This Place is Beautiful

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Today my wife and I did some more sightseeing in the south Bay Area in California. We started off with a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway and a stop off at one of the scenic vistas that overlook Monterey Bay. The view was spectacular – see for yourself above. After leaving the vista, we continued south down the PCH to Monterey where we drove around for a little bit before heading back north to Santa Cruz.

At one point during the trip my wife pointed out a particularly tall tree. After being told that Sequoia National Park was hours away, I had given up hope that I would be seeing redwoods, but here it was, towering over the highway.

The drive to Santa Cruz down California Route 17 was breathtaking. Route 17 is a winding road through the mountains that reminded me strongly of the mountains in North Carolina where I grew up. There were tall trees on both sides of the road – not as tall as the redwoods, but still easily a hundred feet high – and I craned my neck to be able to see them. Eventually we made it to Santa Cruz, got a bite to eat at Togo’s, a place my wife has been raving about for years, and headed for the boardwalk and the beach.

There’s a very good chance that you’ve seen the Santa Cruz Boardwalk – it featured prominently in the movie The Lost Boys. It’s exactly what you’d expect a boardwalk to be – arcades, attractions, rides, the whole nine yards. But it was really the beach that we came to see.

We took off our shoes, and I my socks, and we rolled up our jeans before heading for the water. The sand was wonderfully warm compared to the relatively chilly air, and I noted at one point when I walked that I didn’t remember sinking into the sand as deeply the last time I was on the beach. Then I remembered that I was still a teenager the last time I went for a stroll across the sand, and that was decades and many, many pounds ago.

It took us a while to work up to getting our feet wet, knowing the water would be cold, and it was surprisingly so – but it didn’t take long to get used to it, and we stood there for several minutes as the waves crashed across our feet and up our legs, soaking our rolled-up jeans. Finally we decided it was probably time to head back to where we were staying, but once we got to the sidewalk we paused to sit and listen to the ocean and to give our legs and feet a chance to dry so we could brush off the sand before getting back in the car. On the way, we stopped again to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds.

My wife spent six years living in Los Gatos, a town about 20 miles away from Santa Cruz, and she would often cut class and make her way from Gatos to this strip of beach. She could be found many weekends at the numerous beach volleyball courts there, and these were some of the best times of her life. The nostalgia was palpable. I could tell she didn’t want to leave, and I was content to let her have as much time as she wanted. We finally walked back the car and drove back to Los Gatos.

There were other events today, some good, some not so much so, but this will be the memory I keep with me of today – of seeing some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen, and of reliving my wife’s childhood with her.

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