Sunday, April 13, 2014

Santa Barbara- bumming around town

After leaving Carol's place up in the Santa Barbara wilderness, I checked out downtown Santa Barbara. The first stop was of course the library, to do an hour of speed blogging. I also donated a book that I'd finished reading, called Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman. It's one of my favorite books, so I wanted to share it with other people.

The library had an impressive art show that I couldnt resist. I had no idea that quilting could be taken to this level. It was stunning.

I'm not much of a movie buff. I go to the theater maybe once a year. Recently I finished reading the Divergent trilogy, so when I say that it was playing I had to go watch it!

This is the ceiling in the lobby.

They did a good job with the movie and thankfully skipped showing the gruesome parts. The actual theater looked like Vegas. When you were sitting in the theater, there was a faux facade of buildings, like you're in the streets of Mexico. Cute little shops. Flower pots. Porches. It was the most impressive theater I've been to. It really transported you to another place. 

How I kept my sanity

I'm an atypical artist. In my living room there is a peg board wall of tools, artistic in display and organized for easy use. I live for finishing projects, because I love the feeling of completion. I default to writing to-do lists, keeping spreadsheets of receipts for sculptures and tracking the timeline to figure out how to make that piece of artwork faster the next time.

Out of character I didnt plan my itinerary for this motorcycle adventure. I thought I'd be limiting my experience if I figured out where I'd stay and what I'd do each day. This adventure way surpassed my expectations. I am so glad I didnt plan it to death. Instead I decided to head South, to stay away from the snow, and cruise around California for a month or after I'd spent my budget of $1000. I had camping gear, a list of hostels and friends of friends who were up for hosting me.  

To keep my sanity, I did have some organizational tools with me on the road, contained in these two journals. Of all of the things I had to do before leaving town (like setting up health insurance and setting my bills to auto pay), it was super important to me to decorate these journals. I am such an artist. 

On the first page I had a calendar for March, to write down the city, a blurb of what I did each day and where I slept (camping, hosteling, staying with friends...) Then on the next page was a calendar to track my expenses for March. I did the same thing for April. 

The middle of the journal was for writing. My art form on the road was writing. I wrote daily. I coudnt get enough of journalling about all that I was seeing, the places I stayed at, the interesting folks that I'd met. I filled both journals and picked up another one on the road. 

Then at the back of both of the journals was space for new friends I'd meet on the road to write down their contact information (it's super hard to keep tract of small pieces of paper like business cards, so I prefer friends to write in my journal). There's also a page of old friend's addresses so I can mail them post cards. There's a short list of phone numbers in case my cell phone goes MIA, including close family members and my bank. I taped in an envelope to hold business cards. And I also taped to the inside of the back cover postcard stamps.

Jucy rv rental

I keep seeing these green and purple vans at campsites. I was so curious I had to look up Jucy to find out what they're all about. Ends up it's an mini van rental that is outfitted with a full kitchen and two double beds for about $90 a night, plus a 100 miles a day. If I could put a trailer on the back for my motorcycle, I might do that for a future adventure. 

Motorcycle Museum in Solvang

Before starting on this trip, my moto friend James told me I had to visit the Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, CA. It's a private collection of a 100 bikes from the last 100 years. I only wanted to go if there was a tour or with a  friend who knew about bikes. Otherwise I'd just admire the pretty bikes, but not understand why these bikes are so valuable. I was very fortunate and got to tour the museum with a friend I made on the road, Joe, who rode motorcycles professionally. I couldnt ask for a better tour guide.    

There were signs by all of the bikes giving their specs and some had stories, but Joe's stories were way more interesting about the bikes. 

This bike looks like a hoot to ride. This is the same bike pictured below. 

I was surprised and impressed by the variety of motorcycle at this museum. The bikes on the road now look very similar. You can spot a Ducati or a Suzuki from a mile away. The bikes in this collection had knobs that I didnt know what they did. Or they had bicycle pedals, so you could bump start the motor. On the older bikes, the clutch wasnt always on the left, nor was the chain. Things were still being invented; there was no established norm.    

I've sworn off living in places where I cant ride year round, but perhaps all I'd need is a bike with spikes in the tires!

