A trip to Santa Cruz

The copy for today’s upload had been almost finished when I decided to set it aside in favor of sharing with you some tidbits from a trip to Santa Cruz for my daughter’s orientation at the University of Santa Cruz.

Originally the plans had not included my joining her and her mother, but the day before the departure I packed my things, made sure the batteries for the camera were all charged and tagged along for the adventure.

After dropping off our daughter on campus, the wife and I took a short drive around the vicinity before heading south on the freeway towards Watsonville. I wanted to check out the area because I remember from my childhood that it was mostly agricultural land and I desired to capture a few photographic studies for a possible painting.

Upon arriving in Watsonville it felt like any other place, there where the usual major gasoline companies with their stations welcoming us back into civilization, followed by OSH on one side of the shopping center, Firestone, an assortment of smaller businesses and a major super market chain on the other side. Even Verizon has a spot on the corner next to a major intersection.

The cabbage patch, Watsonville

I had to look very hard to find access to the open agricultural fields, to see the workers in the fields, but by accident I did find one road that lead me past a local high school and what appeared to be a dead-end, was a dirt road leading one down a row of parked old cars and trucks. It was by all means limited exposure at best, and feeling out of ones own element, we continued a short distance along a huge strawberry field and patches of freshly tilted earth before turning around.

A smaller section of land that was protected by one side of a natural grove of indigenes trees, where a few laborers at harvesting red cabbages, while others packed the heads into cardboard shipping containers and loaded them onto a flatbed truck.

Unfortunately I found myself being ill prepared because of the failure to study any maps prior to coming here and know my way around ahead of time. Even after finding a California Automobile Association facility where I did obtain maps of the vicinity, but the decision was made to leave Watsonville for another time and return to Santa Cruz along the coast.

In order to do this we had to travel a short distance on the Cabrillo Highway until we reached Park, there we exited. Traveling on a winding two-way road, descending through a grove of Eucalyptus until the road way doubled and we reached the beginning of a residential neighborhood.

Each community with their own characteristics has a unique charm but today we were just passing through, in order to get to the shoreline, which we finally spotted before leaving Capitola and entering into Live Oak. After about ten minutes or so we reached Schwan Lake, from there it was only a brief moment before I spotted public access to a beach with one parking space available.

Anyone confused yet?, Twin Lake State Beach, Live Oak

After parking the vehicle I looked up at the sign before us. We looked at each other, read the sign repeatedly, deciphering the cryptic meaning before realizing that we did need a permit since Labor Day was in September. So she stayed with the car, while I quickly took a few pictures of the lighthouse and lifeguard station before gathered some extra fine sand and continuing our journey.

Apart from parking along the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk is very restricted, even several blocks away; I was not keen on staying. Wanting something quieter and less crowded we started to check out the area a little further north along Cowell Beach where the surfers hang out riding the incoming waves.

Finding another lone and empty parking spot that just seemed to beckon, I pulled right in.
There was a staircase leading down the cliff to the water which I descended almost right up to the water, only stopping so not to get wet from the incoming waves exploding like fireworks against the rocks.

We continued our walk along West Cliff Drive towards the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, all the time checking out the surfers catching the small waves, while we were dogging now and then the oncoming bicycle riders.

The Pelican Sentinel, Natural Bridges State Beach

Our time flew by way too fast and pretty soon it would be time to return to campus and pick up our daughter, but not before one more stop at Natural Bridges State Beach. The place has two entrances, the first takes one to a large parking lot with a twenty-minute limit in order to view the scenery, while the other road let to a rangers station that collected the days fee from those who wanted to enter the beach.

The point was very windy and the current considerable stronger as waves struck with greater force, pounding against the cliff protruding from the beaches shoreline. There on the very top of the cliff, the cormorants and pelicans stood watch over the coming and goings of the ocean. Several digital exposures later I headed back to the car, besides we needed to return to the campus.

Those attending the orientation were required to park in designated lots and take the shuttle to campus #8, where we meet up with our daughter but not after first running into an old friend Sherry who was there with her son Christopher. Her son and our daughter have known each other since first grade when going to Olinda Elementary more than ten years ago.

USC bus stop billboard, USC Campus

The five of us decided to head back into town and just walk about looking at the shops but first we needed to get back to where our cars were parked. When we exited the bus I had another look at the bus stop billboard which reminded me very much of the telephone poles I had been photographing in Berkeley since 2005.

Though I felt being rushed, I certainly could have spent the next twenty to thirty minutes setting up a tripod, composing a number of different arrangements and capturing several versions, I had to do with the three exposures I did get. All I could do was hope that despite the low shutter speed, I had something worthwhile.

The ride back home went relatively smooth, considering we did get into some rush hour traffic. Our daughter was exhausted and went to sleep, missing some of the scenery. Though I felt I had not accomplished every thing I wanted to do, the trip at least provided some mental stimulation and a few ideas for when I would return.

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