Santa Cruz/Capitola

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By Karen Ho

SANTA CRUZ

GET AWAY was the direction hubby and I we were driving; fully vaccinated and ready to share our stimulus dollars. 

Thursday, late morning, our GPS was programmed to Swift Center in hippy dippy Santa Cruz, and from there, the quaint village of Capitola. These were repeat vacation destination spots for us and only an hour plus from San Francisco. 

Swift Center is a small shopping area, past Hidden Bridges, a quick right off Hwy 1, in the West End of Santa Cruz.  We pulled into the parking lot to grab lunch and get bladder relief, but to our dismay our favorite French bakery was closed, with the sign removed, and windows covered. 

Within these several blocks, the West End, were newly sprouted breweries, coffee houses, wine tasting rooms, and eateries.

Past our closed bakery, at the end of the little center, a large tent was erected for dining. The West End Restaurant menu taunted us and we succumbed to mussels, asparagus soup, an IPA for hubby and a bubbly rose’ for me.

We strolled a bit along Fair Ave coming upon a sandwich board sign with a large green plus sign in the center placed in front of a nondescript old wood A frame building.  Above the door read 3Bros. Curious, we stepped up to the makeshift counter at the front entrance and inquired to the casually dressed ‘doorman’. “Can I ask, is this at Urgent Care facility?”

With an amused look, he responded,   “We are a cannabis dispensary.” The three of us chuckled. I couldn’t help but blurt out  “ Serving a different type of need for Urgent Care in the pandemic I guess!” 

CAPITOLA

Onto Highway 101 South, the GPS was reset to  ‘Inn at the Depot’ our accommodations, high above the Spring Break crowd of Capitola beach and promenade. 

In years previous, autumn called us to Capitola for it’s annual Art & Wine Festival. In the promenade and village, the streets were lined with booths of art, wine, and food.  We were in awe of the creativity of the different art pieces, and paintings, the canvases and prints of one hundred and sixty artists.  We strolled with our artsy wine glasses in hand anxious to try many of the Santa Cruz wines, twenty-two booths to choose from, and all in the name of community support. Also each year I would I purchase the festival’s souvenir print of the fair, each year painted and printed by a different local artist.

The promenade stage bands filled the air with tunes to move your booty to, from salsa, to rock’ n’ roll and even the oldies.
Made note: This year’s Capitola Art & Wine Festival is scheduled for September 11, 2021.

Unpacked, short nap taken and complimentary wine and cheese tucked in the fridge; we were ready for an outing. Mid- afternoon, the degrees were hotter than what was forecasted, but as was suggested by a locale , we “follow(ed) the trestle tracks through the eucalyptus and heritage oak trees and over the bridge for a beautiful view of the sunset.” 

I stepped from wood plank to wood plank out of the sheltering trees and onto the old trestle bridge.  Looking down I could see the cutely lined mostly seasonal summer cabins, with private docks onto Soquel River.

Farther down the trestle tracks, as my sandals landed on the next plank, I heard a creak and noticed loose deteriorated nails had bumped up with the weight of my step.  Not feeling sure footed, I reviewed the boards farther ahead on the bridge; the stability from plank to plank looked tenuous as best.  Determined to complete the distance on the historical 1930’s trestle span over the busy street, and onto land and end with the promised breath-taking view, I continued, but cautiously.

The view of the Pacific, its inlets, outlets and cliffs never disappoint. Once on solid dirt, we agreed walking under the bridge along the busy thoroughfare back to our Inn was a safer route.

On the Internet, I read later  “Use of the bridge by pedestrians is not advised and technically illegal, although dozens of people cross the bridge on foot each day”. 

In the village, we noticed a small storefront ‘English Ales’, with several dangling beer mugs in the front window. The proprietor explained the beer steins were the property of locals and favored patrons, frequently reused. The chalk board in front of the establishment touted   “Best Irish Coffee, BETTER than the Buena Vista.”  We had recently partaken at the Buena Vista and were interested to do a comparison. It did not compare, maybe it was the whipped cream.

That evening as the beach crowd started to dissipate, we slipped into an alley to dine at ‘Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine’, best pasta ever. 

Next morning before checkout, the chill of the morning enticed us to walk off our breakfast. Toward a drape of fog, again following the trestle tracks, this time in the opposite direction, penetrating beams of sunlight lured us, closer and closer.  Our trestle trail led us through the trees, past the back of a row of homes. The fences were murals, of painted marine life; octopus, dolphins, crabs, whale, waves and a mermaid. The detail artistry and vibrancy were breath taking.  Further down, the path became a cliff trail, which opened up to an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and morning surfers. Life is good on the coast! 

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