Santa Barbara city and Goleta, but my parents' home in Buellton has opened up some new and interesting locations to explore.
Most recently I checked out Lompoc Beach, which unfortunately was so windy that sand would have blown into my camera so I didn't take any pictures. However, I was able to find the first sand-dollar pieces I've ever found on the beach in my life (I know what you're thinking - what a newbie!). This was incredibly exciting to me.
More exciting, and more unexpected, was Nojoqui Falls. I had seen the Santa Ynez river bed dry, and even though this year has brought a LOT of rain, I expected the falls to be more of a dry ditch water sometimes runs along than anything resembling falls. Luckily for me, I was pleasantly surprised.
I say lucky, because even with a little water, the creek, pathway to the falls, and the falls themselves, were absolutely beautiful. It was the kind of place which lends itself to meditation. Ironically, the falls themselves reminded me of some of the paintings I have done recently. If you saw "Bamboo Stand" at The Nature of Texture show in Goleta, then you know what I mean (see right).
Even though the walk is uphill, it is well tended, and definitely worth the temporary pain the less fit might endure to see it. In addition, there are great picnic areas and lots of space for kids to play before you start your short walk to the falls themselves.
The thing about Nojoqui is, if you aren't looking for it, you won't find it. It's on a tiny side road that you drive right past on the 101. If you're lucky and have a friend from the area in the car, you can get there by taking a right off of 246. Still, if you enjoy going off the beaten path, Nojoqui Falls is worth the short adventure required.