Thursday, August 14, 2008

HONEYMOON! (days 5 & 6)

We checked out of our hotel, The Mosser, in the morning and drove to Santa Cruz. This took us between and hour-and-a-half and two hours. It was a pretty drive, but not as dramatic as the northern coast. Deanna was pretty sleepy this morning, probably due to our long day of walking in San Francisco, but she perked up pretty quickly once we reached the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
The sky trail that goes almost the entire length of the boardwalk.

A panorama of the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Click the image to see it bigger.

Ball Bath?

Nope, not a ball bath

We walked down the boardwalk for a while and checked out the attractions. We decided we should hit up our second carousel of the trip before anything else. We tracked down a ticket booth and figured out all of the attractions we wanted to ride.
Our first stop - the carousel. An older gentleman riding the horse next to me was kind enough to offer to take a picture of us enjoying the ride. The carousel itself of really beautiful and well kept. It was a lot older than the one we rode in San Francisco, and all of the horses went up and down, instead of just a select few. We even needed to wear seat belt on this one as you can see above. The best feature about it was an arm that stretched out from the wall and came close to the riders on the outside horses. The arm dispensed small metal rings that the riders could grab and try to throw in the mouth of a clown painted on the back wall (see below).
This was quite a task since the clown was a good ten yards from the horses. When people did get their ring in all sorts of bells and whistles and lights would go off. We weren't on the outside of the carousel, so we didn't have much of a chance, but there were plenty of rings on the ground after the ride was over that we tried our best with.
Our next ride was the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster from 1924. It was featured in the 80's movie Lost Boys, which was as exciting for us as the ride itself. (read: VERY exciting, just in case you're not a Lost Boys fan) It was a very jostling and rough ride, but a lot of fun. Deanna isn't a fan of heights, so she was a little excitable as our car climbed up the first hill. After the coaster we walked down the rest of the stretch and got some food. We then went out onto the beach. It was still pretty mild that day, but that didn't stop some of the beach-goers from playing in the cold water.Deanna really liked the lifeguard stands. She thought they looked like lunar landers or something. We went back and rode the sky track after walking on the sand for a bit. The kid working the sky track said we could hold onto our tickets as we stretched them out to him. This almost happened on the coaster as well. We could have just walked passed the girl working there, but gave her the tickets and she just kinda look at us for a second before taking them. The beach was a very happy place and just seemed like it was filled with really nice people. We had a really fun afternoon in Santa Cruz. From here we drove toward our hotel in Monterey. This shouldn't have been a long drive, but we ran into quite a bit of traffic and had some long bumper-to-bumper waits. We drove through some pretty farm land and eventually entered Monterey. We checked into our hotel and were happy to find it a very quiet place, even though it was close to the airport. I think during our whole stay I only noticed the sound from two planes, and neither was late at night or early in the morning, so we were very pleased. We drove into Monterey to get some dinner and went to a strip of restaurants and shops called Cannery Row.
We were really disappointed with this area and Monterey as a whole. We weren't expecting to be blown away by anything, but it was really touristy and the place we ate at wasn't anything special. The two ladies and four kids sitting at the table next to ours didn't help matters. They seemed to yell non-stop during our entire meal. But oh well. We went to Ghiradelli's afterward to get some ice cream for me and hot chocolate for Deanna. It had started to get cold and she needed a little warm up. We drove through the downtown area and liked that a little more. We wished we would have walked around there instead, in retrospect. We finally made it back to the hotel, which was comfortable and a nice size and watched a movie, finally getting to kick back and rest a little.

A photo in the adjustable bathroom mirrors in our Monterey hotel, before we left in the morning.

We left Monterey early in the morning and drove toward Big Sur, which was not very far away at all. As we got closer, the mountain ranges to our left grew bigger and bigger.
We crossed over a couple of older-looking tall bridges that made Deanna squirm and then entered into Big Sur. There is not a lot there, it's mostly comprised of a couple of state parks, and a couple of small shopping areas. We went to the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park first and got out to hike for a little bit. A couple of the paths were closed due to the wild fires, so our choices were a little limited. Deanna had told me previous to the trip that she was not doing any hiking. I dismissed this and figured once she got into the beauty of nature she would be into it. I was sorely mistaken. We walked the trail for 10 minutes or so and she was done, so we turned back around. Deanna wasn't feeling great on this day, so it wasn't the best time to be in an area based solely on outdoor activities. We got back in the car and drove to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (She and her husband were responsible for the conservation of the area, which is why so many areas are named after them). This park had a short trail leading to a really beautiful view of the ocean and a waterfall spilling out into it. Deanna was a trooper and came out on the trail with me. She was feeling a little better at this point, and perked up a little once we got out to the waterfall.
This is the tunnel that we walked through on the trail that goes under CA 1.

A panorama of the view from the end of the trail. You can click it for a larger view.

A closer view of the McWay Waterfall

us on the trail

A bird that I got some pictures of as we were leaving the park. I haven't been able to figure out what it is yet, so if any bird folks out there know, please comment below. (UPDATED: My buddy Jack who comes into the lab at work from time to time, and is a bird phenom, was able to identify this bird in the blink of an eye; it is a Steller's Jay.)

From there we started to search for Pfieffer Beach. We found a couple of sets of directions to it, but they were all proud of the fact that the road leading to it was not labeled. So we had to turn around once or twice to find it. We went down a 2-mile thin, winding road to get to the beach. It was really cold and windy once we finally made it there, so we didn't stay for long.

We amused ourselves for a while watching a couple of kids doing flips down the sand dunes and huddled behind a big rock by the ocean to shield ourselves from the wind. It was a pretty beach, but not the best beach experience ever.
On the way out we did see these beautiful pine trees that had their roots exposed. We snapped a couple pictures, then made our way back up the curvy road.
We checked into the Glen Oaks Motel after the beach and were really happy to see the posh room we got. The property didn't look like much from the outside, but the 60's mod room really saved Deanna's day. She was quick to correct me in that THIS was her favorite hotel. The bathroom was really outstanding as well and featured heated stone floors, a giant round mirror, and expansive walk in shower. We spent the rest of our day here, playing with the puppy at the motel office, napping, and then we getting a late lunch. We ate dinner (ok, it was actually just dessert) at the restaurant across the street, and it was tasty.The rest of the night was laid back. We played scrabble, one of many games the motel provided and got to bed pretty early.

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