Santa Cruz or bust…and it was

Just a few of the sand dollars collected at Zmudowski State Beach

It wasn’t the trip we anticipated. Our goal was to travel to the coast and take in the Santa Cruz Beach and Board Walk along with a tour of UC Santa Cruz for my son. While both of those destinations are nice, we were pretty underwhelmed once we got there.

Silver lining of a wrong turn

Fortunately, I took a wrong turn heading to the campus and we ended up in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  Since it looked too good to pass up we decide to take a short hike. Shortly into the hike we realized we were walking next to the train tracks of the Roaring Camp Railroads. This particular line took a train all the way into Santa Cruz.

We were enjoying a pleasant hike when we stumbled upon a rare albino redwood growing next to the tracks. My son knew immediately what is was. You always hope to stumble across something unique and out of the ordinary while hiking, and occasionally it does happen.

Finding treasures on the beach

Actually, this trip was filled with lots of “side lights” while our original destinations were kind of dim. We had a great time at Zmudowski State Beach picking up sand dollars while my son rode his skim board on the waves. Zmudowski is on the list of State Parks to be closed as of June 2012. Like a beacon to vegetarians, we had to stop at the giant artichoke in Castroville. The deep fried artichokes hearts dipped in ranch dressing were a nice snack after the beach.

Of course, we also discovered Mission San Juan Bautista, Casa de Fruta and a couple cool restaurants. Overall it reminded me that it is not the destination that’s important, it’s the trip and the side roads that can provide the most education and entertainment.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

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