National Parks Week is April 21-29 this year, which means, admission to all the US National Parks is FREE.
Visit the National Parks Service to see which parks this includes then plan your trip!
Photograph: Tunnel View, Yosemite, by Don J. Schulte
After our dazzling adventure in Half Moon Bay Saturday, we headed down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. We did not stop in Pescadero for artichoke anything, and we did not stop at Pigeon Point to look for whales, and we did not stop to watch the kite surfers — we just wanted to get to the beach.
We tried out Natural Bridges but it was a bit nippy so we ended up at the boardwalk — it’s a bit more inside the bay so more sheltered and warmer. Oddly, this is the first time Chad and I have set up camp on the boardwalk beach together.
We ate, then went for a stroll down the boardwalk. It was insanely crowded and took us ages to get to the far end.
Then we decided to go ahead and walk out to the end of the pier.
We saw a rockabilly beach wedding and battling sea lions and an awesomely cool X-wing kite.
By the time we started walking back, the sun was already setting.
Our beach blankie was practically the only thing left — everyone had packed up and gone home already.
We watched the sun set over the parking lot from the beginning of Lost Boys.
Then we headed downtown.
Things to do in downtown Santa Cruz on a Saturday evening:
Admire the gorgeous lamps at Om Gallery.
Have a tikka kebab and samosas and pomegranate juice for dinner at Khyber Pass, then some Princess Torte for dessert at Hoffman’s Bakery.
Visit with some very hep mannequins at one of the various vintage shops.**
Say hello to my friend Gordon the Cheesemonger author on display at Logo’s bookstore.
* If you are wondering why we skipped from part one to part three, it’s because I have not done the part two photos yet. Life just works out that way sometimes.
** that photo of me is from several weeks ago but I needed something to fill the space. and I wanted to show you that I finally made something out of one of those spectacular vintage glass rings I got at the Alameda Antiques Fair months and months and months ago.
Saturday we went on a date day down the coast [I know, I know, you're all shocked]. We used our new Fastrak gadget [a debit thingy that allows you to zip through the toll lines at the bridges here] on the San Mateo Bridge for the first time, then sat in lots of traffic going over the peninsula hills because it was Saturday and gorgeous out and who wouldn’t want to go to the ocean. I mean, really, this is why we all live in California.
Our friend George had a gig at a café in Half Moon Bay that we tried to catch but we were late because of the traffic and me screaming STOP HERE!!!! when I spotted the BERRIES 99¢ sign at the honey + produce stand.
99¢ is a third what blackberries and blueberries cost over on our side of the bay and corn was 10/$1 so you’d better believe we stocked up. In case you didn’t hear me, that’s TEN CENTS FOR AN ENTIRE EAR OF CORN.
And there was lots of local honey.
When we got downtown, George was already headed out, so we said hi then picked up some picnic provisions at the deli and did a little window shopping on Main Street. I loved this under the sea wedding cake:
While Chad was picking out cheese, I ran across the street for a fix at The Posh Moon, which is a lovely little boutique run by a seriously francophilic [?] mother and daughter and is wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling romantic neutral bohemian etc. clothing and accessories and some housewares, many of which are made by locals — I’m just in love with this girl Effie’s line that they carry. Anyway. It is the sweetest place and I just love walking in there. I bought a green silk summer blouse and a tiny pewter blowfish made by an artist in Rhode Island — I’ll try to take a picture of it later because it’s about the cutest little figurine ever.
I snapped a shot of their ribbon flower hair clips as a reminder, there’s an excellent book at our library about making these and it’s something I keep meaning to do. But you should go buy some, they’re very affordable.
I shall return with part two of our day.
I put up a few more photos from our anniversary trip [here!] and wanted to share one of my favorite attractions anywhere, which is also by far the most disgusting attraction I know of — the San Luis Obispo gum wall. It’s a little walkway between two buildings, the walls of which are completely covered by ABC gum. It’s very cool but very gross.
Apparently there are other gum walls around the world.
Carmel was lovely lovely lovely. LOVELY! Chad was more relaxed that I’ve seen him in years. Seriously. The boy is always worrying about this or that he has to do. He swam with me and smiled at me and kissed me all weekend and was generally sweet and calm and happy.
