Three Weeks in Santa Cruz

When our dear friends Jamie and Evan told us they were moving to Santa Cruz from Portland, not only were we super sad, we didn’t quite get it. How could anyone leave Portland, an amazing city with so many fantastic people, forward-thinking projects, great food, not to mention bike jousting or guys riding unicycles wearing kilts and playing bagpipes…random Portlandia scenes, ya know.

Panorama in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz cliffs.

Now, we get it. Santa Cruz is a perfect blend of city, ocean, forest, and fun, all smashed into a sunny pocket of Central California that just served up a seriously awesome holiday break for us. Here’s the story of three excellent weeks in a few sentences and lots of pictures!

Looking back during a beach walk.

Looking back during a beach walk.

-Riding the Ohlone Bluff trail on with Chelsea and her family. It’s a rutted dirt road framed on the west by cliffs that slip down into the water of the Pacific, brussel sprout farms to the east, and red tailed hawks soaring in the wind above us. Chelsea’s parents, who will forever be tougher than us, rode 18 miles on town comfort bikes with no suspension (or padded shorts) on the rough, bouncy road. I don’t know how they do it!

Hamming it up somewhere along the Ohlone Bluff trail (C photo credit)

Hamming it up somewhere along the Ohlone Bluff trail (C photo credit)

This trip is all about teamwork and a cheery outlook!

This trip is all about teamwork and a cheery outlook!

-Hours of Settlers of Catan with the family eating food, trading laughs and commodities, and trying not to team up on Chelsea’s brother Jesse too much.

Settlers of Catan. Game time with the family!

Settlers of Catan. Game time with the family!

-Mountain biking. I adore Santa Cruz trails! Right out our door, I could ride a mile to single track trails that led up through grasslands into scrub oak and then into redwood trails twisting around gnarled limbs and stumps. Unreal fun – I can’t get enough of it! Eleven rides in three weeks.

Sunset ride at Wilder Ranch north of Santa Cruz.

Sunset ride at Wilder Ranch north of Santa Cruz.

Exploring the Demonstration Forest in Nisene Marks State Park with Evan.

Exploring the Demonstration Forest in Nisene Marks State Park with Evan.

Cruising trails with new friend Craig in Nisene Marks State Park.

Cruising trails with new friend Craig in Nisene Marks State Park.

-Watching Monarch butterflies start their winter migration. They start at Natural Bridges State Park clumped in frozen masses waiting for the morning sun to hit their wings. Then they power up like little batteries, their wings acting as solar panels. Soon they are flittering about in the light, heading northeast eventually as the weather warms up.

A bundle of monarchs in the morning sun.

A bundle of monarchs in the morning sun.

-Walking West Cliff Drive, a long ocean-side path looking south across Monterey Bay. We watched seals, dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, and cormorants mingle and play on the water. Along with what seemed like hundreds of surfers out on Steamers Lane by the lighthouse, bobbing up and down.

Chelsea and her family watch seals on the cliffs of Santa Cruz.

Chelsea and her family watch seals on the cliffs of Santa Cruz.

A pair of seagulls hanging out.

A pair of seagulls hanging out.

Ice plants and Santa Cruz homes.

Ice plants and Santa Cruz homes.

Sunset on the cliffs.

Sunset on the cliffs.

Sunset on the cliffs of Santa Cruz.

Sunset on the cliffs of Santa Cruz.

Coastal view north of Santa Cruz on a family walk.

Coastal view north of Santa Cruz on a family walk.

 

A cool arrangement of keys in a local Santa Cruz shop.

A cool arrangement of keys in a local Santa Cruz shop.

-Days and evenings spent hanging with Jamie and Evan. Laughing our heads off at random things and helping them move into their new home after packing them up in Portland. Hanging on their deck watching deer in the field below or listening to owls hooting in the trees. Great friends are hard to find and we are lucky to have these guys in our lives and can’t wait to see them again.

Hanging with Jamie, Evan and their two fun doggies.

Hanging with Jamie, Evan and their two fun doggies.

 And with that, Santa Cruz is behind us. Adios for now good friends and great times. We shall certainly return!

We are currently exploring the wonders of Big Sur and absolutely loving it. What a place. I’ll leave you with a teaser picture…high up on Highway 1 from our van this morning. Room with a view!

View from our window on Highway 1 this morning.

View from our window on Highway 1 this morning.

6 replies
  1. Sam
    Sam says:

    Just stumbled across your blog from Sprinter-RV whilst dreaming of my next escape. We did the same thing as you guys in 2012, with our kids and dog (but we cheated and had Outsidevan do the build). I miss being on the road sooo much. Enjoy your time away. It’s THE BEST! And if you’re still in the Bay Area, we’d love to drop by and say hello. We’re here too (but desperately trying to run away to Hood River 🙂

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Hey Sam,

      Thanks for stopping by, and cool road trip yourself! Looking forward to running into you and the guys out on a mountain biking trail sometime. So far, I’ve got to say I agree with you – time on the road is the best!

      Take care and may a trip in your van happen again soon.

      Dakota

      Reply

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