Day 15: “Santa Barbara”

Solvang / Santa Barbara

It was not a day for great journeying. Cambria had been a sleepy little burg, and while Santa Barbara would be nice, I also knew it would be a relaxed thing. The scenery on the way down wasn’t as spectacular as we’d seen coming through Big Sur, but not much is.

Still, we did see a whale just off the shore at one point. “Hey…” I went. “You saw the whale too, right?” asked Stig. It was kind of cool.

For the hell of it, we made a little detour through Solvang, the Danish enclave not too far from Santa Barbara. On the way into town, we passed “The Hitching Post”, the place Paul Giamatti meets Maya in the movie Sideways. Solvang pretty much looks like a theme park. It’s all Danish shops and Danish-style buildings and Danish names and it’s just so fucking cute. I have been to Solvang once before, when I was 11 or 12. I don’t remember much, except that I saw Conan the Barbarian on TV. I guess cable. Anyway, I didn’t make any new memories this time. We came, we saw, we left.

Getting into Santa Barbara, we found the hotel without a hitch. We were but two blocks from the beach, so we headed straight there. I normally dread going to the beach with all the vigor of a pot-bellied and exceedingly hairy guy, but I figured no-one would remember me, though stumbling around in the back of my head was an uncomfortable thought that weeks later, safely home in Oslo, American tourists would jump off the bus, pointing at me, shouting: “Eeeew. It’s that guy! Somebody get a picture!”

Anyway, by now, I had a serious farmer’s tan, which I sorely needed to balance it out. So, armed with sunblock of various strengths, I lay down on the beach blanket and peeled my shirt off for the whole world to see and avert their eyes from: I lay there like a veritable Moby Dick, a beached white whale, glorious in all its splendor.

On the other hand, Norway won that day’s leg of the Tour de France, so at least there was some semblance of carmic balance in things Norwegian.