Days Fourteen and Fifteen: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obispo and Cambria (1975)

RetroSign2-1975Days 14 and 15 (Sept. 7-8, 1975): Following the two-day high of Disneyland, my 11-year-old self must have been deflated or tired or both the next day. My family drove around Los Angeles, and this is all the energy I could muster to write:

All of us got into the car for the tour. We drove around the place looking around at Los Angeles. We looked, stopped, looked. We came back and got packed. We went to sleep.

However, the next Journal entry (for Sept. 8th) was a bit more upbeat, ticking off visits to  Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obispo and Cambria as we drove north.

Santa Barbara, about 90 miles/145 km northwest of Los Angeles, boasts the longest section of coastline (facing south) on the U.S. West Coast. While under Spanish rule, the town suffered an earthquake in 1812 (est. magnitude 7.1) and a tsunami, wiping out much of the town. Colonial Spanish rule ended in 1822, when Mexico gained control for the next 24 years. Thereafter, in 1846, a battalion of American soldiers captured Santa Barbara during the Mexican-American War. During the Gold Rush years, the town was known for lawlessness as bandits and gamblers dominated the place.

We took a guided tour of Santa Barbara, but I’m sure I remembered none of this history. All I noted is that “we ate at Jack-in-the-Box then went to Solvang. All the buildings were built to look like the ones in Denmark. It was real neat.”

Solvang , California in 2004 (Photo Credit: Peter Merholz)
Solvang , California in 2004 (Photo Credit: Peter Merholz)

Solvang (Danish for “sunny field”) is a relatively new town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Located 140 miles north of Los Angeles, the community was settled in 1911 by Danish immigrants who wanted to get away from the cold midwestern U.S. winters. Building façades reflect traditional Danish style. With over one million visitors a year, Solvang has become one of California’s major tourist attractions.

San Luis Obispo (Spanish for “St. Louis”) lies roughly midway between L.A. and San Franciso on the Central Coast. Founded in 1772 by a Spanish Franciscan, San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities. The town changed from Spanish to Mexican jurisdiction after the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821). San Luis Obispo then fell under American rule when the United States annexed California after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).  Similar to Santa Barbara’s plight during the early American period (mid-19th century), San Luis Obispo was known for endemic lawlessness, including robberies and murder.

Castle Inn at Cambria

Our final stop was Cambria (the Latin name for Wales), a seaside village with rocky cliffs and beaches. It lies halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We checked in to the Castle Inn in Cambria, which bills itself as “one of the original motels built along the Cambria coast when cattle still roamed on Moonstone Beach Drive” and has an incredible ocean view.

I don’t recall seeing any cattle roaming about, which is very well since we were very tired after a long day’s drive, and we went to sleep.

Interactive Google Map of the places mentioned above:






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