CAPTURING THE ADVENTURES OF OUR LIVES....Mary Anne Benedetto's travel experiences and beneficial information about interesting places. Her posts will entertain and enlighten the armchair traveler, as well as the seasoned visitor, to various national and world locations.
I did not give it a second thought. In fact, I was beyond excited about it!
a September, 2014 conference setting in lovely Santa Barbara, California at the Four
Seasons Biltmore Resort, I was presented with a variety of options for an
afternoon activity. The choices were golf (something I frequently do where I
live in South Carolina), kayaking in the ocean (tempting, but I felt that my
kayaking debut should be in calmer waters), a facial or massage at the spa (I could
do that any place, any time), whale watching (except we were told that it was not
whale season), or hiking. Ah, hiking! When I lived in New York, I loved hiking
in the Adirondacks and even formed my own hiking group. I recall being at the
top of Buck Mountain and looking down on small aircraft. Hiking it would be!
there were fourteen people signed up, but due to the unusually soaring
temperatures for this area, seven cancelled. So, off we went with two affable guides,
four younger hikers and three…shall we say… senior citizen hikers, of which I
pumped as we began the trek, Brian led the pack while his co-worker, Jake,
stayed at the rear with us old codgers. The younger folks practically ran up
the sun-drenched trail, but I sensed that it was in my best interest to pace
myself. After about fifteen minutes of climbing straight up, my heart was
pounding like a big bass drum, and I was utterly out of breath. How could that
happen? Then I remembered--my last hiking event occurred over ten years ago. I
quickly discovered that I needed frequent rests and could not dash up the
mountain. Stopping occasionally to survey the spectacular view and gulp some chilled
bottled water served as a valid excuse to catch my breath.
climbing the trail for what seemed like an eternity, I finally asked Jake, “Okay.
How much longer will it take us to reach the top, and will it be this steep all
the way?” Obviously, the last question was silly. Of course, it would be
steeper as we reached the top.
humored me and replied, “About another half hour straight up.”
I said. “Remember that shaded area we just passed a minute ago? Well, that’s
where you’ll find me when you come back down. This body isn’t going any further
radioed Brian to advise him that I was stopping in my tracks, and the two other
senior citizens in our group breathed audible
sighs of relief, thrilled to be joining me. I think they were just
waiting for someone else to cry “uncle.” No one wanted to be the first to stop,
but I did not want to have to be airlifted off the mountain.
others joined us in about fifteen or twenty minutes, having made it to the top,
taken photos and returned to our little social circle in the shade. Brian asked
us if we wanted to descend the mountain the same way we came up, or did we want
to try the “fun” way down?
this adventurous group opted for the “fun” way, which contained no trail at
all, but was comprised of huge boulders that we had to navigate in order to
progress down the mountain. To say it was challenging would be a gross
understatement. I survived it and did not break an ankle or leg, even when I had
to sit on gigantic rock formations and slide down to the next level.
was gratifying to be able to declare that I did it. I had hiked the major
portion of the mountain and had the privilege of viewing the picture-perfect scenery
that would have been impossible to see from ground level. On the way down, I
traversed the rugged terrain with the best of them and finished unscathed. A huge thank you to Brian and Jake for their expertise and patience!
the end of the day, I felt great for putting my body to the test,
stretchingmy limits, participating in
the “fun” way down. The destination was called Inspiration Point, and I
actually left there inspired to depart from my comfort zone more often. Now,
where do I sign up for that massage?
All the best,
Mary Anne Benedetto
Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy
Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never
Say Perfect and From Italy with Love & Limoncello.
Looking for an escape that
fosters privacy and a touch of pampering? Need a break in the action to
completely unwind? Consider the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore - Santa Barbara, California http://www.fourseasons.com/santabarbaraas
a possibility. Bordered by the blue Pacific Ocean and surrounded by bountiful hills,
this property offers a spectacular sea view combined with a variety of lush
gardens to set the tone for an inspiring getaway.
The resort was originally
built in 1927, but has undergone a $305 million restoration. Actually located
in Montecito, part of its charm is the Spanish Colonial architectural
influence. It qualifies as a lovely, romantic stop along the California coast
with its top notch spa and luxurious pool.
With reasonably close proximity to a
celebrated wine region, hiking, surfing and challenging golf courses, the
visitor can do as much or as little as desired.
Because my visit was
affiliated with a conference, our group was offered a choice of private tours
and activities. Always easily convinced to shop (even if I don’t actually
purchase anything), I experienced a lovely excursion to downtown Santa Barbara.
Wandering with a fellow explorer, Ellen Smith, we sought out the pint-sized boutiques
rather than the typical national chain stores.
Our knowledgeable, affable guide, Jennifer Miller, alerted us to a great
find--Lovebird Boutique and Jewelry Bar (http://www.lovebirdsb.com).
At this small specialty shop, Cali and Marisa were eager to assist us with our
selections, bestowing upon us a successful, delightful shopping experience. Now
that I have returned to the coast of South Carolina, any time I wear one of the
items purchased at Lovebird, I receive an enthusiastic compliment because these
items are attractive and unique. Of course, in downtown Santa Barbara there
were many other adorable boutiques, but I felt a genuine affinity with this
Curious about its origin, I
contacted store owner, Jennifer Scarbrough, and discovered that she is actually
a jewelry designer and has owned a jewelry company for several years. Her first
Lovebird location at 7 East De Le Guerra was opened six years ago and the
second store at 535 State Street one year later. Jennifer said that she wanted
to provide an affordable, “feel good” shopping experience. Recently sharing her
thoughts with me, she said, “I wanted it to be an inclusive boutique in the
sense that it would be very warm and welcoming. We have a wonderful customer
base, and I look for small, affordable lines that are very Santa Barbara. Most
of the jewelry is designed by me, but I carry as much merchandise by local
artists as I am able to. I enjoy business and people and LOVE downtown Santa
Moving along to investigating
additional Santa Barbara treasures, we once again followed the advice of tour
guide, Jennifer Miller. She had indicated that a “must” was a stop at the top
of the Santa Barbara Courthouse. While that might seem an odd choice, it
provided a view that we could not have otherwise seen. The Spanish style rooftops and architecture
were plentiful, presenting a canvas of scenery that was characteristic of a charming
Santa Barbara post card.
The strangest aspects of a
location seem to reach out and grab my attention, and I was completely
impressed with the extensive display of tile work that one encounters in Santa
Barbara. A seating area in the Courthouse was entirely decorated in vibrant
tiles. Additionally, the signs designating the particular courtrooms and names
of judges are colorfully hand painted--no institutional look here! This was a
fascinating stop, and I was delighted that we took the time to locate the
elevator and ascend to the building’s rooftop, as well as roam around indoors.
We were operating on a tight deadline, so we ordered California Chipped Cobb Salads from California Pasta on
State Street and were transported back to the Four Seasons for a relaxing
afternoon. I wandered into the gardens to find a quiet location for writing and
was not disappointed. The Landscape
Manager, Zeke, has groomed the property for over thirty years. He and his team
of thirteen full-time gardeners keep the grounds as close to perfect as
As I settled into a quiet
section of the grounds to work on my novel, I contemplated what a perfect
writer’s retreat this is. Unfortunately, my stay was far too short to devote a
large block of time to writing, but I’ll keep the Four Seasons on my Bucket
List as a dream location to hide away and concentrate on my projects.
In my next post, I will take
you along on our hike up a nearby Santa Barbara mountain trail--definitely not
your average climb!
See you again soon...
Mary Anne Benedetto
Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir
Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say
Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your
Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!