Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Santa Cruz, California

"Life is a Journey, not a Destination"--- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I learned this lesson on a trip to Hawaii many years ago. I was so excited to travel the "Road to Hana" that I had heard so much about in Maui. So, off we set, a 10 week pregnant me, my husband and my in-laws in a questionably maintained rental mini-van to find this great city of Hana. We rushed along the winding (very winding for a queasy preggo) stopping a couple of times to quickly hike to waterfalls, but hurriedly trying to get to Hana to see what all the fuss was about. No offense to any Hana-ites who are reading this, but upon reaching the town, we certainly didn't find anything thrillingly spectacular about it at all. It was cute, and quaint, but I really didn't see why everyone raved about it. On the way home, we drove more slowly and stopped to explore the amazing falls, and even swam in the cool pools of crystal clear water. Now this was heavenly! This was the road to Hana. Every time I find myself rushing and hurried, or hurrying the kids to get something done, I think of this experience and try to remind myself to live in the present, and enjoy the journey.

Last weekend, our kids got a chance to learn this life lesson themselves. We all thought we'd like to go to the beach. The fun thing about moving is all of the new places to explore. So once we had decided to go see the ocean, we had to decide..which beach to drive to? We finally set our sights on Santa Cruz. We had taken our oldest daughter to the boardwalk when she was just a few years old, but had never really explored the beaches there. So we set off.

We parked in the Day Use lot at New Brighton State Beach and it was just perfect. As you can see, it wasn't crowded at all, but even on a summer day, there seemed to be ample spaces.

Gotta love the Winnie, and her ability to fit into a standard space. As long as we have a little room in back, we can park anywhere. Once settled, we headed off to the beach. Beautiful view!
 And look at all of that beach to walk along! We peeled off our socks and shoes and hit the beach running. When we're talking about our kids, we mean literally, running!

We did our best to keep up with our little beach-combers, who ran over the sand excitedly.  
 Occasionally, the kids stopped to investigate treasures, sea shells, or driftwood. They found this dried tar with little sea creatures in it, which spurred a whole lesson in fossils (given by our 8-year-old). 
But soon, they spotted a pier in the distance. They were convinced that there was a sinking Pirate Ship moored to the end of the pier and wanted to rush up to it to find treasure. 
 So we were off and running again! And after a lot of running....here we were!

 I wanted to enjoy the view, but the kids were determined to get to that Pirate Ship! So they ran down the pier, and we finally reached the end, where there appeared to actually be a ship!
Now, at this point, I should have an amazing photo for you. A photo of a huge concrete ship at the end of our journey, right? Unfortunately, upon reaching the end of the pier, we did find a ship....a ship covered in birds (some dead; hundreds living) and a TON of bird poop. The smell was so disgusting, I can almost recall it now, and it sickens me. As the sea breeze swept over the ship (and its vile contents) I felt so nauseated, I almost lost it. Then I immediately thought of my little girl, whose sense of smell and gag reflex is legendary. I swept up my gagging, dry-heaving girl and dragged her away from the wreckage as fast as I could run. Thankfully, I averted an upset stomach event. The other kids, my hubby, and I continued to move further down the pier FAR away from the ship. 

What a major letdown! But, we all laughed about it (after our nostrils cleared). We also wondered how in the world people were fishing right by that vile stench at the end of the pier. It was really funny, and we all still laugh about whenever one of the kids brings it up. 
And because the kids weren't obsessed with getting to the pirate ship any longer, we all enjoyed our leisurely walk back down the beach back to the Winnie.

 Checking out beach houses.
 Collecting beach rocks (this kid does everything in a big way).
And driftwood (see what I mean?!)
Running in the waves.
 All in all, we had a wonderful journey, and some great laughs after reaching our destination.

Lesson Learned...again.

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