Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Driving Down the West Coast: Solvang, Santa Barbara, Malibu, and LA

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Driving Down the West Coast: Solvang, Santa Barbara, Malibu, and LA

Once the euphoria of Big Sur and the colony of elephant seals subsided, we drove along the looooong California coast to savor its famous beaches! First, the magical town of Solvang, then upscale Santa Barbara, on to sunny Malibu, and then, finally, we turned into cosmopolitan Los Angeles.

One of our friends told us not to miss Solvang, the little Dutch America. So we went and found just what she described...a town with windmills on top of buildings, the museum dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen, lots of specialty outlets such as the Olive House, and little wine shops with joyful staff, great free food, and good jazz.

Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the US West Coast is Santa Barbara, lying between the steeply-rising Sta. Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as mediterranean, and the city is sometimes referred to as the "American Riviera."

Our campground, however, a little way off the coastal city into the wilderness areas of Los Padres, beyond Santa Ynez. Huge oak trees that dwarfed our Star and three other RVs were the only ones in the vast acreage! When we went into town, we took Star because I could not ride Vino for longer than 15 minutes. So, we had to pay double parking fees!

I thought the shopping on State Street, the trendy main street of the city, can beat Rodeo Drive. And the Mission at Santa Barbara was truly one of the first (founded 1716). The wharf also looked so coooool! The following day we transferred to a state park along the coast just past the city and nestled quietly into the night with a beautiful California sunset to begin it.

And, soon after our start the following day, came 17 miles of scenic coastal drive on famous Malibu Beach. The beach homes are huge, some dramatically hanging off cliffs and some artistically jutting over the water. Then there was Malibu Pier, the historic landmark adjacent to Surfrider Beach, known for its three-point break that offers rides of 300 yards or more. And, even in that chilly October afternoon, the surfers were there!

Finally, we reached Los Angeles with its coral trees lining its boulevards. And how could we miss Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, the Scientology Center, the Kodak Theater, and the Grauman's Chinese Theater which opened in May 1927 with its red carpet and cement walk filled with signatures and palm prints of stars like Olivia de Havilland and Donald Duck?

Bill got to have his photo taken with Marilyn Monroe while I felt like I was another star on the Walk of Fame, a series of sidewalks on about 15 block segments of Hollywood Blvd. and 3 on Vine St., a permanent monument to great achievements in the entertainment industry. More than 2,400 stars are embedded at 6-foot intervals over a combined 1.7 miles.
Later, we dropped by Universal Studios and then took our own photo version of the Hollywood sign on the Hill! Despite all our excitement, the city did not make it to our select list of where we will settle after our RV cruising lifestyle is over. We couldn't afford it! So, we proceeded to our next stops: San Diego, Julian, and Ramona in southern California.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Now I'd like to know more about Santa Barbara and Solvang. BTW, what happened to the pictures? They're so small!

  2. I just sent you a friend request on Facebook. I love your blog and will follow it. We have a year and a half to figure out how we are going to join the the RV bunch on the road and are very excited about it. It will be fun to learn a lot from your blog.

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    I used a different software (Draw) instead of Picture Manager. Just trying new stuff. I take it you like the bigger pics. Next post, I promise!

  4. Dear Fisher and Staff,
    Wow are you retiring in a year and a half? Let me know if you have specific questions! I have some posts on the specifics of the lifestyle, not on the travels. And I have more of them soon after I finish this backlog!


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