Desert Botanical Garden: March 2016 Saturday, Mar 26 2016 

Blue Columnar Cactus

Blue Columnar Cactus

As we approached the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden, Chihuly’s magnificent glass sculpture, “Desert Towers,” gleamed in the sun. Shortly after entering a roadrunner crossed our path. Our visit rewarded us with many cacti in bloom. We especially liked the unique flowers on a blue columnar cactus, although we needed to look for a similar plant with an identification sign. Who knew there are so many varieties of pricklypear? Black-spined, Texas, beavertail, and purple were flowering. We noted a Boyce-Thomson hedgehog in bloom as well as scarlet hedgehogs. We found both red and blue yucca. There was a nice stand of blue elf aloe. A fishhook barrel cactus also showed its colors. The palo verde decorated the cacti on the ground with fallen blossoms. A multi-armed saguaro reached for the sky. We were joined by several artists at work capturing their impressions of this special place.

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Phoenix Zoo: March 2016 Saturday, Mar 19 2016 

Emu

Emu

Yesterday afternoon we visited the Phoenix Zoo. Although we passed signs warning that the parking lot was full, we found adequate open spots from those who left after a morning visit. Nevertheless, the zoo was filled with people taking advantage of the spring break warm weather. The emu were close enough to ouch which was why there was a sign warning that they bite. Nearby a parrot mimicked those saying “Hello” and “Good bye.” The siamang apes made sounds reminding us of howlers. An anteater paced at the opposite end of its exhibit from where we usually see it. The orangutans were active. We watched Bess move from next to a window to a higher perch where she covered herself with a blanket. Little Jiwa displayed his pole climbing and rope swinging ability. In addition to seeing animals, several flowers were in bloom including roses and a hibiscus.

Santa Barbara: Parting Thoughts Sunday, Mar 13 2016 

Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara, originally the tenth California mission, continues as a living Franciscan Mission. Padre Junipero Serra founded the first nine missions. After his death in 1784, his successor Padre Fermin Francisco de Lausen raised the cross at the future site of this Mission on December 4, 1786, the day of the Feast of Saint Barbara. The original purpose of the Mission was the Christianization of the Chumash. During the time this area was part of Mexico, 1834-1839, the Mission was secularized which led to the deterioration of the buildings and culture. When California became part of the United States, Abraham Lincoln returned the Mission to the Catholic Church in 1865. The present church, the fourth, was completed and dedicated in 1820 after the third one was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake. The devastating 1925 earthquake required restoration, too. The museum rooms were originally used as living quarters for missionaries and their guests. The artifacts from the early mission period paint a colorful picture of life in Mission Santa Barbara. I was surprised to see a chess set that belonged to Father Rubio who lived at the Mission from 1842 until his death in 1875. Across the street we observed the ruins of the Mission’s early aqueduct system. The mosaic art work of the Way of the Cross was designed and erected by the Rev. Nevin Ford from 1960-1963. Mission Santa Barbara stands as living testimony of the Franciscan contribution to the history of California.

Blue Whale Skeleton

Blue Whale Skeleton

“Chad,” a blue whale skeleton, greeted us as we approached the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Blue whales are the largest animals ever known. Chad’s skeleton is a compilation from two blue whales and measures 74 feet in length and weighs 7,600 pounds. Inside this museum we visited the Chumash Life Hall where we learned more about the area’s native people. Their extraordinary baskets feature complicated designs using more than 220 stitches per square inch. Their elaborate rock art pictures brightly colored paintings of humans, animals, and abstract circles. Chumash plank canoes, known as tomol, ranged in size from 8 to 30 feet. A display case in the Cartwright Hall of Plants and Insects holds more than 4,000 insects representing 500 different species. The Maximus Art Gallery displayed songbird prints from Audubon’s The Birds of North America. The prints on display come from the Bien edition, a reissue of Audubon’s life-size depictions of birds in natural habitats, approved by his sons seven years after his death. An amazing collection of 500 bird specimens can be found in the Dennis M. Power Bird Hall. I was charmed by the library reading room and its impressive research collection. After lunch, we returned to Stearns Wharf for a walkabout. We discovered that separate ticket is required for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. We saved this museum for a future visit.

We decided to spend the final night on this outing in Needles, California. We stayed adjacent to the Colorado River at the Pirate Cove Resort in the Moabi Regional Park. During the night, heavy winds shook the motor home and loosened the hood of the smart car. In the morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise over the Colorado. Our return to Prescott was without incident although at times it felt like we were part of a truck caravan on Highway 40.

Exploring Santa Barbara Thursday, Mar 10 2016 

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, highlighting native California flora, offers several short trails. The Pritchett Trail wanders through chaparral and oak woodland with an ocean view. The Easton-Aqueduct Trail continues through native chaparral and oak along a portion of the aqueduct system built in 1806-1807 to supply water to the Santa Barbara Mission. The Porter Trail has Channel Island and mountain views. We especially enjoyed the Redwood Section with its coastal redwoods planted in 1930. California poppies were in bloom. We also liked the blue color of the Joyce Coulter ceanothus.

