Last weekend we took our first family trip to Santa Cruz. We actually took Friday off of work and had three almost-full days there. I am a Westside girl, so we found a great little place to stay not far from the Lighthouse. I spent most of my summers and spring-breaks in Santa Cruz as a child. We had a vacation house just steps away from the best beach in the whole wide world (maybe a slight exaggeration), it is known as Natural Bridges to most people.
As a child we really lived in Santa Cruz, so I didn't really get to know the town the way a tourist or a local would. We would spend most of our days lugging our buckets, shovels, boogie boards and other beach accoutrement to the beach, along with a some sort of white bread sandwich and chips that always ended up with sand in them - ick! Occasionally we would roller skate to the 7-11 to buy mounds of sugary candy and a slurpy to wash it down with.
As we prepared for our trip, I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do with baby-bear that I did as a child, and these made the cut for our first trip:
*Natural Bridges (of course)
There is so much to love about Natural Bridges besides the beach. During the fall or winter you must take the easy-breezy Monarch Butterfly walk. When you are not with a baby in a stroller or that needs carrying, you must walk along the tad pools, and if you are so inclined you could crawl around in the bushes and pretend it is a fort. My dad still has a few photos that show the first bridge connected.
Elliot had his first donut! And as you can imagine, he loved it! Though I am pretty sure this was not my first donut ever, it is in fact the donuts I have the earliest memory of eating. They don't stick in my mind simply because they are the best donuts ever, but because my Dad would always go out before any of us were awake to get the Sunday paper and Ferrell's donuts. As we made our way to the kitchen for breakfast that pink box with a powdered jelly donut (or two) would be waiting for me and my Dad to share as we read the paper (I read the comics mostly), always put a smile on my face (one that resembles E's above).
*Clam Chowder at Stagnaro's
If you like clam chowder, it's some of the best. I had a brief period from about 12 until my mid-twenties where I wouldn't eat the stuff because I had discovered it had clams in it, go figure!
Sadly there were some places that no longer exist like Lip Smackin' BBQ or The Junker (known to others as Paul's Diner).
I also wanted this trip to be the first of many we have as a family and for us to start new traditions, so we added some new things:
They call it a corn-quesadilla, but it is really a taco...with Al Pastor, pinto beans, cabbage, salsa, queso - yum! This was baby-bears first meal in Santa Cruz, he had the flour quesadilla which is just like a quesadilla we are used to seeing, it was his first of many fried things he ate during the trip.
*Marianne's Ice Cream
We we certain we needed desert after our dinner at Stagnero's as they are only known for the clam chowder. We wanted ice-cream, did a little web search and came across an ice cream spot that I then recalled a friend mentioning. I don't recall every visiting this fine establishment, though it has been there right on Ocean St for over 50 years. Maybe it is because we always had cartons of ice-cream in the freezer, so who needed to go out! It was truly delicious, though when we got home we learned it is up for sale! Hopefully someone worthy snatches it up and maintains the quality.
This was Dale's pick because as a good wife I had to let him pick something! It was a yummy new pizza place on the East Side (which I mildly objected to patronizing) but it was well worth it. Great selection of beers on tap, wood-fired pizza and ping-pong. We ordered a pizza with jalapeños because I like almost everything spicy (except ice-cream), but it was a little too spicy for even me. Elliot had his second fried item, his very own giant slice of cheese pizza.
*Westside Farmer's Market
Whenever we stay somewhere with a kitchen I like to hit up local farmer's markets to feel local and have at least one fresh, local-fare meal at "home". Elliot tried his first tamale, love it! OK, just the masa, not the spicy chicken filling.
We are already planning our next trip, but from the looks of real estate we won't be buying our vacation home anytime soon.
I must admit that I was depressed to realize we would be giving birth to our baby boy while during George W was in office. Yes, I really thought about it. For the rest of his life he will have to say, "George W. was president when I was born." But when he is forced to say this I will remind him to also say that he was born on the cusp of change, that when he was a year old the Civil Rights Movement celebrated two more giant successes:
> Today a great leader for the Lesbian Rights Movement Del Martin died at 87 years of age and just a little more than 2-months ago she was pushed to her wedding ceremony in a wheelchair after a long fight that resulted in a California Supreme Court decision giving gays and lesbians the right to marry.
> Today for the first time in history, 45-years after the celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, we nominated an African American, Barack Obama for presidency.
Thanks for listening!
Chapter Three: Getting There Faster Than Everyone Else
Don't get me wrong, I like to drive above the speed limit and am in no mood for a "Sunday Drive". And although it is hard to articulate, there is a line that is crossed when some drivers take fast assertive driving to a whole new level of snippy, speed around you, weaving through traffic, only to get caught at the same red light as everybody else. I laugh at these drivers! (and they may have laughed at me too once or twice).
- Yesterday, rusty and out of practice, I returned to piano lessons. It was not exactly "just like riding a bike" but it was not ground zero either. The highlight was when I played "When The Saints Go Marching In" using both hands!
- Today I introduced Elliot to Ben Folds and we sang all the way to work and back (Ben's my favorite piano man).
- Today I thought about how I used to play along on the piano with my Mom. She would play silly songs for me to sing and often find ways that I could play along, like playing the melody to "Heart & Soul" while she played the harmony or chords with two-hands!
- Tomorrow I will practice the piano.
I haven't read a single book since Elliot was born (excluding excerpts from reference material), not that I read a whole lot before he was born either. I wouldn't say I love to read, but I do love the idea of reading. As a child I hated reading and my mother spent every summer vacation trying to get me to read. I would sit there counting the minutes until the allotted time frame for which I had to read was complete (sometimes she got smart and required me to read x number of pages). Instead of just reading the books I would see how long it would take to read one page and then calculate how many pages I would have to read before I would be done with my 1/2 hour requirement. I would test this theory by seeing how long 2 pages took, and then 3 and so on. It's no wonder I had trouble with comprehension - HA!
In college I got into reading from an academic perspective, as a Sociology major you didn't really have much of choice. I enjoyed the theory, but I fell in love with reading the real life "stories", though they were often sad and made you somehow feel hopeless instead of hopeful.
As a post-college adult I discovered books that were fiction but that blended reality, sometimes unsure which was which. The Tales of The City series (OMG! there's a new book!) were the first in this style of books that I began to enjoy for that "Frasier" quality. Lighthearted enough to read before bed, but not too far off the mark to have really happened.
A couple of weeks ago I was listening to my daily morning radio news (of which I am sure Elliot will complain about as soon as he starts talking) and there were two Murder Mystery authors being interviewed, on Forum with Michael Krasny - strange, I know. Both of these authors based their stories right here in the great bay-area. I was too anxious to read them, so I hoped on amazon and viola they appeared one day at work in my littile 'ol mailbox!
Anyway, I am so excited that I took a chance on this first one...Judgement Day. This story is written by a San Francisco Lawyer about a legal duo who has 8 days to save a man who is sitting on death row at San Quentin from being executed. Every night I came home, ate dinner, washed dishes, prepped Elliot's food and showered a little faster than usual just so I could steal 30 minutes to see how the case was progressing. It was an excellent story with wonderful little historical facts about San Francisco from the people who know the city. If you have lived in or near San Francisco, you'll have fun with this story - I promise. I don't think it has hooked me on the genre of Murder Mystery, but I will keep an open mind as I read SharpShooter - food, wine & murder in The Napa Valley - eeek!