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Way back a million years ago, in May, we did a short trek to Santa Barbara. I thought I’d seen it all after going to Huntington Gardens in San Marino, CA. However, see that picture atop this post–that’s the garden at our Airbnb in Santa Barbara. The one below is Huntington Gardens. How about that?

Huntington Gardens, grooviness every which way you look.


It was a little family trip with my husband Bill, daughter Megan and SIL Justin. Justin had signed up for a 50 mile foot race near Los Angeles, which I can’t explain, but it still seemed a good opportunity to make a long weekend of it. Our son, Elliot, couldn’t come at the last minute, and it’s probably just as well. He wouldn’t have been gaga over the gardens. But Megan and I were crazy happy.

This is what we saw when we pulled up in the parking area.

First glimpse of our Airbnb in Santa Barbara.

Right? It wasn’t super easy to find. The winding road leading up to the mission’s perch was reminiscent–I’m told–of Italy.

A narrow winding road let to our house. Do you see the hawk at the center?
Sorry, you cannot get a limousine up here.

Not at all what I expected, in an I-couldn’t-believe-how-cool-it-was way.

Not in Kansas anymore. This is the garden strip next to the garage.

And there were two mules roadside. We said hello each time we passed, and they looked up expectantly. Sad to say, we didn’t have anything to offer beside our enthusiasm. They were friendly enough, but not terribly impressed with our treat-less hellos.

There was also a wild turkey with a favorite stream side perch just down the hill from these guys. We greeted each him as well, but nary a gobble. I thought I’d taken a photo, but can’t find it. Here’s a reasonable facsimile.

Elliot in turkey hat aka reasonable facsimile of our wild Santa Barbara turkey.

Hold the phone. I just found the actual turkey shot. But since Elliot is already here, I think I’ll let him stand.

Wild Turkey — en route to a favorite streamside rock.

Meanwhile, back at the Airbnb, the garden was fabulous–and completely undersold on the rental site. Megan and I did not wait for the captains to turn off fasten-seat-belt signs before we jumped out and commenced swooning.

Look! This was our personal garden.

Plus the view from up there was not terrible. I waved, thinking maybe Oprah was over there somewhere–and that she’d enjoy talking plants with us. It could happen. I wasn’t aware of her living nearby, but the area was so incredible, it seemed possible. Then I looked it up. Sure enough, a nice spread nearby. I’d include a link, but everything I found seems kind of stalkerish. And I’m no stalker. Unless there’s a garden involved that I really need to see.

Santa Barbara would be a lovely place to live, if you had the money with you…

This is the house we stayed in. I loved the bell tower. I want a bell tower. Of course, I rang it–a few times. The rope was hanging right there. Why else would it be there?

Well, first up, we poured champagne. Then we rang the bell. Bill and Megan here checking the lay of the land.

That’s the guest house in the background. I heard that the owners stay there when their main house is rented. They were out of town when we visited, and we never met the other people in residence. Of course, I wanted to. Because I’m a blabbermouth and quite like talking with people. Situational extrovert, only, children! I could be quite happy staying in the guest house, too. No?

Agave here, cactus there, and don’t forget the palm trees. And Aloes. Not to mention, a covey of quails one morning.

I know I’m running around willy nilly to show you the place. But can you blame me. So much good stuff everywhere you looked.

I LOVED the kitchen. We assumed the tile was original. It was in perfect condition.

That’s a refrigerator up there alongside the cupboards. Sadly, non-functioning. So cool. There must be someone who knows how to repair it. I know a guy here in Portland, a retired Cardiologist, Don T. He could totally fix it. He repaired the NuTone Trinity 4 – Yellow-Butterscotch doorbell at our Alameda house. It hadn’t worked for 20 years, and when Don found out, he was all over it.

It took him about a day. They have the most glorious sound,  I told Don, I was happy for him that he’d discovered a transferable skill upon retirement. But I digress.

Agaves, Cactus, Euphorbia, Palm Trees–and more on hillside above our Airbnb.

Back at the Mission, there were a few plants that needed watering, and I meant to tend them. But one morning a guy showed up to water. I went out to chat with him–thinking he was the responsible party for all the splendor. But he informed me that it was the handiwork of the owner himself–that he was just there to water while they were out of town.

This strip needed water.

But the opposite side of the path seemed okay without.

Cannas to the left. Aloes to the right. Dreamy.

Potted plants needed watering too–so said the house notes. The gardener Protem took care of those too.

Big succulents in small pots always surprise me.

How do they grow that big in such small pots? They like being root bound? But this was on the the front side of the house. We’ll go back around there in a while.

Meanwhile, back on the hillside, inconspicuous pathways dotted the landscape.

Strategically placed stepping stones formed the pathways up.

Also a more formal staircase.

The formal stairway wends its way uphill.

There was a rope swing at the top. I didn’t have the nerve to try it. But, of course, our 50 miler was up for the challenge.

There’s Justin on the swing now, while the rest of us watch in dread.

When Justin had survived the swing and headed back down the stairs, Megan could return to her state of rapture.

Megan, Ms. chief plant lust creator her ownself, in plant rapture.

That was the most formal stairway. I kept losing track of just how many there were. And I was a little nervous. It was not a good place to fall, for the plants–or for the people.

A less conspicuous stairway, with a fork in the road.

And there was art everywhere. So much fun.

Art near the bell tower outside.

OMG, so much to look out. Visual feasts, inside and out.

Mantelpiece art. BIG mantelpiece art.

Close up.

Art wearing art.

My lord, this post is getting long. And I thought I had nothing to say. I’m thinking I’ll break here, and catch you on flip flop. There’s so much more to see.

Well, one more picture here.

Spanish Mission House Airbnb in Santa Barbara. That’s the ocean out yonder.

And though I’m loathe to leave home, even I can see there’s a good reason to do it–every now and then. But let’s not get carried away.