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Santa Barbara (Day 18): At the Granada

24 June 2014 Leave a comment

I woke up somewhat earlier this day. After a quick shower, I made a brief circuit of the neighbourhood, picking up brunch from a taqueria nearby. (The chicken taco was amazing.) I brought my lunch back to the little deck on top of the hostel, and spent the morning writing postcards. I’d picked up a bunch of them over my first few stops, and I had a long list of intended recipients which I unfortunately never finished writing.

It took quite a while to finish the few that I wrote, and by the time I was done it was mid-afternoon. Like the day before, I was aiming for one of the breweries between the hostel and main street. Today’s was Telegraph Brewing Co.

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The beer was very good, but some sort of event was going on, and the place was rather more crowded than Figueroa Mountain, so I didn’t stay very long. It was nevertheless about evening-time when I left, and the walk through town was, again, very pretty.

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I stopped to pick up stamps and drop off postcards somewhere, before Norton’s Pastrami again for dinner.

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After dinner, it was the concert proper at the Granada Theater.

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Watching Jeff Tweedy play, I was marvelling throughout at the skill of the master. On the guitar, every attack and resonance seemed to say something, and I was amazed at the player’s/instrument’s range. This mastery in expression was more than matched in the vocal performance as well.

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Overall, it was quite the dream for this Wilco fan.

I stood outside the tour bus for some time after the concert, with a few other fans. Jeff Tweedy remained elusive, however.

After the wait was the walk back through town, which was quiet at this hour.

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Santa Barbara (Day 17): Beach Town

21 June 2014 1 comment

I slept in the next day, but when I woke up, it was gloriously bright and sunny outside again. Santa Barbara is a beach town (in fact one of my room-mates in the hostel had been there fore a couple of months for the surfing), and so with a few hours to go before the concert, I decided to drift in the general direction of town via the beach.

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I remember feeling a shade of schadenfreude while at the beach and imagining winter in Minnesota.

My midpoint along the drift to town was Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. While I’ve sampled a good number of craft beers just via local merchants and a few more-specialist bottle-shops, I’ve not been to that many brewery taprooms (at the moment, I only recall visiting Jackalope Brewing in Nashville, and perhaps the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, though that isn’t exactly a brew-pub set-up); the main reason is that several of them are harder to get to without a car, and most of my travels took me through cities, where I mostly depended on the local forms of metro-transit, and where I would generally try not to drift too far away from the inter-city bus- and rail-networks. Santa Barbara, however, is both very compact, quite laid-back, and quite affluent (it is, I was told, a retirement destination); one expression of these facts is the prevalence of vintage cars around town.

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This also meant that there were a few breweries set up within an accessible radius, and I could get to them on foot, which brings us back to Figueroa Mountain.

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I had fun looking around place, the beer was good, and I had an interesting chat with one of the brewers. This was towards the tail-end of the work-day, which meant that I was due soon in town to catch dinner before the show. From the taproom, it was a short-enough walk to Santa Barbara’s main street. I stopped for some very good pastrami-on-rye at a place off main street, near the theatre. At the theatre, however, I was in for a bit of a surprise, because I’d gotten the date wrong – the concert was happening the following day. I was certainly glad that I hadn’t been in a worse mix-up, but insofar as I’d been keenly anticipating the performance, the dissipation of tension left me momentarily directionless. I set off again down main street in the reverse direction.

I didn’t have to walk long before an alternative occupation for the evening presented itself, in the form of not one but two small-ish movie theatres along the street, which I’d failed to notice on the way up in my single-minded focus on pastrami and the concert. I walked into one and bought a ticket for the second Thor movie (‘The Dark World’). On a moment’s reflection, however, I decided to turn into the theatre screening Out of the Furnace instead. (This one would start some fifteen minutes later. Both theatres were quite empty, however, and so we mostly just sat wherever we wanted.)

Whereas the Thor movie (which I’ve actually just seen on cable TV yesterday) is never really serious, though always very Serious, Out of the Furnace is pretty much only really serious. Among other things, it was a stark contrast to my days of leisure and worry-free holidaying. Coming as it did in this rather late point of my travels, though, I think it was a much better movie to watch than Thor’s would have been – and I’m not out to dismiss Thor either, insofar as he is probably my favorite Marvel movie-hero At the time I think I had dim appreciation of the contrast between the life-situation portrayed and the leisurely holiday and easy retirements I’d been walking around, and looking back, it seems to be the main thing I took away. After the movie, I spent the walk back just thinking about things other than food.

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Santa Barbara (Day 16): Sunset on the Coast

21 June 2014 Leave a comment

It is a good half-a-year on from the time I started this mostly day-by-day account. I remember a good deal nevertheless, and I will attempt not to surrender it.

The train ride on the Coast Starlight was long and frustratingly slow at many points (my first experience with AMTRAK), but the main compensation for this was in the spectacular view over some of the segments of the track nearing Santa Barbara. Because of the delays, we arrived around sunset.

Another memory of interest from the train-ride was the conversation with my travelling companion, a student at UC Santa Barbara. He mentioned that he was into electro and DJ stuff, and I got to share A-Trak’s remix of this Phoenix song, which I’d been listening to a lot through Fall Term. I heard about one of his school T-shirts reading UCSB for ‘U Can Study Buzzed’.

After the train pulled in to Santa Barbara, I made my way to the hostel. It was near or past midnight by this time. I hadn’t had very much food on the train (if you’re going to take the AMTRAK, bring your lunch, I say), so I made my way out hoping to find something open. It turns out there were a number of places open within a few streets, which was fortunate because I’d changed out of my travelling clothes into shorts and a light T-shirt in the hostel, because of how relatively warm Santa Barbara had felt. It was, however, still winter, and I was soon feeling cold. I found a shop to warm up in soon enough, though, and according to my expense records, I ended up with a chorizo bagel sandwich.

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