Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Santa Cruz To Capitola Bar Hop

California Coastal Trail (CCT)
Distance: Santa Cruz - Capitola more than 7 miles
Trip time: 7 hours
Actual hiking: around 3 hours
Jo, Tara, Julie, Lisa

After our Breast Cancer Walk which we knew would be short - we decided to walk from Santa Cruz to Capitola. This is the segment of the California Coastal Trail that will allow Jo and I to say we have walked from Santa Cruz to Monterey when we have finished. Our goal was to walk the streets and beaches and hit as many bars along the way as we could. Thus, it was the Bar Hop.

Teresa chose to bow out of this portion of the hike. We parked on Josephine street off of River and headed for our first destination - the harbor area. We followed the paved bike trail along the river. I had never been on this portion of the trail, but it goes all the way to the boardwalk. Tara was looking pretty in pink. She had definitely gone all out to find and borrow pink for the hike. She was decked out from her shoes to her bra.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We crossed the trestle and then hiked East Cliff around the corner to the point. There were different memories that we shared as we walked. This was my old neighborhood when I lived on Hiawatha. Josephine told us she was on "the point" when she decided to move to Santa Cruz.

We followed the CCT along the cliff top and in front of the houses on the bluff. I would find it very annoying to own a house with such an incredible view, but then constantly have people walking by. We were overlooking the beach and we could see a guy practicing his tightrope walking between two poles.

We crossed down to the harbor, climbed up to the bridge then circled around to the Crow's Nest side. Jo noticed an old fashioned "pirate ship" was at the harbor. She went to investigate it and decided to take a tour another day.

We had reached our first drinking spot, so we stopped for margaritas and beer. There were four seats at the bar, so we sidled up. As we were sitting there our sunny skies disappeared and the fog rolled in. We couldn't believe how quickly it came on.

The next portion was a beach walk, so we stripped down to bare feet. I spent the time as usual in the surf. The other gals found it too cold. The tide was low so were able to get around the point and cut up on the bench probably around 14th street. We walked along East Cliff for a little bit then cut back down to the beach at Sunny Cove.

This was Josephine and my old beach when we lived on Palisades. We hadn't walked it for years. Jo and I walked barefoot, but Tara and Lisa kept their shoes on this time. After the beach, we walked through our old beach cottages on Palisades, which are now for sale and in sad, sad state of disrepair.

We walked on along the cliffs along East Cliff and then cut over to Portola to hit the Over The Hill Saloon. We saw that happy hour didn't begin until 4:00 and it was only 3:00. We debated going in until we learned the drinks were still only three dollars. Mizzi the bartender remembered Jo and I from our last pit stop there after a CCT hike.

The guy next to me asked if I was a bowler. I said, "No, why, do I look like a bowler?" It turns out there was a breast cancer bowl-a-thon the same day which frequent patrons of the bar had gone to in the morning.

Jo and Lisa examined the bus routes to determine when and where we could catch the bus after our last stop at Capitola wharf. We finished our drinks, talked and then were ready to head into the fog towards Capitola.

We were in quite high spirits (literally) by this time as we walked down Portola avenue.

We walked by Frenchys the adult "bookstore" which Lisa and Tara said they had never been to. This required a stop. Josephine shopped for her Halloween costume, while Tara and Lisa looked at the various toys and gadgets. I promised not to post any of these pictures on the blog, but let's just say there was a lot of laughing and giggling going on. We visited the "movie gallery" at the back the store, but decided not to watch any of the videos.

We dragged Lisa and Tara out of there and headed down Opal Cliffs to Capitola Village. When we arrived at the wharf, Tara shared a memory of her and Kirk's three month anniversary on the Capitola beach. They have now been married 25 years. We were able to take our drinks outside, so we sipped Bloody Mary's and looked at the fog. There was some sort of boat rescue going on and we watched a sea otter and a bird, floating together.

We had really worked up our appetites now so we headed to El Toro Bravo for the best chili rellenos in town. (At least that's my opinion). We munched on chips, salsa, nachos and all ate Chili rellenos. Josephine ended up buying us dinner which was much appreciated.

Now that the walk was completed we headed back up to 41st avenue to the transit center at the mall. Our timing was good and we didn't have to wait long at all to catch the bus. We were all feeling happily satiated after a fine day of walking, eating and drinking.

Lessons Learned: Walks down memory lane are always sweet even when bittersweet. We've all lived in this town a long time. I should have gotten a Bloody Mary at the wharf. El Toro Bravo still makes a great chili relleno. Laughter is good for the heart and soul. Being silly is it's own reward.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

Location: San Jose, CA
Distance: a little less than 5K
Walking time: around 45 minutes
Jo, Teresa, Tara, Julie, Lisa

We started a grass roots team of employees of King Library and their friends and family to walk in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk in San Jose. I dedicated the walk to my friends Paula (one of our hikers) and Sheryl in Sacramento. The team was named "Walk With the King" and we raised over $4,300 dollars of which almost $2,500 was raised by the Santa Cruz contingency made up of Jo, Teresa, Tara, Lisa and Julie.

The walk started at 9:00 on Saturday and the group met at 7:45, so it was an early morning over the hill for us. Jo, Teresa and I rode the Highway 17 bus and Lisa and Tara drove. We all showed up in various levels of pink, but the crowning glory was when my colleague Carole showed up with pink rubber crowns inscribed with "Walk with the King". The crowns were very helpful in spotting team members in the crowd of 7,000 walkers.

There was a brief aerobic warm up which all the Santa Cruz gals participated in while my San Jose colleagues watched bemused. We were ready to party and have a good time. I had filled out a square dedicating my walk to Sheryl and Paula. Everywhere were folks dressed in pink. Survivors were identified by Olympic looking medals. The spirits were high and we were through the start line a little before 9:00 a.m.

