We arrived at LAX 6am on a Saturday in April, picked up a car and headed toward Santa Monica Pier with plans to look around a little and then have breakfast at Jinky's Cafe. Not acclimated to big city driving yet, we missed the turn and found ourselves northbound on the Pacific Coast Highway and the big ferris wheel in the rear view mirror. Oh well, that's OK, it's too early and nothing's open yet anyway, so instead of turning around, we continued on.
A little short of our next destination, we got tired and hungry and stopped at The Worker Bee Cafe. Red, white and blue. Yum. (review: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32176-d832290-r573324247-Worker_Bee_Cafe-Carpinteria_California.html)
On to Santa Barbara for a self-guided tour of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. What a beautiful building, and a 360 degree view from the tower. Next stop Santa Barbara Mission, before a quick drive through the downtown area. Most people would probably enjoy the shops and restaurants at Stearn's Pier, but we opted for a short walk along the harbor instead.
Mid-afternoon, back down the highway to Ventura for an early check-in at the Best Western, and a much-needed nap before dinner and a nice walk over the foot bridge to the pier to watch the sunset. (Barrelhouse 101 review:https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60769-d3190783-r577516300-Barrelhouse_101-Ventura_California.html, BW review:https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60769-d77901-r577518995-Best_Western_Plus_Inn_Of_Ventura-Ventura_California.html)
Sunday morning we got to the Oxnard pier plenty early, with more than enough time to stroll through the farmer's market tents. It's too bad we just had breakfast because the strawberries looked so pretty, and the bakery booths are always my favorite.
The Island Packers ferry out to Anacapa was a nice ride, just bumpy enough that once I took my place on the top deck, I stayed there for the duration. It's a fairly small boat, so there wasn't that much room for walking around anyway.
They said because of ocean conditions, the boat back would have to return one hour earlier. I was afraid that wouldn't give us enough time to walk all the trails - there's only two miles total, but we're really slow. As it turned out, it was just enough time. We went to the lighthouse first, and then made the loop around the island. From Pinniped Point, we could look down and see sea lions relaxing on the big rocks below. It was a bit hazy, but even so, the view from Inspiration Point was quite beautiful. All across the island, there were many little bunches of strange tree sunflowers with bright yellow blossoms, and thousands, literally thousands of seabirds. I really liked seeing all the Western gulls, although I didn't appreciate them laughing at me the whole time. Noisy bunch, they are. Later, I read an alert on the National Park site that it was nesting season and if you would be disturbed by the noise and commotion, you might want to plan your trip for a different time or different island.
There were plenty of picnic spots available near the Visitor Center and around the island, and it looked like most people packed a lunch, but since we ate a big breakfast, we used the time to walk every bit of trail and still got back to the boat dock with about 15 minutes or so to spare.
Back on board, the captain took us on a nice slow little cruise for photo opps of Arch Rock before heading back to the mainland. The boat ride back must have been much rougher than the way over. We were happy we took Dramamine. We stayed on the lower deck this time. I didn't get sick, but I could barely stay awake, like a baby being rocked to sleep.
Another afternoon nap before dinner at Wood Ranch BBQ where our very friendly waiter served up ribs and chicken combo and a very rich flourless chocolate cake.
Early evening, we got an email from Island Packers that the next day's trip to Santa Cruz Island might be canceled due to high winds, and a little later, confirmation that it was canceled. We regretfully accepted the refund since we weren't going to be in town long enough to reschedule. We didn't have anything else we really wanted to see in this area, so with thanks to BW for letting us check out a day early without penalty, the next morning we continued on to the California desert. (Trip Report Part 2: California Desert)