FRIDAY PHOTO-Have Horse Will Travel

There’s nothing like having the perfect travel partner also act as your mode of transportation while sightseeing. This was a perfect day with “Duke” at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara.

 

 

 

“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”

~Pam Brown

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FRIDAY PHOTO-Santa Barbara Sunset

I’m really not trying to rub it in as to how nice the weather has been in California this week. Don’t worry, our time is coming. If nothing else, hopefully if you’re sitting in nasty snow, you can escape for a minute with some beautiful scenery from the great Santa Ynez Mountains, located in Santa Barbara. The horses were kind enough to share their sunset with us.

Ghost Hunting-La Purisima Mission

Talk about late. I had planned on posting about this since I started this blog. This little trip took place over a year ago but I got sidetracked and started posting about everything but the La Purisima Mission. So here it is.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I have much love for the Santa Barbara area and have turned it into a yearly escape destination for myself. During my trip last year with my friend, we were sitting in the hotel room flipping through channels on the t.v., when an episode of  Ghost Adventures came on. As before mentioned,  I have a strange interest in ghosts and the paranormal so anything having to do with either subject is going to grab my attention immediately. I ‘m usually entertained by Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and the myriad of other paranormal shows on t.v. these days but I must admit that they can occasionally annoy me. The viewer is often stuck listening to big, tough guys in black T-shirts screaming, “What was that?!” and you never see or hear anything because they are the ones screaming and capturing moths on camera which are the  “ghostly images” you are supposedly witnessing. But I’m fascinated nonetheless. On this particular Ghost Adventures episode, they were talking about the La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, CA. which just happened to be a stones throw away from Santa Barbara. How lucky was that? Shopping, wine tasting, & ghost-hunting.  What more could a girl want?!

Here’s the silly ad that got us going. Gotta love the Travel Channel.

The history is not too different from many California historical sites. Spaniards come to town, Spaniards bring their religion and customs to town, Spaniards destroy the locals. In this case, the Spaniards arrived in Lompoc and proceeded to overpower the Chumash Indians. The Chumash Indians were treated like slaves and forced to adopt Christianity as their religion. Along with the imposition of their religion, the Spaniards also exposed the Indians to diseases they simply were not immune to. Furthermore, if the grounds were as lovely then as they are now, then the destitute environment which enveloped the Chumash, would have been masked.

So we watched this episode intently, paying close attention to who we should run into during our visit to the most haunted mission in California. The hall of fame at La Purisima includes Spanish soldiers, Father Payeras, who was the mission’s loved buffer and liaison between the Spanish and the Indians, Chumash Indians who perished during failed uprisings, and one greyhound dog. (I knew animals had souls.)

The episode we watched told of strange vibrations and “feelings” one gets when stepping on or coming close to the grave of father Payeras. There have been accounts of feeling a cold draft or feeling a presence but I have to admit, I felt nothing. My friend put her toe on the grave, hoping to become possessed or have something paranormal happen which would have been great considering I had the camera in my hand but fortunately or unfortunately, nada. The next test came in one of the bedrooms where we saw on that particular episode,  some blankets move on one of the beds by themselves. Again, my thrill-seeking friend tried desperately to temp the spirits by touching the bed, sitting on the edge of it, all resulting in nothing. Not a shake, cold spot, or boo! Nothing. I know that daylight and crowds are not something that those in the afterlife are going to cater to so I really wasn’t expecting much and I’m definitely not brave enough to sneak out there in the middle of the night with my Ouija board in order to see a ghostly greyhound. I’m already a believer and don’t require much proof. But I guess there is always some level of hope that you will encounter SOMETHING when looking for the unusual.

Aside from the failed spirit encounter, we wandered around the grounds and quickly appreciated what a beautiful job the California State Parks commission have done in preserving the mission. In an effort to preserve the practices of the former residents of La Purisima, there is a lovely herb garden with flowers and herbs similar to what the Chumash Indians used.  This is the most restored mission in California and shouldn’t be missed. It has an updated, modern visitor center and ongoing events in an effort to continually educate the public on life at La Purisima. The events calendar on their website is loaded with living history days, as well as events such as a sheep sheering, a candlelight dinner event, demonstrations on how the Chumash used to weave and make crafts, and an endless amount of other activities lined up. This is a living, active mission which has been beautifully restored and kept up, with much evidence that those involved with the mission have a lot of love and dedication to it. I hope and wish all of the missions in California are kept up this well. Please check out this lovely mission if ever in the Lompoc/Santa Barbara area. It’s a little dusty, can get warm during the day and very cold at night so dress accordingly. This would also be a great addition to a visit to Mission Santa Barbara which is also beautiful, though located in a much busier location.

And if you ever catch a ghost on film or on your EVP machine, send me proof!

La Purisima Mission website: http://www.lapurisimamission.org

La Purisima Haunted History: http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Ghost_Adventures/Special_Features/La_Purisima_Missions_Haunted_History

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Directions

To reach the mission from the north or the south, take Highway 101 to Buellton. Take Exit 140A, for Buellton/Solvang – Highway 246 – and head west (a left turn from the northbound exit, a right turn if southbound).

Proceed west on Highway 246 for approximately 18 miles. On a slight downhill grade you will pass the La Purisima Mission Golf Course on the right. After the golf course, take the second road, which is on the right.

