The Road Trip
This road trip is just what the doctor ordered. Last weekend three of my pals and I set out for a journey to a house concert in Cambria, California. We left Rancho Santa Fe, California at 4:30 am so that we could avoid heavy traffic through Los Angeles. There is not an ideal time to make ones way through LA, but our strategy paid off. We had a twenty-minute delay as a result of an accident, but for the most part it was smooth sailing. We arrived in Santa Barbara at 8:30 a.m. We stopped by the Four Season’s Biltmore Hotel which overlooks the stunning Butterfly Beach. The hotel is tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Opened in 1927 the iconic Restort is made up of secluded courtyards and Spanish Colonial villas and bungalows. Everywhere you look is eye candy for the soul. We saw the dolphins gracefully leaping in and out of the water as they did their morning feeding close to the shore.
San Ysidro Ranch
Next up we drove a few short miles to the San Ysidro Ranch. Nestled in the Montecito foothills in the middle of wine country, the ranch is a tranquil destination for travelers. Myth and history mingle in the lush garden where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows; in the setting of John and Jackie Kennedy’s honeymoon retreat. It is such a special and historical treasure. The locals urged us to hit the road before 11:00 a.m. That is when traffic starts to stack up. So we moved along to Los Olivos.
We meandered north through the stunning ranch lands of the Santa Ynez Mountains to Los Olivos. We wondered the streets of this charming historic town enjoying the shops, wine tasting, and taking photos. The atmosphere was wholesome and relaxing and it made for the perfect stop on our journey to Cambria. This little town gives you permission to slow down your pace and be present in each moment.
After our stroll through Los Olivos we started on our last leg of the journey to Cambria where we would attend Mike Beck’s house concert at the Fiscalini Ranch. Mike is an engaging acoustic solo artist who regularly performs in the United States and Europe. He is a regularly featured performer at The National Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Mike has seven albums under his belt with original songs that have been recognized as some of the finest compositions on Western Americana out there.
The Western Horseman magazine recently picked “The 13 Best Cowboy Songs,” and included two compositions by Mike, putting him along side other writers such as Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, Lucinda Williams, and Gene Autry.
His strong command of the guitar and playing reminiscent of Stephen Stills, sets him apart in a way that has garnered him many request for guitar workshops at festivals. Mike is a seasoned performer — his guitar work and warm, genuine style engages audiences with his songs and stories.
According to Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, “Mike Beck plays the guitar like a Byrd. His strings do things that mine could never do. They obey the slightest finger-touch commands like a fine Reining Horse.”
We traveled twenty-minutes from our hotel to the ranch over gravel roads taking pictures of longhorn cattle, horses, red barns, and turkeys along the way. We sat outside under a crystal clear blue sky that eventually ushered in a stunning moonlite night as Mike told captivating stories. sang the songs that he has written and displayed is epic guitar skills. If you ever get a chance to see him, do. You will be glad you did.
We got back to our hotel in time for a five hour slumber before a 4:45 a.m. departure back home. We managed to get back through LA with little effort and we were back where we started 30 hours earlier but with a memorable road trip and 656 miles under our belt. It was worth every hour and every mile.