So we took this last-minute overnight trip to Monterey. We drove down 101, which goes through farmland and took a break at Mission San Juan Bautista [the climax of Vertigo takes place here] and saw more than a few hens and chicks and roosters and a wedding. We arrived at our cute little cabin –
An aside here, if you are going to be in the Monterey-Carmel-Big Sur area, you could do a lot worse than staying at the Carmel River Inn. It is not super fancy but it is the cutest little green cabins with cut-out shutters and they are very reasonably priced — ours was $110 for a summer Saturday night, which is chump change in that area. There are lots of flowers and frogs and crickets and the staff is nice and it’s a short drive from anything you want to do.
– which turned out to be the one I have been eyeing since the first time we went there, it is the most removed and sits at the edge of a field and has an enclosed patio and gets great light. We took a swim — it was a hot day but the water felt nice and warm — then we went down to Carmel Beach [white sand, pale blue-green water, very sexy!] to watch the sunset and another wedding. That’s *the* Lone Cypress out there on the point.
We tried to go to Vivolo’s for dinner — they have the most amazing clam chowder — but they close whenever they feel like it, which that night was just as we arrived, so we went to a BBQ joint and I ate SO. MUCH. MEAT. Then went back to our cabin for some stargazing from the hammock out back and went to bed early.
Saturday morning we woke up super-early — very unlike us, we can barely drag ourselves out of bed before check-out — and I went for a swim, then made a quick stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea to stop by the Cottage of Sweets, home of the World of Licorice, because we needed to stock up.
We had breakfast at Toastie’s in Pacific Grove and there was some kind of bicycling extravaganza that started with a race between a hundred or so children, followed by grown people doing a zillion laps around downtown for the rest of the day.
We headed over to Cannery Row in Monterey [yes, the Steinbeck one] to find the sea glass beach I’d read about. Turns out there is a little public access beach right in the middle, it’s a sweet little yellow-sand cove with tidepools, and on the south/east end there are quite a few tiny bits of sea glass.
I met a woman from Arizona who was just beside herself with glee over this. I wanted bigger pieces so Chad and I ventured underneath the boardwalk — you can clamber over the old pieces of older iterations of the boardwalk, rusty old pipes and hunks of ancient concrete, almost all the way down to the aquarium. It was very dark under there but I found a few larger pieces of glass and gave the biggest to the Arizona lady since she doesn’t have her own ocean to explore whenever she feels like it.
We drove down Sunset, which goes around the point at the end of Monterey past a bunch of tidepools and a golf course and an old lighthouse, and stopped at Asilomar State Beach [check out the Julia Morgan Architecture just over the dunes]. Asilomar is another of those white sand, pale blue-green water beaches like Carmel. We had an hour or so of sun before the fog rolled in and lolled in the sand and it was really, really, really nice. Just super.
Chad went in the 55° water because he is crazy. We went for a walk almost all the way down to the next beach over, which is along 17-Mile Drive and a hop-skip from Pebble Beach Of Golf Fame.
We got a ticket because there is a sign that says “no parking between this and the next sign” then there is another sign five feet away but I guess that is not the next sign they mean.
We had ice cream at this wacky little parlor that is covered floor-to-ceiling with Beatles collectibles. We stopped in Castroville, home of the Giant Artichoke, on the way home and got the most amazing food, which is deep fried artichokes. Seriously good stuff. It was a very good weekend.
I am still working on the photos but most of them are up here.
ham and swiss croissants
fair trade coffee
free bottle of merlot and a very nice note from the folks at the hotel thanking us for our return visit [i guess had our credit card on file?]
BBQed pork tenderloin, chicken, and tri-tip and some sweet island-style pulled pork
bacon cheese bread
lots of fancy imported licorice
a giant dark chocolate peanut butter cup
oregon bing cherry and coffee-truffle ice cream cones
deep-fried artichoke hearts
Pretty much any time we go anywhere scenic, at least one person will ask me to take their picture. I take very nice pictures of them. Every once in awhile I will ask someone to take our picture. I say, push the button halfway to focus, then all the way to shoot. I only ask people who are carrying their own cameras and I am pretty sure this is how most digital cameras work, right?
