Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 21- Santa Cruz

It was so nice to be in an established campground last night, and not sleeping outside on the side of the road with mice; but the view and experience wasn't! We woke up fairly early, and I eyed everything I had for breakfast and wasn't feeling ANY of it. Luckily, the KOA has a store and I took a walk down there to see what I could find. Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino drink, cream cheese, and a yogurt sounded better to add with our bagels back at the car. We packed all of our belongings and headed for the beaches of Santa Cruz! Our first stop was to see a lighthouse, because who doesn't enjoy lighthouses. This one in particular is also Santa Cruz's Surfing Museum, back in 2008; facing a budget crisis, the Santa Cruz City Council voted to close the Surfing Museum. That was when Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society quickly stepped up and raised $10,000 to keep the lighthouse open. Then Jack O’Neill donated $4,000 for the cause, as well as several other individuals. The City of Santa Cruz has approved a plan for the society to assume responsibility for the museum in perpetuity. It is pretty amazing when the faith in the human population can come together and do something for the greater good. We didn't go in the lighthouse, but enjoyed it's brick exterior before talking a walk along the oceanside. There were surfers out near the rock point in which they would surf the swell of the water crashing against the rock. Walking along further, we saw the pier in the distance (which we would spend some time at later,) as well as the surfing monument which reads: "dedicated to all surfers, past present and future." It was such a beautiful day to be outside, and many other tourists and locals thought the same thing. On our walk back to the car, we even came across a gaggle of soccer moms stating the latest gossip while walking in a synchronized form. The next stop was an online Google, like most of our destinations were; but this one was truly spectacular and not overcrowded. It was a beach with a natural rock arch formation in the middle of the water. The beach sand was so far from the shore and it was so hot on my feet I wanted to just run to the water, it should be called Seagull beach for the amount of seagulls hanging around. We snapped many photos of the arch, got our feet wet in the water, and explored around a path that brought us out on to some rock ledges. The rock was so smooth from the constant crashing of the sea water on top, I walked as far as I could to the end before turning around to find Anna sitting taking it all in; I joined her. We decided to head to the boardwalk to see what that was all about. Just one thing stood in our way, the hot sand and calf workout of the uphill sand excursion. Once we arrived at the boardwalk, and figured out the confusing parking meter directions, we entered to find the place deserted. Should have figured it would be closed on off season during the week! Oh well, we walked around anyways taking photos of empty rides, buildings, and funny looking Dr. Seuss-like statues. This place reminded me of Six Flags, or Disney World; the colors were just so friendly and happy even with no one around. Ever since being at the lighthouse this morning; we heard sea lions off in the distance but didn't see any, as we walked around the pier it seemed like they were closer sounding. We walked out onto the pier and finally realized why they sounded so close; they were all fighting for retail space on top of the fishing boat docks below. We walked down the stairs to see them and they were so cute! The further we walked, we realized how many sea lions were around; they lined the rafters on the pier below. They were also probably more mean and vicious than cute, after watching them interact with one another. At times it was almost like a circus act watching them jump up out of the water and try to land on top of the rafter. Walking around the pier sure subliminally suggests lunch with all of their tantalizing fried seafood smells. We went to a few stoops to read the menu posted outside; the price of seafood I tell you! We decided to walk back to the start of the pier to a restaurant we saw on the corner of the street on our way to the pier. We chose to sit outside on the patio because well, it's California who wants to eat inside with a view like the beach? As we sat, I read the menu's disclaimer of water only being served upon request; oh right, we are in California. The drought is so bad this year and there are water conservation notices posted in every restaurant, bathroom, and public place. I decided to go with the fish tacos (something I had never tried up until probably two years ago, and now I am basically obsessed with.) They were really good. We decided to conclude our daily activities with a relaxing beach session before leaving Santa Cruz this evening. The beach wasn't overly packed like when I go to Rhode Island in the summer and you are basically sharing a towel with your neighbor; sand? No we don't see sand in New England only towels overlapping. I switched between laying down, sitting up people watching, and walking to feel the ocean water. I kept applying sun screen since I didn't want what happened to me in Los Angeles a few months ago, to happen again. For those who haven't read about my prior road trip back in April/May; be sure to look back in the blog and read, for those of you that did and need a refresher; my face was the color of ketchup. There was also a young family sitting in front of us, with a child of maybe 3 years old. They would switch off between smoking a joint, and playing with the kid; responsible I guess? Other than the beers in their hands as well. As my favorite part of the beach day neared, everyone started packing up to go home and I relaxed even more. Then I noticed the guy from the family earlier, he was looking in the sand for something and I asked if he forgot something; seems his wife lost one of her shoes. Typical, though after helping him look for 5 minutes or so he left empty handed and we headed out shortly after. Our road trip is coming to a close, and we need to start heading back in the direction of Reno; but tomorrow's agenda is Lake Tahoe. The idea was to just drive somewhere in between, find somewhere to camp, eat and go to bed to drive further in the morning. We drove into the beautiful mountain sunset, while trying to find a campground at a reasonable price. This ended in us just getting a hotel room since a campsite was $68.00 and I rather sleep in a bed if I am going to spend more than $30-40.00 for tenting! I found this to be true at the end of any kind of trip or adventure I've been on; at the end you treat yourself; because well, it's almost over. The hotel room would be a nice cap to the end of our journey before one last night in Reno at Jonny's. As it dawned on me that I didn't want to eat a dehydrated meal again for dinner; and we are still in California, and mainly the fact that Anna had never had In 'N Out Burger I asked if she was interested. She explained she would defiantly be game for it so I typed it into my navigation. To my surprise it was basically across the street from our hotel, even better! Now a quick statement about In 'N Out burger, and the fact that I don't eat fast food. Back in Connecticut we have Five Guys; my favorite burger place, sure you may argue that it is technically fast food, They make it from real meat to order. Second; I never understood the hype over In 'N Out burger even after eating there twice when I was in LA a few months ago. This trip is what made me understand it; it's not so much about the burger being amazing (to me) it's more about the mystery of the hidden menu, the nostalgic of experiencing it, and not having one regularly available to me. I left Los Angeles saying I don't really see myself going again that it was just an experience, well here I am again; and excited about it. I ordered both my burger and fries animal style (delicious sauce, sautéed onions, extra pickles, mustard. The fries have melted cheese added to it.) It hit the spot to say the least, I still love you more Five Guys. We got settled in our room at the hotel (which was more like a motel since it had outdoor entry) but it was nice either way. Again, I should be using this time to blog; but instead I decided to take a montage of selfies because I liked how my beach hair looked, showered, uploaded photos, and listened to music before drifting off to sleep; in a bed!

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