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Simon’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 20 Apr 2008

Location: Earth Day!, USA

MapA much better day today! It was Earth Day!

Every year, Santa Barbara’s courthouse hosts a festival of sorts to celebrate Earth Day, something set up in SB following a major oil spill and now celebrated up and down the Central and Southern coasts. There are many stalls, exhibits and displays all extolling the virtues of green issues, solar energy, battery-powered vehicles and so on, all to a background of music and 'theatrical performances' coming from a specifically-built stage: Jack Johnson played last year (although I hadn’t heard of anyone playing this time). It's held outside (of course!) in a sunken garden and even smells nice!

All public transport in the area is free for the day to tempt poeple not to drive (it only costs $1.25 - about 70p - one-way anyway) so I caught the bus and got to the courthouse around 11am. It’s a significantly more attractive edifice than the courts in Bath are (where t’wife is forced to spend much of her time telling chavs off) and I walked around exhibits chatting with various organisations that I know t’wife would have wanted to talk to.

The weather was perfect, temps in the low 70s and not a breath of wind, and there was a really nice and relaxed atmosphere throughout the whole show. There were the inevitable numbers of hippy-types and earthy sorts, but not even a single sign of the ‘youths’, fired up on Frosty Jack, causing trouble that there would be at a similar event held in Blighty.

I grabbed a $5 bowl of tasty teriyaki chicken over rice to calm my rumbling tum (people were stopping to stare as I walked past, sounding like an out-board motor...) and enjoyed watching a band blasting out a sublimely chosen set of covers. I scrutinised the guitarist with barely suppressed envy (I haven’t played guitar properly since I’ve been in the US! Honestly!) and tutted as he botched a break in ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and then proceeded to tap during the solo! And (Loops...) he looked like Lord Pearsall!

After a couple of hours of idle yet very enjoyable mooching I went to Macy’s to try and find a kitchen knife (and failed) before catching the bus back to Goleta. I had the misfortune to be sat close to a clearly crazy old lady who kept leaving messages on what I assumed to be her own answer phone for her cat. Still, I was luckier than the oriental woman who got stuck talking to her: “Boots is a good kitty cat, a good kitty cat, a good kitty cat, and she helps keep me sane when my husband’s away.” Hopefully ‘Boots’ lives the life of luxury in a bungalow in El Sueno or somewhere, its every whim catered for, but its career as a mental health aide is surely over (assuming, of course, that the pesky moggie even exists...).

It was back to Goleta Beach for the afternoon and the weather made it a far nicer experience than 24 hours previously. People were BBQ-ing, watching their kids playing in the sand and just having a good time, and I sat on a bank for hours, reading, pottering and dipping my toes in the still very cold ocean.

The perfect end to what had been a great day was a trip to In-N-Out Burger for tea (it was my first proper takeout burger!). It’s just across from the hotel and the drive-thru is always extremely busy, so I’d assumed the fare would be of a high quality. The décor was straight out of a hundred movies – in fact it was just like the Double Meat Palace! - and although busy, the staff seemed to way outnumber the punters and my order was ‘up’ very quickly. I had a fishes eyelash on a bed of grated carrot...cough.

It’s not something I could eat every day but it was so tasty I can fully understand why the ‘supersize me’ slippery slope is so difficult to avoid...

Oh, and Villa beat Blues 5-1. Try explaining the significance of that to an American...!