Yet almost invariably, we end up with a completely out of focus, crooked, feet-chopped-off photo. So you can imagine how pleased I was when today’s shooter returned my camera to me. Look at that. Nicely composed with our whole bodies in, heads above the horizon [which, you'll notice, is not at a 45° angle!]. Thanks, lady stranger, you totally made my day!
[Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, California]
Musical accompaniment: Tinashe – Zambezi (Fool’s Gold Remix)
Summer is obviously coming, a bunch of my friends are posting open road-type photos. I am working every day and it’s going to be ages before I get out like that, so I am living vicariously.
by Kevin Collins, one of flickr’s finest and an island neighbor of mine.
by Gordon Edgar, author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, which you should check out.
by harpy, queen of the polaroid and all things summer.
Three more bits of sea glass. Are you sick of it yet? How was your weekend?
Finally getting around to the travelogue for our drive down to Santa Cruz a few weeks ago. I figured I’d better get to it because we went again on Saturday and I don’t want to be two road trips behind.
We started off with a stop at Wescafe here in Alameda. They make a mean americano and serve some extraordinary almond croissants.
We used to always take 880 down through San Jose and over the mountains to Santa Cruz, but got in the habit of the slightly longer but less traffic-y and more scenic route across the San Mateo Bridge [which, I have just read, is the 25th longest bridge in the world!]
over the hills to Half Moon Bay then down Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean [world's largest!]. The view is pretty spectacular and there are gorgeous beaches all along if you want to take a break.
I prefer to have the windows down because of the delicious ocean smell.
We often stop in Pescadero, which is a one-light town halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.
We picked up a to-go cream of artichoke soup from Duarte’s and a hot load of artichoke garlic bread from Arcangeli’s and had a little picnic right there.
Another 40 minutes or so and you arrive at the western end of Santa Cruz — Monterey Bay is a big C shape, with Santa Cruz at the very top — which is where one of my favorite beaches is.
Natural Bridges has one of the two monarch butterfly sanctuaries on Monterey Bay [the other's in Pacific Grove] and if you’re up early enough in the winter months, you can see the huge bunches of them hanging from the eucalyptus.
We were there too late in the year and never get up that early anyway, so we walked down to the beach…
…where we spent some enjoyable hours lolling about doing nothing in particular.
Then it was time to dust the sand off and head home.
Last week we had a date day and went for a walk along a path in a park along the San Francisco Bay in Hayward, California, a bit south of where we live. We were in search of a sea glass beach a friend of mine had been to. It was very windy but the sun was excellent, and the path from the parking lot at the far, far end of W. Winton Avenue is wide and paved — perfect for bikes but also nice for a leisurely stroll.
Near the beginning of the path is a hillside of of mustard hiding the bulldozers at the landfill on the other side.
It was very windy and I took a bunch of photos that were big blurs, so I cheated and had Chad try to hold the mustard still for one more shot. He’s just out of the frame here. I really like this shot so it’s big. It’s larger here.
The path leads to what used to be a ferry landing back in ye olden times. There’s very little left except for little stubs of wood poking out of the mud.
We did find a bunch of sea glass, I’m going to post those tomorrow. I will just say: there is a lot, though it is mostly not fully “cooked” [as I have seen it referred to while poking around the many sites that are devoted to sea glass, this meaning it is not as sea-tumbled as it could be and most of what we saw still has hard if not sharp edges and there are very few of the small pebbly bits that I'd like to find for jewelry purposes].
Isn’t Chad cute?
He is also eagle-eyed, he spotted this half of a robin’s egg on the path. It’s barely bigger than the end of my thumb and I never would have noticed it unless it crunched as I stepped on it.
So: there are paths along both sides of the slough but we took the wrong fork when we came back on the other side and ended up on the wrong path, which gets bushier and bushier and by the time you realize things are not as they ought, you are at a locked fence separating you from your vehicle and you have to crawl through all kinds of underbrush unless you want to walk the quarter mile back to where you should have gone to the right. It’s an adventure anyway.