Still being relatively new to the Bay Area, Husband & I have agreed that we need to spend these summer weekends exploring. We've done the whole Golden Gate Park museums/botanical gardens/tea gardens/zoo/aquarium schpiel & now it's time to just sort of hit the road & see where the day takes us. More often than not, the best adventures are the ones you don't even know lie ahead of you just a few miles down the road.
Sunday morning we jumped in the car & headed up to Alice's Restaurant, which has become a favorite place of ours. It is a dive if ever there was one, perched way up at the top of the Santa Cruz mountains, a biker diner complete with outside bathrooms (not port-o-potties, but a glammed-up outhouse building). I'm fairly certain the last time I used their facilities, the previous occupant had lit up a big fat joint & I walked out the bathroom with quite a contact high. Thank goodness I wasn't driving, and let me tell you--the blueberry pancakes were even more delicious than they've ever been.
In an attempt to make healthier food choices, Husband, Ethan & I decided to split one omelet & one order of pancakes. We still walked out of there feeling that if we hit a big enough bump on the road we would just explode, leaving nothing but breakfast foods behind. Note to self: Alice's is just not a place for "healthier food choices." Period.
Friends of ours have recently relocated to Santa Cruz, so we lazily thought, "Let's disrupt their whole day on a moment's notice and go see them." We're big fans of the drop-in visit, but it's slightly less convenient to drop in on people who live an hour away. If I walk the 50 feet it takes me to get to my neighbor's door & she's busy--not a big deal. I've only spent 30 seconds of my time & she doesn't have to feel bad asking me to come back in an hour.
Fortunately our friends in Santa Cruz are among the most laid back people you will ever meet (which I think is a legal requirement to setting up residence in a seaside town like Santa Cruz--you simply cannot be highly strung & live there successfully--you will piss everyone off for harshing their mellow and will most likely be run back over the mountains to where there are schedules and appointments and thingstogetdoneNOW!). So they were happy to know we were on our way, sauntering down Highway 1, expecting to get there "whenever."
Although, as an aside, I have to admit to panicking when both Husbands & my cell phones said, "No Service" for almost the entire drive down the Pacific Coast Highway--"How will I call them to tell them where we are? How will I let them know when to expect us?! zOMG, Husband, it will be so rude of us not to let them know we are stopping here & there & everywhere, thus moving back our estimated time of arrival!!! zOMG!" Clearly, I have no plans to move to Santa Cruz any time soon.
We stopped at Pigeon Point lighthouse, which just happened to appear on the horizon as we drove down the highway. Being the stellar navigator I am, I saw a sign for "lighthouse, next right" and urged Husband to take the immediate right, which happened to be a dirt road leading into some sort of agricultural field. Fortunately, he is, much to my chagrin, a wee bit smarter than me (sometimes) & thought best to drive a half mile to the next right--a paved road that actually said, "Pigeon Point Lighthouse." Whatever, smartypants.
The lighthouse? Ah-mazing! Old & closed down, but so gorgeous. Wildflowers, ocean, rocks jutting up out of the waves, fog. Dreamy, people. Just dreamy. Ethan however, did not think so, at least at first.
Ucccch. You people & your stopping to look at things on the side of the road. (note: he was mid-sunglasses push up when I took this; he is not, in fact, picking his nose.)
Behold the moodiness o' the lighthouse:
Then it was off to Opal Cliffs beach in Santa Cruz to see our friends. Opal Cliffs is a private beach (one side of which is all nakey-nudie, ohh lala!) that can only be accessed by walking down (and then back up, in my case carrying a wet & screaming preschooler, but more to come on that in a bit) about 100 stairs that jut out off the side of, well, a cliff.
This is my friend Sally, half way down the cliff stairs. As it looks, it does indeed feel like you are walking down these stairs straight into the angry ocean. She? Clearly not concerned? Me? Peeing my pants.
But once we got to the bottom of the stairs, we found that there actually was a strip of beach between cliff and ocean (and a naked guy, too). So we chilled out a bit, played in the sand & watched the dog take full advantage of the driftwood.
Aaaaaand, then it happened. Playing at the waterline with some kids his age, Ethan got caught up in someone's boogie board cord. He fell to his hands and knees as a small wave was going back out. No big deal. We called for him to stand up before the next wave came to shore. But he didn't. He just set there, on his hands & knees, watching the next wave (which in my Mamabear memory, was huge) approach him.
"Ethan, stand UP!" I called. But he did not. Total deer in headlights, watching the wave starting to crest just a few feet from him. It was going to break right over his head. Holyfarkinghell, people!!! So off mama went. Running down the little strip of beach (which? seems like a mile when you're watching a wave start to break over your kid's head). I got to him right as the wave broke on him, grabbed his arm and yanked him up out of the water, screaming, sandy and soaked.
I exited the water plus one child & minus one flip flop, which a kindly on-looker went & fished out of the ocean for me and I was totally embarrassed by that because the flipflops are a disaster and totally not worth the effort it took for that guy to go in after it (note to self: buy new flip flops--those things are mangy!). I also had a pathetically "I am addicted" moment when I realized that my jeans were soaked all the way up the leg and in between asking Ethan if he was okay, I frantically checked my back pocket to be sure my iPhone was still there and not bathing in salt water. Oh thank you baby Jesus for protecting my iPhone. Oh, yeah, and my kid, too. Of course.
This was the aftermath of the wave incident:
I know this looks like he might be choking or gasping for air. But he's not. He's just screaming. A lot. And for a long time. Awesome. Poor kid; this is something he's going to remember forever, isn't it? It's going to become "that time I almost drowned" in the mythology of his life.
So up the tower of cliff stairs we went. Ethan drove home wearing a sweater we found in Husband's trunk, fit more for a crisp November day than a summer scorcher. And me? I drove home wrapped in a towel I borrowed from our friend because there is little in this world less comfortable than wearing wet denim. Unless it's wearing wet denim while listening to your four year old screaming for a quarter of an hour.
Let's just scroll back up and look at the pretty pictures of the lighthouse again, shall we?