The route followed the river down to the Children's museum. There were volunteers along the way to cheer us on and hand out water at various spots. The walk went very quickly and everyone was surprised when we had reached the finish line by 9:45. (I later found out the walk wasn't quite 5K).

We went to some booths - tried hula hooping and ate some fruit and then jumped into Lisa's car to head over the hill for our second hike of the day in Santa Cruz.

But, first things first. The morning walk made us work up an appetite, so we decided to make our first stop Auntie Mame's in Scotts Valley for breakfast. I had my favorite corned beef hash and eggs with fresh biscuit and gravy. Yum! Now, we were pleasantly stuffed and ready to walk.

It had been a fun morning. I've never participated in a walk like this before and will definitely do it again. The energy of the walkers and survivors was great. It is such an important cause and one that is close to my friends and thus my heart.

Our fundraising far surpassed my expectations. It was a great experience.

Other photos from the hike can be seen at:


Lessons Learned: Grass roots effort can work. People's generosity is quite surprising. Often those who have the least give the most.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Marina to Seaside

California Coastal Trail
Marina to Seaside
7 miles
4 hours
Jo, Tara, Julie

This section of the CCT involved another car drop off. We left Jo's car at the beach hotel in Seaside - then drove back to Marina in a rather circuitous route since I took the exit before Reservation Road. We made sure not to make this mistake on the way home.

It was a beautiful sunny day. It had been cold in the morning so our packs were heavy with shoes and extra clothing, that it turned out we didn't need. As always, better safe than sorry. What we should have put on was more sunscreen, because both Tara and I got sunburnt on this hike.

The waves were huge and breaking very close to the beach. The beach was angled and the sand soft which made for difficult walking conditions. I was disappointed I couldn't spend more time walking in the surf - but you had be extremely vigilant watching the waves. The rogue waves came on unexpectedly and waves which seemed big would peter out without reaching you. By the end of the hike we had all gotten wet - something I like to get over early in the hike.

This was a fairly deserted section of beach - similar to the Moss Landing to Marina section. There were no buildings and few people. I saw on the front page of the Sentinel that giant sea turtles had migrated to Monterey Bay so we had hoped to see one - but alas, we never did. We didn't see any wildlife in the water - though Jo at one point thought she saw a whale spout.

Birds were our main companions. Vultures, gulls, plovers and pelicans. We saw lots of animal corpses in various states of decay - nature in action. There was one Sea Lion skeleton with the skull exposed which I was tempted to try and take, but it was to stinky and still attached to the body. Interesting to get to see the teeth up close.

The soft sand made this a difficult hike. After doing so many miles of beach walking there is a natural rhythm you fall into. The landscape is constant and yet changing. You walk watching the waves. There was a surprising amount of trash on the beach, but it was too far to carry it. The most bizarre piece was a cat scratcher which was by a shopping cart in the middle of nowhere.

We came across a couple and stopped to chat with them. They had come from a new park that had been created but wasn't officially open yet. I asked them about the "enlisted officers club" which was a building our book said that we had to climb around. The woman said that it had been a beautiful building - but they had torn it down several years ago. This was valuable information - because we stopped looking for a building in the distance. On the Moss Landing hike we kept waiting for a river that wasn't there.

We stopped at 12:30 and had a short, pleasant lunch. It was hard to judge distance, so we stopped based on time. What can seem quite close takes quite a long while to reach. As we hiked we could see a Para sailor in the distance. He was on top of large sand dune, so we decided to stop and run down the sand dune several times. There is nothing like that sensation of flying down the dune. It takes so much effort to climb up and less than a minute to come sailing down. From the top of the dune you could see Highway One and the houses of Fort Ord in the distance. You felt so isolated on the beach but civilization was just a dune away.

In the distance we could see what must be the site of the officers club, since it seemed like the waves came up to the cliff and we couldn't get around it without climbing up. We put on our shoes for the climb up and came into a construction zone with all sorts of equipment and piles of rubble. There was a real estate sign for Ocean View property which seemed rather incongruous. We were of course ignoring many "No Trespassing" "Dangerous Edge" and "No Parking" signs as we made our way through this area. We cut through the sand dunes and were able to make our way back to the beach.

Now we could see a giant flag and our hotel in the distance. We were like horses headed for the stable and our pace picked up briskly. This last section was well populated, but our goal was to make it to the car and get out of the sand!

Although this hike was only 7 miles, it felt a lot further. I was glad we decided not to do the full 10 miles to the Aquarium. Tara and I had both neglected to put sunscreen on our faces and were reddening already, along with other odd spots.

We headed to the little dive bar in Moss Landing and I was excited about dancing on the pole. Unlike the last Saturday hike however - the bar was full of bikers which we found out is common on Sundays. What bike club should be there - but none other than our neighborhood club the Lompico Ghost Mountain Riders! A lot of the dollar bills that had been hanging from the ceiling were cleared off, so it didn't have the same cave like feeling.

The bar was packed with bikers, but we eventually all got seats. We got to meet some of our neighborhood Riders. Tara got on the email list of the Ghost Mountain Riders and I was invited to their clubhouse which is right down the street from my house. A great blues band started, so we danced (though the pole was blocked and I wasn't about to try it out with so many spectators). It was a great way to end the next-to-the-last-segment of the California Coastal Trail. Hiking and dancing two of things I love most in the world, done with dear friends.

Lessons Learned: Don't forget your sunscreen. You may have farther to go than you think. Always dance, you'll never regret it.