Thursday, August 7, 2014

Santa Barbara Yin and Yang

We're back in Santa Barbara again, home to Oprah, The Flying Nun and crazy Michael Jackson. And of course the full quota of trout pouty skeletal seventy-year-olds in mini skirts, refugees from young Hollywood.

Santa Barbara Point 


It's our tenth year at the Family Vacation Center at the University of California Santa Barbara (trips off the tongue nicely doesn't it?) heretowithforth called FVC at UCSB. (a few of the many other posts here and here and here)

I've written about the FVC loads of times before, but for anyone who lives in the US or is thinking of traveling here with kids it's an awesome break. As the signs on our doors say -  "Your best vacation since having kids. "

Santa Barbara Mission


Endlessly enthusiastic counsellors get the chance to spend quality hours with your kids (so generous of us, I know) teaching them to surf etc. Meanwhile you get to enjoy time away stand-up paddle boarding, wine tasting, shopping, yoga-ing...  Or just have the luxury of walking back to your room hands free. I've yet to see a parent who doesn't have a spring in their step after signing their sprogs into a kid's club.

What makes this trip memorable is the ying and the yang. First off there is the requisite packing rage, followed by a six-hour drive through flat nothingness, punctuated with strip malls selling every nuclear-colored food invented.

Tallulah (right) and her friend Jordan spent the six hour journey texting each other 

Kevin investigating another mysterious slapping noise

And then you see the beautiful Santa Barbara mountains and the sea.

We're in the Isla Vista staying in student dorms which are clean, neat and spacious. We're eating at the student cafeteria. This place is yin-yang galore. Outside the student houses I spy a pile of yoga mats next to kegs of beer.  I then watched some "co-eds" dresssed in bikinis, and arrangements masquerading as shorts, cycle and skateboard around the streets. They stopped off to collect spicy chicken from Angry Wings, a cookiewich from IV Drip coffee shop followed by a kale smoothie and into the smoke shop for an elegant bong. A well-rounded lunch?

Ten mins away Santa Barbara town with its Spanish rooftops, art galleries, glamorous hotels and hibiscus and palm beaches. 

Oh, I'm so well balanced now...


One of our four bedrooms 


View from our room
One of the frat houses down the road decorating with plywood
Preparing for calculus
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Cute bums - butt is it art?
Friends Cameron and Anne on State Street
Wendy Foster Pierre LaFond
Would you wear wabbit?

Boathouse  on Hendry's Beach. We thought we'd spotted some stars but apparently they were just Malibu housewives
Anne, me, Cameron and Sally on Hendry's Beach 


By the way, I'm in my third week of The Plan (which identifies your reactive foods). Tricky to stick to on vacay but I've paid the fee and I'm determined to finish it. I had to loan a set of scales off one of the camp counsellors. I stepped on. Sheeoot!!! How do I tell her that her scales are ....five pounds too light! Could one of you do it for me?


Have you had a vacay lately that is very yin and yang?


41 comments:

  1. What a fabulous idea! I want to go! I adore Santa Barbara. Such a beautiful spot. Sounds like the plan is going well. Loading bikes on and off a rack nearly killed me - always weird noises as you drive!

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    1. Yes, the whole way down it feels like some creature is hanging onto the roof... spooky!

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  2. I've never been to Santa Barbara before. In fact, I have never been to California at all. I recently learned that I have a cousin in San Francisco and I'm hoping to fly out to see him sometime this winter. Maybe while I'm out there I'll get a chance to visit Santa Barbara, too?

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    1. Yes, its a five hours drive, but worth coming down that's for sure

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    2. You could also do the Big Sur and Hearst castle on the way down to SB from the Bay Area

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  3. Jody, Saw your lovely photos on Instagram. Beautiful group! What a fun getaway. You guys are the smartest parents doing this. Looks great for the kids too. Jody you are looking even tinier!! I thought you were supposed to be bulking up for that trek my friend! Take care.xx Kim

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    1. Kim, I'm so useless on Instagram, didn't even realise there were people waiting to follow me., so apologies, following you back now! I must use it more often. usually I just use it for the filters and just send the photos only to kevin, not sure why I'm so shy about sharing the photos there....

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    2. Yes re the friends - this has been a great way to get together with various friends throughout the ten years and noone has to host and you also get downtime in your own rooms which is always important to me. Pictured are our "core FVC" group and other friends have come and gone and we've always had a great time

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  4. Hello Jody,

    We have never been to the USA and have no children so much of what you write here is another world to us. However, we can well imagine that a holiday where anyone and everyone whatever the age or the interest is catered for must be a dream come true. Wonderful to be able to do whatever takes your fancy knowing that everyone else in the holiday party is also having a good time.

    Friends who have been to Santa Barbara all love it there. What strikes us about the USA us that it is such a widely varied country. The landscape really is incredibly different from state to state and there are such vast areas of land stretching to what seems like infinity. We must explore it for ourselves one day.

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    1. Hi Hattats, welcome back from your travels. You would love to join us for a glass of champers on the deck of Four Seasons gazing out to the sunset or at Lotusland, where the owner married five rich men and used all the money to plants acres of cactus succulents, stone statue gardens and a pool surrounded by conch shells where she used to swim naked at midnight!

      http://www.lotusland.org/

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  5. We have good friends in Santa Barbara and visit often. I absolutely love it there!

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    1. You must love the shopping there, it's the mothership come in

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  6. The whole FVC UCSB sounds so very Cali in a very good way! I think those trade winds off that part of the Pacific create a mellow vibe unlike anywhere else in the world and while I like basking in it as well it does have the effect of draining my heavy lift ambition so keep my dosages small.
    Looking fab in the pleasingly form fitting white Jody!

