Shortly after getting on the freeway, the radio DJ announced that the Yolo Causeway was shut down in both directions. The police interrupted a burglary and the gunman was on the loose. This was a big problem because that's the only route (to my knowledge) to get to our destination. So, I had to spill it and tell A where we were headed because I needed some navigational assistance. But I still threw him off a bit by telling him that we were going to Capitola when we were really staying in neighboring Santa Cruz.
After a short detour, we arrived in Capitola. It was sunny, beautiful and 80 degrees. Yes, folks. 80 degrees and no fog at the beach in Northern California. It is unseasonably warm weather right now. I told A that all of the hotels were booked and the only one I could get was a shabby little motel near the freeway. He wasn't ecstatic but didn't say anything negative and was a total trooper. We walked around the Capitola shops and had a great time. Then for lunch, we drove over to Aptos to enjoy some Mediterranean food on the patio at Zameen.
Next stop: Santa Cruz. We decided to drive over to Natural Bridges State Park to hike and play in the tide pools with the sea stars, crabs, and sea anemones. This spot is one of Santa Cruz's best kept secrets. The park is filled with Eucalyptus trees and in the winter it is a temporary home for up to 100,000 Monarch Butterflies.
On the drive over to Natural Bridges, we passed our favorite hotel, Dream Inn (the only beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz). A looked at it longingly and asked if I tried get a reservation there. I said "yes, but they were booked". He sighed. Just as we were about to drive past the entrance, I told him "pull in...our room should be ready." He smiled from ear to ear and told me that "I got him." He really thought we were staying in Capitola with a view of the freeway so this was quite an upgrade.
Dream Inn is a retro-chic, boutique style hotel with a view of the Monterey Bay. Our room was on the cloud level (9th floor) with our own private balcony. But my fave part...the delicious little lobster chocolates and amazing lavender mint bath products that are included with cloud level rooms. Love!
|View from our balcony|
After our hike, we spent some time at the pool and then went downtown for dinner. Conscience Creations Cafe is where we landed. It's a local, hole-in-the-wall that serves locally grown organic food. A and I were in heaven! If they opened one of these restaurants close to where we live, we'd pretty much have to sign over our paycheck every month. We would eat there every day. The food was beyond fresh and so delicious.
To give you a feel for the environment, this is the kinda joint that serves water with no ice cubes. You sit on wooden benches with hippy-decor cushions. You can help yourself to a book about surfing or yoga from the communal bookshelf while waiting for your food. The menu is handwritten as the dishes are made with whatever is fresh that day. I ordered the veggie enchiladas and A had the shepard's pie. We can't sing this restaurant's praise enough!
Afterwards, we wandered around the shops in downtown Santa Cruz until we passed the movie theater. 21 Jump Street was starting in 10 minutes so we bought our tickets. There are very few movies in which both A and I laugh out loud constantly. This was one of those movies. If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend checking it out. Seriously, it kept our attention the whole time and was genuinely hilarious.
The next morning, we woke to the sound of the waves crashing since the sliding glass door was open all night. We walked on the beach and then took a drive to find breakfast. And let me show you what we found, Windmill Cafe.
|quaint, cute little cafe|
Lattes with coconut milk. Strawberry banana whole grain muffins. Veggie egg white scrambles. Delish! With our bellies full, we enjoyed more pool and beach time before heading up highway 17 for another adventure. One of the locals told us that the best place to hike is Henry Cowell State Park in Felton. Last time we were in the area, we stumbled upon it but didn't go into the actual park. This time we did and I'm so glad. It was a magical place filled with giant, ancient redwoods.
Another cool landmark (also located in the Henry Cowell state park) is the Roaring Camp Railroad.
Our last stop after hiking was Los Gatos to visit A's best friend V. I called V earlier this week to make sure he was available for dinner and he was. We enjoyed another great meal with even better company before driving home. Although the trip was short, we made the most of every moment and packed in a lot of activities. Hopefully A enjoyed his surprise trip and that it inspired him to plan one for me someday. Hey, a girl can dream, right?
How was your weekend?