When summer in the flatlands is dry and hot, I get a little bit depressed. In fact, a foggy morning fills me with an intense joy and a longing for a leisurely walk with loyal companion Sadie.
I’m not the only one brought low and sad by the seemingly relentless, searing heat of the serpentine valley in which I reside. Thousands of residents scurry off to public pools, weekends in cool wooded mountains, or nearby beaches, seeking relief.
To avoid the weekend crush, we arranged a Monday trip to Santa Cruz, last week.
We parked at the iconic Boardwalk, an old amusement park with rides (including a wooden rollercoaster), arcades, a ring-toss merry-go-round, and the greasy-sweet aroma of carnival food.
The Boardwalk is a destination both for children seeking a thrilling ride, and nostalgic adults. The arcades in particular include museum pieces such as Volly, a Pong-like game, and the slightly creepy Laughing Sal.
The beach beckoned, so we walked along the shore where numerous laughing children braved the chilly Pacific Ocean surf. Looking north, we watched a group of novice surfers – appropriately wet-suited – paddling out to catch the gentle waves.
A nearby pier hosts several restaurants and shops, and as we walked its length the familiar barking of sea lions echoed from beneath. Amateur fisherfolk dotted the perimeter, and a white cloud of seagulls periodically burst forth over our heads.
After traversing the pier we returned to the Boardwalk and satisfied cravings for curb dogs and hand-made salt water taffy.