Just finished a lovely "stay-cation" style weekend in Santa Cruz! Lots of fun bits to comment on, but here are some cute, quick ones:

Santa Cruz is so very relaxing and beautiful! We're such geeks, though. Here we are in the town of sun, surf, and the famous Boardwalk… and we get seduced by the bookish side of the Force! Yes, after a truly excellent brunch at the Walnut Ave. cafe, we were wandering back to the hotel, and were sucked in by the well-known Logos Bookstore. Bookstore browsing is a pleasure I no longer allow myself, since I almost never manage to escape unscathed. However, I had an ancient store credit from several years ago — long enough ago that the guy at the counter laughed and said they didn't even have that printer any more! He was quite nice, and I happily walked out with a handful of books shortly thereafter — and a little bit of credit still left too! This credit slip, of course, is printed on their new printer… :)

Some curious thoughts: the first guy at the counter (not the one that ended up helping me) was the epitome of the cranky librarian, except male — right down to being quite thin and older, and with the little "granny glasses" perched on the tip of his nose! His frowning disapproval was rather off-putting, especially since we'd just left some truly excellent and inspired service at the cafe. Darren was our waiter's name, and he was perky, attentive, enthusiastic, and a pleasure to have as our waiter. That's saying a lot, too, considering the cafe itself was so overloaded with customers that the air conditioning was unable to keep up, so it was both hot and loud in there. Further, the wait for a seat was about half an hour, the wait for service was another 20 minutes, and the arrival of the food itself took yet another 20 minutes. Not an environment conducive to happy customers! That we left so happy is a ringing endorsement, I believe, to both the excellence of Darren's service and the skill of the cooks.

The hotel's complimentary breakfast ended at 10am. At one point we ran downstairs before showering in order to make it on time. My hair, which I usually keep protectively twisted up into a bun, was streaming loose down my back to about my hips. Because I'd not had a chance to even brush it yet, it was likely pretty wild looking — flowing all fluffy and wavy in that light brown shade that's just on that side of blonde. I wasn't thinking about it, though, so I was both surprised and enchanted when a small, wide-eyed girl came up to me while I waited in line, and breathed an awed, "You have mermaid hair!"

Wandering around downtown Santa Cruz also means scenting pot smoke quite often. I amusedly mentioned this to my companion at one point, to which he replied that he'd rather that than drunks. Curiously I asked why, and he replied, "I'd rather they were smoking joints than drinking because have you ever seen a belligerent stoner?" That made me laugh and agree!

Other random things: waking up Sunday morning, at about 20 minutes till 8, to the "whoooOOOOSHHHHHH!" of a rapidly passing car, punctuated at the end with the splashing rattle of someone's toilet — it sounded very much like something was dive-bombing in on us! Woke up with a jolt, but had to laugh once I figured it out.

Going back to sleep for a bit and waking the second time to the light, fluting sound of children singing together on their patio. They were excited about the upcoming beach trip, and had several songs regarding fun in the sun, beaches, and redwood trees. It was both interesting and pleasant listening to them: I didn't recognize any of the songs, but they sang well for children. It made me wonder about families and age. As the eldest, in prehistoric times, from about the age of 4 or 6 to menarche, I would have been mostly raised by my maternal grandmother. How would that have changed me, I wonder? How could it not?

This beach town reminds me strongly also of summers spent in Sarasota, FL, visiting my paternal grandmother with my immediate family. I wonder if my sister and I ever enchanted her with our singing. I wonder if she'd have been up to raising me, the second to last of her many grandchildren — I think there were over 15 grandkids, after all, from her six children. Situations like that make me understand matriliny much better — even just thinking about having to help raise that many kids is exhausting!

I never really wanted children, so I enjoy the luxury of watching other people with theirs, but having no sense of responsibility for the adults or their kids. On the other hand, I'm currently at the age where a lot of women are now newly grandmothers. I wonder what it feels like? I hope my mother isn't too disappointed at not having grandchildren; I suspect neither my sister nor myself will ever have any children for her to spoil.

You can see all sorts wandering the streets in Santa Cruz, if you just sit a bit and let them go by. I'm a little disappointed with myself, thinking back, to realize I commuted to school here for about for years — but never took the time to explore this lovely little town. Pacific Street is Santa Cruz's main street, and we saw buskers who were singing, making origami, simply begging, clowning, selling jewelry… there were all kinds of people as well. Plenty of young people, of course — the University is just up the hill, after all — but lots of what I'd guess were old hippies too.

On the whole people seemed happy, but that's not really a surprise in a town like Santa Cruz. The weather is gorgeous, the beach is beautiful, and the town tries to be extremely inclusive and arts-friendly. Everywhere we went we saw alternative modes of transportation, as well as of food preparation. The bicyclists we saw were on regular road bikes, old-fashioned touring bicycles, recumbents, bikes with child seats, even bicycles built for two where the rear rider's segment was sized smaller for a child. The roads frequently have marked bicycle lanes too, and the many skateboarders used them as well. Restaurant menus offer vegetarian, vegan, and even gluten-free options, which must be a relief for those trying to live that lifestyle.

Lots and lots of tattoos, to the point that it became visually almost like jewelry: expected and unremarked unless it's quite striking. Not as many piercings as I last recall when I was going to school here in the last years of the 1990s through 2001, but some interesting shaving and braiding on hair — like having the sides shorn with a short fuzz, and very carefully arranged bangs or braids, and a full fall of hair in a thick, short, curling ponytail. A few folks with dreads, of course. Lots of cute shorts on the women, and halter tops; baggier shorts on the men. Several women sporting those odd skirts that are short in front and very long in back; still think that looks weird, especially when the wind blows. An amazing plethora of clothes shops up and down Pacific: retro, Goodwill-style, trade, etc. Not much new clothing sold, though, except for a Gap and a Forever 21. Was amused to notice the sidewalk in front of those was pretty much empty, while people clustered and chatted and shopped around all the others.

Was also amused to see a Santa Cruz-specific California State Parks truck go by — with a surfboard on the rack! Is that the best way to rescue surfers, or is it just too much fun here to not have that option available? :)

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