Sunny Santa Barbara

So what do you do when out of town family is starting to get bored because all the presents have been opened, you’re knee deep in legos and Princess Minnie parphenalia  and you’ve watched  Jungle Book a half dozen times and it’s still four days till New Year?  Well, you pile all the extra family into #1 son’s new Sienna van and you and Mrs. Kongo put the top down on the sports car and head for Santa Barbara in a two car caravan!  What else?

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Now just as an aside, Kongo is pretty sure the monkeys in Jungle Book aren’t actually as mean as they’re portrayed in the movie.  Surely they were just acting.  But Kongo does like the moves giganticus King Louie displays and he does sing a catchy tune.  But if you don’t have children (or grandchildren) of a certain age and haven’t seen the latest Disney version of the Rudyard Kipling’s classic, you may not have any idea what this paragraph is about.

A King Louie Look-alike at the San Diego Zoo

Getting there was fun.  Kongo was supposed to follow the Sienna van and how hard could that be?  Well, do you have any idea how MANY silver colored Sienna vans are cruising the freeways in Southern California.   Well, Kongo doesn’t know either but there are a lot.  So, the monkey happily followed the wrong van all the way to Santa Barbara and past the exit he was supposed to take.  He even said to Mrs. Kongo as they passed the exit…”Wow, B said we were taking the Garden Street exit but he just blew right by it.  He must know a better route.”  #1 son is a UCSB graduate so he should know, right?  It wasn’t until a few miles later that the real Sienna pulled up next to Kongo with #2 son hanging out the window yelling and pointing to get the hell off the freeway, where are you going anyway?  (He’s a UCLA graduate so what can you expect?) Hmm.  Kongo would have followed that van all the way to Seattle.  (Mrs. Kongo claims, under he breath of course, that it was a Honda van that Kongo was following and not a Sienna.  In any event, it was silver.)

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The first stop, once they actually got off the freeway in Santa Barbara was Alice Keck Park Park.  That’s not a typo.  The park is named after Alice Keck Park so we went to a park-park or park squared.  The land for the park was given to the city of Santa Barbara by an anonymous donor in 1975 and it wasn’t until two years later after Mrs. Park passed on to the big park in the sky that it was revealed that she was the donor.  Her father had been a big oil man and founder of Superior Oil company.  Anyway, it’s technically called the Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden because calling it Park’s Park all the time is a bit awkward.

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Kongo had never been to this beautiful little patch of garden.  There’s about 75 different types of trees and plants, a pond with dozens of turtles, speaking gadgets that tell you what you’re looking at and plenty of great places to take pictures of granddaughters.

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1200 steps from the park, (Kongo’s new Apple Watch is working great) is the Santa Barbara courthouse.  Uninformed gentle readers may wonder what in the world was Kongo’s troop doing at a courthouse?  Well, this isn’t just any courthouse.

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The beautiful courthouse is a popular tourist attraction in Santa Barbara.  The Spanish Revival building was completed in 1929 and frankly, the restrooms do need to be upgraded a bit, but it’s a wonderful place to explore.  We went up to the bell tower to take in the spectacular views.  Looking out across the beautiful landscape gives one a rather smug feeling — particularly when considering the terrible weather in the East.

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Mrs. Kongo normally keeps her feet firmly planted on the ground but in Santa Barbara she soars to the top of the tower.  What a trooper!

#1 son actually got married at this courthouse.  He was pretty experienced at doing this since he’d been married before only a month earlier in Istanbul.  He met his bride while she was doing graduate work as an exchange student at UC Santa Barbara so of course there were weddings in Turkey as well as in California and there were family and relatives flying all over the world to get these two properly united.  The wedding room at the court house is rather special.  It’s called the Mural Room.

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So this little visit brought back a lot of good memories.  Seeing the granddaughters tromp around the room where their parent were married was fun.  Time flies, doesn’t it?

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#3 Granddaughter pretends she is in jail while going down the staircase in the bell tower.

After lunch on Santa Barbara pier Kongo went left while the Sienna went right and there was some more navigation confusion where the monkey drove to lonely street corners where nobody was but were supposed to be.  Conflicting texts complicated matters.  As #1 said sagely, “We should have had a plan…”  (This is something I’d been telling him for more than 40 years).

Finally all were reunited in the Funk Zone for wine tasting.  Now, the girls didn’t think this was such a good idea.  They thought the Funk Zone was going to be some kind of arcade palace where they could play games and do rides like at Chunky Cheese.

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This is the look you get when you tell them to be good because the adults are going to taste some wine.  It pretty much says it all from a 10-year old perspective.  They made up songs while we were pondering the local fare…

The weather outside is scorching
The wine, it is so boring
Do they really have to keep on pouring
I wanna go, I wanna go, I wanna go

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You have to give the little angels credit for creativity and this is what you get after you put them in chorus for a year.  Kongo took pity on the middle one and they scampered off to play on the nearby train tracks.



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Granted, the sun was a bit bright.  But hey, think of those poor kids on the East Coast who would give anything to be able to play on train tracks like these right now!  Right?

So after drinking our wine, buying some, and taking pity of the well behaved girls, we packed up and headed for Kongo’s house where we could all watch the Jungle Story again, drink the wine we just bought, and order in some pizza.

A perfect end for a perfect day.

Tavel safe.  Have fun.  Hoping you all have a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

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