Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz
Half Moon Bay Travel Blog› entry 2 of 10 › view all entries
November 4th, 2006 – by: cja17
The road South was scrubby, untidy and not that picturesque. But, by late morning the sun had appeared and a big bowl of chilli in a sourdough bowl at a smart roadside grill in Gazos kept me going nicely. Sometime mid-afternoon I spent a happy ten minutes being buzzed by a semi-curious pair of what looked like eagles, constantly corkscrewing away from my viewfinder and denying me the perfect shot. I was definitely settling into the routine of a touring cyclist (basically an upmarket homeless person) and enjoying the pace of the journey - faster than walking, so you actually got somewhere at the end of each day, but far better than driving - out in the open air and connected the with the environment.
Just shy of Santa Cruz, I turned off Highway One and cut through the suburbs to emerge on Westcliff Drive - a winding road of seafront homes which sit before low cliffs and the surf. With a wide pedestrian and cycle boulevard tucked in between the houses and the sea, the scene was set for a cinematic style Californian Saturday afternoon - walkers, joggers, kite-flying kids and rollerbladers weaving around each other. And below us in the cold Pacific, pockets of neoprene-suited surfers waited for their waves, increasing in number as I cycled closer to town, passing the classic surf breaks which the area is known for.
No camping that night - Santa Cruz was my introduction to hostels, Californian style. The hostel sits on prime real estate in a great neighbourhood on a leafy street and by all accounts the locals are doing everything they can to get the hostel closed down on the basis that it lowers property values, but I had a great night there, so long may it stay open.
Although I swung for the luxury of a private room, it was impossible not to pick up on a great communal vibe in the place. In the kitchen a young Japanese surfer was bouncing off the walls, pumped up from a great day surfing Steamers' Lane - one of Central California's iconic surf spots - and halfway around a global surf and skate odyssey. I innocently asked him what was next on his world tour. The answer? - "Peterborough, North London". OK, fourth wall down for second - that strange noise you can hear is the English people reading this giggling. I tried to explain to the lad how going from Santa Cruz to Peterborough (which isn't conventionally considered to be in North London but hey, who called the zoning police?) would be something of an anti-climax, but he wouldn't have it - there's apparently a fantastic skate park there and who am I to argue.
I spent a very pleasant evening walking the mean streets of Santa Cruz - an affluent and attractive main strip with restaurants, bars and open-late shops running up either side. After dark the the town is packed with surf-goth college kids aiming hard for a dangerous Kiefer-Sutherland-in Lost-Boys-look, but falling way short - you know they'll all be accountants in 5 years...
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