Up route 154
I got a late start for my expedition to Cachuma Lake (around 3:00pm). I drove down 101 to 154 and then took it out through the mountains towards the lake. I stopped in a vista point along the way and shot a few photos. It’s a very scenic drive; in the usual California use of the word “scenic road” to mean “windy and twisty and look at that valley- — wait, don’t, because you’ll careen off the side of the road down a cliffside to your death.”
I arrived at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area only to learn they had closed the park for day use. Apparently even acres-large parks can “fill up”. The guy in the entry booth suggested if I was looking for a place to relax a few minutes I could do so in the vista point a half mile further along 154. I went there and took a few shots but it was pretty dissapointing. I left the vista point and continued along 154 with the vague plan of meeting up with 101 and heading south to go to one or more of the beaches along that route home.
While headed up 154 towards 101(it intersects around Buellton) I saw a turn-off for 246 which also promised 101 but via Solvang and also promised Mission Santa Inés. 246 had a lot of traffic. I did stop at the mission but it was really crowded with dressed up people so I shot a few exterior shots and moved on.
Picked up 101 south on the other side of Solvang and proceeded towards the coast. Saw a sign for 1 north and Lompoc which promised to be “scenic”. So I took it and headed north up route 1 towards Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force base. It was moderately scenic but I bet it’s a lot greener and more inviting in the winter.
Along the way I saw a turn-off and sign for Jalama Beach. I’d never heard of it and knew it was unlikely I’d trek this way again soon, so I took the turn-off and drove the quite scenic road 14 miles to the beach. Helpful mile markers kept me abreast of how much further it was to the beach — the only public thing on the road is the beach at the end. Several ranches had private roads (with gates) leading off of Jalama Road to the beach. There was very little traffic, so the twisty road was fun to drive. I like twisty roads as long as they stay wide enough to drive on and there’s not much other traffic.
I paid the entry fee and went into the park to check it out. It’s mostly camping but it has the usual windswept Pacific Ocean sandy beach. I didn’t see any swimmers due to the dangerous currents — or maybe it was due to the mighty wind that I imagine would have been very chilly to swim in. I did walk out on the beach and took a bunch of pictures of birds and a few of the railroad bridge. It’s very scenic; unfortunately the wind-driven sand made me very reluctant to point my lens into the wind — eliminating an entire direction of scenery. I could imagine going back there if I could figure out a time when it would be a little less windy. It’s a long drive but a pretty pleasant one as these things go.
After leaving Jamala Beach and getting back to 101 I headed south and home.