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A Nebraska Family's Weekend in Santa Barbara
Our family booked a weekend in Santa Barbara after deliberating over several other locations in California. We couldn't afford to fly into the Santa Barbara Municipal airport, so we settled for LAX and gritted our teeth during the evening drive to the Pacific Coast Highway. The kids were hungry and we stopped at a deli in Malibu which made the airport food in Omaha seem cheap by comparison. Still, this was California, and we'd expected a bit of a price-shock. At least the locals are good eye candy.
The minivan we'd arranged for our Santa Barbara weekend was a Caravan with a full tank of gas and a swiveling middle seating area for the kids. My wife ended up hopping back there too and they were all yelling out the window at celebrities. They saw a lot of beach beauties but no one I'd ever seen in the Enquirer, though my wife says she's pretty sure Jean-Claude Van Damme was practicing his round house on a fellow outside of a Santa Monica coffee shop.
By the time we'd arrived in Santa Barbara, it had been two hours and fifteen minutes, not bad time according to the clerk at the vacation house check-in. Once we'd reached Malibu, the drive was serene all the way into Santa Barbara and my stress levels declined considerably, only occasionally spiking due to the kids throwing a blunt object at the back of my head just to get a reaction. I tuned the radio to a local jazz station and tuned them out in the process. I was intent on arriving without a bump on my skull and spending an hour in the hot tub, which was to be attached to our private deck.
This weekend in Santa Barbara was to be the most expensive vacation we had yet taken as a family of four, but my recent bonus and the drastic reduction in weekend pricing had served as the impetus for this trip. Also, this was an anniversary weekend, and my wife thought I'd forgotten again, but I didn't. People may tout the antioxidant benefits of blackberries, but mine was a calendar and an appointment book that saved my hide much more spectacularly than a berry ever could.
Our private beach house had an ironing board, washer and dryer, vaulted ceilings, and a view of the ocean. When the kids were napping, I could hear the waves crashing a short distance away from our deck, which featured large French doors. The wife clicked the fireplace on and off and tittered with joy when she found the remote control for the blinds. I'd never seen anything like it either, but the feeling of newness eventually subsided when we strolled outside for a walk on the beach at dusk.
The kids buried themselves in the cleanest sand I'd ever seen, and our weekend in Santa Barbara quickly became the topic of conversation at dinner for months. I promised the kids that if they manage to graduate from high school someday, I'll take us back for an entire week. And if I get the next bonus I'm due for, my wife and I will definitely consider turning that memorable weekend into a retirement home, replete with shuffleboard and cocktail shrimp and all the other Santa Barbara lifestyle perks that once seemed so foreign to me.