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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Santa Cruz February 2005

After several months of working full-time during the week and building my part-time home-based Internet business on nights and weekends, I decided that I should take the opportunity of having four days off for the President’s Day holiday. I went to Dogfriendly.com searching for a fun place to hang out for a couple of days with my two dogs. Rowdy is a 13 year old cattle dog/border collie mix and Scout is a nine year old Australian Shepherd/Pit Bull mix. I have taken both dogs on all my vacations which included long drives, rest stops, hotel rooms, guest house, beaches and dog parks. Both dogs have been raised in rentals and apartments, so we spend a lot of time together going for walks and meeting everybody in the neighborhood. Many people know my dogs’ names before they know mine.

I wanted to pick a casual place with off leash beaches, walking paths and dog parks. I decided upon Santa Cruz, California, which is a beach-side resort area about one and a half hours south of my apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides all the beaches, which attract die-hard surfers, the most famous landmark in Santa Cruz is the Boardwalk, which is the beach-front amusement park. Due to my life-long motion sickness, I have never been a fan of amusement parks, but, growing up in San Francisco, I live and breathe for beaches. I felt that two days at the beach would do me a world of rejuvenation. I was absolutely right!

The trip to Santa Cruz took me through narrow mountain highways used by commuters on their way back and forth to Silicon Valley. Along the way it was rained off and on, so some driving was slow. The directions to the Edgewater Beach Motel according to www.mapquest.com took me directly to the front door without getting lost.

The woman at the office was extremely friendly and, after checking me in, told me how to get to the Lighthouse Beach Field and to Twin Lakes, which both allow dogs. Leaving the dogs still in my truck, I put my stuff into my room. It was explained to me that the next day my room would be remodeled, adding a set of French Doors and a fireplace. It had view that looked directly to the ocean. She explained further that they remodel about two units every year during the winter.

The Edgewater www.edgewaterbeachmotel.com is small and personal with parking very close to the rooms. All of the suites are uniquely designed to fit the needs of a variety of group sizes. Some have kitchens and fireplaces. There is a large parking lot next to the suites leading to the Boardwalk where dogs can be walked. There was a small additional fee I paid for the dogs at the time of check-in.

I decided to try Lighthouse Field first, which was north of the Boardwalk and the motel. I arrived at the location of the actual lighthouse and then kept driving along the beach, which continued for a couple more miles. Even though it was still raining, a lot of people were out jogging, sightseeing, walking, pushing strollers and walking dogs. I attributed this to the day being a Sunday of a holiday weekend. Both the beaches at Lighthouse Field and the open field across the road from the beach have specific timeframes of early morning from sunrise to 10 AM and late afternoon from 4 PM to sunset when dogs can legally be allowed off leash.
I had about two hours to spend before the afternoon off-leash window. I decided to walk my dogs along the paved path which borders the beach. This path runs for several miles and is so beautiful and well maintained. Parking will be very tight on a sunny summer day, but today I was able to find a spot in one of the many lots along the beach. I did cross the road one time to go to the Lighthouse Field, though, due to the rain, it was pretty muddy with a lot of standing water. When 4 PM rolled around, a steady stream of dogs and their owners walked down the steep, narrow stairs to the large, secluded beach. I walked to the far southern end to play Frisbee.

By about 5 PM, I had not eaten all day, so my next step was to find a restaurant. While driving into Santa Cruz earlier that day, I spotted a place called the Santa Cruz Diner and made mental note to check that place out for a future meal. After getting lost in the downtown area, I drove around and around until I finally found the Santa Cruz Diner on Ocean and Coloma. The design of the inside of the diner is a mix of eras. There is a working jukebox back in the corner near the restrooms and signs of all styles and sayings cover the walls. My favorite wall was the mural of the Boardwalk at sunset and the mermaids swimming under the surf. I had a delicious plate of fish and chips and large chucks of vegetables. I looked at what people were eating other booths and hot fudge sundaes seemed to be very popular.
By the time I finally made my way back to the motel, I was exhausted. It was still raining outside. I quickly let the dogs out and ran into the room. Since the motel is only one block away from the ocean, the sound of the waves was easily heard from inside the room, especially during a storm period. I found this sound very comforting, along with the sound of the rain on the roof.

Though the room was very comfortable, I usually don’t sleep well in hotel rooms. I woke early the next morning and took the dogs out for a walk and found myself on the Boardwalk at 8 AM. The sky was clear, and I saw less than 10 people on the street. The air was very quiet and calm. Since I live in a busy urban area, I crave special times like this. We walked for about 45 minutes. I forgot to bring money to pick up a coffee. However, upon my return to the motel, I went to their lobby and filled up a couple of cups and brought them back to my room to relax further and watch Animal Planet. I don’t have a TV at home, so I enjoyed being able to catch up on a couple of hours of Animal Cops reruns.

After a delicious breakfast of a quesadilla, toast and several cups of coffee back at the Santa Cruz Diner, I decided to head south today to Twin Lakes State Beach at the end of Seventh Avenue. Since this beach is on the edge of a residential neighborhood, parking is very limited. It took me several attempts of going around and around until I found a spot. There are signs saying parking permits are required during the summer on the weekends. There is a small shopping area adjacent to the beach with access to a path out to the end of a wharf. Dogs are required to be on leashes at all times. The weather was clear and sunny.
I wished I could have stayed longer. Everything from the motel, to the neighborhood, the food and beaches was fabulous. I know that Rowdy and Scout had a wonderful time because they were exhausted when we got home and were sore for a couple of days. On their daily regimen of glucosimine and aspirin, they were feeling better in a couple of days, ready for the next trip.