We visited Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, CA for the July 4th week. Nice!!
In Santa Cruz we visited with my niece and her family – always great to see them! We camped in a marina – there is a “campground” (about a dozen paved parking spaces with full hookup) in the Santa Cruz North Harbor. You can easily walk, paddle or ride your bike around Santa Cruz harbor from here; easy access to shops, restaurants, whatever. If privacy, space, and greenery are your priorities, look elsewhere. Otherwise, this place is great!
If you happen to be somewhere where it is particularly hot (like 99% of the US right now), you might want to think about Santa Cruz. To me, this is ideal weather! We saw it get into the mid-high 70’s during the day. Apparently September and early October is the warm season here when it gets into the 80’s, and rarely, 90’s.
The other night we met at the Aptos Street BBQ, which we have been to before, and it is superb BBQ.
On July 4th, there is a parade down Soquel Drive that ends at about the barbeque place, and all along the parade route chairs have been set up ahead of time as people reserve their rightful place in history to watch the Aptos parade.
My niece describes it as the shortest (distance) parade in the world, and her husband describes it as the longest (time) parade in the world. Somewhere in there is truth; not sure if that is glass half empty or full thinking. We elected to forego the parade, but I am sure it was both long… and short!
We attended the Santa Cruz farmers market, and we were delighted with the fresh veggies and fruits! Did I mention I was also able to score some beautiful looking sausages and bacon? There needs to be balance in life, after all.
For the 4th, we joined up with my niece and family for a night on the beach – think summer (mid 60’s mind you) picnic with firewood and fireworks. How does the 4thget any better? Grilled chicken wings, chips and salsa, watermelon, (illicit) fireworks – you had me at hello.
And some awesome looking “Mad Max” powered carts to get family gear to the beach and back without busting your back!
Always great to visit Santa Cruz!
From Santa Cruz, we continued our sojourn through the Oakland area and up to Santa Rosa. Now I won’t lie about our (my) motivation… it was strictly to go to Russian River Brewing for some Pliny the Elder (beer, that is).
This is a totally worthy cause, as anyone who has ever tasted this nectar will testify. Yes, I am that shallow to visit a place for its beer. Don’t think less of me.
We camped near Santa Rosa (Kenwood) in the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. No services mind you, but a really pretty campground with a ton of gorgeous hikes. Upon checking in, I asked (having seen some signs of damage) if there had been a fire or some other disaster.
The lady checking me in says, “So, where are you from? This is the scene of the Napa/Sonoma County fires this past October that took 41 lives, thousands of homes, and was the largest fire in California’s history.” Oh, that. Well. They don’t call me Mr. Insensitive for nothing.
You may not be so quick to fault me when you see how quickly the greenery in the area covered up the damage from the fire. It is amazing how quickly nature tries to recover.
When looking closer both driving around and hiking, we could see the evidence more clearly from this catastrophic fire. One of our camping neighbors, who lives about 30 minutes away, said the smoke was so bad they could not breath and evacuated – even though they were not close to the fire itself.
The state park had been saved because it was used as a center of operations for Cal Fire to operate from. Even in the short time since October, though, you could easily forget there had been a massive fire here from looking at the greenery, which since then has grown back in with a fury.
We had some visitors overlooking our campsite. I told Karen to keep moving in her chair so they didn’t confuse her with supper.
Being open-minded as I am, I stretched my boundaries and comfort zone to also visit Henhouse Brewing. If I am not flexible, what am I??
So Day 2 in Santa Rosa we visited Henhouse Brewing. If you are fortunate enough to visit Santa Rosa and are as beer drinker, then a visit to Russian River Brewing is like a trip to the Vatican. But wait! Based upon the recommendation of a fellow Pliny drinker, we went to Henhouse Brewing, also in Santa Rosa. Well.
Henhouse has an interesting business model. Instead of using distributors (who leave stacks of product on a warehouse floor), Henhouse delivers their beer in their own refrigerated trucks to whomever they sell to, and requires refrigeration and freshness standards from those retailers.
At no time prior to selling their beer to the end customer is the beer not refrigerated. In fact, when the drivers deliver beer to the retailers they check date codes and remove the beer if past a certain date – just to make sure they are selling the freshest beer possible. Way to go Henhouse!
Gucci’s A Clone is called a brute IPA. I don’t know what that means, but it is delicious! They weren’t canning it yet, but I was able to buy two can growlers (crowlers?).
They have a double IPA called Extra Frozen Envelope, which was absolutely awesome; bought some in four-packs. And also Certified Independent AF IPA. Who comes up with these names? I am pretty sure alcohol is involved. It was all great!
Alas, we cannot make a career out of visiting breweries, or so Karen tells me. So onward and upward!