August 6, 2010

Santa Cruz, Part 1

Greetings from Santa Cruz! As I mentioned before, this week I escaped the relentless Sacramento heat and joined my parents at our summer rental in Santa Cruz. It's been great to get away and relax for a few days, plus I was able to catch up and spend some time with my best friend, Liz, who met me here for a couple days : )
Our cute little beach house : ) 
I left early Wednesday afternoon and besides a little bit of traffic, had a smooth drive and arrived in Santa Cruz just after lunchtime. The weather was nice and cool and refreshing - quite a difference from what I'm used to! Liz arrived an hour or so after me and we headed down to the beach, literally a block away : ) My dad was already down there with my dog who was exhausted from playing on the beach all afternoon. Liz and took a short walk down the beach but after awhile the wind became too much so we headed back to the house. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a trip to Whole Foods - such a dangerous place for me! Liz and I hit up a sample table where they were serving something called bolani topped with various sauces and spreads and fell in love. It was some sort of Afghan flatbread stuffed with spinach (they also had pumpkin, potato, and lentil) and is super healthy, too! Seriously, check it out. We were so excited when we left with some! The rest of the night included a home cooked dinner and watching a movie, after which I promptly passed out.
Oh how I've missed the beach...
Dad and dog playing in the water!
The pup loves her a big stick : )
My soulmate
Talk about beautiful...

Thursday morning I was up early for a run with my dad and the dog. From our house we headed along the coast toward the quaint town of Capitola. It was a brisk and foggy morning, typical for Santa Cruz and quite refreshing for running. We did a loop through Capitola, headed up a gnarly hill, then back home for a total of 5 miles. I came home to a fresh batch of pancakes topped with banana which I quickly inhaled : )
My running partners!
Cruising along the coast...
Seaside Capitola : )
Heading down to Capitola!
Foggy morning.
The pup and I post-run!

That afternoon we all drove down to the harbor for an exciting activity - kayaking! My dad had never been and wanted to try it out, so he, Liz, and I rented one single and one double, got fitted into some rad wetsuits and headed down to the dock! I had only been kayaking once - in Santa Barbara for my roommates birthday - and didn't have the most pleasant experience. It was much harder than I thought it would be! But I was excited to try it again, especially in a double where I would have a little help : )
All wetsuited up!
 Santa Cruz harbor.
 Paddles are like weapons. Yield with caution!
We were fine as we made our way through the harbor. Once Liz and I got a rhythm going we were just cruising along, that is until we got to the end of the harbor and tried to make our way out into the open ocean! It was super windy that afternoon and the waves out there were intense. My dad had taken off without a backwards glance meanwhile Liz and I spent a good 10 minutes paddling our asses off trying to get away from the rocks we kept drifting dangerously toward. But as hard as we rowed we just didn't seem to move! Finally we unstuck ourselves and fought the gnarly waves and headed out toward my dad. We spotted an otter as we paddled out, playing and diving in the water. We spent about a half hour out there during which we basically could not control our kayak and paddled futilely. Eventually my dad agreed that the waves were too much and we made our way back into the harbor. With the wind on our back now things became much easier : ) We spotted a couple seals this time, popping their heads up briefly to say hello. By this time our arms were dead and my poor hands were stuck in a curled position from gripping the paddle : ( I had a fantastic time though and would love to do it again!
 And we're off!
The rocks are where we got stuck!
We made it!

That evening we went out for dinner at a restaurant in the harbor with a great view of a lighthouse and the water. We decided to splurge and order dessert - and wow they did not disappoint! I had the decadent and rich Kahlua chocolate cake that was huge! Mmmm : )
 Liz and I at dinner : )
Amazing view from the restaurant!
After dinner we headed to the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It was already packed so we chose a few rides, bought our tickets, and hopped in our first line. My dad has been coming to Santa Cruz since he was a boy and every year has rode the wooden rollercoaster (built in 1924!) called the Giant Dipper, so we hit up that first to keep up the tradition. Thrilling as always! Next we waited in line forever to ride the twirling, upside down Fireball! Totally worth the wait : ) Lastly we waited in another long line for a ride that lasted all of one minute, Double Shot, which takes you up a 125' tower then drops you. Fun, but over in an instant. This one I could have definitely skipped. At this point we were all so exhausted from a long and busy day that we gladly headed home to change into pjs and snuggle with some blankets.
Santa Cruz wharf and volleyball courts.
Sky Gliders : )
Giant Dipper!

To be continued...


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