Thursday, April 18, 2013

California Part 3: Santa Cruz

I have now been back from California for three weeks, but I am still posting photos I took there. Meanwhile spring has come to France and there is much to report from here as well, but I can't possibly finish up my California report without giving you some images of Santa Cruz, the family seat so to speak, where I spent the last few days of my visit enjoying a big family reunion. These shall be my last words on the glory of northern California in early spring. (I loved the green hills, which by now have probably already begun turning their usual golden color.)

I have two brothers who live in Santa Cruz. My younger brother Richard lives on the family property in the Santa Cruz mountains, where we all grew up. The older, Gary, whom I stayed with, lives in town closer to the beach. Gary and his son Philips and I took a wonderful hike in Byrne-Milliron Forest, a place I had never heard about and which, in fact, they had never explored either.

The trail led straight up hill and I often stopped to catch my breath with the excuse that I wanted to take yet another photograph. It is a beautiful 400+ acre site and is part of a the Santa Cruz Land Trust. This organization manages and conserves 10,000 acres of protected land in Santa Cruz county.

We ran into few other visitors on the trail. It seemed very much like the forest primeval.  It was breathtaking, if a somewhat rugged climb.

At the top of the trail we had a panoramic view out over the Pajaro Valley and Monterey Bay. Spectacular! We didn't nearly discover all the trails available here. Particularly disappointing was that we did not have time to walk the extra few hours it would have taken to see The Great White, a thousand year old 250 foot high redwood tree. Next time!

Another walk I took with Gary and my sister-in-law Marilyn was on West Cliff Drive along the coast, near Lighthouse Field State Park.

I had heard of Lighthouse Field many years ago, as saving it from the development of a huge hotel and convention center was one my brother Gary's first legal cases. The beaches below the field are superior surfing spots, and at the time that plans were being drawn up to claim this pristine land for acres of concrete parking and imposing buildings, a local surfer,who owned nothing but a board and a woodie, sold his car in order to launch an effort to save the field from development. My brother became the lawyer. Ultimately, the Save Lighthouse Field campaign was successful, and my brother remains a local hero for his role.

The 300+ acre undeveloped headland is one of few left in an urban center of California. It also is a bird sanctuary and a place where monarch butterflies winter over.

As we walked along the coast, I enjoyed the crashing waves,

the rocky cliffs, natural bridges,

and blue, blue water.

I was enthralled by the beauty of the Pacific and have begun a series of etchings of its moods. Here is the first work in progress.

A bonus on my trip back to my home city was meeting up with my best friend from high school, Marilyn. We hadn't seen each other for thirty years, more or less. It was really a treat to spend a bit of time with her. She is just as beautiful as ever and, as with all true friendships, it was as if no time had passed at all.

Next week I will bring you back with me to France and tell you about an adventure I took for my birthday last weekend in Berry.


  1. That was a lovely California Trip, Nancy.It's still on my wish list, but first...I have New York,England and Toulouse coming up in a few weeks.
    Unfortunately, I couldn't squeeze Montmirail in. :-(

  2. all this coast is quite mythic for most of French who only know it from american novels and comics