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Old 12-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #781
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Originally Posted by PrincessInOz

Ahhhhh.....Angela.

The deliciousness of your statement has me in stitches over here.

So many connotations.....most, if not all, so DisAppropriate!!

Not that kind of pro! Lol
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:07 PM   #782
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Not that kind of pro! Lol
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:03 PM   #783
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Day 6: NorCal Cruz-ing the Cabrillo

Ham it Up!



We started the day early with the hot breakfast buffet. It was to be our daily ritual morning catch up for DH and me.


Every morning, DH would grab the eggs and/or cook some oatmeal.
Every morning, I would wonder if bacon would be served. DH would patiently sit there and listen to me oink on about the razorback cuts of not serving non fatty crunchy goodness.



This morning, there was no bacon but there was ham instead. “Pork is such a sweet meat”, so it was an acceptable alternative.






After breakfast, DH would say our goodbyes and go our respective ways.

Effectively, this left me from 8 am in the morning through to 6 pm in the evening to entertain myself.




(Continued in Next Post)
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:05 PM   #784
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(Continued from Previous Post)

My Plans for the Week – a recap




When planning for this trip, I decided that I was going to go to all the places that appealed to me. Afterall, I didn’t have to worry about entertaining anyone else and if you recall the below from my PTR:

There are 4 full days here for me to do as I please. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing on which day but my plans are as follows:

1. Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum and DisMeet with usnuzuloose, ACDSNY and mvf-m11c. I think we’ve locked in a day for this one.
2. A day in downtown SF reacquainting myself with my favourite places and shops. I do like wandering down Union Street (not the square) and also spending time in that tourist trap of Fisherman’s Wharf. If I feel like it, I might jump on a ferry and head across to Sausalito. If not, I’ll spend time looking at shops in the downtown area.
3. Head to Half Moon Bay and drive along PCH1. I think I’ll go seek out a lighthouse or two and the elephant seals this time. And if I hit the right time schedule, I might go to Felton and take a steam train ride through the redwoods.
4. Shopping. This might be spread out over the 5 days. The places I want to go to include Stamford Mall, Hillsdale Mall, Keeble and Shuchat Photography in Palo Alto, Santana Row, Town and Country Village, Milpitas Warehouse Outlets. I probably won’t get to every single one of these shopping places but I’m going to try. I need to buy jeans, shoes, business suits and blouses.
5. Pending time, I’d like to visit a few nature reserves and/or gardens around Silicon Valley. I keep trying to visit the Filoli Gardens…but I’ve never quite made it there. And sadly for me, as I’ll be there in November, I don’t think the Filoli will be opened at this time of year. It’ll have to be another trip.



Last night at Yoshi’s, our cousins asked what my plans were for the week and I pretty much regaled a list almost identical to the one above.

I think we can all acknowledge that I’ve already covered off bits of 3 and 4 by this stage; but not all of it.


The two cousins convinced me that a drive down PCH1 was the thing to do today; given that the weather was going to be beautiful; with temperatures expected in the low 90’s. They weren’t sure about how the weather was going to be for the rest of the week and living in a city like Melbourne where we can get 4 seasons in a 10 minute period, I knew when to make hay whilst the sun shone.


I decided that a trip towards Santa Cruz was in order. I thought it would be great for me to go seek out a lighthouse or two and animal life on this day.

And I would steadily work on this list for the rest of the week.





(Continued in Next Post)
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:08 PM   #785
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(Continued from Previous Post)

Life in the Fast Lane




To drive or not to drive in the US is one of those questions that any Aussie planning a vacation across the pond will ask and ponder over. Afterall, we naturally drive on the left side and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road can seem rather daunting.


Me? I’ve been driving on the right side of the road on every US trip I’ve ever made and its almost second nature to me. I have to think real hard to recall how I felt getting into a right-hand drive car in the US for the first time. Sad to say, I can’t recall very much at all.

