Santa Barbara on the 4th of July
At the moment we're staying in a small town (3500 inhabitants) called Buellton, up in the hills above Santa Barbara. Despite having only 3/4 of the population of Veberöd, it seems to take up at least twice the area, in true American style. Enormous signs on the freeway point out that Buellton is the home of split pea soup, and indeed our motel is called "Andersens Pea Soup". Nice place with a pool in the interior courtyard. Now the point of staying here was not Buellton itself (apologies to the inhabitants) but rather that it was only 3 miles from Solvang, a village founded by Danish immigrants in the 1920s. We were curious to see what this could be like. Well, it was borderline kitsch but nevertheless fairly tasteful. Naturally there was a big bust of Hans Christian Andersen in the main square. We snapped a few curious signs and would like to share the Hamlet Motel with you.
On the 4th of July we headed down to Santa Barbara to see the SB Mission and witness the Independence Day parade. To tell the truth I was a bit nervous about the latter as I wasn't sure how American patriotism might manifest itself on such a day in these post-9/11 times. In the end it was no big deal (see later). The Mission is the oldest in California and a very atmospheric place. Sorry for the dearth of further detail here, but when you have to keep an eye on two boisterous kids it's hard to pay attention to anything enought to get more than superficial detail.
So the Independence Day parade. I was impressed by the fact that the first out were the Santa Barbara Scottish Society and their pipe band. The military aspects were also fairly low key and there were a reassuring number of people with "Troops out of Iraq now" stickers and placards. Maybe that's just Santa Barbara for you. I have the impression it's a fairly liberal place. Saskia loved the way every second float or so would have someone throwing out sweets. She managed to amass more than 40.
We hung around for the fireworks display at 9pm and were not disappointed. Tens of thousands of people crowded down on the pier but we kept to the back reaches of the crowd, mainly to make a swift exit when it was over, as we had an hour's drive back to Buellton. Met a couple of guys from Nevada who had come to California to cool down. Apparently back home it had been over 114F, or 43°C.