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July 12, 2003: Far too much walking in one day

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This morning we lounged lazily in bed until just after 8 (such luxury!). This was mainly because breakfast wasn't served until then, so despite me waking up before 6 and then lying there in bed half awake for the next hour or two, it wouldn't have done any good to actually arise any sooner. Now that it was morning we could actually see what the gardens of the inn looked like during the day. We took a quick amble through them (we'd done a more thorough stroll last night) and I once again had reason to bemoan the boring flatness of our yard. Most of the gardens were up a steep hill literally covered with some kind of bright red flowers.

We joined a handful of other equally sleepy people in the main lounge for breakfast. I discovered that I could only pretend that the pancakes didn't really have bananas in them for one pancake's worth of eating; after that the banana contamination was too strong to overcome and I made do with a deliciously flaky croissant. Then we headed back downtown to see how everything looked in the daytime.

As I suspected, during the day the concentration of gothed up college students standing around in clusters managing to smoke and exude extreme boredom had decreased. In fact, the downtown strip was nearly deserted, which, as we soon discovered, was due to the fact that a majority of the businesses did not even open until 10. So much for getting an early start. But we did walk all the way up to a clock tower and then took a detour over to the mission (which also did not open until 10 so we had to content ourselves with peering up the hill through the gate at nothing). Then we stared at our little tourist map of Santa Cruz and figured that since the boardwalk wasn't all that far away, we might as well walk down there too.

The beach was still mostly empty when we made it down to the boardwalk, and most of the rides were in process of opening and doing their beginning-of-day tests. We wandered the length of the boardwalk and looked at the beach and the volleyball courts and all the sand, and then Richard saw a sign for a train trip up to an old lumber site which looked kind of fun, so we marked the time and then walked out onto the pier to find somewhere for lunch. Amusingly enough, we ended up at the same place each of us had gone for dinner when we were here (not together, but each on our own during separate trips) for Benthic Creatures. We sat by the window and tried to figure out what type of ducks were bobbing around on the water, and I got to be amazed by how big pelicans really are when you see them close up, and we ate salmon wrapped in spinach and puff pastry and then had just enough time to walk back down the pier and back to the boardwalk and pay for our tickets and board the train.

The train ride was lovely. It took us through some of the prettier parts of Santa Cruz with all the little colorful Victorian houses, and also through some of the not-so-pretty areas (industrial yards, mostly). Once we left Santa Cruz it was mostly redwood trees and occasional glimpses of rivers and hikers and mountain bikers.

Then, however, it reached Roaring Camp, which, being further away from the coast, was significantly hotter. And the first glance from the train window made us wonder just what it was that was so exciting that people (who were over the age of 10) would really want to go there. There really wasn't much at all there except some pony rides and a few boxes of water on sticks where you could 'pan for gold', and a shack selling the typical tourist trap food (ice cream, burgers, hot dogs), and of course a little souvenir shop. There were signs for trails leading into the redwoods we'd just seen but we had less than an hour to kill and it simply wasn't enough time to do much exploring. So we got flavored ices and sat on a picnic bench in the shade to eat them, and then poked around the gift shop and got back on the train.

This time we decided to ride in the open car, which turned out to be a huge mistake. The ride through the redwoods was just as lovely as before but in the open car we had no protection from the sun, and the breeze from the movement of the train just wasn't enough to make up for the heat.

We were both pretty tired after the heat and the sun, but we decided to walk all the way back downtown again to find the Santa Cruz library so Richard could get a library card (because for whatever reason he decided that he should try to get a library card from every county in California). And then we finally walked back to the inn where I really wanted to collapse but after that extremely hot and sweaty train ride we both felt disgusting so we ended up taking showers instead.

We decided to find dinner somewhere, since the cheese appetizers in the lobby weren't going to cut it two days in a row, so we rummaged through the inn's big book of menus, found a promising spot, called and made reservations, and then hopped in the car. We drove off to Aptos, where we discovered that just because the woman at the inn *said* it was in Aptos didn't mean she knew what she was talking about, called the restaurant, got correct directions, and finally found it at the top of a hill overlooking an extremely snooty golf course surrounded by even snootier mansions. We ate dinner and whispered across the table to each other about the other people in the restaurant, who all seemed to be the sort that lives in snooty golf course mansions and name their children Muffy or Hamilton the Third and worry about how their little angels' preschool will impact their ability to get into Harvard later in life. Then we split a dessert which had an appropriately snooty name but was really just a big slab of soft fudge in a shallow bowl surrounded by espresso cream and crushed Heath bars, and then finally decided we'd had enough snootiness for one weekend so quickly paid our bill and escaped.

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