Which is a good thing for me on trips like this…..because….whenever DH is on a work trip, I do have to take control of the travel plans during the work hours. Which invariable means that I drive myself (and DS when he comes along) mostly everywhere!


So it was that I ended driving along the 101 southbound this morning; but there was still some mental speed adjustment that I had to make.


With a legal speed limit of 65 mph, I put pedal to the metal and hit 70 mph without any issue. Afterall, whilst it is a legal speed limit, the general rule of thumb is to keep up with traffic and drive safely.


Would you believe that at that speed I was practically standing still compared to the traffic around me?!?!?



Yup. I was finally living Life in the Fast Lane….and I was still slow.





For the Aussies reading and lurking…..driving is driving irrespective of what side of the road you are on. I’ve always maintained that the hardest bit about driving in the US is negotiating your way out of the hire car parking lot and getting on to the first freeway.

Even though it seems like the Americans drive faster than we do in Australia, eventually the traffic will slow to a crawl through the ebbs and flows of travel. In areas of a jam, the traffic will slow right down to stops, starts and go. In traffic like this, it really is no different to driving in an arteriole road during peak hour in Oz.




From the 101, I cut across to the 17. I had previously driven the 17 about 7 or 8 years before but franandaj convinced me that I needed to do an encore drive down. The scenery was lovely, with many of the trees turning that lovely golden yellow and orange colour of fall. The odd tree was russet red and the drive was visually stunning. However, there were an unusual number of cars with surfboards on the top heading in this direction towards Santa Cruz. It was unusual because this was a Monday work day and I had not expected to be travelling down the coast with a number of cars.






(Continued in Next Post)
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:11 PM   #786
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(Continued from Previous Post)


The Butterfly Enclosure




Did you know that there are a number of butterfly enclosures along the Californian coastline during the months of November through to March? The only thing about these enclosures is that there are no nets to keep the butterflies in!

In January 2011, we had stopped at Pismo Beach and saw mass clusters of the Monarch butterflies. Then – the butterflies had been stationary with upwards of a couple of thousand butterflies settled in one tree alone. Today’s experience was completely different.



My specific destination for today was the Natural Bridges State Park. It is located on the outskirts of Santa Cruz (the San Fransisco side) and the Visitor Centre was quite civilised. It had one-ply paper in the super clean and modern facilities.





I was on a milkweed run and chasing Monarch butterflies. I really did get to see a milkweed plant in situ complete with Monarch caterpillar crawling on it.






I veered off in the direction of the eucalyptus trees. It always amuses me that there are such numbers of this native Australian tree in California….and yes, I know. The trees are not necessarily environmentally welcomed in this state.






I am going to digress at this point but it makes sense to do so. See that road in the picture above? The road goes for about 100 meters and I was to find out later that it finishes up at a back-entry point (Delaware Avenue). There is street parking at Delaware Avenue and it seems to be a spot for the locals to come and park. It saves the $10 park entry fee; if you wish to come to this State Park only. However, I was happy to pay the fee as that fee allowed me entry to all the other State Parks I was to visit on this day.



Back to my morning. I headed along a boardwalk.










It was towards the start of the migration season and the butterflies in this part of NorCal were in smaller quantities and rather active. Seems like they did not want to settle down in their clumps on the beautiful warm day. I couldn’t really blame them. The weather was fantastic.






The butterflies that did settle were a rather long way away from the boardwalk. The main numbers of them were flying about this section of the grove. They were just flying about everywhere and the air just seemed like it was filled with butterflies. Like I said….rather like being in a butterfly enclosure only without the enclosure netting.






If you look carefully, you might just about make out a dozen or so of the flitterbugs settled on that distant branch.






The Monarchs have such colourful wings. Orange and black on the top and white-yellow on the underside.





I met a group of senior walkers whilst on the boardwalk. Seems like they wanted to take a hike through the State Park and a couple of them were rather chatty. So, I was convinced to take the left fork off the boardwalk with these ladies for a bit.