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    1. Hi GSL, yes i think all of us need a certain amount of stress to get us up in the morning. After a week in Ohope Beach, I am pushed to do one thing in a day...
      we just had an East Coast family visit in Oakland and she says she wants to move to this coast and leave all her worries behind (or at least all the pressure). Not sure it is that simple but Santa Barbara does seem extremely laid back, maybe its the retiree vibe

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  7. Glad you enjoyed your break. Much needed, I'm sure. Santa Barbara looks gorgeous.

    Can't think of any ying and yang holidays I've been on. Maybe I've got one coming up as I'm off to the UK tomorrow spending a week wiv me mum near London and a week with THE WHOLE FAMILY (yikes!) in Wales. Yes, that'll be pretty ying and yang!

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    1. Good times Sarah, good times, just as well there are blustery seaside walks in Wales and some royal spotting to take the fam's mind off all that quality time together!

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  8. Driving down the coast to Santa Barbara , reading the Pea Soup Anderson signs all the way. Loved your opening lines about trout faced old ladies. Know exactly what you mean, they look like stretched sinew.

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    1. I know! The pea soup signs are classic! One of the seventy year old ladies walked past us on a hike yesterday, she also had the enormous boobs straining at the chest skin - hard to look at!!!

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  9. YOU are a HOOT!FIve pounds in three weeks.......BRAVA!But as I said you do not need to lose an ounce!I have just done a post on MONTECITO!Just SOUTH of SB.........GO TO LOTUSLAND if you can!

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    1. No five pounds was how off the scales were that i loaned (they were five pounds too light). I've done it as a reactive foods test diet rather than weight loss - in fact in three weeks I've lost about eight pounds though actually as a weight loss thing this health diet is not very dramatic and its hard to stick too - not sure I would recommend it as a weight loss thing or not...

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  10. I have never been to Santa Barbara but have ridden the train through....
    I would love to go and think this family idea at the univ is awesome.
    Good luck with your eating regime....

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    1. I would love to do that train ride down the coast. The train goes right through Oakland past Yoshi's which is a sushi and jazz bar.

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  11. Sounds like a great vacay idea. Not sure I'm up for anything but a long lie down, but the 11 year old would love it!

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    1. You could do a lorralorra lying down on the beach. Every year i do fewer and fewer activities - this year i only did the three hour bike ride and the hike

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  12. It looks like a great place to spend some time, we need a holiday and some quality family time. I remember thinking the very same thing the last time you wrote about this place, we still haven't managed it - the cricket tour doesn't count!

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    1. Funnily enough, by the end of the week i've just realised I have no photos of the kids because I haven't been in their orbit. When I've come near they have a deer in the headlights expression like I'm going to say something weird and embarrassing

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  13. Looks like a wonderful place, but I'm not sure they would let a Bear come in. Strikes me as a bit pricy, but, hey, go for it if you can!

    Blessings and Bear hugs, Jody!

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  14. You are creating lots of wonderful family memories of happy times Jody, and looking great along the way too! My sis was sat next to me when I was reading your post and we oohed and aahed over the SB Mission..it's where she got married.

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  15. Your family anecdotes always make me laugh!! So great that you've found a place that the whole family are happy at though. We tried a Kids Club once (in Fiji), and our children lasted 2 hours in there. My oldest announced he wasn't going back to "child care" as he was too old. Then the others followed suit. So we had a 10 day holiday in Fiji with no Kids Club. I think we were the only family actually spending time as a family (and so we went home exhausted to prove it. The kids had a wonderful time). We are just getting the hang of family holidays, now that our youngest is 4. Thankfully we no longer have hours of naps in the middle of the day, special food needs etc etc… travel can be stressful!!! x

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  16. Ha! What is it with men and funny noises from the car that need investigating. My dad did this and now my hubby fusses too. His packing is a work of art so that nothing jiggles against anything else.
    Glad you had a super time.

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  17. I have a feeling I clicked away before my comment published so will comment again and you can get rid of this one if it's a duplicate.

    What is it with men and noises from the car? My dad used to fuss and my husband is worse, although his packing is now so good he ensures nothing jiggles against anything else.
    Your photos really are great Jody. They tell such a story. Glad you had a super holiday.

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  18. Just started a new job, so no vacay for me for a while...

    Thanks for sharing the pics.

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  19. This looks like a great place :) xx

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  20. Looks like a great place to be. Now what is that elegant bong I ask myself? Sounds a bit rude.

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  21. I know I say this every time you post about FVC--- but once again, I LOVE Santa Barbra. Seriously, I would love to be able to visit whenever. And I also am endlessly fascinated by this vacation experience…. it just seems like such an interesting concept. (Maybe it isn't… maybe it is me… maybe I am sheltered…. that's what happens in a family of hoteliers…. )

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  22. Those 'housewives' appear to be having a pretty fabulous time. I love Santa Barbara. When I lived in LA I got up there frequently. I'll be interested to hear what's 'reactive' for you in the end. Geez, let's hope it's not the Sauv Blanc!!
    xx

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  23. Sigh. I would love a holiday... but money went towards the house this year.
    I will look at your pics of the beach and wish I was there.
    Sx

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  24. Santa Barbara looks amazing. The more I read your blog, the more I realize I must visit California someday soon!

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    1. You would love it! In contrast to Germany though its very dry and it took some time for me to get used to coming from London and NZ.

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  25. I wouldn't mind a vacation that involved yoga next to kegs of beer!!

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