After Olivia's birthday lunch with the family, we embarked on our next destination, Santa Barbara. It probably wasn't wise to leave Orange County mid-afternoon. We got stuck in LA rush hour traffic and crawled along to our destination.
Four hours plus later, we finally arrived at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara. By then it was dark, cold and rainy. We had already decided to cut our stay there from 3 nights to 2. However, between the weather and the "special" pricing (ala Uber surge pricing) for staying over New Years Eve, we decided one night there was enough.
We celebrated the end of Olivia's birthday at dinner. Luckily for the kids, this hotel was owned by Ty Warner, of Beanie Babies fame. They each got their pick of a Beanie Boo. Luckily for Ty Warner, these kids help fund his hotel purchase.
Perhaps we should have waited until the next day to decide to depart, when it was sunny, cold and not raining. The dimly lit restaurant from the evening before turned out to be a sun-filled, ocean-side atrium. It was about 55 degrees and Olivia was in her bikini at the beach. Those kids just don't care. We retreated to the beach club pool for a while and then back to the resort pool for lunch and swimming. By then, it was feeling like winter.
We got them bathed and changed in time for our late check out. There was a silver lining for leaving early. Just as I was finishing loading the car, I heard someone call my name (er, nickname). I looked around and saw one of my Michigan buddies, Bush, who was actually one of my pledge brothers. He was on a family trip to celebrate his dad's birthday and wasn't even staying at the resort, which made it more coincidental. It's been over 10 years since we last saw each other.
We got on the road towards home, which didn't seem that much closer than from LA. Instead of a big party at the hotel, we opted for dinner at Subway, which we ate on the road. Everyone was happy to finally be home, just like last New Year's Eve. The only one missing from our party was Snickers. Sniff.