Beautiful Santa Barbara! If all drives began so sweetly, glorious afternoon sunlight and warm promise on the southern horizon. I’d driven this road before, but not alone. Having the clarity of solitude was something that I was looking forward to quite a lot, although part of it was a bit intimidating.
The road was twisty and turny, alternating busy and empty which was curious on a Friday. Echoes of familiarity blew across the mountains, and with a shock I realized that I was already out of urban territory. It hadn’t seemed nearly so short last fall, but time does warp with experience.
Another stop in Soledad. The people here were still friendly, and still hinted that I was no longer in America. Onward, onward, down through more fields and flying bugs, moths and cars and trees and green grass turning to bright gold. The same stand of ancient twisted eucalyptus, swaying in the wind like the bendy green cones of an impressionist painting. The Madonna Inn was nothing but a vaguely tearful smile. Still garish now, but infinitely less exciting. Much more enticing was the glimmering turquoise waters of Pismo Beach, arcing beyond white hotels and the first palm trees for hours.
5 hours on the road will make you wonder if familiarity will ever find you in the end. I was lucky, meeting an equal mixture of comforting faces as well as new at my destination. This fact alone made it bearable, as well as the openly affable natures of my new friends. I said to her, “Being here now is so liberating.” As much as I love this life I lead, I miss the solo journeys that made up so much of the last year.
Everything that I was missing in Scotland and both Utahs came back to me here. Over the last few years I have come to accept (slowly) that certain classic flavors of photography will never be my forte. For that alone I am grateful to Santa Barbara. Choose a direction and follow it, and listen to your heart. Pushing your boundaries is a worthwhile pursuit, but never one that should cause excessive grief.
I’ve already told the tale of our experiences before, but even more than that is the fact that no words would ever convey the true merriment of the two days. And so it was, and will continue to be in our photographs.