Friday, December 10, 2010

Giving Thanks on [and for] America's Riviera

I had the pleasure of spending an extended Thanksgiving holiday this year with family (you're the host with the most, Dames) and a friend (you're a trooper for driving up and hanging out, Kurt) in Santa Barbara - the coastal California town that bills itself as The American Riviera.

Having been to both the French and Italian versions, I was skeptical about the comparison. Though I'd been to S.B. once before on a quick day trip up from L.A., I couldn't recall being struck by anything resembling a riviera vibe. But then, there's not much that I can recall from that early visit; I think it comprised a quick lunch downtown, and that's it. Maybe it was on a drive up to San Fran along Hwy 1? I can't be sure (early onset Alzheimer's, what can I say).

Anyway ... in addition to spending a little cherished quality time with family, I had a lot of free time to amble about town. And amble I did. Left to my own devices in a new place, I can while away the hours in no time, accomplishing a lot or a little. It's all the same to me (fun). This trip was pretty low-key in terms of accomplishments. But the one thing I did go buck wild with and really tackle in satisfying fashion was the Spanish tile situation. Santa Barbara is crawling with the critters. My favorite application was adorning the city's many steps and staircases. With eyes were on permanent peel, I was amply rewarded for the effort. Check it out.

Gorgeous, right?

I only wish I'd been maybe a hair more productive on the photographic front and taken a few shots of the drop-dead lush 'n lovely hills - the drive we took up there through Montecito and beyond was fairytale-caliber beautiful - or at least one of the amazing technicolor sunsets (with a full moon, to boot). Oh well. Next time. There was plenty I didn't get around to. So I shall return soon (prepare your bowling arm, Damon) and hopefully it'll be a tad warmer; particularly after dark so I won't have to brave the elements to break out the camera - the 33F nights were a bit crispy for my comfort, though inside by the fire was quite cozy.

Despite the chilly and very un-Riviera-like nights, what a fitting trip to kick off my 2011 travel plans - fresh off my visit to America's Riviera (which is exactly what it looks and feels like), I've got my sights set on a spring stint in the Italian Riviera and a fall fling on the French. Even though I've been to both regions in years past, those trips weren't well captured because, at the time, I had only a crappy little point-and-shoot. So I've got high hopes for the photos this time around.

Oh là là! It's going to be magnifique.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for more pretty pictures from Santa Barbara in my Flickr stream, on Etsy, and via iStock and elsewhere. The post-processing fun has only just begun (but first I have to clear out a backlog of far more pressing photographic work, so please be patient).


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