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Dinner tonight in Santa Barbara

Sunsets in Santa Barbara (occasionally called the “American Riviera)”) can be disorienting for the uninitiated. :-)

That’s because the Santa Barbara coast faces southward, so that the sun sets over land, not ocean. When the sun set tonight, we were finishing dinner at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, at the end of Stearns Wharf. The wharf itself has a large “compass rose” painted on the end, with the four cardinal points of the compass and with the large “south arrow” pointed out to sea. (Note added July 25, 2009: The folks at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company had seated us so that we had wonderful views of the sunset and harbor through windows. Outdoor seating is also available [as is a window through which you can order and take your dinner to nearby picnic tables on the wharf].)

Fortunately, we had four years to become “initiated,” since our daughter earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, which is actually in the nearby town of Goleta, to the west.

Dinner at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company (not an endorsement, but the food and the service were both excellent!) for me consisted of a cup of “New England” clam chowder served in a coffee mug, a main course of linguine and clams in a sauce of garlic, butter, and cream (it’s a good thing that I don’t usually eat like this!), all washed down with a pint of Anchor Steam beer (brewed on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, California). As I said before, but it bears repeating, the food and service were excellent (and the food was quite filling).

I had spent the earlier part of the afternoon and evening photographing Mission Santa Barbara (more about that later), sailing vessels participating in a regatta off the tip of the wharf, and views along the wharf and toward the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains, which are unlike any others that I have seen. The fog encircled Santa Barbara during the afternoon, but the city itself was bathed in sunshine. At times, in the early evening, fog would drift onshore and provide a backdrop for coastal hills and palm trees.

Eventually, as we entered the restaurant for dinner, even the die-hard sailors decided to return to the harbor. I photographed some of them en route.

I can’t wait to look at the photos. (Note added August 17, 2009: The photos are up. I will add links to future blog entries about particular aspects of the trip [e.g., Mission Santa Inés].) (Note added August 30, 2009: … and Mission Santa Barbara and Stearns Wharf.)

We ended the evening driving west on Cabrillo Boulevard until it it becomes Shoreline Drive, stopping at a foggy Shoreline Park to listen to the ocean from the cliffs, then driving east to Los Palos Way, where we watched (and I photographed) some silhouetted ducks and a turtle at the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge (1).

We shall see if any of those last photos turn out…. :-) (Note added August 17, 2009: One did.)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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