Archive for January, 2012

I’m having some technical difficulties with my computer, so this post will be briefer than usual — sorry.  (Or maybe that’s a good thing!)

I showed you a photo last time of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, located on West Cliff Drive next to the famous surfing spot called Steamer Lane.  It was the first museum anywhere dedicated to the sport.  It is also a memorial to the founders’ 18-year-old surfer son, who challenged the waves nearby and lost.

Mark Abbott's ashes and personal artifacts are behind a locked gate in the museum

If you’re in Santa Cruz, it’s worth a stop, even if you’re not a surfer.  The tiny museum packs in a great overview of surfing’s history, the local heroes, classic surfboards, artwork, ephemera, photos and videos, and the niche seen in the photo above, on the right as you enter.

Afterward, take a walk around Lighthouse Point and Lighthouse Field.  This bronze statue is nearby:

"To Honor Surfing"

The cliffs dropping off to the ocean are pretty dramatic.

Wonder why I couldn't keep a straight horizon line that day? Was the wine at lunch involved? 🙂

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Let’s see, where were we?  Ah, heading up the coast to the northern version of Surf City — Santa Cruz.  (Huntington Beach in the south disputes this title).  🙂

On the way, we stopped at Mission San Miguel Arcangel, one of the 21 missions stretching across 600 miles along El Camino Real, near the coast on what are now Highway 101 and Interstate 5.  The intention of the padres was to establish a string of  missions with no more than a day’s horseback ride between them.  Since we didn’t show up on horseback, I appreciated this warning sign:

Thanks for the warning... 🙂

I thought this was so charming:

This drinking trough for cattle mooved me!

Up the coast we went, stopping for the night by a quiet green park.  We drove onto the Santa Cruz pier early the next day.

Traveling Litely on the Santa Cruz pier

There was plenty of time to stroll down the pier, enjoying the views.  We had a nice meal and headed down the steps to the beach.  It seems everywhere you go on the California coast, people have donated park benches in the memory of their loved ones.  What a great idea!   I especially liked this one:

I'd rather have a memorial bench at the beach than a tombstone...

Near the pier is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park.  Busload after busload of enthusiastic teenagers were being dropped off to celebrate their upcoming graduation as we walked by.  I’ll bet that celebration has been a Santa Cruz tradition since the place opened in 1907.  We didn’t check out the view of the ocean from the roller coasters, but the view from Cliff Drive was pretty nice:

Arch Rock near Cliff Drive

We stopped at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum by Cliff Drive inside this lighthouse:

Erm, ignore the cockeyed horizon line, let's move along *blush*

I’ll tell you more about the surfing museum in the next post.  (It’s a touching story…)

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I’m pretty sure when God needed money, He’d borrow it from William Randolph Hearst’s family.  For example, when Hearst went to Harvard, his mom had an entire suite remodeled for him in the dorm.  See what you learn when you listen to the tour guide?  🙂

There are numerous tours you can take when you visit Hearst Castle, each focusing on a different area of the huge compound.  All of them begin with a bus ride up to La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill).  As your bus slowly zigzags up the steep road, you can’t imagine being one of the workmen responsible for safely hauling priceless ancient architectural artifacts up the hill.  Hearst started collecting when he was ten years old, and much of what he collected throughout his lifetime ended up atop this hill in San Simeon.

There are lovely views through Moorish arches along this walkway

His architect, Julia Morgan, incorporated his collection by assembling the disparate pieces like a 3-D puzzle and turning them into a home — though to call the Hearst Castle compound a home stretches my imagination to the breaking point.

Thousands of bits and bobs of ancient art everywhere....

I wonder if Julia Morgan regarded Hearst as the perfect client with unlimited money to spend, or a nightmare?  He’d have something constructed, change his mind, have it ripped out, and have her begin that section again.  The compound was never finished, but not for lack of trying by his army of highly-skilled artisans.

Done and redone, and redone...

Hearst did have his quirks.  No unmarried houseguest couples were allowed to share a bedroom.  (Hearst’s wife never lived at the compound, only his mistress Marion Davies, and he and Marion had separate rooms).  Meals served in the sumptuous dining room hung with priceless ancient tapestries were accompanied by ketchup bottles and paper napkins.

The guest suite bathrooms were state-of-the-art; they had things called “showers” and the maids and butlers would instruct the guests on how to use them.  🙂   One often-returning houseguest was a famous gossip columnist who got stories nobody else in her business ever did.  How?  She stayed in a round jewel box of a guest bedroom under the water tower.  It had a balcony that ran 360 degrees around it, and all conversation, no matter how quiet, would drift up to her balcony.

There are lots of quirky, interesting stories, especially about the rich, famous and influential guests who stayed there.  If you get the chance, take a tour or two, and be sure to watch the movie “Building The Dream” at the visitor’s center.  The beaches nearby are nice places to hang out, too:

Nature's art

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You’ll have to forgive me for not posting the past few days.  We’ve been so busy lately upgrading the house and yard.  I think the refinished pool looks exceptionally nice:

Should I have had a diving board installed?

Of course, you can’t just upgrade the pool.  You need to upgrade the landscaping too, or the effect just isn’t quite right:

I'm thinking of hiring another twenty gardeners to maintain the plants...

Naturally, there was quite a bit of renovation to be done to our three-bedroom ranch house as well.  How do you like our new guest room ceiling?

I love it, but I must admit, it's tricky to dust

Though we wanted to make sure our houseguests felt cared for, we didn’t want to neglect ourselves.  Steve and I splurged a bit, and squared ourselves away in our redecorated home office:

Our shared home office/library. In a three-bedroom home, you have to make some sacrifices.

The master bedroom turned out quite well, I think:

Who knew I could get workmanship like this from the guys outside Home Depot?

Okay, okay, I’m lying.  We actually had a fourth bedroom added on for Sweet Pea. I keep part of my extensive wardrobe in her room.  She has more closet space than she needs, since she doesn’t even own a doggie sweater, much less evening wear:

Sweet Pea needed a new bed as well

Okay, okay, I’m still lying.  Hearst Castle in San Simeon (about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco) is a mind-boggling place to tour.  Publisher/tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s charming little love nest he shared with gorgeous actress Marion Davies is part of the California State Parks system, and a National Historic Landmark.  More photos to come in the next post…


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I hope your holidays were fun!  We have sketchy plans to travel back east this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing the places we go and the things we see on this blog.

However, right now I feel like posting what I’ve been looking at close to home lately.  It’s almost 80 degrees here and gorgeous, so without further ado, this is what I look at when I’m walking the dog:

Bougainvillea at Mile Square Park

I like this view of the golf course

And speaking of walking Sweet Pea, here’s one of her favorite things to do at the park:

There are plenty of gazanias for a happy dog to roll in

Walking around Balboa Island was lovely, too:

Bare feet in the sand feel so good...

The holidays flew by so fast!  🙂  (This one’s for you, Katie!)


I hope 2012 brings you all enough — enough of what you need, enough of what you want, and enough of whatever makes you happy!


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