Santa Cruz, California

Up this morning in Monterey early for a quick breakfast as provided by the motel and then we walked into town for coffee at Peets.

Then we walked on looking for the Mission in Monterey. After wandering a bit, we found it and had a good look around.

I’m really starting to like looking at these old California missions. Lots of interesting history there from well before Mexico owned California. As always, lots of photographs were taken. Colette’s been a lot better about posting them on Facebook than I have been.

Then we returned to the room and checked out and drove down to see Cannery Row in Monterey. John Steinbeck would not, I’m sure, have recognized it. Shops and restaurants everywhere and, scattered about, a few photos and memorabilia of the days he wrote about. There was a huge aquarium there, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well but time was pressing us and these folks wanted $25 each for admission – so we passed. I think I can find it all on the Science Channel or rent the video.

After that, we retraced our steps back to Carmel to see the Mission there. We’d arrived the previous night just as they were closing up so we wanted to return for another look. I was surprised. This might be the nicest of the missions we seen in terms of beauty and preserved artifacts and good explanations. It was a beautiful place.

Nearby was a shopping center where we’d gone into Safeway the day before. We returned there again and bought a little tray of sushi for lunch and then went next door to an area with a collection of small shops called the Crossroads Shopping Center. That place was a sleeper. Very cool and upscale shops. Carmel is a bit higher on the wealth food chain than I’d realized.

While we were sitting having a coffee, a camera crew came by and did a take just in front of us. Depending on which of the three takes they use, we may be on local television in the background. Not that we’ll ever know since we’ll be gone but it’s fun to think about. The shoot had something to do with the shopping center and the things it offers, I believe.

All sorted and caffienated, we started north now up the 101 towards Santa Cruz (SC). Not a lot that was interesting to see along the way. Once into SC we did our normal routine and found a coffee shop with free WiFi, went to booking.com and looked up motels and scanned for the ones with good rates ($59 to $69), with free WiFI and with a complementary breakfast. Bingo! They’ve been easy to find thus far and we’ve been pretty happy with what we’ve found. I’ve even limped around once or twice and gotten us another $10 off for my being an elderly fellow (smile).

So, we found a nice one here only three blocks from the waterfront and the SC pier. We got in quite early since Monterey and SC are so close together so by 3 PM, we were checked in and ready to go adventuring.

We took off walking and went down to the wharf and walked all the way out too the end. It is long! Big Sea Lions out there sleeping on the under-pilings of the pier, diving, and calling out. It was big fun to watch them. Then, we walked back in and took off west along the shoreline on a bike/walking trail.

The view was beautiful. Monterey Bay is quite large but, when it is clear, you can easily see across it to the southern side where Monterey is. Today, it was partially foggy but we could see the hills above the far side quite well.

The coastline where we were walking turns and twists and is mostly a cliff about thirty feet high and fairly steep. At one point, down near the lighthouse. there was a place where stairs went part way down and where you could climb over the big rocks the rest of the way. A dozen of so teenagers were carrying down oversized surfboards which they slipped into the water between waves and then mounted two-by-two until there were four boards and eight kids out there. All laying belly down on the board one in front of the other. They were having a great time while another 10 or 12 folks watched them from above chase around a rock and through the incoming waves. It’s pretty obvious that kids here grow up eating and breathing the surfing life.

I was really tired when we got back. Thinking over it, I realized that we’ve talked long distances day after day now for four days and it’s a bit more that I’ve been used to. One of my knees was talking to me a bit so I’m thinking it’s time to give it a rest. Tomorrow, we’ll rent bicycles and get a different kind of exercise. We’re going to ride out along the long boardwalk that they have here in SC – which we’re looking forward to.

This evening was lucky for us. The restaurant down at the base of the wharf has whole, live, Maine lobsters on special on Wednesday evenings for $11.95. And today is WEDNESDAY!

So, down we went. Big lobsters all in their shell; complete. We had fun breaking them apart – yum! Lot of work though and a messy business.

Now we’re in for the evening and just hanging out. This time tomorrow, we’ll be at my buddy Dave’s place in Benecia in the San Francisco area jusy north of Richmond.

Dennis

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