L.A to Santa Barbara

The drive from Anaheim to Santa Barbara via the Pacific coast highway showed us both sides of the American dream, from the poverty of South L.A  to the riches of Malibu and Pacific coast.

The Sat nav took us out of Anaheim and up highway 5 as far as McCampbell and then up the entire length of Slauson Avenue. Although Slauson isn’t exactly “Boysz ‘n the Hood” territory it (we were a mile or so higher than South Central and Compton) it certainly felt very ghetto and could be described as driving through an N.WA. video. Rail tracks ran along side the majority of the road and on the dirt track at the side of the rails was everything from tent cities to makeshift markets and people doing stuff out the back of an open car boot. The other side of the road was a mixture of warehouses, car sales, “chop” shops and housing and the graffiti on the walls was as colourful as it was thought provoking. Yet again it reminded me and Oz of playing Grand Theft Auto !

15 miles on and we were dropping down in to Santa Monica and heading towards the pacific coast highway, Californa Highway 1. We had planned to stop at Santa Monica for old times sake but the traffic was awful and there wasn’t a chance of finding anywhere to park on the road or the pier so we continued with the journey.

We followed the Pacific Highway 1 coast roadthrough the edge of the Topanga Statel Park and along some stunning ocean scenery until we reached Malibu.Both sides of the road were lined with very expensive looking ocean facing houses and mansions though i’m pretty sure we couldn’t see the really expensive housing that nestles in the hills overlooking the bay or on the seafront with their own private beach.

We pulled over into the Malibu County Mart shopping centre to have a drink and do some people watching. Well it was more car watching than people watching as a constant procession of super cars drove in and out of the parking lot. If you have a Porsche in Malibu you are definitely on the lower rung on the social ladder and there were plenty of Bentleys, Rolls and various Italian super cars posing. Having said that, in money and posing terms Malibu still has a long way to go to catch up with Monte Carlo !

We left Malibu and continued up the coastal road to Oxinade passing Mexican fruit pickers working hard in the fields and various Military establishments. As the pacific coast highway runs through Ventura it turns into Highway 101 and becomes a dual carriageway pretty much all the way up to Santa Barbara. The driving was faster but the scenery was nowhere near as good so we were quite glad to be pulling into the Franciscan Inn at a little after 4pm.

We were greeted by a very friendly and helpful guy at the check in desk who gave us a run down of things to do and see in the area. The motel was lovely, Palm trees everywhere, a nice pool, a secluded spa and the rooms were great and plenty big enough for the three of us. We settled in for an hour or so then headed over to Stearn’s Wharf and for a walk along the beach. The wharf was an old wooden one which felt like it was rotting away at certain points but it gave it an old charm. At the end of the pier was a couple of Fish restaurants which didn’t look up to much so we ate at Eladios overlooking the sea and had a nice walk back along the beach in the dark.

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