It's been about 4 years since we went to JALAMA BEACH so what better time than in the middle of winter. So, we left early on a Sunday morning in the rain. Six hours later were we at Jalama Beach under clear skis. The wind was howling around 30 MPH and it was cold. The nice thing about this is that it keeps the rift raft out, so the place wasn't crowded. Jalama Beach is about 30 miles or so north of Santa Barbara on a stretch of beach that looks just about the same as it has for hundreds of years. The only development one can see in either direction is the campground itself and the train tracks that run along the top of the bluff. To reach the campground you must traverse a 14 mile stretch of county road off of Hwy 1. The road is narrow and bumpy, but the reward at the end makes it worth it. Another plus for choosing Jalama Beach is the fact that there is no TV or cell phone reception and no Internet.
Jalama Beach is known for it's windy conditions and as a result is a destination for sail boarding and wind surfing. When the wind isn't blowing, the surfers show up. The beach is great for beach combing. Heading south, one can walk all the way to Point Conception about 7 miles away. Plan your hike around a low tide as the beach will disappear in places during the high tide. If there is a downside, then I guess it would be the tar that washes ashore from underwater seeps, so watch where you step. If you do get some tar on your feet or shoes, it comes right off with a liberal application of olive oil or peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter!
Also located at the campground is the Jalama Beach Store, which surprisingly carries quite a variety of items. I broke my glasses the first day there and lo and behold, the store manager managed to dig me up a pair of reading glasses. Scratched, so they were free of charge. I did buy some new ones in Lompoc and returned the borrowed ones for the next poor sole who might need them.
The real reason one visits Jalama Beach and it's store is the Jalama Beach Grill located inside. The Grill is know for its World's Famous Jalama Burger. People come from all over just to indulge in this culinary delight.
Of course we had to partake and because we did, the mountain now comes into play. If you've ever been to Santa Barbara you most likely noticed the mountains behind the city and continuing north to the east of Hwy 101. It is here where Ronald Regan had his ranch, Rancho del Cielo high in the Santa Ynes Mountains. We picked an easy 6 mile round trip peak to climb, Gaviota Peak. It's easy if you consider that the trail follows an old road all the way to the top. I suppose you could say it's not all that easy if you also consider that it's a 2,000 foot elevation gain. But hey, we did opt for the Jalama Burgers, so now we must pay the price. A little hazy once we reach the summit, but the views were still pretty darn good.
THE HAPPY HIKERS
On the way back down the mountain we stopped at Gaviota Hot Springs for a look. Not much to see, just some warm water in a shallow pool.
I THINK THERE'S A BODY FLOATING IN THERE!
We figured that since we were on the Central Coast we shouldn't waste the opportunity to do a little wine tasting. Nearby in Lompoc there is a group of wineries that offer wine tasting in The Wine Ghetto or you can go to Los Olivos where there are a whole bunch of tasting rooms in one tourist trap. Wine tasting today is not like it used to be. In the good ol' days, you went to a winery, tasted a few wines and perhaps bought a bottle or two. In the days of "not too long ago" some wineries charged you a nominal fee, perhaps $5, but you usually got to keep the glass. Well today it's a whole lot different. You go to the tasting room and for $10 to $12 EACH you get to taste a "flight" of 4 to 6 wines offered by the winery. So now you've spent $24 and you go to the next tasting room and do it all over again. So how many tasting rooms can you visit? One, two and perhaps as many as 5. We used to visit about 5 or 6 wineries tasting a wine or two in each. Today that would cost you $100 up. That doesn't include the cost of buying an expensive California wine. If you actually swallow the wines you're tasting, after two tasting rooms you better not drive. So we didn't do much wine tasting and until I get to France again where you can still taste for free, buy a good French wine for a reasonable price, I'll be sticking with my Two Buck Chuck.
A FEW MORE PHOTOS