Escaping Winter (Part I: SoCal)

We are back home after a week or so away from the winter blahs, and while things didn’t last the full 2 weeks we’d planned, it was still good to get away for so many reasons. Not only is taking a vacation in winter nice to escape the gray winter weather, it also brought me a huge sense of gratitude for where we live, both our home and our overall geography. I’ve come out with lessons as well about what I really want to do with my off time, and to be honest? It’s not tropical. It’s got nothing to do with humidity. And it’s not isolated from the culture of the place we choose to visit.

The last time we went on holiday was in 2015, when we had expected our trip to France would be a “babymoon” of sorts. By the time we took off on the plane to Paris, we were grieving our first of six DEIVF losses, and my body went into early stages of reacting physically to my emotional pain (first stage: debilitating plantar fasciitis which meant more subway trips, much less walking). But we had some great memories which we hold dear. We never realized it’d be 3+ years til we took our next real vacation, though. So we went about our lives, ended the chapter of my body turned into a repeatedly failing science experiment, watched the adoption wait get to 3 1/2 years, moved to the country and said, fuckit, we’re going on vacation.

One thing that was interesting I realized this time was that our vacation locales all revolved around visiting places I’d already been in one way or another, and after this one, it’s definitely going to be somewhere that’s new for BOTH of us. I’d been to Paris before, and this holiday to Santa Barbara and Zihuatanejo revisited past haunts as well. I lived in SB from 2002-2005 before moving back to my hometown of Portland, and exactly 10 years ago I went to Zihua (Barra de Potosi, 20 minutes south of town) solo to grieve the death of my father.

Returning to Santa Barbara was really interesting – I left shortly after my divorce and so coming back with Dan was a trip, and really helped with closure. Zihua? Well we ended up leaving after 4 days because I came down with Montezuma’s Revenge (google if you don’t know the term)…and had NOT drank water out of the tap either, y’all. Fortunately the hotel said they’ll be refunding us our unused nights, but let me tell you, 5 days of this + antibiotics sure suck the fun out of holiday 😦

Anyhoo…here are some shots from our time away…


Lovely to catch up with friends who moved from PDX to Cali in their current digs of Santa Monica!! These two wonderful people were at our wedding – he stood up for Dan as a matter of fact. Two of the kindest people we know, and so nice to see them again!

While I’d never live there again (the entitlement mentality of the rich down there is really out of control and the economic disparities boggle the mind due to the cost of living preventing most regular folks – who haven’t lived there for 20+ years – from owning a home…one of the reasons I left beyond the high cost of rent was that I never wanted to raise kids in a community where it was only the very wealthy or those struggling to keep their heads above water), the city has some gorgeousness for sure, with the massive amounts of eucalyptus reminding my honey of his native lands to the bird of paradise everywhere to the fact that spring is always seemingly sprung with flowers galore…even in January. The heartbreak, however? We learned that the famous Butterfly Grove now has few if any monarch butterflies anymore due to habitat loss spurred by climate change. Where I used to walk with my girl Daisy back in the day and be surrounded by butterflies in the most magical of times is now silent, and it is truly tragic.

We spent some time on the water of course as well, and revisited the little spot of beach down the steps from the Mesa where I used to take my Daisy girl for runs back in the day after adopting her from the local shelter. The sun was out, the pelicans were aplenty, and it was a nice walk with my love 🙂

And another surreal-but-cool moment? Going back to the Santa Barbara Courthouse. It’s one of the most architecturally gorgeous spots in the city to walk around, but when I lived there I’d never been in until I had to file my divorce papers. So needless to say coming back 14 years later was definitely a new way of looking at the building…and this time we climbed to the lookout on the top to see the city as it meets the Pacific. Lovely.

We also visited two places I’d never been in my past life there – the Orchid Estate (husband is obsessed with them, and while there weren’t a ton to see at this time of year, just seeing them growing without wholly-climate-controlled greenhouses was pretty rad since they flourish here) and the lovely walk around the Botanic Gardens (me, I dug this Redwoods section along with the Manzanita area the best).

Oh and yes, we ATE! Best meal bar none? Brunch at the Four Seasons Biltmore on Butterfly Beach in Montecito. One of the few classy buffets left out there and yeah I took full advantage of the platter of king crab legs and other things – no delicacy when you’re spending this much for brunch. Service there has always been impeccable, people watching is awesome, and my god the food. YUM. And since #45 was just a couple days away, we had to stop in for a pre-birthday chocolate tasting at one of the shops on State Street (lovely looking but husband agreed that mine are better when it comes to taste…woo hoo!). And, not pictured, we also met up for lunch with a former coworker of mine and his wife – really lovely, down-to-earth people and so happy to reconnect!


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