Santa Cruzin'...

9:24 AM

Beachy vibes with a side of stormy Fall weather...
{{I've been slacking on posting this and here I am ready to today, while trying to navigate my feelings and emotions of what happened last night. I know the new President does not reflect who I am or what I stand for, but it's an uneasy feeling knowing he will represent this country. I live in a comfortable California bubble where we are accepting of differences and diversity (of many things), but the rest of the country is not there yet. I wasn't so aware of this until yesterday, as I watched Google update the polls with so much red. Until most of America voted Trump as our next president. It makes my stomach churn, but I know that is why we have a democracy with checks and balances. Although I believe he is reprehensible (to be nice), I have to believe that as a Nation we will still continue to create unity, spread equality, and work toward united acceptance of everyONE...every single person!}} 

J listened to my endless rant about wanting him to plan a getaway. Next thing I know, my inbox has an Airbnb itinerary in it :) Lucky girl! I was surprised to see Santa Cruz as the city, but happy nonetheless. Any trip is a good trip, even though I still want to go to the Monterey Aquarium with him (and L too, duh)!

The only weekend we had available was actually his birthday weekend, go figure. It's his weekend, but he plans a trip for us! He didn't seem to mind, but I felt kinda guilty. But that's just one of the selfless things he does for me, for us, and for our relationship. He knows I thrive on experiences and it makes me better for both of us!

I love the state I live in. I love California. We have so much going on here from agriculture to the diversity of our state. To drive tourism and educate people, we have great resources like Visit California to use for when we are here. If you follow their IG, they are always posting amazing pics of different locations within the state. So, its only fitting that cities and counties with in the state also have their own version of 'Visit'! I used @visitsantacruz IG to help guide us in what we should do with less than 24 hours in Santa Cruz (SC from here on out), well that and Yelp!

We knew we'd probably have close to 24 hours in SC, so we left kinda early on Saturday AM. If you've ever driven from Sacramento to SC, you know it can be a long one and ends with some twists and turns. It felt nice to finally arrive with no actual plans. We wanted to do some wine tasting or day drinking, but most of the wineries didn't open until noon. So we headed to Pour Taproom. I absolutely love this concept they are working with. You get a cup and a bracelet and you are charged by the oz's you drink. You put your bracelet up to the screen and then it turns on the spout and you pour your drink. They have beer, wine, cider, and kombucha. They also sell food, but we were waiting to grab food. We sat down in their large comfy chairs and people watched the main downtown street. You could easily go broke here, if you aren't paying attention. They do limit you to a certain amount of oz's, which is probably smart.
 
We were going to grab lunch of J's research list, but we decided to stay on the main street in Downtown and grabbed some organic Mexican food at Cafe Camesino. It's literally a little stall on the sidewalk that uses a grill and a microwave to make their food. Maybe warm up their food, not necessarily make. They have plenty of Vegan and Vegetarian options, but limited meat-eater options. We weren't too thrilled by it, but we'd already committed to trying it. My dish was pretty good, J's mole was not that good -- we didn't like how sweet it was. Also, you sit outside and the fall weather was really brisk that day. But it was pretty awesome people watching again!
After we walked across the street, because I had been eyeing the Pacific Cookie Company. It was the perfect dessert post faux healthy chicken enchiladas.
With no plans at all, we walked the entire street of the downtown and turned around at what we considered the end. Lots of bums hang out on this street. As we made our way back, we poked our heads in a few stores, but really just took in the sights, the sounds, and the atmosphere.

We made our way, after getting a little turned around in their business park, to Storrs Winery & Vineyards. A small, but really cute tasting room. The two working were the nicest duo ever and made us feel really welcome. Eventually, we walked out of there with bottle of white wine, which rarely happens for us. If you're ever in the area, they are a great spot to visit.
We were ready for a nap after all of that, so we headed to our Airbnb to check-in (term used loosely) and nap for a bit. This little house was quaint and pretty low-key. It didn't have a TV and was part of the owners house, I think. We could hear everything from them, since they were only a door away. They tired to make it as visitor friendly as possible, they left wine glasses (red & white), a wine opener, and had a mini fridge. I don't think it was worth what they charged, but oh well. I was happy, that's all that matters.

