I landed in Santa Barbara, California just after midnight. This trip was my first flex trip of the new year, and I was excited to spend some much needed time next to the Pacific ocean basking underneath the California sun.
As I stepped off the small regional jet and onto the tarmac, what struck me most was the sweet smell of the Santa Barbara air, a welcome departure from the exhaust fumes and petroleum plants of the industrial portion of Baton Rouge I had been working in. It was dark so I couldn’t tell just what kind of blooms were responsible for the smell, but I certainly didn’t care. I was just enjoying being back in California for the first time in months.
This particular trip was a first for me. I had driven through Santa Barbara before on a trip that traversed the length of the Pacific Coast Highway, but due to limited time I spent less than an hour in town. I saw the wharf, the mission (from the outside) and not much else. But I do remember being particularly enamored by this seaside town.
So it made sense that when I had a chance to go back, I would jump at it. That opportunity came when I wanted to see my sister. Having visited with her in her home base in San Diego over a dozen times, I was ready to see something else in California, and she agreed to drive up the coast to meet me in Santa Barbara.
Together, we were set to explore the town, the surrounding Santa Ynez valley (famous for its wine and as the location of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch), and take in the food and culture of Santa Barbara.
I had originally intended on spending this weekend in San Diego. But one of the benefits of having this blog has been using it as an excuse to force myself out of my comfort zone and visit new places. In order to keep the site relevant and interesting, I have to visit new places.
I have been going to San Diego for years. I like San Diego. I know San Diego. After Denver, San Diego is the city that I am most comfortable in. I have my favorite restaurants, the coffee shops I go to when I need to get some work done, a free pace to stay, and I always know that whenever I visit, the weather will be beautiful.
But I’ve seen San Diego. Visiting San Diego is no longer traveling for me, and to be honest, the excitement of visiting it has mostly faded. I still enjoy being there, but there is nothing challenging or exciting about it anymore, and it has felt that way for the past few visits. San Diego is just easy for me, and it’s convenient to make excuses as to why I should go there instead of visiting a new destination.
This travel blog has provided me with a renewed fire to visit new places. I realize I can’t write about Denver, San Diego, Atlanta, and New Orleans (the four cities I know better than any others) forever and keep this site interesting. And thus, I must travel onwards – onwards to new places, new sites, new smells, new foods, and new experiences.
And as I stepped off the plane ready to begin a long weekend in Santa Barbara, my decision was reenforced. For the first time in a couple years, I felt true and udder excitement upon landing in California. When the sweet smell in the Santa Barbara air hit my nose, it was new. It was different. It was exciting. And if that’s what the smell in the air did for me as I stepped of a plane after midnight, I could only imagine what the rest of the weekend would have in store for me.