The male and female firearm experts of American Home Defense shape their shooting and self-defense classes around legal regulations with an emphasis on personal safety. In private shooting lessons, students learn to handle three of the most common handguns and home-defense classes equip participants with the know-how to protect their families from intruders or a neighbor's moat monster.
The impressionist painters who inspired winemaker Bion Rice raised shimmering mirages in which soft-edged daubs of paint seem to grant motion to ballerinas or swaying river rushes. At Artiste, Bion draws inspiration from their work, attempting to raise distant landscapes with grapes rather than rough brushstrokes. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes call up the sun-steeped fields of the Napa Valley, and chardonnay grapes carry one away to the Russian River Valley on straw-hued sweetness. Bion calls the blends “impressionist cuvees,” and he produces small batches of them, their corks sealed beneath thick, hand-dipped cloaks of crimson wax.
The bottles are labeled with colorful impressionist paintings, and in a tasting room and studio, the harmonious relationship between wine and art is even further cemented. The whisper of brushes on canvas drifts from paint-dappled tables, where guests bring to life sweeping forest vistas or criminal lineups of pine trees. A rotating array of paintings lines the walls, including works from artists such as Aldo Luongo, an Argentinian artist whose contrasting colors and rippling brushstrokes seem to gaze up from a clear lake. Wine glasses chime together, punctuating the lilting rhythm of classical guitarists or the constant weeping of trombone players during live music events.
FastFrame outlines photographs and wall-worthy art with more than 1,000 frames in styles ranging from baroque gold trims to funky, contemporary schemes. Dedicated to craftsmanship and creativity, professional framers help select matting hues to complement a diploma or the original Bill of Rights banning knuckle cracking. All projects are completed onsite, ensuring that no materials get dented or lost by clumsy carrier pigeons, and clients can return any custom designs for complete retooling within 30 days if they don't match homes' décor.
For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.
At Ostrich Land, visitors quickly learn that ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand—they'd much rather bury them in a bowl of food that you hold out in front of you. They're also not fond of waiting their turn, and at any given moment, you might have four beaks dipping into your supply. The experience is a far cry from throwing bread at ducks or pigeons. These birds are the world's largest: they can reach up to 9 feet in height and weigh 350 pounds. At top speed, they hit 45 miles per hour on their massive, two-toed feet.
Having been raised around people and trained to eat from outstretched bowls, the park's 50 ostriches and emus welcome spectators from their savannah-like enclosure. They're also celebrities in their own right, with bit roles in the film Sideways as well appearances in a Santa Maria Times video feature and a tongue-in-cheek homage in an episode of The Simpsons. Dispensing the animals' supper is only one way in which guests can get close—a stop inside the gift shop reveals shelves of ready-to-cook ostrich and emu eggs, ostrich feather dusters, and savory ostrich meat shipped in from a separate farm not affiliated with Ostrich Land. Also in stock are vials of emu oil, a substance with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that can soothe the skin.
All 78 acres of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are bursting with life. More than 1,000 species of native Californian plants and regional flora line its 5.5 miles of serene, public trails, allowing visitors to witness the overwhelming diversity of the Pacific coastline's plant life. Along with stands of oaks and riparian woodlands, botanical collections inhabit precisely arranged landscapes, echoing the founders' goal from 1926 to create a garden that would "unite the aesthetic, educational and scientific." In 2003, Santa Barbara County rewarded the garden's decades of cultural and scientific contributions, granting County Historic Landmark status to 23 of the acres.
The garden's specimens and displays exist just as much for education as they do for appreciation. Guests can gather landscaping ideas from the Home Demonstration Garden, a cottage surrounded with water-conserving plants. The Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden melds traditional East Asian design with California-native flora. Throughout the grounds, tour guides dispense invaluable information on the displays and the retired tree nymphs that tend them. Additionally, scientific researchers use the facilities in their efforts to both study and conserve numerous rare and endangered species.