Thursday, October 6, 2011

Santa Cruz, CA - Day 2

My favorite no-name beach
Okay, technically, the photo at left is not in Santa Cruz. It's actually a bit north, closer to Halfmoon Bay. I suppose the reason I've always counted this as part of Santa Cruz is because I access it by driving up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz. I have rarely driven past this idyllic spot to Halfmoon Bay. When I spend time here, it's with the intent of returning to Santa Cruz, and probably having dinner at Ristorante Avanti, my favorite little restaurant in Santa Cruz. This was the plan for the day with K, when we came her last Wednesday.

Photo by K (see below where I captured him taking this)

I first discovered this beach after spending many days at Pebble Beach, which is connected to it. (Not the Pebble Beach in Carmel, associated with the golf course, but a state park called Pebble Beach due to the pebbles that make up the shore.) My grandparents first took me here when I was about six or seven. My family has been returning here for years, and on one of my trips, I chose to walk across the expanse of rocks to the north of the beach, and found a little special spot that rarely sees more than one or two people/couples at a time. It's very remote and beautiful for that.

Me on Pebble Beach
K on Pebble Beach
When we arrived this time, first to Pebble Beach, there were a busload of school kids here. We took a few photos and then got back into the car to drive north a little ways, as I knew of another place to access the beach. It takes you to a sandy beach, also with no name, that's part of the California State Park system. It's also lovely, with its amazing rock formations, and I love the beach home that sits perched on one end.

Me walking back to the sandy beach
You can just make out the beach house in the photo above. Those rock formations are what you have to traverse to get to and from my secret beach. The ancient lava floes created anamorphic shapes, so you can sometimes make out a whale, dolphin, seal or even a puppy's face and an elephant head in the rocks.
I love the smooth, colorful pebbles that make up the shore at my secret beach... they're lovely, and you can't help but lay close to them so that you can see the individual colors and shapes of the stones. We collected some seashells for K's school kids, to connect them to this amazing beach. We took videos of the creatures we saw in the tide pools... hermit crabs, anemones and a starfish!
An open anemone
We were pretty lucky, actually. I didn't have my tide log, and had forgotten to check my tide log app before we arrived. It was high tide, but it was going out. So we only had to wait a bit for the waves to recede, and then we were able to view the sea life up close! We were very careful not to tread on the live snails living on the rocks. It wasn't easy!

Some seashells for the kids, some rocks & driftwood for us
We had a truly lovely time here... having the beach to ourselves was wonderful, and the sun was out and it wasn't too windy. As I wasn't feeling that great, having come down with a cold, it was nice to just relax on the straw mat when I felt tired. Something about the ocean air is very healing, though, and I found that I was able to stay longer than I had expected. Also, we planned a dinner at Ristorante, and I wasn't going to skip out on that!

The drive back into town is just lovely, too. The fog was starting to roll in just a bit... wisps, really, nothing too heavy... making the golden grasses off the sides of the highway just glow. Then we arrived in town, and got seated at little table for two, tucked away in a corner.
Mmm... yummy food!

K eating some calamari
We had their calamari fritti (so crispy and delicious!) served with a light mignonette, and we both got the grilled sea bass served on Israeli cous cous with locally grown tomatoes and cucumbers in a light citrus sauce. It was absolutely fantastic! The veggies were so fresh and sweet (a commitment that the restaurant has made is to use only locally grown veggies and humanely raised livestock and produce.) 

Our sea bass on cous cous

It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day! We drove home to San Jose with our tummies full, smiles on our faces, love in our hearts and a little sunshine left on our cheeks. I can't ask for more. 


Terriaw said...

what a beautiful place to spend the day! Looks relaxing and fun to explore. I love seeing that anemone!

Orion Designs said...

You two created a lovely memory that day. May there be many, many more!

Diane said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful day for both of you - full of memories. I am with Orion Designs and wish you many, many more!

Beach Coast Style said...

Gorgeous photos Shari! You always find great places to discover! Love the sea bass photo! yum!

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