Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

Picking up from Part I of today’s post, we are going from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, or more specifically, Montecito today with plans to explore the Santa Barbara area tomorrow.  Our trip will be coming to an end soon, so we have to make sure to get in as much as we can on the business of evaluating potential communities.  There were definitely some surprises on the drive thus far.  For example, even though it was beautiful, neither of us really could see ourselves in Pacific Palisades.  The reason?  We can’t, exactly, articulate it but it’s not home.

Santa Monica California

We went through Santa Monica …

Turning Down to Santa Monica Beach

Turning back down towards the beach …

Timothy Geithner Stress Test Reading

I tried to get more reading in on the Timothy Geithner memoir of the financial crisis but it wasn’t easy with my role as co-captain of the ship. I had to give up and throw it in the back of the car later …

In Malibu Country

We made it to Malibu country …

The area along Malibu means ocean on one side and mountains on the other

… which consists of mountains on one side, ocean on the other, and a prayer on tap in the event of landslides or a tsunami ’cause there isn’t anywhere to go.

Chevron Gas Station Malibu

I realize it isn’t a normal thing to get excited by businesses like this, but I have dozens of pictures of gas stations, corporate headquarters, etc. The Chevron station in Malibu made me happy because they aren’t terribly abundant in my neighborhood back at home. Chevron is the old Standard Oil of California, emerging in the great John D. Rockefeller trust breakup of 1911 and later changing its name.  I think the last time I talked about it was when I did the 25 year investment case study.

Strawberry Fields in Oxnard

We made it to Oxnard, which is a farm town (city, really, given the population of almost 200,000 people) of huge fields growing flowers, strawberries, and other crops, surrounded by mountains. It was gorgeous. When we were driving through one part of it, you’d had thought we were in a J.M. Smucker’s commercial.  We’re a long way from the cities and congestion of the Southern California we’ve visited thus far.

Strawberry Fields Surrounded By Mountains in Oxnard California

More strawberries being grown in Oxnard …

Oxnard Flower Fields

A field of flowers in Oxnard …

Oxnard Ventura Mountains Farms

The mountains that surround the fields in Oxnard and Ventura … Despite its tranquil, rural looks, this metropolitan area boasts one of the richest aggregate collections of households in the United States.  There’s a lot of purchasing power hiding around those fruits and flowers.

Ventura California

Oxnard eventually merged into Ventura as we got closer to Santa Barbara …

Ventura to Santa Barbara

Even though the flowers look somewhat similar up here, the scent is different; it has more spice and variety. Every once in awhile, you’ll get a strong whiff of pine.  The weather also seems decidedly cooler.

Oil Rigs on the Ocean

As we pull into the Santa Barbara and Montecito area, there are oil rigs out on the ocean …

Mountains to Montecito California Ahead

… and mountains straight ahead. This place is breathtaking. Driving into this was … there aren’t words. There just aren’t words.  This picture a poor representation of how vast it was, with the ocean as far as the eye can see to your left and these soaring mountains to your right.  It’s hard to believe something like this exists on Earth.

Driving Into Santa Barbara and Montecito Cold

As we got closer, the clouds began to cover the mountains. It was cold and started to rain.  There was the most sudden, and amazing, scent of mint.  We have no idea where it came from but the constant interplay of fragrances was like opening multiple bottles of Creed.  (Speaking of which, in the hotel lobby, there were two people wearing two different Creed scents, which made me very happy.  We have some with us on the trip, but I hate being separated from the collection back home since I normally coordinate the fragrance of the day to my mood.)

Montecito Inn Exterior

Once we made it to Montecito, we checked into the inn and made our way to the room. We were too loaded down with bags to photograph the building or lobby, but you can see the hotel on its website. This is one of their official images and gives you an idea of what the ambiance was like.

Montecito Inn Lobby

Again, since we had our hands full I didn’t get a picture of the lobby, but here is one from the official hotel website. It looked exactly the same.

Montecito Inn Hallway

We made our way to the room – this time we dropped our bags and took a photograph of our own. The inn was built by Charlie Chaplin and has a great history. If you want to learn more about it, check out the official website.

Montecito Streets from Montecito Inn

We’re going to go grab dinner at a Chinese restaurant down the street and walk the area … this was the view from the second story exterior walkway over the streets.

Walking the Streets of Montecito with Aaron

We walked the streets of Montecito together, window shopping and checking out the town …

More Walking in Montecito with Aaron

… even further down in Montecito, near the Chinese restaurant.

Montecito Bank and Trust

We passed the local bank and trust and I realized I didn’t know anything about the regulatory capital levels, market share, etc., so I’m putting this here to remind myself to research it.

Montecito Chinese Restaurant

We arrived at the Chinese restaurant, which was highly rated. It was delicious and not very expensive at all – I think both of us ate for $31 + tip. It was fantastic. We’d eat here all the time if we lived in the area. Once again, crowdsourced reviews turn out to be right. I didn’t take any pictures inside because it was small, intimate, and fairly full. It felt disrespectful and inappropriate to take out a camera so I never did.

Montecito Window Shopping

We window shopped at the closed stores on the way back to the inn. I loved this pedal car. If we had kids right now, I would have come back the moment the owner opened, bought it, and had it shipped to Missouri.

Montecito Coffee Shop

… Passing a coffee shop …

We’re going to get some work done and hang out in the room for the rest of the night since we want to be up early to get started on our exploration of the area.  This place is magical.  The only downside is it feels completely cut-off from everything else.  Unlike a city like Temecula, which was also wine country, you can’t really be in the heart of places like Los Angeles, San Diego, Disneyland, Laguna Beach, or Palm Springs within 30-120 minutes.  On the other hand, you have the ocean nearby, so that’s the trade-off.  There’s always a trade-off.  That’s life.  It’s what makes things interesting.