You might wonder why a weekend getaway to the Santa Cruz area would appear in a blog entitled, "This is Why Merced", but one of the very cool things about Merced's location for us Minnesota natives unfamiliar with California is its proximity to so many great places to visit. It's been said that Merced is in the middle of nowhere, but a 2-hour drive from everywhere, and that adage seems to hold true. In just over two hours on a recent Friday morning, Sean and the huskies and I made it to the coast for a 4-day beach getaway to celebrate Sean's 40th birthday. We rented The Surf House from some wonderful people who welcomed us and the dogs into their beautiful rental near a dog-friendly beach. They thought of all the details, including a well-stocked kitchen, plenty of beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas, and a comfy, clean restored house that felt like home for 4 days.
|The view from the front window of our rental. Rio del Mar State Beach was right across the street and down a few steps.|
|Kodi got a little tired walking in the sand so he got a lift from Sean back up the hill to The Surf House.|
|The old cement ship, SS Palo Alto.|
Saturday was gorgeous and sunny and we started the day with strawberry/Nutella crepes at Sweet Pea's Cafe in Capitola. Then we walked down to the water to check out the surfers. Afterward we headed back to the house to pack up the huskies and supplies for a morning at the beach.
|Waiting for the right wave.|
|Our beach set-up for the morning. Umbrella shade for the huskies.|
|The life of a California pup.|
|The boys, napping at the beach.|
After the beach we let the huskies rest at home while we headed to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and hiked the Redwood Grove loop. These trees are not quite as big at the sequoias in Yosemite, but they were impressive nonetheless. After the park we drove through UC Santa Cruz's beautiful campus and headed downtown for some delicious homemade ginger pear ice cream at the Penny Ice Creamery. Dinner brought us to Cafe Cruz in Soquel, where the food was good and the atmosphere was even better as we were seated outside on the patio next to the fireplace. It was so refreshing to be chilly out of doors after so many months of high temperatures in the 90s!
|Giant redwood tree|
|Sean helping Kodi walk on the beach, and Daniel and Nina helping each other.|
|Party at the beach!|
We couldn't resist another great California club sandwich at Pixie's for lunch. Afterward our friends headed home for 2:00 nap time and Sean and I headed to the Santa Cruz wharf.
|Sea lions resting below the wharf restaurants. Viewing platforms are provided for human gawkers.|
|Pointed west and waiting for the show to begin.|
|Ili's dramatic sunset pose.|
|Best show in town!|
|But the show kept getting better.|
Monday morning brought us back to Sweet Pea's in Capitola for those delicious crepes with a stop at Whole Foods for some seafood and other goodies to take home to the valley. The fog rolled in, so we decided it was time for us to roll out. What a fabulous visit to the coast!
|Foggy view from The Surf House on Monday morning.|