Turns out that the first rise we got to, the ladies figured it was too steep for them to climb so I was left on my own; whilst they turned around and gingerly made their way back to the boardwalk. Let’s just say that they would have made the Old Fogies proud that day as that rise was 3 steps high.

I checked my map and decided that the left fork took me to the beach; so I headed out. And no, I wasn’t being brave or foolhardy…..all roads did eventually lead to the beach. This particular one probably took me an additional 5 minutes to get there.






You might recall that this particular park was called the Natural Bridges State Park. That’s because there is a natural bridge at the beach. In fact, there used to be three bridges. The bridges are made from mudstone and only the middle one remains.






Seems like it is in danger of collapsing as well, due to wind and wave erosion. I can well believe it and it will be a sad day when it does happen.











I was really pleased to see a flock of birds at the top of the bridge. Pelicans and seagulls and terns were a-plenty there! I even saw a white egret fly past.






The beach was lovely. It wasn’t particularly large; but it was rather quiet and I saw only two other groups of people on the beach. And in case you’re wondering where we are in California, that is Monterey Bay out there! I'm at the top end of the Bay; rather than the other more notable end.






As is my habit whenever I’m on this side of the pond, no matter what season or the temperature, I always try to dip my toes in the ocean. I hadn’t counted on a 90 F plus day in early November; but it was lovely to just run in and have a play with the waves. I wished I had brought my swimming gear and a towel with me, though.






There are rock pools with intertidal organisms on the rocky banks of this beach. I contemplated taking a look but the rocks already held 2 school groups and I had already stayed here longer than originally planned. Next time.


So, I headed back to the car. And it was there that I ran into the senior walkers again. They had been rather relieved to see me. Turns out that the two chatty ladies had been worried that I’d taken the left fork and they had convinced the group to stay a while to wait to see if I returned. The pattern of behaviour of these comparative seniors set the tone of my interaction with Northern Californians for the rest of the week. Mostly everyone that I met provided me with little acts of kindness that touched my heart in one way or another.

I thanked them for their concern and chatted with them some more. We parted company and I hope that they are well wherever they are right now.



On my way out, I stopped at the top carpark to take a look at the view one last time.






It had been a perfectly lovely morning so far.




(Continued in Next Post)
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:14 PM   #787
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(Continued from Previous Post)


I wanna live on this Drive!





You might have noticed that there were dwellings along the coastline from the beach shots.






There is one residential street that hugs the coastline from here back to Santa Cruz. That street is called West Cliff Drive. I decided to take it back to Santa Cruz as it seems to be a local attraction; quite the done-thing to do.
The drive was quite spectacular and the view to the inland side was in stark contrast to the view on Monterey Bay. The inland side contained beautiful residences; of artsy architecture right through to the modern. I don’t even want to contemplate how much one of these abodes would sell for; but I think I wanna live here along this Drive!











Take a look at the view of the bay. The deep blue of the Pacific Ocean is a force to be reckoned with.






I found a parking spot along the Drive and got down. There is a walking and bike path right along the coast and there were heaps of people out jogging and cycling. I clambered down another rise to the rocky platform that stopped with a drop into the ocean.

If I only had wings……I would have certainly got as close to the edge as this bird was.






You might notice a building way out in the distance; beyond the trees. That was my target destination for the next stop.






I kept driving along W Cliff Drive and kept on heading towards the Surf board Museum. It was housed in that building, which used to be a lighthouse.


Remember I said that there were a heap of cars heading down towards Santa Cruz with surf boards on the roofs?

Turns out that I had hit Santa Cruz during a Rip Curl Classic surfing event. I hit traffic about a mile down the road and crawled my way past the lighthouse. There was nowhere for me to stop or park. The event had rolled in town and all the streets were packed with cars. And the main competition was located right along that lighthouse. The marquees and temporary seating had been set up and a competition window appeared to be in full swing when I drove by. I could hear the announcer over the loud speaker. I was to find out later that Santa Cruz had over 15,000 surfers visit on the Sunday. Quite a few of them had come back on the Monday!


