Channeling Santa Barbara…..how I saw the biggest mammal in the world

I’ve always wanted to go to the Channel Islands. It seems so mysterious. I jump out of bed at 6 am and then head down to Ventura to catch the boat. I am not disappointed as the harbor is shrouded in fog.

My new friend Joan has agreed to go on the adventure with me and after about 90 minutes we reach the exotic Santa Cruz Island. According to legend, Santa Cruz Island was named for a priest’s staff accidentally left on the island during the Portola expedition of 1769. A Chumash Indian found the cross-tipped stave and returned it to the priest. The Spaniards were so impressed that they called this island of friendly people “La Isla de Santa Cruz,” the Island of the Sacred Cross. It is the largest island in California and has a rich history of over 10,000 years of habitation. Today we are a small group of adventurers who temporarily inhabit this beautiful place.

The fog has lifted to showcase the beautiful blue water and an unbelievable variety of flora and fauna. We are offered the opportunity to hike to Pelican Bay, a “strenuous” hike if we sign a waiver. Of course we do.

We have a well deserved picnic at the end of the climb overlooking the bay.

Back down to the shore we explore the beautiful coastline.

Now we embark for the journey back. The sun is shining and we are treated to dolphins jumping along side the boat.

But the best was yet to come. Cue Jaws music. What is that bright blue object just under the surface of the water?

It is a blue whale, the biggest mammal on earth. 100 feet long and weighing 100 tons. And guess what? They live to be between 70 and 100 years old ( the oldest one recorded was 103). This one was a joy to watch. They generally stay down about 8 minutes so we patiently waited and then this happened.

It was a fabulous day and I can’t believe how lucky we are to have the Channel Islands so accessible.

The Channel Islands haven’t been my only adventure since my last post. I am coming to realize that Santa Barbara has 4 main things going for it: Water, mountains, wineries and the town. Let me take you back to the end of my last post to show you what I mean. I’ll start with water and go in all four directions.

After a great brunch with new friends Paul and Lynn and their boys, I took myself on a little exploration road trip. I saw the resort Bacara in the west, sitting on a remote lovely beach.

Then I went west to Santa Claus Beach and Padaro Beach and walked a long ways just loving the beautiful homes on the beach.

I went due south to Hendry’s beach shown above and then north to Lake Casita.

Water everywhere! Then there are the mountains. Santa Barbara is blessed with the very usual transverse mountains ( East-West). Most of the Santa Ynez mountains are in the Los Padres National Forest. I tried to hike in the mountains my first few days here but with all the fires it was forbidden. They call it Red Flag Days. I have to say the locals all know when those days are, but it is very hard for a visitor to find out. Luckily I have made friends with my next door neighbor, Lynn, who clues me in. If you park your car and go hiking on a red flag day— it is towed!

The ban has been lifted and I have done a lot of hiking since. The views from the mountains are fantastic.

The day before the Channel Island trip I combined the mountains and the ocean to go from the highest point I could hike to kayaking at sea level at sunset. I started off on Cold Spring Trail but then veered towards the top of the ridge.

My kayaking cooled me off as we navigated among the boats and the sea animals.

Such a fun day! But you notice I haven’t said a word about food or my fun visitors. I’ll commence work on that post but I’ll leave you with one food picture to tempt you to read the next post.

That is a Hygge Bun from Oat Bakery, a superfood bakery. More about that in the next post.

Thanks for following along!

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