After a late night hunting down a skirt for Kayla for church, morning came early to make it to church on time. We actually did well and were even ahead of schedule! The hotel has a "complimentary" breakfast buffet - not the normal continental breakfast, but a legitimate buffet. We had pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, made to order omelets, fresh fruit, toast, muffins, pastries/danishes and cold cereal. Plus, there was a full juice bar + hot chocolate, coffee and tea. Like I said, not the normal continental breakfast.
So, late night + full stomach = hard to stay awake in a ward you've never been to! We went to church in the Santa Clara ward at 9:00 a.m. and thought they were a nice ward, even though no one talked to us. This is a "newlywed/nearly dead" ward. There were about 20 babies under 2 yrs old, hardly a primary, and the teenagers hardly existed. There were 3 boys to bless the sacrament, but only 1 to pass, so the men were helping. At 9:00 Kayla counted 114 people when they started the meeting, but after the sacrament was passes, the place was full, even the over flow. Some things don't change!
On the way home from church we talked to Fred, our friend from So. Cal. They were already out for the day meeting up with friends in SFO, so we decided to head back to the hotel to change and make lunch. Afterwards, we headed toward Santa Cruz to walk along the beach and have a nice relaxing day. Len had heard about a train depot that had steam trains that gave tours through the Santa Cruz Redwoods. So we stopped to check it out. They were hosting a "Thomas the Tank Engine" event. There was lots going on and lots of people around! While we waited for our train to depart, the boys got to learn about Black Smithing and got a turn making the bellows work and "smiting" the iron! It was fun for them.
Once our train departed, we learned that this track is one of the steepest ascending routes in the world and the train actually travelled faster than most anywhere else. It was an old late 1800/early 1900 steam engine. Len could give you all the details of it, but the gears were way different and it was really neat. The forest we were traveling through is one of the only Redwood forests that has NEVER been logged. So you can imagine - the forest is quite dense and beautiful. In 1976 there was a fire that tore through part of the route, but with the exception of some scorch marks on some of the trunks and a burnt out "corkscrew wooden bridge" you would never know. The corkscrew bridge was quite the ride from what we can tell. It rises 50-60 feet in the air at least and circles around and around to get up the mountain. It was and still is way too costly to repair, so now there is a series of switch backs built to get the train up the hill to Bear Mountain. It was about a 90 minute round trip and by the time we got down the mountain, the boys were tired, hungry and cranky.
We headed for Santa Cruz and as we pulled into town along Ocean St., we found the Santa Cruz Diner. It looked clean and we decided to go for it. The food was AMAZING (it really should be featured on the Food Network's Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins) and it was cheap as well. The three youngest got traditional diner food like chicken strips and fries or burgers and fries. But the rest of us got some other great food. Maren ordered Tilapia Vera Cruz, which was tilapia covered in pico de gallo and cheese served with fresh steamed veggies and rice pilaf for a mere $7.99. Len had steak and prawns for $10.99 and it wasn't just a crummy cut of meat. It was tender and cooked perfect. Mine I think was the best of all. I ordered the Asian Rice Noodle Bowl. It was rice noodles, lettuce, grilled pork, fresh mint, peanuts in an asian vinegairette - there was enough for two, I think, and it was sooooooo good. It was a lot like Thai Larb. It hit the spot!
After we fueled our gutts, we finally made it down to the beach. We mostly steered clear of the boardwalk since we didn't want to fight the crowds, but we walked the pier and then walked down along the water to head to the rocks to find the tide pools. The tide was too high to get all the way over to the rocks, so no tide pools. However, the kids did find two jelly fish that had washed up on the beach. Logan said one was still breathing, or at least he thought so. Kayla got pictures.
We were dressed for the beach - we weren't expecting to get in the water. However, the kids managed to get to the water and try jumping the few waves. It was relatively calm with small waves, but occasionally one or two would get away from them and then "boom" they looked like they wet themselves. Maren was probably the worst "peed pants look". Mecham would win the most sandy contest. Everyone else managed to confine the sand to their feet and ankles. Mecham had it everywhere. I believe this is his first trip to the ocean beaches that he can remember. He really had a good time and hopefully he will be able to remember it for a long time!
The trip home was slow going. You can't believe how many cars were in that small canyon coming back toward the bay on Hwy 17. The average speed for most of it was under 20 mph. At one point we told Maren to get out and run, but she wouldn't! :o)
It was a fun, relaxing day, hopefully keeping somewhat with the sabbath. Monday is planned to be around Santa Clara getting our bearings and playing in the pool.
Hope you are enjoying our trip!