Today was yet another incredible day on our two week California adventure. We woke up bright and early to a wonderful hot camp breakfast of bagels, hash browns, fruit, sausage, etc. After a thorough cabin clean up we were reunited with Carlos once again and headed to our next stop. Camp Ocean Pines seemed to be scheduled at the perfect time. After a week of non-stop cities, exploring California landscape and taking the time to reconnect with nature was exactly the kind of reset that we needed. I know for a fact that all of us are incredibly grateful for everything that camp provided for us.
Once all of us were on the bus we stopped in Pismo Beach, California, at the monarch butterfly grove. Thousands of monarch butterflies swarmed above our heads, flying from tree to tree. I was shocked to see so many of them in the same place, and it truly was an incredible site. We were then taken to Santa Barbara, California, where we were given the opportunity to walk around town and explore shops, restaurants, and find a place to eat lunch. My friends and I decided to try a local acai bowl place (our third acai bowl of the trip)! However, this was by far our favorite one due to the fact that each bowl came with unlimited toppings. Santa Barbara was packed with incredible shops such as Namaste. Namaste was a shop filled with homemade jewelry, shirts, scarves, and dresses! It was wonderful to talk to the shop owner herself and understand why certain materials cost what they do, and how much hard work goes into creating such beautiful pieces. After our solo adventures, the group was reunited and we were introduced to John, our walking tour guide who kindly showed us around Santa Barbara, and told us fascinating stories about the city. My personal favorite story was about the magnificent fig tree in the middle of Santa Barbara. In the 1960s, young people now referred to as hippies, began to revolutionize the counterculture era. One common trait among these hippies was the fact that they tended to travel in groups. As the fig tree became bigger and bigger, it became such a hub for all of the young activists and hippies of Santa Barbara that they put a mailbox next to the tree! Now this fig tree is an irreplaceable landmark among locals of Santa Barbara.
After about a two-hour walking tour of the city we parted ways with John and were given about an hour to explore the town some more on our own. We stumbled upon a really cool record/thrift store filled with all sorts of knick knacks where I found a vintage sweatshirt for $15! Once again we were greeted by Carlos and our bus, (by now our second home on wheels), and headed to a group dinner at a restaurant called Teddy’s by the Sea. There I ordered a kale and quinoa salad with some of the best complimentary bread I have ever eaten! After a long and fun day we checked into our hotel already ready for the adventures of the next day. This trip has already been one of the best experiences of my life and I cannot wait for what’s to come next!