Continue on Purisima Road approximately 1 mile. The mission entrance is on the right.


My Kind of Camping-Santa Ynez Mountains

Not more than a half hour from downtown Santa Barbara, sits the beautiful, idyllic and tranquil Santa Ynez Mountains. I have loved this beautiful area for years and just recently have taken the time to really explore it in-depth. Everything can be found in this area such as wine tasting, the Danish town of Solvang, golfing, views of beautiful Lake Cachuma, and if you are into camping, it’s a campers’ dream.

I camped a lot as a child but in my day it consisted of 100 degree weather, a lake to jump into to escape the 100 degree weather, and driving to the flush toilets if there were any. Mustering up the courage to use an outhouse has never been in my genetic make up so once I grew up, if lodging didn’t include plumbing, it didn’t include me. Call it living on the edge for me, but I recently decided that I would give camping a shot again, if for no other reason than to save money on accommodations. This is purely the act of a desperate travel addict trying to get their fix of “get me the hell out of dodge.” Must travel at any cost. So, my trusty travel partner and I found camping accommodations fit for a princess (or at least a couple of cougars who need showers and flush toilets.) And if you have a horse, you can bring him with you and board him in a fantastic boarding area. This is also pet-friendly in general, but they recommend that you keep your animals inside your lodging with you at night because of possible dangerous scuffles with the local wildlife. (Camping, remember?)

Located off of Highway 154 en route to Santa Barbara, past many great, traditional camp grounds, is the Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Resort www.ranchooso.net. This place is camping at its best, with the benefits of resort living. I was all set to go back to my roots and sleep on the biggest rock I could find to bury deep inside my spine, but to my surprise, this resort offers any style of accommodation you prefer. There is traditional camping where you can pitch a tent in a cool, shaded area, located a stone’s throw away to the resort facilities. For those who drive their house around with them, they have full RV hookups, making it possible to get Direct TV while getting away from it all. I’m not even going to criticize that because I am someone who would totally appreciate that. In my opinion, that is progress in camping! If you want to show up and sleep semi-hotel style, they have the most precious little cabins, located right next to the horse stables. Guess which one we stayed in?! The cabins do not have in-room facilities but the main bathrooms and showers were literally 20 feet away. Our little cabin had a perfect view of the horses and the beautiful Santa Ynez mountains behind us, equipped with a mini-refrigerator, coffee-maker, and small writing desk. Each cabin has its own porch for lounging and a BBQ grill. This tiny cabin had a bunk-bed and double bed, making it possible to sleep three or four people. Granted, it would be a tight fit but definitely possible. For bigger parties, there are larger cabins to accommodate an entire entourage.

The part I really love is that this resort is geared toward childless adults as well as families. The pool is open all day, until 10:00pm including certain hours where it is adults only. This doesn’t mean that the swinging crowd is open to show up and take over, it simply gives adults the chance to enjoy the pool without kids in it for a little while. In addition, the adult recreation room is a nice touch considering that there are more than enough play areas and activities for the kids to enjoy. It’s great that they took into consideration that adults need a break and would like to relax and have fun too.

But if you are a kid, this place is awesome. Activities such as miniature golf, badminton, horseshoes, volleyball, ping-pong, and horseback riding are just a few choices of the activities offered at Rancho Oso.

The resort offers so much to do it’s ridiculous. There are two pools, a jacuzzi, an adult game room with a pool table, ice-cream social, BBQ cookouts, s’more roasting, and an endless amount of other activities. Another fun feature is the availability of their covered wagons used as sleeping quarters. Very cool. Just throw in a sleeping bag and you get to pretend that you’re out in the wild west hanging out with the cowboys.

There are plenty of barbeque grills and pits to be found, making it economical to bring your own food and cook to your little hearts’ content. Otherwise, there is a great local store and cafe not too far out of the resort called the Paradise Store which serves up some pretty good sandwiches, BBQ, fries, etc. The night we were there they had a really good live band playing there and the locals were shooting the breeze with other travelers.

Rancho Oso is really a great, economical getaway that anyone would enjoy. It really has something for everyone and is as picturesque as it is entertaining and relaxing. Check it out if ever in the area.

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French Festival-Santa Barbara

Every year in July I start to get the blues knowing that Bastille Day in France is approaching and I won’t be there to watch the fireworks go off around the Eiffel Tower. I have sort of sworn off of traveling to Europe in the summer for a while because I’ve become allergic to inflated ticket prices, rather preferring to travel off-season. The downside is that I miss out on all of the cool events that take place during high season so I have to look elsewhere for doses of culture where I can find it.   

The French Festival www.frenchfestival.com in Santa Barbara takes place on Bastille Day weekend every year and never disappoints. Francophiles from all over come together to celebrate everything Francaise (except for this year’s soccer team) and everything from delicious food to belly dancers can be found. However, the biggest and main reason to experience the Santa Barbara French Festival is to watch the tre chic Poodle Parade. Yes, the greatest breed known to mankind will be on display, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds? Believe it or not, the occasional wannabe will enter, trying to pass as a poodle. The last time I attended this event an adorable golden retriever was sporting a beret, trying to pass himself off as a standard poodle. How can you pass this up?? Viva La France!!!!   

Edourd Boubat

Where:  Oak Park-Santa Barbara -From 101 North, exit at Pueblo. 101 South, exit at Mission   

When: July 17 & 18