We’ve planned this trip for weeks. The three of us will drive 400 miles to visit our older son at college in Santa Cruz. That’s a painful 7 hours in the car, but I’ll stay through Wednesday for a conference in Palo Alto, so the effort will be worth it.
The fold-ups come along, too. They win out over the bigger bikes because I can put 2 in the trunk and not be looking at bikes in my rear view mirror for the endless drive up here. They’ll be perfect for the around-town riding we’ve got planned, too.
Our hotel is near the pier, about a mile from downtown — the bikes turn this into a joyride, especially when we combine West Cliff Drive into the route. Pedaling along the sidewalk/bikepath, we could see the setup for the Coldwater Classic surfing competition, but no actual surfers in the water — the seas were just flat.
Creatures of habit, or we know a lot of great places to eat in town. My appetite wants to start things off at Zachary’s on Pacific Avenue — good hearty fare served by tattooed waiters and waitresses, it reminds me of my old hippie days. We came back again Sunday for a late breakfast with the boys; I wanted more of the homemade oatmeal-molasses toast — I could make a meal out of it.
The boys appreciate us being around when they’re shopping for Halloween costumes, but then we’re encouraged not to over-stay our visit — they have a big party planned for Saturday night. That gives me the idea for a nice dinner for two.
It’s quite a coincidence that as we’re on the way to finding zombie make-up that I pull up Yelp and right as we walk by it and there it is at the top of the list: Oswald’s, but there’s more shopping to do as we make our way back to the car. Santa Cruz is starting to look like it’s made for Halloween; what I see as vintage clothing stores are transformed for this weekend into scary apparel outlets.
The stores are so crowded with costume seekers that I hover near the entrance — that’s where I overhear one young woman inquiring, “Do you have any shells, sea shells?” And she holds her hands together as if in prayer, so that even as I’m casually eavesdropping I know exactly what she’s asking for. Then it’s over; the boys checkout and we drop them back at the house while we head to the hotel for a glass of wine in the room.
We’ve decided to walk to dinner; the 1-mile sashay will feel good and it’ll help to give me an appetite. We know we’ll be seeing some ghoulish sights as we pass through downtown; the thought unsettles my wife, so I assure her I’ll protect her from Santa Cruz’s worst fiends.
Dinner is excellent — nice and light with a great vibe, definitely not college grub. It’s over too soon though and we’re back on the streets walking our way to the Dream Inn. Santa Cruz has a spirited homeless population; there are lots of swarthy characters out at all hours, so it’s hard to tell who’s in costume and who isn’t, but as one couple approaches I feel a sense of recognition. No, not their faces… is she? Not naked from the waist up, but quite skimpily clad. As she passes I can’t believe my eyes — she must be feeling a chill because all she’s wearing for a ‘top’ is a pair of seashells.