Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Under the Boardwalk

On Monday we took the pinks to Santa Cruz. It's been at least ten years since Dave and I have been and I'm happy to report that it was a lot cleaner and more family-friendly than either of us remembered.

We took the Roaring Camp Railroad Beach Train down from Felton and invited our train enthusiast friends Seth and Lori with us. (Seth is such a train junkie that Lori threw his 50th birthday party aboard the California Zephyr. They rented it and a panoramic dome car, hooked them to the back of an Amtrak train, and we feted Seth from Emeryville to Reno and back. That was a party!)

The Beach Train was the way to go. It's a gorgeous hour-long ride through the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and then you arrive at the Boardwalk. The train dropped us off at 11:30a and we reboarded at 4:30p, which was just enough time for the kids to do the roller coaster and bumper cars, play carnival games and eat a good lunch followed by caramel apples, salt water taffy and root beer floats. They were selling deep fried Twinkies there and as tempting as that sounded, I just couldn't bring myself to indulge. Maybe next time.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk celebrated its 100th anniversary this year and the Giant Dipper, its most popular attraction, is the 4th oldest roller coaster in the country. It's a classic wooden one and has been open since 1924. It also has a 1911 Looff caroussel with hand-carved horses. Both were named National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. National Parks Service in 1987.

Seth and Lori have retired from the Silly Valley rat race and were incredibly patient with the pinks and the endless questions and jokes that only elementary-school-aged children and their families can see the humor in.

As a bonus, the Boardwalk was surprisingly empty until mid-afternoon. It was cloudy when we arrived but by mid-day the sun had come out and it was a perfect 70F. Apparently Monday is the day to go!

We walked along the pier and were all fascinated by the sea lions, which look like seals but don't have ears. (Thanks, Seth!)

It was a great day. We anticipated that it'd be fun but it was an even better time than we'd imagined and we'll be back again soon, with our sand toys next time to take full advantage of the beach.

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