Spring 2023 California Road Trip – Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

Vist Date: May 1, 2023

It was time to leave Santa Barbara and hit the road for our next stop: Rancho Cucamonga in the Los Angeles Inland Empire. But we had all day so we took a couple of detours. First up was a trip to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on the way out of town. My previous boss, Marie recommended this stop and we are glad she did. It straddles Mission Creek in the foothills north of downtown Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful place we highly recommend visiting!

There are a few different sections; we started in the wildflower meadow.

Poppies at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The trails are well maintained.

Walking a trail at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

We also hiked along Mission Creek. The paths along the creek are a little more rugged.

Mission Creek at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The flowers were beautiful! I couldn’t resist some closeups.

Trailside at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
California Poppy. Trailside at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Trailside at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Trailside at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

We had a bit of a drive ahead of us so had to pull ourselves away from the Garden. We decided to take the scenic route; instead of taking US 101 all the way into Los Angeles we turned off onto California 1 through Malibu and into Santa Monica. I kept a lookout for Joni Mitchell but no luck! Sorry, we were so busy driving, navigating, and looking we didn’t get any pictures. Short version: very scenic and better than the freeway if you aren’t in a hurry.

Our stop for the night would be in Rancho Cucamonga which is bordered on the east by “The 15” – California lingo for the US 15 freeway. There are way too many freeways for the traffic reports to be calling them out by name (e.g. Ventura Freeway, Golden State Freeway, Harbor Freeway, San Diego Freeway) so they just use the number. I know I’m talking to a recent California transplant when they refer to the Sunset Highway in Portland as “The 26”. Why did we want to be near The 15? The answer will be in my next post (Hint: TRAINS!)

But I also wanted to see some BNSF traffic down around Fullerton. If you look at a map you’ll see that Malibu ==> Fullerton ==> Rancho Cucamonga is not a direct route. We got our fill of rush hour LA freeway driving. You most likely have heard how freeway-centric Los Angeles is. You can tell you are in the middle of LA without looking at a map when you hear your GPS say “Stay in any of the middle five (5) lanes“. If you aren’t counting that means there are a minimum SEVEN lanes of one freeway going one direction.

We made it to Fullerton and were lucky enough to see the Chicago-bound Amtrak Southwest Chief make its scheduled stop. This train is much shorter than when we took this train in 2017.

Chicago-bound Amtrak Southwest Chief pulling into Fremont, California station

Los Angeles wasn’t done messing with us yet. I plugged in the name of the motel into the GPS and after about a 45 minute drive ended up at the wrong hotel. The desk clerk said “Oh, you want the one near the airport. Here is the address.” Went to that one and it was also wrong. It was the right chain motel and near the airport, but it was on the opposite side of the airport. Back in the car with our third destination into GPS and we finally got there. It’s all my bad. I had the exact address in my calendar, I just thought I cold save myself some keystrokes by taking the first option presented when typing in the name.

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