I realised that even if I had found a place to park, there would have been no point in stopping by the museum. It was all closed up because of the event.


By this stage, the only thing left for me to do was to keep going towards Santa Cruz. I could see the Boardwalk a couple of blocks down from where I was.






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Old 12-27-2012, 07:20 PM   #788
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What beautiful ocean pictures! I love all the birds and nature shots!
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:11 AM   #789
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What amazing pics! Can't wait to hear more about your day!
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:15 PM   #790
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Beautiful shots! I want to live on that drive too.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:02 PM   #791
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Great pictures of the beach and the ocean and great pictures of the Monarch Butterflies.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:25 PM   #792
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Love the shots. My wife wants to live there in our "Golden Years".
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:38 PM   #793
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Ocean, sand, water, wave shots are my favorite. Yours are just lovely. Thank you for sharing those.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:16 PM   #794
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
What beautiful ocean pictures! I love all the birds and nature shots!
There might be a few more nature shots coming up for the rest of the week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tiggrbaby View Post
What amazing pics! Can't wait to hear more about your day!
Thanks tiggrbaby.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ACDSNY View Post
Beautiful shots! I want to live on that drive too.
You're a lot closer than me. If you do move, let me know.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mvf-m11c View Post
Great pictures of the beach and the ocean and great pictures of the Monarch Butterflies.
Thanks Bret.



Quote:
Originally Posted by KCmike View Post
Love the shots. My wife wants to live there in our "Golden Years".
Whilst I'm sure that the Golden Years are a long way off, you'd better warn your wife that if you move here, she needs to expect an indefinite visitor!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by rentayenta View Post
Ocean, sand, water, wave shots are my favorite. Yours are just lovely. Thank you for sharing those.
Thank you.
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:42 PM   #795
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In Search of Five People




The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is the oldest ocean side amusement park in California.

I had been here a few years before after a trip on the Felton steam train. After hitting the no-stop zone courtesy of the Rip Curl Classic event, my mind hit a mental blank and as I could see the boardwalk, it seemed like a logical spot to go to.





A long time ago, I read a book by Mitch Albom called The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

“There are five people you meet in heaven. Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth.”



The book tells the story about Eddie who, as he meets his five people, understands the meaning of his life. The book was later turned into a telemovie starring Jon Voight. In the book, Eddie works at a seaside amusement park. Whilst the movie setting for the amusement was the Santa Monica Boardwalk, I am transported to recollections of the book and the movie whenever I have been at Santa Cruz.


Would I meet my Five People today?






Would they provide me with a window…..and insight into my life?






Will I be able to hold on to my courage and not be frightened by truth?






Ah…….yup. Seems like my Five People don’t work on a Monday.


It was pretty sad to see the amusement park all closed up and practically devoid of people. This place had been teeming with life and laughter on my last visit.






I headed towards the Cocoanut Grove building.












There were a few other tourists hoping to fill the space here.






I took a look at the beach that I had remembered as being filled with the Bold and the Beautiful people the last time I was here. I have to admit that I preferred it this way……where I could smell the sea air and enjoy the sound of sea gulls cawing.






There were a couple of shops opened at the Cocoanut Grove building. One and only one eating establishment was the Barbary Coast Restaurant.






The server convinced me that this was the best burger in town. For $12, I got the cheeseburger, French fries and a soda.






Not even close. Might I suggest that if you were in the area – try somewhere else?

Can I say that I had a little sticker shock here? I don’t think I’ve ever paid this much for a burger, fries and soda in the US outside of a theme park!



The restaurant connects through to a games arcade area.






It was a veritable pirates lair…..of the mini golf kind!






My detour to the Boardwalk was courtesy of a lighthouse. I kinda seemed fitting for me to find one in here.






Again……not even close!



As I left the Boardwalk and drove back towards the Cabrillo, I reflected on my Five People. If and when there is a third visit to the Boardwalk, I’ll make sure to schedule it for a weekend. Maybe I’ll meet my Five People then. We can go somewhere else for lunch!





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