The next morning we hiked from our campsite on the Bill Wallace Trail. We chose to climb the steep hill using the “easy” path. When we reached an elevation just over 1,300 feet above sea level we found some California poppies in bloom along both sides of the trail with ocean and mountain views. I returned on the narrow, rocky “hard” loop.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a National Historic Landmark built after the area’s devastating 1925 earthquake. A 2011 replica statue, “Spirit of the Ocean,” by Ettora Cadoria greets visitors using the west entrance. On the fourth floor the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery, built from 2010-2012, celebrates the unique Seth Thomas tower clock. We listened to a docent explain the workings of the clock and highlight the people and events featured in the colorful mural on three sides of the room. We walked up the stairs to the top floor with its panoramic views labeled Mesa View, Mission View, Ocean View, and Riviera View. On our way down we stopped to see the history mural in the Board of Supervisors meeting room. Interestingly, a wedding was about to take place.

The Santa Barbara Public Library is across the street from the County Courthouse. A wood carving by Chaleston W. Winslow titled “Tympanum” sits atop an emergency exit. An afternoon showing of the classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird” was in progress when I made a restroom stop.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

A little farther down the street we stopped in at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. “Interventions” showcased sculptures and installation by Cayetano Ferrer. The colorful carpet consists of remnants from casinos. “Looking Out, Looking In” displays the work of Latin American photographers. The third gallery open to us included “Highlights from the Permanent Collection.”

 

El Presidio de Santa Barbara

El Presidio

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park preserves and interprets the last Spanish fortress built in Alta California. The 5.74-acre park spans four city blocks, encompassing the remainder of the original 1782 Presidio. After Mexico achieved independence in 1821, the Presidio fell into disrepair. In 1846 Colonel John C. Fremont’s troops claimed the city for the United States. Consequently, the streets were surveyed in the 1850s and laid directly through the Presidio site in the 1870s.[/caption]

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum has some interesting exhibits. I was surprised to learn that before Hollywood more than 900 films were made in Santa Barbara, primarily by Flying A Studio. Aviation pioneers, the Loughead Brothers, developed sea planes. Later they changed their company name to Lockheed. The elaborate Tong Shine shows the influence of the Chinese in this community. Santa Barbara is a very interesting city.

Santa Barbara Zoo Wednesday, Mar 9 2016 

Amur Leopard

Amur Leopard

A sulphur-crested cockatoo greeted us when we entered the Santa Barbara Zoo. The amur leopard crouched on a log facing us. A Chinese alligator posed amidst tall grass. The Humboldt penguins stood next to their water tank. We especially enjoyed watching the Asian elephants, Little Mac and Sujatha, explore their exhibit. This zoo is rightly proud of their multiple California condors. One spread his wings for us. Goma, a Western lowland gorilla weighing 404 pounds gazed at us. A mother Masai giraffe and her offspring gracefully walked about with the Pacific Ocean in the background. One of the fennec foxes stayed in a corner next to our viewing window. We listened and asked questions of a very knowledgeable lion keeper. A dark and light white-handed gibbon looked at us from a bridge in their exhibit. We visited the reptile area and aviary before departing. A hamerkap was hard at work building a huge nest. The snow leopards weren’t out when we arrived. Both were napping around noon when we departed. The Santa Barbara Zoo is compact on about 30 acres, but displays about 160 species.

Santa Barbara: An Introduction Tuesday, Mar 8 2016 

Fox

Fox

On our way to Santa Barbara we spent Saturday night in Palm Desert. Although we faced less traffic on Sunday, we were slowed down because of heavy winds and rain. When we arrived on the California coast, however, the sun greeted us. We discovered that our site in the Ocean Mesa Campground is near where the Juan Bautista expedition camped on February 26, 1776. This spot is now part of El Capitan State Beach. On our initial walk to the state beach we encountered a small fox crossing the road. It immediately retreated to a grassy opening in front of some woods and kept its eyes on us while posing for a picture. The trail along the coast passed a pond where a frog chorus serenaded us. It was interesting to observe the surfers take advantage of the best cobblestone point breaks in California that produces hollow waves according to a sign in the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Monday morning we finally connected with Winegard customer service who helped us successfully connect our dish receiver. We then visited the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum to avoid the intermittent rain. It was interesting to learn about the Chumash people who were referred to as “bead makers” or “seashell people.” The story of the Rainbow Bridge explained how the Chumash people traveled from the Channel Islands to the mainland. Some people who became dizzy when looking down and fell into the water became dolphins. Another display outlined the devastating January 28, 1969 oil spill. For lunch we celebrated our seventh anniversary at the Harbor Restaurant. This classy restaurant sits on a wooden wharf that we could drive on and park for free for ninety minutes.

Monday afternoon we found a couple of places with short trails. Near the Bacara Resort known as “He’lapunitse” which means “place of the shovelnose guitarfish” we stopped at “Beach House” at Haskell’s Beach. While viewing the ocean next to a warning fence, part of the cliff, including one of the fence posts, dropped ten feet with a thud. Scary! A sign on the trail memorialized a Japanese I-17 submarine shelling at 7 p.m. on February 23, 1942 of what was then a Richfield Oil Field with 25 5-inch rounds. We took another walk at Ellwood Mesa to the Goleta Butterfly Grove. We missed the monarch butterflies who visit between November through February. We turned around at the Western Snowy Plover Habitat Area. The only downside of our exploration was muddy shoes.

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