TRAVELING WITH A GAL PAL

After 47 years of marriage, traveling with Peter was a no-brainer. We had our routine down pat. He got the tickets online. I planned the rest. We're not talking a great division of labor here, but it worked for us. I mapped out lunches, dinners, and walks while Peter begged for nap times. Our favorite place to visit was Santa Barbara. There is something so peaceful about walking on Butterfly Beach that centered us both. We would stroll hand in hand, with the wind blowing, the ocean ebbing in and out, and our eyes on the horizon looking for a glimpse of a dolphin jumping out of the waves. We worshiped at the Zen of the Santa Barbara beaches. That was our religion. That was our meditative state. That was our sense of peace.

Since Peter died I have traveled to New York and to my college reunion. I have visited a girlfriend in Florida at New Year's but, this summer, I decided to brave Santa Barbara and go for a week with my friend, Kath. There were no tickets to buy because we were driving. We planned on taking two cars in case we wanted to branch off and besides, we both love audio books so much, we figured we would happily read our way up from Los Angeles. (The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman is a treasure.)

I was quite aware it wouldn't be anything like the romantic times Peter and I had experienced, but I had some anticipation going, which these days is a very good thing. I have been walking with Kath for 30-plus years and I knew we would be a good fit. Even though I had some tearful moments missing Peter, I tried to find the positives in traveling with a girlfriend instead of a mate.

Kath and I woke up early and, if the tides permitted, we took a long beach walk on the sand stopping to pet dogs and say hello. Everyone is friendly in Santa Barbara including the canines. If the tides were not in our favor, we drove down by the bird sanctuary, parked, and walked the path to the wharf, passing by the zoo, while catching glimpses of the giraffes being fed. We used a step App and clocked ourselves at 13,000 steps each day. Peter would have quit at 1,000 steps for sure, or at least he would have kvetched after 15 minutes! We then made ourselves fresh yogurt and fruit for a light and very satisfying breakfast. With Peter, I would have had to dangle a carrot of a full egg and bacon breakfast (no carrots included), to coax him into finishing the walk. We went to dinner with women friends and had remarkable meals, having no trouble putting four credit cards down on the table. It was key that Kath, or any friend with whom I travel, loves to eat, because food is part of my DNA, and I must obsess about my meals! Shopping was another activity Peter detested. Kath and I hit a few stores and even ventured to the outlet mall which would have given Peter true nightmares. If Peter and I ever ventured to the outlet stores, I had to put him in the car after 15 minutes, with the AC on full blast, and an iPhone in his hand.

I resolved that I had to travel with someone that didn't keep me waiting. Kath and I both respect time and it made our trip stress-free. We are also early risers who hit the hay early as well, which makes traveling a pleasure. Our mutual love of good wine didn't hurt either!

After we had walked our feet off, we had our "rest hour" and reveled in sharing beauty tips! I told her about my beloved Boots No. 7 serum and she told me about her Benefit under eye concealer. I spritzed her with my Big Sexy Hair mousse and we marched around in Velcro rollers with no one even blinking! I think my fave afternoon of the trip, after walking six miles, was watching back-to-back Nancy Meyers movies while knitting.

Traveling has new meaning for me in my new normal. I am still not ready to venture far, but I am taking baby steps on my journey. Do they have a baby step App?

SANTA BARBARA TIPS:

Favorite Dinner: The Lark in the Funk Zone (ask to sit outside)
Favorite Lunch in the Summer: The Biltmore Hotel sitting outside facing the ocean (seafood cobb)
Favorite Lunch on a Cooler Day: Tre Lune on Coast Village Road (order tuna tartare)
Favorite Place to Have Drinks: The Plow and Angel at the San Ysidro Ranch sitting outside.
Other Restaurant Suggestions: Ca' Dario, Lucky's, Olio e Limone, Sly's,
Best Ice Cream: Rori's Artisinal Creamery (order an itty bitty cone of black pepper pistachio)
Best Walk: Park at the bird sanctuary and walk on the path down to the wharf and back which is 5 miles.
Best Beach Walk: Butterfly Beach at low tide (wear sneaks since there is a lot of tar)
Best Place to Have Coffee: Pierre La Fond in the Upper Village of Montecito
Best Gallery: Just Folk Gallery in Summerland for American Folk Art and Outsider Art
Best Place to Spend Time on a Cool Afternoon: The wonderfully small and easily navigated Santa Barbara Zoo
Best Place to Buy Produce: Santa Barbara Farmers' Market on Saturday Morning at the corner of Santa Barbara and Cota.

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