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Simon’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 13 Apr 2008

Location: Isla Vista, California, USA

MapThe local weather station had confidentially predicted cooler temperatures for today, so I’d planned to saunter around Santa Barbara with a loose plan to buy some sort of kitchen knife (the one I have in my kitchenette is one of those small yet dastardly bendy, serrated and super-sharp numbers that seems incapable of proficiently slicing an onion, yet threatens to remove any number of fingers on a whim).

Yet, as I came out of the hotel, the air, if anything, was even hotter than 24 hours previously. Still, I found a parking spot under a tree in SB and walked down State Street, finding scarce patches of shade as and when.

I bought a map of Northern California from Borders bookstore (I’m thinking about exploring north of San Fran rather than the oven that will be San Diego once t’wife returns to Blighty) and spotted a number of copies of the latest issue of Guitarist on sale there. I checked that my name was still in the flannel panel (it was!), found and bought my map, and made my way down to East Beach to cool my toes.

It’s not the most beautiful beach in the world, but there were plenty of seabirds around, including a blue heron surrounded by the now requisite number of gulls and brown pelican. As I've previously reported, pelicans are common along this stretch of coast and they fly very close to the surface of the water. They also resemble pterodactyls (the 'p' is silent, as in swimming: old family joke...)

Remember: if you can’t catch a fish, a pelican…

As noon approached I’d planned on finding somewhere to have lunch, but as it was too late for Brunch yet too early for lunch, everywhere was either closed or empty, so I came back to the hotel to get something to eat.

Evan had told me of a small beach just west of Isla Vista, so I drove the five minutes just past SB airport, parked up and made my way to a narrow yet long piece of sand between the sea and the cliffs there. I immediately noticed how many teenagers were on the beach (far more that usual) and quickly surmised that, as the SB campus of the University of California is very close, they all must have been students there.

Sadly (!!), one of the focuses of UCSB is sports, and I’ve seen fewer six-packs at a Booze Buster: Weston-Super-Mare this is not…! As I wandered up and down the beach, the numerous clusters of tanned, lithe bodies all seemed to be having a great time, and I exchanged waves and “Hellos” with quite a few of them. Fortunately, I had my ‘Englishman aboard’ hat on (the millinery equivalent of a knotted hanky), so was able to deflect any advances, my being at least twice their age notwithstanding…

I sat with my book, but was immediately assaulted by a swarm of black flies, so gave up after a few minutes and found my way back to the Monkey.

I’m getting a decent base tan now, having passed the ‘red head’ phase that befits my own personal browning process and, by the time t’wife comes out, I should have left my traditional ‘medium rare’ look far behind!

Oh, and I forget to search for a knife...