trip to Santa Cruz

We just got back from a short 24 hour vacation to Santa Cruz.  We left at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, and got home around 4pm on Monday afternoon (although we did stop at the chiropractor’s on the way home).  We had such a good time, and it’s just too bad we couldn’t have stayed longer.

I’d been toying with the idea all summer of us taking a family vacation to Santa Cruz.  Then when we returned home from Wisconsin, I found a message on my answering machine telling me that I had won tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk from my local grocery store thanks to a drawing I had entered.  Yay!  The stars lined up perfectly for us to go.

For our drive down to Santa Cruz, we drove the scenic route along the coast on Hwy 1.  Those views – wow, they are amazing.  It truly is just beautiful.  When we got to Santa Cruz, we first drove down by the Beach Boardwalk, just so we could get a bit of an idea what we were getting into.  It looked like a lot of people, a lot of activity, but it looked like fun!

First, however, we checked into our hotel.  We knew it had an indoor pool; that was one of the main criteria for my selection of a hotel.  However, once Lyd saw the pool that’s All She Wanted To Do.  So, after reasoning that it probably was the best time for us to go into the pool during our short stay, we all got our suits on and went into the water.  And, I have to say, it was just about perfect.  The water wasn’t too cold, but it wasn’t too hot either.  It never got more than 5 feet deep, which was good.  And, despite her refusal to even put a toe into a hotel pool while in Wisconsin, we managed to convince Curious J to give this pool a try.  A beach ball and a floatie helped. 😉

After our dip in the pool, we rinsed off, got dressed again, and made the short drive over to the Boardwalk, where we parked in the lot closest to the kiddie rides (thanks to directions from some kind parking attendants).  We got in, went to the ticket counter, and exchanged the four passes I had won for four wristbands good for unlimited rides.  Score!   Those wristbands cost $30 a piece, so it was a $120 value that I won!  Very nice. 🙂

After getting our wristbands, we bought a simple supper: fried chicken with corn on the cob and a few fries.  We tried to go as easy on the grease as we could, but it was difficult.)  Then it was off for some kiddie rides.  The girls did great, and Curious J did some rides that were quite a bit faster than the ones at Bay Beach.  Lyd, however, noticed some of the faster rides, and asked to go on some of those.  Specifically, she wanted to go on the ferris-wheel-like ride where people sit in oval-shaped cages that the riders can make spin around even as the cages go around in a big circle.  JJ at first wasn’t sure about that, but when he realized that the individual cages didn’t HAVE to spin around, Lyd and I gave it a try.  And, of course, she LOVED it!

She and I did a number of more “big-kid” rides.  There was a roller coaster that’s made for kids that still goes at a pretty good clip.  Lyd wasn’t sure if she wanted to go on it at first, but after the first run down the track, she couldn’t stop laughing and wanted to go again and again.  I always went with her, and I have to admit: it went at a good clip.  We did more rides with Curious J and JJ, but she and I did a number of rides ourselves, too.  Lyd went on one ride with her Daddy, too, but he’s not so big into fast spinning rides as he used to be, and he’s not keen on roller coasters.  But we still all managed to have a good time.

Although Lyd was too small, I decided to go on the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk roller coaster by myself: The Giant Dipper.  I believe it’s one of the oldest roller coasters in California? America? Something like that.  It’s old.  It doesn’t go upside down, but MAN, that thing goes FAST!!!  I was glad I had gone, but I was also glad to see the chiropractor today to be put back to rights.

We didn’t leave the Boardwalk until 9pm, closing time.  When we got back to the hotel, it was no big surprise that Lyd announced that she was hungry.  So, I brought out the PB&J sandwiches I had packed, along with some applesauce cups and string cheese.  I even popped up the bag of microwave popcorn I had brought from home, so we were able to have a nice late-night snack before bed.  Everyone except me conked out by 10pm, but when I got to bed at 10:30, it didn’t take me long to go to sleep either.

We all slept in late this morning, exhausted from all the amusement park fun of the night before.  We managed to get out of the hotel by 10am to get to Roaring Camp for our authentic steam train ride at 11am.  It only took about 20 minutes to get there, and the train ride was just lovely.  We were surrounded by redwoods, the weather was perfect, and it really is a beautiful sound to hear a steam train whistle echo through the hills.  It was lovely!

After a stop for a late lunch at a local diner we noticed on our drive in called Heavenly Cafe (SO GOOD!!), we drove back home taking the faster freeway route.  It was, in fact, disturbingly fast; we couldn’t believe how little time it took for us to see familiar landmarks.  Here we had thought we were so far away!

But it was a wonderful trip, and 24 hours away is better than no hours away.  It’s nice to realize that Santa Cruz actually is pretty close; we hope to go visit there more in the future.  A high school friend of mine lives in Santa Cruz, and gave us lots of ideas for things to do with kids.  I’m hoping we can try out some of those ideas soon.