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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2007


When in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz
Originally uploaded by marytsao
Our mini vacation to Santa Cruz was a big success. And I've learned the secret--yes, the hard way--to successful dining experiences when out alone with the kids: picnics!

We started our adventure with a picnic lunch on the beach at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The kids had peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat and I had my favorite sandwich of all time, avocado and Monterey Jack cheese with mayo on whole wheat. Add clover sprouts if you've got them. Seriously delicious.

The day was beautiful -- warm and sunny with a slight breeze. The ocean was freezing, but the kids loved playing in the waves. At one point, the current got a little unpredictable and a couple of crazy cross currents swept the kids off their feet. That's when I put down the camera and concentrated on making sure they didn't get swept out to sea. I'm such a good mom.

After drying off in the sun and enjoying the big container of orange slices I had brought, we went back to the car to change into dry clothes and headed back to the Boardwalk for ice cream and carousel rides. We didn't see nearly as much of the Boardwalk and Wharf as I thought we were going to see; after being in the sun for over four hours, I was ready to get to our hotel for a bit of washing up and relaxing before dinner. Judging by how easy it was to persuade the kids it was time to go, I knew they were ready, too.

We spent the night at the Best Western Suites hotel on Soquel and Ocean. It was nice. The room had a jacuzzi bathtub and a working fireplace, both of which we enjoyed after dinner at Thai House, a Thai restaurant right across the street. Frolicking in the sun and surf is tiring! The kids and I were all asleep by 9:00.

With only one small mishap during the night when Thomas fell off the bed, we slept until our usual wake up time of 6:45. The hotel offered free breakfast of eggs, waffles, potatoes, cereals, etc. At 7:00, the only other people in the lobby eating were a German family with kids the same age as Emily and Thomas and a man who told me he remembers when his kids got up early but now he couldn't get them out of bed to save his life. He didn't say it, but I knew we were discussing teenagers. *shiver*

After checking out, we went back to the beach to see the ocean at mid-morning. It was still there; waves were still crashing ashore. There was movement and energy and people staring out, mesmerized by the phenomenon that never stops. When I went to Chico State, I was best friends with a girl who was from Laguna Beach. She dropped out of school our sophomore year; she couldn't stand being so far away from the ocean. I didn't understand it at the time. I understand it a little more now.

By 11:00 we were strolling the streets of downtown Santa Cruz. I wanted to get coffee at Bad Ass Coffee, which I read was a "kid-friendly" coffee shop. It was definitely kid friendly, with a large play area in the front of the store devoted to gym mats and large foam building blocks. The kids loved it and even made friends with another little boy who was there with his babysitter. They didn't want to leave.

But I wanted to find a souvenir, something to commemorate our time spent in Santa Cruz. When I saw Old School Shoes, I knew what it would be: Vans! Because seriously, when in Rome... Also, can you get any cooler than a preschooler wearing Vans? I don't think so. Emily loves hers so much that I caught her trying to wear them to bed tonight.

After buying my kids the coolest shoes in the Universe, I decided another picnic was in order and got lunch to go from New Leaf. Back in the car, we searched for a park with a playground. We found one not too far from downtown and enjoyed our sandwiches at Laurel Park. The playground was empty and the kids had fun on the play structure for about an hour while I sat and read the paper. It was the most relaxed I felt all weekend. I think being alone helped; I didn't have to worry about the kids getting lost or some other horrible scenario.

After the park, we decided to end our retreat and return home. Mike was very happy to see us and even carried our suitcase from the car into the kitchen. Then he took us out to Chevy's for dinner. He had a good weekend although not as good as he wanted; he's a little behind schedule on his top-secret hobby project. I guess that means the kids and I have more reason to venture out on our own in the upcoming weekends!

Pictures from our weekend are up on Flickr.