I went on a wildflower hunt today, which is just the sort of thing you want to do before starting an 8 hour drive home! But I decided to take the trip up Figueroa Mountain and see if I couldn't see some of those wild flower displays that I read about in the Santa Barbara newspaper.
Walt and Alice Nan left the house before 7:30 and I was out of there by 8:30. I felt guilty leaving, knowing that they were going to be facing all sorts of decisions today, but at least Alice Nan was able to take the day off work, so Walt wouldn't have to do it alone...and I had to get home.
I started by driving into Santa Barbara and picking up the road that goes up into the mountains. I drove to the town of Los Osos, where the road up to Figueroa Mountain begins, but I stopped in the town itself at a lovely little coffee shop that had Peet's French Roast coffee and chocolate croissants. What better way to start the day.
Then I headed up toward the mountain. I was interested to note that this long past Michael Jackson's death, without the mourners and the notes and flowers outside the gate, the Neverland Ranch is hardly noticeable as you drove by.
I passed through a huge field, filled with mustard blossoms as far as the eye could see.
I also passed by one field which was carpeted with mustard and lupin and was gorgeous.
Based on the newspaper article, I expected the views to get more glorious the farther up the hill I went, only it didn't. There were patches of flowers here and there, but none of the sweeping vistas that we had seen coming down to Santa Barbara a few days ago. I figured when I got to the top, I would see what the paper promised.
Only it was a very narrow, very windy road, very slow going. And at one point, I nearly got creamed by a car speeding down the hill in the middle of the road on a blind curve. We both swerved and, as I was on the outside, with nothing to stop me from going over the side, I was pretty terrified. At this point the road started getting much more steep and so when I found an overlook that would permit me to turn around comfortably, I decided that even if there was an explosion of color awaiting me at the summit, I was too rattled to make it that far, so I turned around and headed back, stopping only to take a picture of this lovely blue bird.
I stopped in the Danish town of Solvang, that ready-made tourist trap, to pick up food for the road. Since it was nearly noon by then, I decided to stop and have lunch when I saw a restaurant that featured abelskeevers, which I've been curious to taste.
They are kind of round pancakes, served with raspberry syrup and powdered sugar, with a side of Danish sausage. Delicious, and overpriced--but then I expected as much. It was like eating at Fisherman's Wharf--you don't expect bargains!
I tried checking out another road which I had been assured had gorgeous wild flowers, but I think I must have made a wrong turn because the road only took me into the town of Atascadero. Eventually I gave up and headed back up the road we had driven on the way down. I was at the height of the day's sun and facing in the other direction and the display did not disappoint. The photos don't begin to do it justice, but might if you look at them full size on Flickr.
I stopped at Kettleman City, a collection of fast food places, to use the facilities and to call Walt to find out what was happening with his mother. All the plans we had last night had changed. They decided to move her to the Santa Barbara Convalescent Hospital, which is a skilled nursing facility. They are going to try it for a few weeks, but the thought is that she will move there permanently. I checked their web site and it looks very nice, and it has the advantage of having someone Alice Nan knows as the activities director. Maybe things will calm down for awhile now.
The rest of the trip went uneventfully, thanks to the great audio book I'm listening to ("Darkside" by Peter T. Deutermann) and the only problem I had was the torrential rain that hit just as I was coming into Sacramento.
I called Walt again when I got home. The move had been made and she was settled into the new place. She doesn't realize yet where she is or that this may be a permanent move for her. One day at a time...
I have to admit it was so nice to be home, and to see the dogs again. Polly is still at Ashley's house but will be back tomorrow.
(I note with some amusement that my entry from one year ago today is entitled "how much are those doggies in my window?" and talks about my going to Solvang and the James Dean Memorial (which I also did today). There is obviously nothing new in my life any more!