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.
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.
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]
Have you seen Lisa Congdon’s A Collection a Day? It’s a blog featuring a new photo of one of the author’s collections every day for the entire year. The level of organization and the wide variety of subjects is just astounding.
I don’t collect things in any committed way except for building miniatures, which, as mentioned yesterday, fit perfectly in my new desk hutch. They’re a mix of things people have brought me and pieces I’ve acquired on my own travels.
Looking for new pieces to add to my collection gives me a purpose when we go somewhere since I am looking for something specific — it keeps me from desperately loading up on T-shirts and mugs and other things I don’t need and don’t have space for. I spent our whole visit in New Orleans last year looking for the perfect mini and had almost given up when I spotted the locally-made streetcar in the window of a tiny shop filled with zillions of miniature everythings. It’s a miracle I even saw it, but it must have wanted me to.
I love my friend Heidi’s wall, it’s covered with tin corazones.
Do you collect anything?