Thursday, April 02, 2009

All going according to plan - so far...

I drove 350 miles from LAX via Santa Barbara to Cambria yesterday & today in a state of suspended bliss. Sunshine! Hairpin bends! The ocean! Mountain passes! More exciting things requiring more exclamation marks than a writer should care to use. Tomorrow I'm preparing to be astonished, repulsed and generally gob-smacked by Hearst Castle, before heading on up to Big Sur.

Everything is slotting into place like a great big karmic jigsaw. Even the few hitches have been dealable with. I haven’t even got properly lost yet (although I did nearly turn onto the train tracks at the level crossing in Santa Barbara when the sat nav told me to make a right. Apparently it was the right after the station. Who knew?)

I liked Santa Barbara enormously. It’s like a ritzy colonial toytown: the town centre is filled with white adobe-style buildings, and the strolling evening passersby could just as easily be in Spain as in California. (Until, that is, you catch sight of the ubiquitous Subway, Old Navy, and Quiznos etc lurking behind the quaint store fronts.)

I had planned to explore more, but writing work kept me busy until after 2pm,so I only had time for a fleeting squint at the glorious 18thC Mission, before heading off to meet with a superlative winemaker at her place in the Santa Ynez valley. (Of which more later.)

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Darling JK arrives in Los Angeles from NY a week Friday and we will be exploring Southern California together for ten days, so it makes sense for me to head north as quickly as possible to check out the places that will be too far from our LA base. I’m working as well as playing, on assignment for various newspapers & magazines. Over the next week I’ll be in Monterey, San Francisco (staying at the Ritz Carlton), Marin County & Calistoga, before heading back down to Los Angeles. Any recommendations gratefully received...