Los Angeles is bizarre. No one has a job and everyone drives a Mercedes. I mean, everyone — even the old guys who sit on my street corner in velour tracksuits and try to sell old vacuum cleaners and plastic Jesus clocks every Saturday. They drive S-class sedans. No Joke.
This is why it’s essential to escape the city to get a grasp on sanity — and gain some perspective. Today I’m seeking sanctuary in Santa Barbara, and I may continue to San Francisco tomorrow if I feel so inclined.
Obviously, the dogs are coming with me. First of all, their dog sitter costs more than a stay at the Four Seasons. And second, I like them and I’d rather not leave them at home. I book a room at the Santa Barbara Motel 6* by the beach because all Motel 6 locations are dog friendly, and I’m on a budget. (Incidentally, many Four Seasons** locations are also dog friendly, but I only stay there on business, and this trip is anything but.)
In an attempt to save additional money, I make all of my espresso for the journey before leaving and pack it in a cooler with some milk and a bottle of Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Between the kongs, the squeaking squirrels, and the bag of fancy fish and sweet potato dog food, I think the dogs are taking up more real estate in the trunk than I.
I download the audiobook of George Orwell’s 1984 onto my iPod, and we hit the road. Before we reach Calabasas, the dogs are lulled to sleep by talk of the Miniluv and the Minitrue.
When we arrive in Santa Barbara, we visit the duck preserve for a long post-car walk. It’s a beautiful day, and I’m pleasantly surprised my monsters don’t menace the inhabitants… much.
We meet the receptionist’s Beagle upon checking in and head to our room. This is Albus’ first road trip, and he puts himself to sleep in his travel crate as soon as I have assembled it.
Later, I walk up Milpas Avenue and pick up a few tacos to go, the dogs in tow. I lived in Santa Barbara one summer in college and every bit of the city is coming back to me as if I had never left. I see the familiar Winchell’s Donuts and dentists offices. I find myself telling the Roos, “Mommy used to live here,” as if they know what that means… or even care. I’m embarrassed to admit I talk to them like they’re people. It probably means I need more friends. Or I’m just a weirdo.
We head back to our room and stream some Netflix on my MacBook while I sip my Sauvignon Blanc and eat my carnitas tacos. I realize this is a totally terrible pairing, but I hadn’t planned on the tacos when I packed the wine, and I’m on a budget.
The next morning we take a lovely walk at the Douglas Family Preserve (named for Michael Douglas) overlooking the Pacific. I become quickly convinced Woodley suffers from canine Asperger’s. She has her head down as if she’s counting every blade of grass in sight while Albus makes many new friends. I realize she’s a bird dog and she’s probably just on the scent of something, but I’ve had four Cocker Spaniels in my life, and she is by far the most aloof of them all. She’s insanely attached to me and doesn’t care much for other dogs. (In fact, she positively despised her Spaniel sister, but that’s a story for another time.)
When Albus first arrived, I’m quite convinced she was looking at him like, “You’re still here?” She’s used to him now, and I think she secretly digs him. At least she will concede that his butt makes a good pillow. For Woodley, that’s progress.
After our lovely morning outing, I decide to head up to San Francisco. It’s going to be cable cars and fog for this traveling trio… after six hours in the car, and a lot more George Orwell, that is.
*It’s important to note that some Motel 6 locations prefer you only check in with one dog. Others don’t care. My general policy is to be a respectful guest by cleaning up after my dogs, crating them (if necessary), and making sure they’re quiet. I also book my room online in advance so it’s usually too late for them to really protest that I have two dogs. (Only one location has ever balked that I had two dogs, but they still let me stay because I had already paid, and I was nice to the woman at the desk.)
**Four Seasons has weight restrictions on canine guests, and Albus is NOT a small boy.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for a luxury hotel without size restrictions in Santa Barbara, check out The Canary. I’ve stayed at the hotel, and it’s lovely. (The rooftop patio is divine.) I didn’t bring my dogs for that particular trip because I was wine tasting with a group. A good friend of mine did stay at the hotel with her Beagle on another occasion and had a great experience.