Back in April, my parents made an appointment to get the house tented for termites because we had a really bad infestation. It was so bad, I could actually hear them munching inside the wall behind where I’m currently sitting. Since we had to be out of the house for a couple days while the house was being termited, mom and I decided to take a road trip to Solvang, a tiny Scandenavian town located near Santa Barbara. If you’re not local or don’t know where Santa Barbara is, I might as well say it’s near the moon, it’s around 120 miles north from Los Angeles. The drive there is awesome, coastal view and mountains and tons of greenery when everything’s actually green. We’d just had rains here so everything was green during our visit, it was amazing.
Solvang is one of the only places I’ve been to where there’s actually wide open spaces, something I keep forgetting still exists in this country. And since everything was green, it was just breathtaking to be there — almost literally the first night, thanks to the better air quality and higher altitude, but that’s a small price to pay for sheer beauty. The fields are dotted with cows and horses owned by nearby farms, and I even saw wild deer and promptly freaked out because I’ve never seen a live deer before.
There’s a long stretch of highway, one of the ways to get there, where there’s really no signs other than “Emergency parking only” along the shoulder and the occasional weathered sign pointing to a ranch or farm. This highway just stretched on and on, never seeming to end, winding around mountains and eventually Lake Cachuma. I was in heaven, enjoying all the wildflowers and the scent of the trees, telling mom everything I was seeing since of course her attention was on the road. She was absolutely freaking out because of the complete lack of signs, she was convinced we’d made a wrong turn somewhere and felt hopelessly lost. I kept trying to calm her down, saying “Let’s keep going, we’re supposed to be on this highway and it’d be silly to turn back now only to discover we were going the right direction. Just try to enjoy the scenery.”
What’d happened was she got directions off Google Maps but didn’t actually pay attention to the distances (do any of us pay attention to that?), so she had no idea how long we were supposed to be on that highway. I started to enjoy myself less because she absolutely refused to have any sense of adventure over the situation, she just wouldn’t stop freaking out over the lack of directional signs every three feet like the highways in Los Angeles. We finally came upon a recreational park full of old people and their mobile homes, she pulled off the highway to ask directions and to use the restroom. It turns out we’d stopped 14 miles from where we were headed. I was right the whole time, just stay on the highway and we’d be fine. I didn’t know I was right, but I was a goddamn Hindu cow the whole time, knowing it’d work out somehow if for no other reason than the drive was beautiful and rather peaceful. It was hilarious and frustrating at the same time.
I can understand feeling out of control because you don’t know where you are, but isn’t that part of the fun of a road trip? Just driving and exploring? Although, apparently mom was also freaked out because she had a full bladder and was worried she’d piss herself before we got to a restroom, I told her she should’ve told me that instead of constantly repeating “I don’t know where we are” and I would’ve been more understanding. But still, 14 miles away from our destination? We were practically on top of it when she pulled off the road, it was ridiculous. I teased her about it for a good hour. I understood she was concerned, but come on, it’s not like we’d suddenly found ourselves on the east coast with no recollection of how we’d driven that far.
We didn’t make reservations to any motels, just figured we’d drive into town and find a place. We drove in circles trying to find a place that didn’t look like it’d be expensive or a dump, and came across Svengaard’s Lodge. It ended up being perfect, inexpensive and definitely not a dump. We’re planning on staying there again next time we visit Solvang, we stayed there all three nights and were very pleased. The only problem was we had to switch rooms for the second and third night, and the beds were unbelievably stiff. We fixed that by folding up the comforter (since there was a sheet and second blanket to use) and put that on top of the mattress, it cushioned it up fine. We ended up discovering the mattresses have dual padding, one stiffer than the other, so on our next visit we’ll remember to flip the mattresses or ask the maids to.
The town is very small and basically has one or a small handful of each type of store, including one candy store called Downey’s where the candies are arranged in barrels. I’ve never seen barrels of candy and I thought it was awesome how photogenic it all looked with all the colors, so I started taking photos.
