Highway 1 to Santa Cruz

Pacifica Foggy Beach

This past weekend was just plain gorgeous—warm and sunny. Exactly the way weather should be when I don’t have to be cooped up in the 11th story of an office building toiling away under fluorescent lights. Seeing such a glorious forecast, I had reserved a rental car earlier in the week so that Alex and I could explore a bit outside of the city.

Cliffs Highway 1 California

We headed down Highway 1 and as we came to the ocean near Pacifica we were greeted by a heavy layer of fog as you see in the first photo. However, by the time we got closer to Half Moon Bay it was starting to lift and we could finally see the mighty blue Pacific stretching far off into the horizon.

As we continued traveling south we came across Swanton Berry Farm, who are known for their amazing berries that you can pick yourself or buy pints already picked for you. They’re also well-known for the amazing jam they produce.

Lucky were we to able to sample (on an animal cracker—yes, animal crackers are vegan!) every variety they produce, from tayberry to olallieberry, loganberry, strawberry, and blackberry.

One of my favorite things about living in San Francisco is that you don’t have to drive very far outside of the city to be in “the country.” Swanton Berry Farm is my case in point. When you step inside their store it feels like you’ve stepped back in time—to a simpler place where you had to write letters by hand and drop them in a mailbox and subsequently wait days for it to arrive at your recipients door.  To a place where you had to spin a dial around a rotary phone to connect with a friend who lived far away. A place where the idea of a blog just may have been for those in the community as well as visitors to write their thoughts in an old fashioned notebook.

Not to mention a place where trust is so high that cashiers are superflous. But perhaps that’s just nostalgia for a time and place that never existed? Except here. Here at Swanton Berry Farm where no one mans the till and you pay for your jam or other goodies yourself. Where they provide you with a calculator to assist you with basic math in case your arithmetic is lacking. And where you can hand-write your thoughts to be shared with the public in a paper notepad.


After purchasing some loganberry jam and heading back on the road we drove by some cows and had to stop and say hi to them—you think I’m joking, but I’m totally serious. These two guys were young steers and perhaps not fluent in English because they backed away after our initial greeting. Perhaps I should have tried “Hola!” instead? Spanish is a good second guess in these parts.

Then we came upon this amazing field of yellow flowers. They were so striking I had to pull over to take a photo and, as I was doing that, a very talkative red-winged blackbird landed on top of a branch and began to sing. After having just spent my mornings observing the red-winged blackbirds of Michigan, what I found most interesting was how different this little guy was compared to them—he had very large red shoulder pads while the ones I saw in Michigan had much more discreet orange and red markings along the inner part of their wings. Most often you couldn’t even see the red until they flew which is detailed in the two photos I have from that week in Michigan.

Yellow Flowers Red Wing Black Bird

After this brief bird-watching interlude we continued on to Santa Cruz where it was time to fill our bellies. We decided to get take out from Saturn Cafe and Cafe Gratitude and eat on the beach.

We stopped by Saturn first where Alex picked up a California veggie burger with fries and a mint chocolate chip shake and by the time we arrived at Gratitude we decided to eat in. Thankfully they were totally cool with him eating outside food in their restaurant.

I ordered a quinoa bowl with sesame ginger sauce and grilled seasonal veggies—the “I Am Fortified” dish. It was muy delicioso—filling and satisfying, yet light and refreshing. Cafe Gratitude’s serving dishes have little notes on them reminding you to reflect on all that you’re grateful for—to which I had plenty to say on this particular day.

After lunch, we drove along West Cliff Drive and saw this quaint little lighthouse, which happened to be the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, though we didn’t know this at the time. The parking lot was completely full, otherwise we would have spent more time here exploring.

Lighthouse Santa Cruz

And besides it was to the beach we wanted to go! But….unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who had that thought as a gazillion other people had the same idea in mind. It was crowded with a capital C. Look at all of those beach-goers. Sadly, the traffic en route to the beach was too much for me so I made the executive decision to find a park or some other natural area to enjoy the beautiful weather sans all of the people.

Santa Cruz Beach

But before heading inland we watched the athleticism of the local surfers. Santa Cruz is world-renowned for it’s surfing community and, in fact, is regarded as one of the best places in the world to catch some waves. Hence the surfing museum we saw earlier.

After our coastal tour we came upon Neary Lagoon Park and walked along the trails while observing all of the wildlife.

Have you ever seen a wood duck in person? No? Me neither. Until now. Not only did I get to see a wood duck for the first time, but I was able to see six, adorable little wood ducklings. Can I just say that among all of the beautiful, amazing things we saw that day, the wood duck and ducklings were the highlight for me. No question.

We also saw the usual mallards, many of them coupled like the ones below, but a lot of single males as well. It was like a duckville version of Michigan Tech where the males outnumbered the females four to one.

And no trip outside of the city is complete without a beautiful sunset as you’re coming over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco (we made a pit stop in Oakland to visit with some friends so we drove through the East Bay instead of coming from the peninsula).

It’s at this point that the intense love I have for SF magnifies, becomes overwhelming in my heart and I think to myself “I live here! This is my home and I can’t believe I get to live among such beauty every day!”

Sunset Golden Gate Bridge

8 Responses to Highway 1 to Santa Cruz

  1. Dana says:

    I felt the same way about moving from the Prairie provinces in Canada to Victoria on the west coast! Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all that there is to love about my new home city, and I’ve been here for over 5 years now! 🙂

    I have to say it again (if I haven’t already): I am so glad that Kathy introduced me to your blogs. Your photos are incredible and so is your writing. I love the idea of an honor till, and I can’t wait to read more of your posts. Cheers!

    • Christina says:

      Awwww…I am so very touched by your comment, Dana! Really. My heart is filled with warm and fuzzy feelings.

      Interesting that you had a similar move to mine and how you similarly feel such intense love for the west coast. I’ve not yet been to Victoria (or Vancouver), but I’ve heard of it’s beauty and, therefore, have it high on my list of places to visit.

      • Dana says:

        It’s definitely gorgeous here. I was worried about getting SAD from the overcast skies in the winters because the city where I grew up is one of the sunniest (but coldest) in Canada. However, it hasn’t been an issue at all. I’m too busy marveling at everything the west coast has to offer to be affected too much by a little grey sky. 🙂

      • Christina says:

        Haha! That’s awesome to hear—I have often wondered if I would be able to live in the Pacific Northwest (we’ve contemplated it because we have a lot of friends in both Seattle and Portland in addition to good job opportunities) for that very reason so it’s great to hear that you’ve not found it to be a problem.

  2. Kathy says:

    Christina, I am glad you are getting to know Dana (Hi Dana!) Your photos ARE wonderful. It feels like we were right with you on your trip. I smiled at the pics of you and Alex and thought, “Hey, I just saw these people!”

    • Christina says:

      Thanks so much, Kathy! Dana is such an amazing person—you have certainly attracted a wonderful blogging community. When I have some moments of down time I can’t wait to read some more of their blogs.

  3. Aaron says:

    I love all the pictures and being with you all day long; What a fun trip!! Your mom

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