley-riding bikers, proving they are all just big softies at heart.
Yachts at Stearns Wharf
We walked the entire length of Stearns Wharf which had once been heavily damaged in a fire on the 18th November 1998. 
Santa Barbara beach at Stearns Wharf
About 20% of the wooden pier was destroyed and didn't reopen until July 2000 after an investment of $13.5 million.
Stearns Wharf view of Santa Barbara
It's a lovely local landmark to walk along and much more relaxing an experience than the Santa Monica Pier with its bustling fairground rides, although there are still some tourist attractions to be had on Stearns Wharf.
Stearns Wharf pirate and Jason in Hollywood
There were hazy skies over Santa Barbara on Sunday and it was actually sunnier at the dog beach at first.
Boats along Santa Barbara coastline
But as ever when you're out in open-water the sun usually comes out and you can start feeling its strength upon your skin.
Santa Barbara harbour and beach
So after taking in all the sights that Stearns Wharf had to offer and the wonderful views along Santa Barbara's shoreline, we headed back to the car for our return journey back down the coast.
American and Californian flags flying over Stearns Wharf
This little bit of 'beach art' reminded us that there was a cup of tea and a piece of Sweet Lady Jane Lemon Curd Cake awaiting us back home.
Just plain hungry beach art
After all the excitement of the day, Cooper was soon fast asleep in the car and I have to say that I wasn't that far behind him sitting next to him on the back seat. 

It must have been all that ocean air...

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