When I was 19, still the innocence of a baby lamb, I was dating a surfer whom would become my first husband. We were hanging out at his rental at La Conchita beach, somewhat board, when he invited me to go to Lotus Land.
Upon arriving, Grant instructed me to park my car by the wall, away from the entrance. Grant proceeded to say “Come on’ ” and over the wall he went. I was shocked! Under the impression we were going to a legally “open to the public” paid garden exhibit, otherwise I would not have agreed. The parking situation should have clued me, but no; I peeked over the wall and the entire length was littered with beer bottles & cans, so I surmised, although uncomfortable, this must be a common occurrence. There I was, falling in Love, and I hoisted myself up and falling over the wall.
We didn’t get very far when we happened upon 87-year old Madame Genna Wilaska. We were caught! (I always get caught if ever doing something out of character) I tried to act outwardly calm by asking her if I may take some pictures. She turned slowly, looked at us, raising her cain yelling GUARDS – GUARDS!!!!. Right then I heard dogs barking, in my mind I just knew a pack of dobermans had been released & headed for us to take us down. Grant took off, leaving me – omen. I, running in a different direction, came upon the huge metal driveway entry gates. A quick exit stage right, & I was able to follow Grant back over the wall, hearts pounding, speeding off before the entire Montecito police surrounded us where we would be booked, forever a stain on my family, a slammer statistic.
In retrospect, Madame was frightened herself. Her reaction was quite shrewd and effective.
Years later, with my wonderful husband that deserves my heart and hand, we made reservation, and visited legally for our 20th wedding anniversary. I asked the tour guide about the guard dogs. She said the Madame didn’t have dogs. I guess my negative imagination was on overdrive…I could have sworn I heard them chasing after us.
The grounds are stunning. If ever near Santa Barbara, take the time to enjoy walking in a botanical wonderland…Lotus Land.