Visit to Santa Barbara Pier, the Ronald Reagan Ranch Centre, the Old Mission and another winery.
29.04.2013 - 01.05.2013 22 °C
I was then taken on a Road Trip north for a few days to see the sights of the Central Californian Coast. After overnighting in Port Hueneme we arrived at the popular tourist destination and resort of Santa Barbara with its main street (called State Street) bedecked in American and Mexican Flags.
At the entrance onto the Pier was the Statute of Three Dolphins erected in 1982; according to legend the dolphin is a cousin of Santa Barbara's early Chumash Indians and brings luck. Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf that it reaches out to were built by lumberman John P Stearns in 1872 and is the longest deep-water pier between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has been seriously damaged by fire and restored several times (most recently in 1998) but still has many shops and restaurants.
Ronald Reagan was The US President between 1981-1989 and his ranch (Rancho del Cielo aka "The Western White House") is located atop the Santa Ynez Mountain Range north west of the city. The ranch itself is closed to the public but there is a centre dedicated to his life on the ranch and love of horses just a short distance from the end of Santa Barbara Pier. Ronald Reagan had been o close to the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who had died shortly before our visit and there was a glass tribute case to her on the ground floor.
Upstairs there was an impressive multimedia desk illustrating episodes from Ronald Reagan's presidency surrounded by artifacts from his Ranch. The largest item on display was the Scrambler CJ-8 Jeep he used to get around the ranch but other things included his cowboy hat, saddle and boots along with the chainshaw he used to tidy up trees.
There was also the desk used for radio broadcasts to the nation during his presidency. It was from here during a 'mic' test that wasn't meant to be recorded Ronald Reagan made the humourous comment "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that today I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes." Needless to say the Soviets were not amused!
The gem amongst the many sights to see in Santa Barbara however is the Old Mission (the first of five old missions I was to see in Southern California - for the record the others I went on to see were at San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines/Solvang, San Luis Rey de Francia/Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano). Established in 1786 with the church mostly rebuilt following an earthquake in 1812, it has over the years served at different times as the Cathedral Church for both the Los Angeles and Monterey Roman Catholic dioceses and as a result unusually for a mission church has a double bell tower.
Inside the Mission grounds there was an historic mausoleum used as the final resting places for many of the early Franciscan friar and founding family inhabitants of Santa Barbara with a further 4,000 Chumush Indians buried in the Cemetery Garden in the shadow of the old fig tree. The church has statutes to both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic behind the alter and is the only Californian Mission to have a crypt.
Attached to the Mission Church is also a small museum containing many paintings and a number of rooms recreating the life of the early Franciscan monks who lived at the mission.
We then continued north towards San Luis Obispo but not before stopping for some wine testing (known as a flight, see after going wine tasting in 3 countries I'm finally learning the jargon!) at the nearby Foley Winery.