Just for fun, I was taking macro shots of the candy, when suddenly the owner of the shop asked me what I was doing and what I planned to do with the photos. I was confused by the fairly accusatory tone of his voice and said I was going to show them to friends on the internet — I wasn’t sure if he knows what a blog is and I didn’t want to explain it — and he replied “Well, we don’t really appreciate that here, I even have a sign posted over here asking for no photography.” While he was saying this, I was in the middle of taking a photo of taffy, and kept at it because my brain couldn’t comprehend I was being told to not take pictures of friggin’ candy. It’s not like any of it was homemade and I wasn’t taking photos of him, I have absolutely no idea why this crotchety old fart has a problem with people taking photos of storebought candy being resold in his own store.
I can understand he might be worried that people take photos of his store and make prints to sell without permission, but he could’ve asked me in a much nicer way to stop. And if you don’t want people taking photos, don’t make your store so interesting! We walked out immediately and we spent the rest of the trip making fun of him. Mom said she managed to see the “No photos” sign as we were walking out, it was handwritten at the bottom of another sign amongst a ton of other signs around the register, such as the typical “No food or drinks” and “No animals.” I asked her if she also saw signs that said “No children” and “No laughing” because that wouldn’t surprise me.
Later that night, we happened to pass by a closed store and saw a sign just inside saying “No photos.” However, they mentioned a reason, and this is totally understandable. Being the rebel I am, I took this photo through the closed door just for this purpose, to blog about it. The sign in the corner’s about a raffle and is indeed handpainted, so I can understand an artist not wanting someone copying their work. But candies?? Get over yourself, candyman.
One big problem with Solvang is almost every store and restaurant closes at 5pm. Some close at 5:30pm, two or three (such as Subway and a small Mexican restaurant) stay open till 8pm, and then there’s the liquor stores — I saw two — which stay open till 10pm. I couldn’t believe it, the entire town was goddamn dead by 6pm.
We figured we might as well check out a nearby town, Buellton, because it was getting close to 5pm and we wanted dinner. Along the way we found a place called Ostrich Land where you can feed ostriches and emus, it sounded awesome so we stopped. The guy behind the counter was gorgeous, I probably would’ve flirted if I wasn’t sweating so much, it was pretty humid. It was only $4 admission and $1 to feed the birds, next time we’re going to buy two bowls of food so I can feed the emus too, I only fed a couple ostriches.
They are STRONG. There’s a board with rules that says to hang onto the handle of the food bowl with both hands and oh boy did I have to. There was an Asian couple behind me and the girlfriend kept squealing, it was pretty hilarious, I guess she didn’t realize how big ostriches are. Another rule on the sign is to not try and pet them because they bite, I laughed because there’s just no way I’d want to pet a gigantic bird whose beak could break every bone in my body. Not to mention I’m sure they’re like sheep, you’re thinking the animal’s going to be soft but then you pet it and realize how oily it is. I did bring a small ostrich feather home though, they were molting so there were feathers all over the ground on my side of the fence.
One of the stores we stopped by was an occult store, we laughed that we managed to find one. It’s like me and dinosaurs, we find these things everywhere. They had this absolutely adorable fat orange kitty named Ernest who loves attention and tummyrubs, I walked in to see him laying on his back and couldn’t contain myself, I totally had to pet the stuffing out of him even though I’m allergic to cats. I didn’t have a reaction though so that was nice. He’s gorgeous! I’m not a fan of cats but I couldn’t help but take a bunch of photos of him.
I also got an awesome chicken hat which I literally had to beg for because mom thinks it’s ridiculous and overpriced, but she finally gave in. It is WAY too hot to be wearing it right now but I’m going to be wearing the hell out of it when the weather cools down again. And I finally got a pair of Harley Davidson boots, I’ve always always always wanted a pair. They’re so comfortable! I was able to do a ton of walking in them as soon as I put them on. Mom said “Harley boots and a chicken hat… That totally describes you.”
We got home on the 14th and as soon as we got back to this city, our mood changed. The difference between the two places is almost tangible, Los Angeles has a hectic atmosphere and Solvang was so quiet and relaxed. Solvang definitely has a few assholes but Los Angeles is absolutely full of them, this entire city lives like they have a million things to do everyday and are in a huge rush and can’t stop for anything or anyone, as if their day has less hours than everyone else’s. Once we got home, our feelings were a mixture of “Yay, we’re home!” and “Blegh, we’re home.” I honestly did not miss this city at all while we were gone.
I can’t wait to visit Solvang again!