Travel by Car: Going South for a Celebration
We got back to the marina on a Saturday, saw Thor in theatre and got to work on chores and errands. We were at the marina in Blaine, WA until the following Friday when we left on a road trip. Our destination was Santa Barbara in California. My grandfather turned 80 and the whole family was gathering to celebrate.
We were looking forward to the air conditioning of the car. It had been a whirlwind of tasks in the heat of a marina-bound boat in July. This was our first road trip south, where our starting destination was just before the Canadian Border! Not even a mile off of I-5. Our first stop was to celebrate another birthday — Shane’s mom, Sandy (Gramma D)!
We had a low key night of burgers at The Slip and a walk around the waterfront in Kirkland. That night we slept at her house and left at 8am for Ashland in Oregon. We had taken this same drive the year before. This year we got to Ashland earlier and checked out the area.
We stayed at the Shakespearean themed Best Western off of the freeway. It was affordable, clean, and comfortable for a quick stay. That night we had tacos at Taqueria Picaro. They were so good! Right after we sat down to eat the place got jammed too. No wonder it’s so popular!
Shane got the kids churros to go. While we waited the boys and I checked out the “Green Show” happening at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I’ve wanted to see a play there ever since reading about it in Sunset Magazine.
We loved Ashland’s downtown area. It reminded us of Port Townsend with the eclectic pedestrians and unique small shops we passed. After walking around a bit we headed for the Ashland Skatepark.
The skatepark at Ashland has been a rest stop for us in a previous California trip. The kids and Shane love the park. Kelly found a group of kids right away to scooter with. Wyatt and Shane skated. I walked around and had fun watching the kids try skills in a new place.
Our third day of travel came quickly and we were off again! This was a ten hour stretch all the way to Santa Barbara. I had lunches packed, snacks ready, and water. We made stops for the restroom and fuel. Mainly for the restroom. One rest stop we hit up was 114 degrees! It was as if we opened the door to a blow dryer. I had fun passing through Paso Robles and Pismo Beach. We even stopped at Dinosaur Beach for our last restroom break. What an amazing view!
Celebrations had already kicked off when we arrived at the rental house in the Santa Barbara foothills. All of my cousins and my aunts and uncle, my parents and my brother’s family were there to honor my grandfather’s 80th. I’m grateful Shane’s mom, Sandy was also invited. She’s always fun to be with and a fellow adventurer like my grandfather, the boys’ King Kaeser.
We had a delicious dinner and the boys went straight to swimming.
Villa Verano, the house, was Mediterranean inspired with the 90’s kitchen counter tile I remember having in our home as a kid. It’s an event space with everything you would need to host a party. Plus, the views were phenomenal, especially when the fog had dissipated. You could see the Channel Islands from the upper deck.
We stayed in the pool house with my parents. Shane and I slept in the loft that appeared to have a changing space behind the bed. I assumed it was for the groom.
The next morning we all rose early. I worked out in the groom’s changing area, Shane hit the hot tub, and the kids followed shortly after. They had been swimming for almost two hours by 9am. Happy kids. We were all able to enjoy the pool and the company while the sun was coming up over the mountains.
My grandpa’s actual birthday was that day. We ate a fun meal at Moby Dick’s on the Wharf, spent time at the Santa Barbara Zoo, and visited my grandma’s resting place while in town. Dinner was catered; everyone loved it! We finished up the day with a slideshow of photos of his 80 years. We all had fun having him call out what each photo represented to him and hearing stories from my parents and aunt and uncle.
Our last whole day with the extended family was another beautiful coastal California day. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing a cool breeze. After having another morning poolside and the kids playing games with their cousins and adult relatives, we went to town.
We had lunch at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on the wharf, shopped at a few of the surf inspired shops at the entrance to State Street, and then the kids went to the beach. I went with my parents to tour the Santa Barbara Mission. It had been decades since I had done that. When I was about Wyatt’s age I read Island of the Blue Dolphins driving past the Channel Islands on the way to Cachuma Lake. Since then the Mission and the area has always seemed pretty magical. The book by Scott O’Dell popularized the story of “The Lone Woman” who was found alone on the Channel Islands and brought to the Mission.
Shane, the kids, Sandy, and my brother’s family joined us after a bit. Everyone was hot and tired after making sand castles and trying to boogie board.
That night we had leftovers and chatted with cousins. I’m grateful for the time we all had together thanks to grandpa!
We left the next morning, going first to a beach for some more California fun. Last year Wyatt had gone to a surf camp at Haskell’s Beach in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara. I spent hours walking the beaches while he surfed and Shane was back at the hotel working. There was never more than one or two people walking near me. Plus, The Ritz-Carlton that shares the beach, keeps the area pristine. That’s where we went to walk, boogie board, and relax with the family. My parents were the first to head home, followed by my brother’s family.
It was just us with Shane’s mom, Sandy. We checked into hotels in Santa Barbara. We were able to grab a room from the same hotel we were at last year, Casa Del Mar Inn, thanks to a last minute cancellation. Gramma was next door at an air conditioned hotel, Harbor House Inn. If we return, we’ll have to stay there next!
For our last night in Santa Barbara we ate at Santo Mezcal, which was as good as the hype around it.
The next morning the kids went with Shane to the Santa Barbara Skatepark while I worked out in the room. We finalized last minute travel plans. We would be staying with my brother that night, then heading to Eugene for a pitstop. Before we left, we walked State Street. The kids love to shop and had fun going into a few of their favorite stores.
We said goodbye to Gramma D, who would be traveling home by plane later that night. Then, we hustled north to visit my brother and his family before going to Eugene. We loved seeing my niece and nephew in their new rooms. They recently moved to a cowboy town that suits their outdoor, adventurous lifestyle perfectly.
Eugene was bustling and the hotels were expensive. Ridiculously expensive, as were the hotels nearby. Turns out there they were hosting the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene. We saw a few of the event commentaries on ESPN later that night. The hotel had what looked to be coaches from all over the world speaking in different languages with each other. A fun sight to see. Still, unfortunate timing for us. We stayed there to leave for Portland the next day. It was a timing thing.
Portland was a big deal for Shane. He had spent the last year and a half trying to purchase a new paddleboard. Decisions are hard for Shane to begin with, but when it came to his trusty steed, it was even harder. His choice came down to two boards that were at Gorge Performance. Unfortunately, they were at their Portland location. Shane was hoping we would have to go to their Hood River store, seeing as the Gorge Downwind Champs was happening that same weekend.
After a couple hours at the shop, we headed home with Shane’s new board strapped to the car, not before stopping at the Battle Ground Skatepark. The boys loved the large park, but didn’t care for how hot it was when we stopped there in the late afternoon. We didn’t stay long before getting back on I-5, which we followed for six hours all the way back to the boat in Blaine, just before the border of Canada. Still makes me laugh.
The next day we provisioned, did laundry, and grabbed a few boat related items for a project Shane’s working on in Bellingham. The next day after Shane got off work we left the dock. Just in time for the late July Pacific Northwest heat wave to set in.