The museum is open on weekends and by appointment for weekdays. It was $10 to get in and to droll over the bikes and way worth it. Being in the presence of so many amazing bikes I wanted to ride. Preferably one of these bikes! I asked if I could ride a bike around the block, but of course the answer was no. How about just turning on a bike? Nope. What about a sleepover here in the museum? Good idea, but no. 

I look forward to visiting again. Time to go ride my bike! 

Solvang- windmills and papercuts

Welcome to Solvang, the Danish capital of America! It's only one hour north of Santa Barbara.
I've visited here when I was in college and I loved the experience of stepping over the pond to a Danish town. The real reason for staying in Solvang during my motorcycle tour of California, was to visit the Motorcycle Museum, which you can read about here.

The houses are adorable and some even have thatch roofs.

As a kid, my dad was in the Air Force and we were stationed in England for five years. I spent my early years living off base, in a village, playing Robin Hood in the woods and learning to ride a bicycle. I remember visiting Denmark and seeing the windmills and giant rolls of cheese being carried by two people. 

My brother and me were inseparable from our wooden clogs. They were really comfortable. (I'm curious if I'd still feel the same way. The store in Solvang wanted $40 for clogs, so I decided to pass.) When I out grew my clogs, I got to wear my brothers. There are perks to being the youngest. 

I met up with Joe, the biker that I picked up in Carmel at a stop light. We're very Green and shared a parking spot. There was room for another bike too!

We were walking around and Joe's back was hurting. He asked if I wanted a massage. And five minutes later we were both getting chair massages. I'd never walked into a spa on a whim. It was such a treat. Joe said I better get used to it. Oh darn.

Above a bookstore is the free Hans Christian Andersen museum. I hadnt realized that he'd written some of my favorite childhood stories, like The Little Mermaid, Thumbellina, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor's New Clothes. 

I also learned that Andersen was not only a Danish poet and a writer, but a talented paper cut artist. Paper cuts, are not only those pesky cuts that you get on your fingers, but also the name of the art form where you fold up a piece of paper and then cut it up to make silhouettes. As kids I'd make paper cuts of snowflakes. 

Danish sausage, grilled potatoes and red cabbage! Yum! 

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Ostrich farm to feed ostriches and emus. I'd seen it on the Atlas Obsura, the interactive map of obscure things to visit. I had forgotten that I'd seen it online until I saw a hundred ostriches grazing in a field right outside of downtown Solvang and I just had to meet the birds in person. Their heads are way bigger than I was expecting. Some of the ostriches also had blue feathers. No idea why. But it was interesting all the same. 

Andersen's Split Pea Soup

As a kid, my mom, dad, brother, me and sometimes Grandma, would drive from Northern California to So Cal to visit both sets of great grandparents. It's about an eight hours drive, so about half way we'd stop at Andersen's restaurant to stretch our legs. I'd always look forward to stopping there because the restaurant had a real sized windmill!

I saw a billboard for Andersen's in Buellton and I had to make a detour. It wasnt until I got there that I realized this wasnt the same location I visited as a kid. There was no windmill. But it was sentimental all the same. I picked up a bumper sticker for my saddle bags of Pee Wee and Hap Pee working together to hand split peas with a hammer and chisel. 

I didnt order any food (even though their split pea soup is really good). Instead I walked around the gift shop, reminiscing over my childhood. I was thinking about our California road trips and growing up in England and getting to visit Denmark and seeing working windmills in person. I love you family.  

I love the tulip railing! It's so happy and playful. 

I dont think of wine and my childhood restaurant, but this was too funny not to share. 

I teared up a bit in the gift shop. I hadnt expected this detour to mean so much to me. Thank you family for all of the good memories. 

Santa Barbara hostel

I spent the night at the Santa Barbara hostel before going North to Solvang, the Danish capital of America. 

Highlights from the hostel:
  • Giant $1 tacos right up the street
  • I had the ladies dorm to myself
  • Unlimited computer access that had the internet. I was starting to feel anxious from being one week behind on blogging, because I'd been in the wilderness. It was wonderful using a computer that recognized my cell phone when I plugged it in, so I could pull the photos from off of it. I dont have the internet on my cell, so I carry a cable with me, and hope that the library computers have the driver I need to read the phone. So far, most of them have worked.