Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Second Anniversary

In May the Mr. and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. We were (and still are) a little strapped for cash but I was desperate to get out of town. After much research, I found some great deals for Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz is about two and a half hours from where we live and makes a perfect place for a weekend getaway. We loaded the car, dropped the dog of at the sitters (my dad and stepmom) and headed out. One of my favorite things early in this trip was that my favorite traveling radio station came in clear for a very long time. The Greatest Hits of All Time (formally 'Oldies') 97.5 KABX out of Merced California. I remember listening to this station as a little kid and memorizing all the hits from Buddy Holly, The Monkeys, Elvis, and the Beetles to name a handful. Things have changed in the past few years. The other morning I turned to the station only to find myself listening to Hall and Oates ('Maneater'??? Really??? C'mon!). At least they still have some redeeming qualities like Breakfast with the Beetles on Sundays, recordings of The Wolfman Jack Show and repeats of Casey Casem's American Top 40.
Halfway to our destination, in Hollister, is Casa de Fruta. I have passed this fruit stand many times on my way to Santa Cruz and have never stopped before. We were in no hurry so we pulled off the freeway and took a walk around.
This is the outside...(click pic to enlarge) 
...and this is the inside. 
What really sold us was the free wine tasting. We were allowed to sample two different varietals. I think I chose a sparkling white and a Pinot Noir. I remember thinking that both were ok but nothing really to write home about. I can't remember what the Mr. chose but I know that one of them was their Pomegranate Wine. That one was really good, so good that we bought a bottle to toast with that evening. 
We arrived at the Best Western Capitola-by-the-Sea Inn and Suites. I chose this hotel because of the discounts and freebies it had to offer. By choosing this hotel we were both able to go to Roaring Camp Railroads for free. The staff was very friendly and helpful over the phone and at check in. There were even fresh baked cookies waiting for us in the lobby. During our one night stay, we took advantage of the outdoor hot tub, pool and the continental breakfast in the morning. The breakfast included fresh fruit, very good coffee, an assortment of pastries, bagels, and toast; juice (I went back several times for the guava was sooo good), milk, tea, cereals, and my husband's favorite part, there was a 'make your own' waffle station.
After dropping off our things at the hotel we drove to the Santa Cruz Pier. It wasn't quite tourist season yet so there was plenty of parking on the actual pier. We walked around and watched the fisherman. We listened to the sea lions below the pier bellow at us and flap their fins. From a second floor wine cafe we were able to people watch while we took advantage of a half price happy hour. The weather was perfect and the views were priceless. After finishing our wine we walked the pier as the sun was setting. Very romantic!

For dinner we headed back to Capitola. I won't go into how disappointed we were in the restaurant (Sorry Stockton Bridge Grill) but the view was great, the service was ok, it was getting late and we were starving. Walking along the Esplanade we spotted a dog tie up that made us miss our own Sadie very much. After dinner we went back to the hotel, called the desk to see if they had a wine opener (the did!!) and headed to the hot tub with our Pomegranate Wine poured into plastic cups. 
The next morning we got up early, took advantage of the easy checkout over the phone in our room and headed to Roaring Camp Railroads. I am glad that we took advantage of the free tickets because I don't think that the Mr. and I would have ever considered this. This stop ended up being one of my favorite things that we did that weekend. On our train was a dog named Sugar and she was very well behaved so we didn't mind. This made us miss our own pup again. The tour was guided by Conductor Kent who was very friendly and knowledgeable. It started to warm up but not for us because along the way we were protected by huge and ancient redwoods.
Next on our list was the famous Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. This is a place that I had always intended on going to but never made it a priority. The cost was very reasonable and because we went before the tourist season started, we were able to tour it in a very small group. It was just the right amount of strange for the price that we paid.
After a quick stop at the local Costco (to get discounted all day passes) we finally made it to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I remember spending lots of time here when I was a kid. Because the season hadn't properly started and it was a Tuesday (I think), hardly any of the rides were open. The Giant Dipper was and I kept my eyes closed the entire time I was on it. For some reason, roller coasters aren't as fun as they used to be. After riding the rides and lunching on garlic fries, the Mr. and I played a round of miniature golf in Neptune's Kingdom where I let him win, but only by one stroke. We had free passes for the bowling alley across the street but had no luck using them because there was a tournament and they weren't letting anyone else play. After exhausting all of our free fun, we headed home happy, tired and in love. 

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