Santa Barbara

Ventured down to the Ventura Port for a wander round. This is where boats depart to Channel Islands National Park, which we had already decided not to visit as some Islands are closed due to recent storms. Seeing how cheap prices were for a day tour we might have gone if it weren't so hazy (plus it would have mucked up our schedule, already pretty mangled now we had decided to go up the coast much more slowly than originally planned). We played around on the beach for a good couple of hours and then jumped into the car to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is a lovely historic town. So much for the myth that the USA has no history. OK, there are no medieval castles, but there are plenty of 18th-century colonial Spanish and Mexican buildings. One example is the magnificent courthouse. Possibly the prettiest place to get tried (in fact Lucas was really excited to see a real criminal - a "malote", being escorted by two policemen), you can climb up to the clock tower to see good views of the town. Down below they has a graduation ceremony for kids who had got scholarships for college and were saying thanks to their benefactors. Lucas and Aisha found it most entertaining, especially after getting a couple of free balloons each.

Visited the beach at Stearns Wharf which was quite nice. Didn't really make in onto the pier as we were very busy throwing stones and running around. Found a skater park on the way back but they aren't like in NZ - much more crowded with serious skaters and little kids not welcome.

After two days of paranoia making sure we didn't go over the speed limit (something Californians don't seem to worry about too much, though I'm sure they know when to do it and when not) we discovered a parking ticket on our wiper. By the time on the ticket we must have been badly parked outside the courthouse (ironic, huh?). Turns out the white line in the road is to trick you - you have to make sure you avoid the red line on the pavement.

Lesson learnt today: even in May the California sun will burn you.

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