Saturday, March 30, 2013

From Santa Monica to Carpenteria

We were on the road again and whipping right along at 5 mph...

The Pacific Coast Highway at 3 PM on a Monday afternoon with the fog rolling in, the traffic at a near standstill and there I was, burning gas at the rate of $4.29 a gallon. If I had any thoughts of more sightseeing in LA this is where those thoughts went right out the window.

PCH hugs the coast as it goes north and I was hoping for some good ocean pictures along the way.  Alas,  the fog thwarted me...

However,  I was pretty pleased to actually get these two action photos.  The wind was blowing, the air was a very chilly 55-60 degrees but, as usually seen everywhere on the west coast, those inhuman creatures in their black rubber skin were out in droves.

An hour out of LA and the traffic eased up, the sun peeked out a bit, the wind died, and nostalgia took hold.

Living in the desert has been fun and interesting but I have sorely missed the calming ambiance of a sandy beach with its gleaming ocean and noisy seagulls.  The lazy walking along the shore line to scavenge for water-worn glass shards, peculiar shaped driftwood, and perfectly formed shells was an exercise I could indulge in for hours.

Pickle plant!

From the sign under that 250 year old tree--

As I reached the tiny beach town of Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara, I remembered the first time I walked here...

We had moved into a small motel on the beach--it was winter in 1969.  My husband and I were new owners of a restaurant in Santa Barbara; Tommy was only a year old. Life was grand.  We were going to live in the most beautiful spot on the west coast.  That is, until one week later, when the 'great Santa Barbara oil spill' hit this very beach!

My zoom lens was able to see one of those rigs.  They sit like waiting vultures,  just a few miles off the coast.

I remembered the cleaning stations that went up everywhere in a desperate effort to salvage some of the thousands of dying birds.  The stench of dead fish, dead birds and crude oil was overwhelming.  Cleaning the bottoms of our shoes and feet became a daily ritual.  The oil was everywhere and unavoidable,  carried by the willing workers out onto the sidewalks and roads.

At one point Lady Bird Johnson came to view the cleanup that was being loudly praised by the media and Union Oil Company.  For days in advance of her visit truck loads of new sand were brought in, dumped and spread along the beach so that it looked pristine and well-groomed--for a brief few hours.  The TV crews took their pictures,  Lady Bird gave her little speech, everyone left, then the tide rolled in--and uncovered the oil that lay under that layer of new sand.  That oil continued to plague the beaches from Santa Barbara to Ventura for the next twenty years.
And I became an environmentalist.


  1. Actually mom, it was Nixon, not Mrs. Johnson, who came out to inspect the spill.

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  3. Ron, you are right that Nixon came for an inspection sometime soon after the oil hit the beach, but weeks later the the city and the oil companies were touting the successful clean up. It was then that the trucks of sand began to appear. I thought it was Lady Bird who came for that inspection but you are right--I am sure now that it was someone else--maybe Pat Nixon. I was not very political at the time so I didn't care too much who the 'important person' was--only that oil kept reappearing on the beach when that new sand washed away.

  4. It was more than 20 years later when I first walked on the beach at Santa Barbara and found out why there were little packets of oil removal cloths in our motel. So pretty to look at but we only walked on it once.



  7. June.. so glad you are still following me. I think of you a lot....Toni