After a well deserved nap, we headed to the ocean. Because, that's where I really thrive and fall in love all over again. We headed to Steamer's Lane, where we watched tons of people surfing and could see the Boardwalk. Then I sauntered farther down to see a surf competition winding down. After we spent at good while taking in the salty air and serenity, we headed to an early dinner.
The earlier you get to Lillian's, the better. I heard they'd moved locations, but I didn't realize how large their new location would be. I kept raving about this place to J, so I think I may have over sold him. He kept comparing it to all the other Italian we've eaten on our various trips. And we've eaten some amazing Italian. But anyone who is familiar with SC, knows this is the place to eat at. I FORGOT how amazing their cheese garlic bread is. Seriously, I wanted  the whole serving to myself. Yup, 4 pieces of that carb heavenly goodness! Everything is so good there, but I decided to go for the Chicken Parm, J went for the lasagna. I enjoyed both of our options. I love that although they've created a larger footprint, they didn't compromise on their taste!
Stuffed to the brim, we made our way to the Beach Boardwalk for some nostalgic fun...and saltwater taffy! Only to be thrown off guard by it closing at 5PM in October AND being remolded! Super fail! I was so excited to experience it with J, since he hadn't been since he was 10 or so. That was the first hit, then I walked to see if Marini's was open and it was CLOSED! I could have cried right then and there. Dramatics aside, I decided to take in the ocean. J didn't want to get his Nike's sandy, so I walked to the water solo. Well me and a few other people who were out there in the dark!
We decided to play $20 at the arcade, which really did last us probably almost an hour. I killed J in two games of air hockey. He turned around and killed me in basketball shooting. We played some really silly games because they only cost $0.25 and then J spent about a good 15 mins on Mortal Kombat! We had a super fun, relaxing time just goofing off and then spending our tickets on something for L!

Since our mission for the Boardwalk and candy failed, we had to drown our sorrows in dessert. Back to J's research list, we decided on The Penny Ice Creamery. Yelp peer pressured me into ordering the Marshmallow Fluff, because it was just super neat to watch the girl fire up her hand torch and light up my waffle cone! I wasn't really a fan of the ice cream, but I enjoyed the waffle cone a lot. J really liked his milkshake with homemade whip cream. I appreciate how they run their business, just wasn't a fan of the flavor options (too boughie) or the flavor of my choice! It's a popular spot in SC, they also have two other locations to visit too.
A day well spent in SC! We headed back to our Airbnb to relax and get some sleep.

We had discussed getting up for the sunrise, but the weather was hating on us. My alarm was set, but when it went off we decided to skip it. Then J said let's go, probably to appease me, more than anything. I was happy to get up and go experience a SC sunrise with my handsome fella. We made our way back to where we were the day before, but we went a little farther, to the lighthouse. I not so gracefully hopped the fence, still have a bruise and a cut to prove it, to get a better view.
We encountered surfers starting their mornings and jumping of the cliff we were at. The view was amazing. No words can describe the serenity, the happiness, and the contentment I felt in those moments. The ocean smell is so delicious, salty and beachy!

When we felt content enough, we decided to go grab a coffee at Verve and gather our stuff. I'm pretty sure my subconscious knew about this place because of my cousin, but also Yelp helped! Their basic drip was on point. J loved his Vanilla Latte too. I loved the atmosphere of their downtown location, huge, airy, and minimalist. It's definitely the SC version of a hipster coffee spot!
We said farewell to our Airbnb and loaded up the car to grab some brunch before we headed home. Up until a few days before we left, we were going to spend most of the day there. But a group of friends decided to rent a local indoor soccer arena we all grew up playing at, before it closed for good! We found our way to Harbor Cafe along with a bunch of other people. As we waited for our seats, it started to downpour. This didn't stop the people from showing up. We now know why! The food is really good and the coffee is free! We both really enjoyed our meals, but I'm still mad at myself for not adding any protein to my Juevos Rancheros. I misread the menu and pricing and was being frugal, when in reality my meal was not expensive at all!
Despite the rain, it was the perfect way to end our quick getaway to SC. It was almost three hours of pouring rain the entire way home. But we were glad to be back home and spending the rest of the weekend with our good friends, playing a sport we all love.
Don't fret, the whole weekend wasn't dedicated to our getaway. After our 2 hours of running around on the pitch, we all went and celebrated J's birthday. So, his bday weekend ended with us celebrating him, just as it should have been!
 
The beach with my boo, restores me every time!

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