One of the great things about living in the Central Valley is being only about two to three hours from a lot of pretty great destinations. One of my favorite places is Santa Cruz, California. On a good day, no traffic, well, we’ve managed to get there in less than two hours. The first time I ever visited Santa Cruz was thirty years ago this summer. It was a different town back then in the late 1980s, kind of a college party town. I like beach towns. I was born about twelve miles from the ocean and I think somewhere deep down in my soul, the ocean air resonates with me and makes me feel like I’m home. The only other thing that makes me feel that way instantly, is the mournful call of a train whistle in the quiet of a valley night. I fell in love with Santa Cruz from the first moment I set foot there.
This group of pictures is from a trip we took in 2017. We set out to find a place called Wilder Ranch. (Dogs and drones are not allowed at Wilder Ranch. Here’s a link.) Wilder Ranch was a late 1800s dairy ranch. Now, it’s a seven thousand acre State Park. It is one of the most beatiful places I have ever seen. I’d looked it up online myself before we went. Having seen the photographs that other visitors had taken, but not knowing how the trail system worked or how accessible any of it would be, I wondered if I’d get to see for myself the breathtaking views that some had photographed. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Wilder Ranch when in Santa Cruz, if you like to hike or mountain bike, it is completely worth the time and effort.
I crashed on one of the backcountry trails that day, one that was way beyond my beginning skill level. Despite an inch long cut on my chin, a black eye, other scrapes and bruise, I was determined to make the most of my time there. That evening, we headed to the boardwalk.
I gasped when I saw this sunset happening. I could see those two palm trees off in the distance and I thought, I wonder how good my zoom is…
The historic La Bahia Apartments at dusk. 215 Beach St., Santa Cruz, California. Built in 1926, scheduled for demolition, the area to house a luxury hotel.
Not the greatest photo, the mist, and fog, were rolling in, but I’m glad I took it because by the next summer, the Santa Cruz Ferris Wheel at the end of the boardwalk was gone.
Back out to Wilder Ranch, the Coastal Trail. Many people walk this trail, or part of it, on a regular basis. I certainly walked my bicycle through some of it. The views are stunning from virtually every part of the trail, beginning to end.
My husband snapped this one. Look at the front wheel of my bicycle, photo anomalies. Much of the trail is like this. However, there are places where there is quite a bit of shale, places where the trail is overgrown, very narrow, and there are places where the trail turns to sand. It is also on the edge of a cliff.
My husband’s bike standing up in the sand.
This is at the end of the trail. I was physically hurting from having crashed, and from the ride itself. I was emotionally wrung out. And I stood there looking at that view thinking “I am so glad I did this. I am so glad I made it.”
I’ve got a plethora of photos of Santa Cruz from various visits, because I tend to take a lot of pictures, many of them perhap better than these, but I’ll always remember that trip in particular. With each visit to Santa Cruz, my dreams have gotten bigger, and I think, better. I’ve visited a lot of places in this life of mine so far, I’d live in Santa Cruz if we could.
Now I’ll have to come up with some other way to title future picture posts about Santa Cruz.