santa cruz, part 3

On our second full day in Santa Cruz, we left the hotel early in the morning. The last two nights of our trip we stayed at Hotel Paradox. It was not on the beach, but it was a nice hotel none-the-less. The check-in desk was part of a huge redwood and there were nature-esque decor all around, which I'm a big fan of. 

The morning was cloudy and rainy but we were hoping it would clear up by the time we got to our destination to do some sight-seeing. 

Our first stop was at the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It was not raining, so we got to walk around for a bit. The goose below did not like me taking pictures and tried to attack me. 

Because we were still craving tacos, we drove to downtown Palo Alto to go to Tacolicious for lunch. It was still a little early, so we browsed the farmer's market and did some window shopping before making our taco stop. 

The drive to Big Basin Redwoods was beautiful. VERY curvy roads and almost every other vehicle we passed had a Christmas tree they were hauling home. We didn't get to hike that far into the woods since we didn't have much time before we needed to head back. Also - surprise! It started to rain again. 

The only thing I'm bummed I did not see was a banana slug. Maybe next time. 

Before heading to supper, we went to watch the sunset at Steamer Lane. Many others had the same idea and the beach was filled with couples and families trying to soak up the last of the sun before it set. 

Finally it was the night I had been waiting for - the Aimee Mann Christmas show. It was held at the Rio Theater [iPhone pictures below] which was a bit smaller than we had expected. There were a bunch of seats in the middle-front which were reserved but all others were general admission. We decided to sit on the right side, second row. Yes, we were right by the speaker but knew it wasn't going to be deafening. However, we overheard countless people complain before the show about how it was going to be too loud, or they weren't even going to chance it. Wimps! 

Also pre-show, I enjoyed other overheards like:

"I think it's a small band, her husband is here.", referring to Ted [not her husband].

"Who's the opener?" "I don't know but it will be good since she's a music snob."

The show was filled with both comedy and music. The main story was that Santa was murdered backstage and it was Aimee and Ted's job to find the murderer. The opening for the show was an amazing video of "Murder, She Sang". [I just tried to search for the video since I keep hoping it finds its way online. It hasn't but I found the skit from Wits which must have started this idea?]

Along with being excited to see The Both [Aimee and Ted] I was also excited to see comedian Tim Heidecker. I'm pretty sure no one at this theater understood his humor. We, along with maybe one other guy, were the only ones laughing. Santa Cruz - stop being scared of loud music and comedians! 

Anyway, I just want Aimee, Ted and Tim to know - we enjoyed the show! We laughed with you and also at you [well, mainly just Ted in his baby New Year outfit]. 

santa cruz, part 2

Looking back at our two full days in Santa Cruz last December, I realized we did A LOT on the first day. I last wrote and shared pictures from the first half of the day. Picking up where I left off, we were at the Natural Bridges State Beach and from there walked to the butterfly preserve. We happened to be there at a great time to view the monarchs since this is one of the spots many of them migrate to for the winter due to the eucalyptus groves in the park.

At first we didn't see much, but after a while we could see little specks of movement. Those where the monarchs way up in the trees! Although you can't see the specks in the picture below, that was the view looking up. 

Inside the learning center there were a few monarch chrysalis to view up close. It's amazing how intricate they are and how they are formed. We also got to see a monarch that had hatched just moments before we got there. 

After viewing the butterflies we headed back down West Cliff Drive to the main surfing area which is known as Steamer Lane.  There were a bunch of surfers out and they were a lot of fun to watch. 

From here we traveled downtown to eat lunch at Lulu Carpenters. After walking around and checking out a few stores, we stopped at The Penny Ice Creamery and shared a scoop of delicious apple crisp ice cream. 

And because we can't sit still we then headed to Capitola. Eric knows me so well that he knew I'd love to take pictures of the colorful beach homes. And of course I did. 

As it had been off and on the whole day, it was no surprise it started to rain again. Although this time, it was not letting up. We tried to figure out where we could go and we remembered - THE BIGFOOT DISCOVERY MUSEUM! If you are ever in the area, it's a must see. It's too hard to explain all my feelings and thoughts on it, but I will leave you with my three favorite things I shared on Twitter about the place: 

After the Bigfoot fun, we found the perfect bar down the road where we stopped to have a drink and play cribbage. The bar was Monty's Log Cabin and it had an up north Wisconsin, small bar feel. No one was really there together, but yet they all knew each other. We felt like outsiders, although it was fun to people watch. 

For supper that night we stopped at Redwood Pizzeria in Felton before heading back to Santa Cruz for one last amazing stop before the end of the night. 

THE CHRISTMAS HOUSE. I'm sure locals may have another name for it, but that's the best I could come up with. We first drove by it during the day and knew we'd have to come back once it was dark.

We weren't the only ones who had stopped to take a closer look and take pictures. Eric even got to talk to the owner for a bit. 

I also want to mention it was weird to be in a warmer climate so close to Christmas. It's one thing to see decorations here in Wisconsin and even if there's no snow on the ground, it's at least freezing. Here in California, it seemed wrong to see things like decorative flags that have a penguin on a snow covered hill. You guys don't know what Christmas weather feels like! 

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the Christmas House. It was a cheery ending to our very busy day.

santa cruz, part 1

Last December Eric and I took a short trip to Santa Cruz. We decided on this specific location for a couple reasons. The main reason was because Aimee Mann was bringing back her Christmas show and it's something I have wanted to see for a long time. Also, California is warmer than Wisconsin in December. 

We got into San Francisco in the afternoon and our plan was to stop at Tacolicious for supper before we headed to Santa Cruz. We had found Tacolicious on our trip to San Fran a couple years ago and haven't been able to find any tacos that compare since. So, we were quite excited to be back in the area to have some delicious tacos again.

We stopped at the Palo Alto location and noticed it was quite empty. I figured it was a little early for people to eat supper, so that was the reason. Nope. It was empty was because it was closed for a private party later that evening. Ugh. 

Not a great start to our trip! 

Instead of finding an alternate place to eat, we continued our road trip to Santa Cruz. We checked into the hotel we'd be staying at for one night, the Dream Inn. There was a beautiful view of the ocean and sounds of crashing waves and sea lions talking. 

After checking in, we walked to Surfrider Cafe for supper. It wasn't Tacolicious, but it was still a great meal! 

The next morning we woke early and were actually able to get a nice view of the ocean since it was dark when we had arrived the night before. 

We then left to drive to Davenport to eat breakfast at the Whale City Bakery and take a walk along the seaside cliffs. 

I'm sure we could have walked around this area a lot longer, but it was starting to rain and we needed to check out of the hotel. 

After we left the hotel, we stayed in Santa Cruz and drove to another trail along the ocean. This led us to the Natural Bridges State Beach. There weren't many people there, but there were lots of pelicans and birds. I had fun taking pictures of the birds and at one point almost got hit by the tide coming in since I wasn't paying attention to the waves. Completely worth it though. 

Surprisingly this was only the first half of our day! Stay tuned for the second half...