Date: April 18th, 2017
From/To: Santa Barbara, CA/Los Olivos, CA
Daily Mileage: 50 miles
Total Mileage: 2745 miles
Conditions: Early rain showers, turned overcast, eventually partly overcast in the late afternoon. Minor winds, high 60s.
It may seem strange but I still haven’t been in the ocean. If you ask why, I’d probably give you a response that would leave you unsatisfied. “I haven’t had time… the beach was too far away… I got distracted… etc.” The truth is I’m not done yet and setting foot in the ocean, that’s the finish line. I might’ve finished the continental crossing, but the ocean is my last moment to hold onto. It’s something to look forward to, a prolonged satisfaction.
I wasn’t in a rush today, especially after factoring in the downpour that took place throughout a majority of the morning. I hung around the house folding laundry, organizing my gear and planning the next trek. Steve was already out on calls by the time I woke up but Shelby was around the house. She made me a delicious egg and avocado croissant and made sure I was all taken care of. She connected me with one of her friends in Los Olivos named Michelle. Their daughters played volleyball together and they had become close through that relationship. She passed along my story to see if they could host me for a night. She told me they lived on a beautiful property with lots of farm animals, I’ll get to that later. The rain subsided around noon and I reassembled the rig and prepared to leave. Shelby packed me a brown paper bag lunch consisting of a roast beef, cheese, avocado and tomato sandwich on wheat bread. The mother instincts are hard to pass up, she made sure I had everything I needed before heading out. I can say with certainty that I now have a second mother out here in Santa Barbara! After saying goodbye to Shelby I started off towards Los Olivos.
I spent at least an hour biking around town. I couldn’t get over how authentic the Danish town felt and appeared. It was a short scenic ride from Solvang to Los Olivos. I arrived to Michelle and Jourdi de Werd’s house around 5PM. It’s hard to describe a place so beautiful. They live off Foxen Canyon Road just outside of the Los Olivos town center. The land is covered in beautiful vineyards and estates, it was an amazing ride through the rolling hills. The de Werds have a guest house and a cottage on the property in addition to their home. I immediately fell in love with the property upon arrival. As I pulled up to the entrance, I had to punch in a four digit code to open the driveway gate. The gate had two metal sculpted horses on it, as it opened the two horses split apart welcoming me onto the property. I rode down a winding road past hills and fields of wine vineyards and grass. I made my way past a barn, the guest homes, and up to the main house where Jourdi and Michelle were getting reach to head out. Michelle had a meeting to attend from 5-7ish and Jourdi was dropping her off. They told me I could explore the grounds and see all the animals for now. They quickly showed me where I’d be staying in the cottage, a small cozy house with everything I needed and more!
Right before he left, Jourdi had mentioned that I could use the white pickup truck parked next to the guest house. He’d left me the keys and told me I could use the car to run into town and take care of any errands. I was surprised by the level of trust he had, I figured Shelby must’ve put in a good word for me because that was quite a privilege to have. I unpacked, showered, and decided to head back to Solvang after exploring the grounds for a while. It was a fifteen minute car ride to Solvang. When I arrived I noticed much of the tourism had died down because many of the shops and restaurants closed around 6PM. I found one of the few restaurants still opened and had a Danish style meal consisting of pork sausage and meatballs. I didn’t hang around for long after dinner, I wanted to get back and spend some time getting to know my hosts. They were such interesting people and I wanted to learn more about them. When I arrived back to the property around 9PM I made my way over to the main house to meet Jourdi and Michelle. They were preparing for a late dinner and set a place at the table for me to join. We sat around a small table in their living room which was illuminated by a fireplace with a real burning fire. Our conversation was both informative and entertaining. Jourdi and I spoke for a while about the education system and our thoughts on the current and future outlook of public education reform. It was an interesting topic for me because I’m soon to be teaching in a low-income community. Jourdi had a lot to say about his thoughts on the matter which made for a great back and forth dialogue. From his point of view the education system is set up almost systemically within communist framework because everyone is paid and treated equally. Traditionally, there’s no reward for teachers who perform well compared to teachers who are less motivated. The other problem is that young enthusiastic teachers come into the world of education with hopes and dreams of improving the system, only to be ridiculed by “old school” teachers who have been around for a while, and suddenly look bad in the eyes of leadership when someone tries to make better a flawed system. It’s a tough place to be, but it’s truly about making progress, and it won’t happen overnight.
Michelle and I spoke about my background, my cause, and I shared some stories about my journey. It’s always great to reflect on my experiences and pass along many of the lessons and stories that I’ve accumulated throughout this trip. I was happy to spend some time with Jourdi and Michelle this evening. Before we parted ways for the night they mentioned they would be traveling to LA for most of the day tomorrow and that I was more then welcome to say another day if I’d like. I was once again astonished by their hospitality. Here I was this complete stranger two days ago, and now I was welcomed into their home and given privileges far beyond anything I’d expected from a host. I felt at home during my stay with the de Werds, I decided that staying another day wouldn’t hurt considering my lackadaisical approach to the remaining days on this trip. I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere anytime soon, why not stay another day? I could use the rest after such a restless period of travel over the last few weeks. I slept easy that night knowing I had nothing to worry about the following day.
Enjoy The Ride,