Nothing says “tourist” like getting off a trolley and making a scene.
It wasn’t intentional, mind you, it just happened that way.
The Kid and I decided to see our new town the way tourists do, by getting on a trolley and riding around town.
We had already driven around town too many times to count in our vehicle and probably now know this place better than most locals.
However, a trolley ride with big open breezeways for your viewing pleasure was just too irresistible to pass up.
We went past the zoo and saw the giraffe looking for something better to eat than what he was having, went past the mansion on the hill that encompasses several acres overlooking the ocean — and I must comment that the owner has not set foot in it in over 20 years as she prefers the bright lights of New York City — and around the whole historic district that is right smack downtown.
Our illuminated guide, who I reckon was one of the original “California Dudes,” narrated the tour with his own brand of corny humor and snide comments about a few of the particular past residents. If he had been wearing chaps and a cowboy hat, he would have been a spitting image of Buffalo Bill Cody.
The Kid appreciated the lame jokes and we giggled to show our enthusiasm for his effort.
Anyway, on past the beautiful old buildings that are some of the most photographed in the country and a brief breathless moment as we were told of the 1925 earthquake that destroyed almost all of the town. It was in the aftermath of that devastation when one solid thing was made into law: No buildings over four stories.
There is the nine-story building that survived, miraculously, and it is still intact as a reminder and unique landmark.
Over to the mission, which is one of the most beautiful spots in the state in my humble opinion, where we spent a few minutes while The Dude had a smoke break.
Back on board to finish out our trip, we rolled back down through the middle of town where dozens of young Hispanic beauties were getting lined up for their parade.
It’s Fiesta Time here, and the Latino gals under the age of 15 wear their most beautiful fiesta clothing, hair exquisitely done up, makeup to accent their already lovely features, and I was waving at them like a fool, totally embarrassing The Kid.
I already embarrassed him a few times, like driving down the main drag with my window open singing along to the ’60s on Six.
“Make Your Own Kind of Music”...well, I certainly do.
So as we made our way back through the downtown area and several business people were happy to wave back to me, the Dude slowed down as we went past the old courthouse. Truly a stunning bit of architecture and landscaping. I hadn’t really seen it from that particular vantage point, and oh my my — it is a thing of beauty.
The Dude said it was the most photographed building in the United States.
One of the other factoids was that our lovely little town of Santa Barbara runs second to San Francisco for having the most restaurants per capita in the United States.
I believe it.
Some places have a church on every corner, but in Santa Barbara you can walk along a block or two and go nuts trying to decide which venue to choose. They all sit side by side and are just as happy to let you go off to their neighbor, knowing you’ll stop in at another time.
I haven’t found the perfect pizza place yet, but I know there has to be one here. I mean, there are lots of pizza places, but not one that I can be loyal to. Yet.
With the ocean coming into view, I knew that our trip was about to come to an end.
We pulled sharply over to the curb that runs along the waterfront, and I waited for the other patrons to disembark before I did, hoping the blood would start circulating in my legs again before I took too many steps.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
After tipping The Dude and thanking him for a pleasurable 90-minute ride around town, The Kid and I stepped off the trolley and onto terra firma.
I literally took 10 steps before my Ked hit a crag in the sidewalk and I went down like a building in the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.
I had the good fortune of being able to grab onto The Kid to break what would have been a very nasty fall (probably a broken nose and cracked teeth), and he bolstered himself mightily to hold up under the several cement bags of weight of his dear ol’ momma.
Once down, with a couple of broken fingernails and a big owwie on my knee, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I cussed.
There was a moment when the world stopped spinning and hundreds of eyes looked to see if I was falling down drunk or just dorky. When they realized I wasn’t cockeyed plastered, they went about their business.
A couple of strong arms lifted me back up and dusted me off, and deciding there were no broken bones or blood-spurting gashes, I limped off down the pier, reassuring The Kid that I was OK.
We stopped in at the candy store and I bought him lots of little treats to thank him for not stepping out of the way when I fell.
“Sorry about that,” I said. “I didn’t see that big jagged edge of concrete sticking up.”
“That’s OK, mom...as long as you’re OK.”
“I am, thankfully.”
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
“Yeah? How’s that?” I asked.
“Just imagine if you had tooted when they picked you up!”
After we had a howling good laugh, I assured him that that would have been a sign of my appreciation for the folks helping me.
“And that would have really embarrassed me,” he said pointedly.
Likewise, I’m sure.