Wet & Wild in Santa Barbara

Into The Storm Part 4

Before we set out on our stormy trip, I was working on a post about our first anniversary in Santa Barbara. I realized that not only did I not have enough photos of Casa del Mar Inn, but I was really missing Santa Barbara. So I sweet-talked Andy into tacking on a few days at Casa del Mar on our way back down south. OK, not much arm-twisting was necessary!

We call a few days ahead to check availability. We’re arriving on the MLK three-day holiday weekend. We most likely would not get a room with this short of notice under normal circumstances, but thanks to the stormy weather they have plenty of space for us.

They also give us updates on road conditions and let us know that if we arrive late (past “wine and cheese hour”), they would whip something up for us and bring it to our room. Fabulous! Another reason why this has been my favorite hotel for 30 years.

We pull out of Martinez early in the wet and cold. Although our drive is long, it turns out to be quite smooth. Only a few quick downpours the entire way.

Casa to Casa “Groundhog Day”

We have one important stop to make on the way: Casa Vicki in San Jose! We mentioned CV in our Relocation Road Show, but as we headed south from Martinez ready for lunch, we were sad to find out they had shut down.

But happy news! After a six-month shutdown in 2020, they reopened as Tequila’s Time! Same location and many of the old favorites are on the menu, along with new items. Naturally, we are excited to check it out!

The road ahead is long, so we need burrito sustenance! My veggie burrito is just as I remember, and so are the chips and salsa.

Now on his third visit, Andy is officially a Casa Vicki pro! Still, his Super Mojado burrito smothered in tomato sauce and stuffed with rice, beans, cheese, guac, sour cream, and carne asada has him crying uncle!

We add some Mexican Mochas for the road. Our server lets us in on a secret, they use Abuelita’s chocolate. I have always been an Ibarra fan, but these mochas are extra-good! And I do have a stash of Abuelita’s in the pantry for “emergencies.”

Fueled up on coffee and burritos, it is pretty much smooth sailing down 101. We can see that quite a few trees crashed down in the previous storms, but they are all cleared off the road.

We arrive just after sunset and are welcomed into cozy Casa del Mar Inn. We get room 28 for this visit, one of the smaller rooms on the property. The bathroom is tiny (oh no, burritos!), but the rest of the room with queen bed is spacious, plenty for us and Farnsworth to relax. There’s a mini-fridge, microwave and a walk in closet. Bonus: it has been recently redecorated. Room 28 is at street level, so if noise bothers you, ask for a courtyard room. But tonight, the only noise we hear is the rain.

As soon as we are settled and Farnsworth is comfortable, we saunter to the lounge for wine and cheese. We are the first to arrive so we grab the comfy club chairs in front of the fireplace and settle in to relax. Soon other guests arrive and we all enjoy lively conversation.

Farnsworth On The Nightwatch

The night sky clears, so a good, long walk is in order. Farnsworth has been such a good sport on the drive, we thought it would be a treat to get in a walk along the beach and Stearns Wharf. Stretching his legs and sniffing the air, he can hear the ocean, he can smell the ocean. But where is it?! The crashing waves, sea air, and sparkling lights make for a nice romantic stroll for Andy and I as well.

First Breakfast-Rise and Shine?

After a good night’s sleep and a quick walk for the dog, our plan is breakfast and shopping. CDMI offers a varity of complementary breakfast treats, coffee, and juice in the lounge.

We make ambitious plans for the day. And we meet a family in town to attend what is supposed to be an outdoor wedding. I hope they have a plan B!

As we have mentioned before, CDMI is known for being pet-friendly. The pet deposit is $20 per night, per dog. Of course, it’s best not to leave your pet alone in the room. But if you have a well-behaved dog (like Farnsworth), you can leave them for a short time. Just leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. That way, the cleaning people won’t surprise your puppy.

Time for some shopping on State Street! Since 2020, 10 blocks of State Street have been closed to car traffic between Sola and Gutierrez streets to create a Promenade. I’ve been excited to check it out. Even in the rain, it gets a thumbs up from me.

Speaking of pouring rain…. Normally on a three day weekend, the Promenade would be crowded. But where is everyone? It is a ghost town!

Second Breakfast

We are barely out of the car, and the deluge drenches us. Joe’s Café looks warm, dry, and inviting. We open the door, and surprise! Here’s where everyone is! It’s lively and filled with both locals and tourists looking to get warm and dry.

Joe’s Cafe was established in 1929 by Italian immagrent Joe Ferrario. It’s the oldest restaurant in Santa Barbara. It has a fun 1920’s vintage vibe, full bar, friendly staff, and full menu with something to please everyone.

I am settling in with a cappuccino and a cozy salmon and poached egg plate, complete with whole wheat toast and cottage fries. Andy does a Spanish coffee and eggs Benedict. We’re in no rush; the rain will still be there.

Out in the elements again, we are ready to shop! We are getting in quite a bit of “retail therapy,” including some new threads for me, before we give-in to the wet. We lived in Portland and don’t easily melt, but I can honestly say that this is the most soaked I have ever been! We make a quick stop at a sock shop to load up on some cozy footies before we head back to the room. After two weeks on the road, my last pair of clean socks are now sopping wet.

Sock Exchange

After changing into dry footwear, we load up the dog and head back out. Rainy weather requires good chocolate, and Santa Barbara has the best little jewelbox chocolate shop: The Chocolate Maya! We stumbled on this sweet shop on our anniversary trip a few years ago.

Stepping out of the cold and rain into a room filled with chocolate warms our hearts! Since we have shared this secret spot in the past, we’ll just tease you with some photos and list off some of the unique flavors they offer:

  • Italian Mascarpone
  • Local Pinot Noir
  • Lavender Eucalyptus
  • Turkish Coffee
  • Chipotle

The list goes on! So much for New Years diet resolutions! We customize a nice, big box to go, and select a treat for LuLu.

We take some time to tour along Cliff Drive to get views of the stormy ocean and get Farnsworth out for a muddy run. We’re getting back to our hotel in time for wine and cheese.

Second Chances For Blue Water Grill

There are many great restaurants in walking distance from our hotel. This time we are walking just a few short blocks in the cold evening air to Bluewater Grill. We tried their Catalina Island location (on our Fifth Anniversary), but could not get a good feel for it. Sitting outside, boat exhaust from Catalina Harbor negatively impacted our taste buds.

Tonight it is warm and cozy inside Bluewater, and we are seated right away. We attempt to balance healthy with comfort food for the last big night of our vacation. But… well, you know.

We start with a gooey, spicy baked crab-and-artichoke dip, topped with Romano cheese and served with tortilla chips. It really warms us up. Maryland crab cakes, a comforting bowl of risotto, clam chowder, and a seafood Louis salad with San Francisco Louis dressing round out our feast. We are giving Bluewater Grill Santa Barbara a thumbs up.

In the morning after breakfast, we take Farnsworth on a nice long beach walk. We load up on lattes before our long ride back home. Back to reality, with more storms, both the weather kind and storms of life gearing up to bite us in the bum.