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Mackenna Lee


Disembark, Grow, Illuminate.

Santa Barbara – The Retirement Dream

There is a quiet to the air in Santa Barbara that makes you take a deep breath and decide, “Yep, this is the place I should retire to”.


The cascading cliffs ease into a boundless, crisp ocean. A continual morning fog sets scenes from an Agatha Christie novel. While that sounds terrifying, the beauty was surreal, buildings with distinct Spanish inspiration dotted the streets and flowers leapt over white stucco walls with blooms in rich scarlet and magenta.


Walking around town felt like home. There was a familiarity to it, even though I had never been there.


Santa Barbara feels like home, but also feels like vacation. Its the perfect balance, close enough to my memories, far enough to feel an escape.

And then there was the hike.

Up on a hill, high above the clouds, there is a mansion that burned down within weeks of its construction. What remains now is an ill-fated attempt to refurbish the property for the occasional tourist. Ruins from the mansion draw people in, but there is a significant amount of construction equipment that litters the space as well.


The site is marked by three different feelings. The grand opulence of a former mansion, riddled to stones and arches that offer a lens to the outside. What once was, and could be for one exclusive family now is a frame to view what belongs to us all.


Empty wheelbarrows and cement slabs show a man’s quick hand to enterprise. The venture of a calculated mind, hoping to earn some fanfare for a forgotten place.


And lastly the mountains, who are throughout all the time, unchanging. They stay, waiting in the distance and patient throughout  the changing adornments dotted on their faces.


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