Lots of people want to escape the winter blues and California is a great place to do it.  The wife and I tried going to Sonoma Valley for wine tasting the last two years.  The first year was fantastic with 72 degree weather and sun the whole weekend, but last year, as many of you know, it basically rained all winter in California.  We decide to try something slightly different this year.  Based upon the recommendation of a wine-hobbyist friend, we tried going to Santa Barbara and the surrounding area for a three-day weekend.

Grabbing a great fare was too easy with Alaska Airlines.  We got a round trip BWI-LAX for $240 RT.  This route is still not heavily traveled and that’s a pretty typical price for the first quarter of the year.  Note that BWI-SAN is similarly cheap.  It’s doubly cheap for an MVP Gold (or Gold 75K like my wife) as I got almost 10,000 AS miles since AS still awards miles on distance, not revenue and doubles them for Gold (my wife got a 125% bonus).  Blogging wisdom values AS miles at 2.0 cents each, which means that I got back about $200 in value and my wife did even better.

So off to L.A. we went.  First stopping at The Club in BWI that I recently reviewed here.  We were upgraded to Frist days ahead of the flight due to the low passenger count.  Traveling in AS style, we reached L.A. by noon and picked up our rental car at Hertz for the roughly two hour drive to Santa Barbara.  I should mention that the Hertz rental for the weekend was free due to point acquired from work travels.  Bloggers don’t often talk about getting points from rental cars, but they do pay off.  I still had to pay $26 in taxes, but saved about $250 by using Hertz points.  Never let a point go to waste!

The weather at LAX was only 59 degrees, but that felt great to someone coming from D.C. Changed into a polo shirt when we got the car and started the beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  I should mention that I grew up in L.A. so I knew the terrain like the back of my hand and was thrilled to be back in L.A. even if only for a long weekend.  PCH is a beautiful drive.  Sure it is a little crowded, but once past Malibu, that really thins out and it is a beautiful four lane highway right along the Pacific Coast.  Can’t ask for better than that.

Lot’s of little beach towns characterize the landscape between the coastal mountains and the ocean as you drive up PCH.  Beautiful views and feel free to pull out and stop to take some pics or just admire the view.  Just be careful merging back on to PCH as everyone pretty much goes 70!

Past the iconic peak in the photo of the left and PCH turns inward towards Oxnard where it joins up with Hwy 101.  Less beautiful there, but still nice as you pass through the various mid-sized cities, such as Ventura.  We didn’t stop there, but my parents used to take us there on vacation and there is a lot of nice things to see and do there.  For us, it was on to Santa Barbara and the Fess Parker Hotel.  More on that tomorrow.



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