Santa Cruz here we come! (7/7/03)
Last edited 7/7/03
After a short detour to
Yosemite/Reno/Tahoe and a couple of days' rest at Puneet's parents'
place in Sunnyvale, CA, we finally hit the road. The destination in
mind is Santa Cruz, we're hoping to camp out on one of the state
beaches in the area, and continue on 1-south from there. I'm writing
this blog in the passenger seat of the Vette with my laptop pluggen
into the cigarette lighter via an AC/DC converter from KMart (great
place to visit when you're bored, just as good as a zoo... sorry, lost
the thread of thought :). Just saw an odd sign at the side of the
road (CA-17): "Thanks for saving Mom". Well, that's nice, one usually
gets to see roadside crosses where people died, not thank-you notes
where they didn't. Anyway...
Our packing experience deserves a
long, emotional rant. Let me tell you, Corvette is NOT a camper's
dream. Yeah, I know, cry me a river, us poor owners of a Vette.
However, try packing in clothes and other essentials for a 3-month road
trip, a tent, 2 sleeping bags, sleeping pad, sun cover for the
windshield, 2-burner propane stove and a propane tank, pots & pans,
food, towels, thermos, water, et cetera, and you'll see what I mean.
This car has a VERY small trunk (hatchback design makes it all the
tinier), which precludes a lot of things one might want to do with a
car. Say, Pulp Fiction would be a very different movie if Jules owned a
Corvette, because you can't kill a person and successfully hide the
body in the trunk here! "Hey man, can you move the corpse's foot a
little, I can't see over my shoulder" just doesn't make for a hip movie
Oh, and it's a gas guzzler to
boot: 16 MPG in the city, 22 at best on the freeway, plus it only
accepts premium. Sigh... That's what you pay for driving an American
dream. (I love this car, by the way. Wouldn't have any other.)
Ok, here's an update from the FUTURE (07/20/03)! Daria's being
too hard on the Vette here in terms of packing and gas mileage. I've
actually managed to get between 28-30 MPG with fast (80MPH+) speeds
during freeway driving toward the Grand Canyon and driving in Arizona
and New Mexico (gotta love 75MPH freeway limits with drivers who
actually have a clue -- rant mode, California drivers are a whole LOT
worse!). Up until recently I thought our car could only get 25MPG
freeway under the BEST circumstances, but i've seen it hit 32MPG+ if
driving between 65-75MPH going either straight or on a slight decline
(ascending is worse of course).
Back to packing: you can discover a number of nooks and crannies in
your car if you look very carefully. Say, the first aid kit fits nicely
(with a squeeze and a punch) under the passenger seat, right alongside
your trash box. Jumper cables go under the driver seat, accompanied by
paper towel roll. Fleeces didn't fit into the trunk? Oh well, you can
always lean both seats forward, spread the fleeces flat against the
back of the seats, and you're done! A door compartment (no glove box in
this car) can accomodate toilet paper, hand sanitizer (gas station
bathrooms, bless their souls, don't always carry soap), lotion, Advil
(don't travel with a toothache. EVER), band-aids and an alarm clock.
What about those stuffed bears with Cal insignia you picked up as gifts
for friends? Scattering them around the trunk and sticking them in
every little opening worked for us. This is nothing, you should've seen
that one car on the freeway that had toy bears all over the back
windshield with no regard to backwards visibility!
We camped overnight at Maurisa
State Beach - cheap and sweet! $16/night plus a couple of bucks for hot
showers, and you get a premium spot next to the beach with plenty of
wildlife around. Ground squirrels were abundant, we happened on a mole
sticking its blind little snout out of the ground (no, we didn't pick
that site for our tent - too many holes), and woke up next morning to
find cute bunnies with white furry tails hopping on the paths around
the tent, eating their rabbit food for breakfast. I loved the view of
the hills sloping down to the ocean in which, alas, I didn't get to
swim. Imagine my dismay when we walked to the beach and saw it covered
with what looked like used blue prophylactics! The things turned out to
species of jelly fish who - get that - have their sails positioned at
45 degrees so they always swim at the right angle to the wind direction
and therefore get washed ashore at the same place only once every few
years. Of course they had to pick Maurisa beach on the day of my visit!
Now, it gets better: we didn't have the camera on us when we saw the
jelly fish. Next morning we take another walk down to the ocean, camera
in hand, swimming suits packed away, and discover that the beach is
clean! Pristine! Not a single blue jelly fish, just a few dried-up
blackened leftovers from the day before... That's why there's no jelly
fish pictures on this page.
Hitching up the tent and packing it away wasn't so bad, cooking on the
propane stove worked out okay too, although I must say all domestic
chores like making food, cleaning up, showering etc. take a lot more
time and effort out in the wild.
Let me express great thanks to my
ex-coworker from now-defunct Scale8 Justin Meyer for his awesome advice
to go to Santa Cruz on Monday or Tuesday. Indeed, the Boardwalk has the
so-called "1907 nights" on Mon and Tue after 5pm, when all rides are
only 60 cents each (4-6 times cheaper than regular price). We took a
ride (twice) on the Giant Dipper, the famous old (1925-ish) wooden
roller coaster. I love roller coasters, yet I'm mortally afraid of them
at the same time, so poor Puneet had to listen to my whining "I'm gonna
die! Why am I doing this? Can I still get off? I'm so scared" the whole
time we were standing in line which was, thankfully, very short. Santa
Cruz Boardwalk is great for the rides, you can easily do five of them
within the hour, as opposed to your average Disneyland 70-minute-long
wait for each ride. And it's right on the beach, and they got an arcade
with our favorite Addams Family pinball machine, and clam chowder on
the wharf is oh-so-yummy, and people are so friendly you can ask to pet
their dogs on the street - paradise on earth. Don't be sad Santa Cruz,
we'll only be gone for a year, and once we're back home to Berkeley
we'll come and visit again.
This is our tent at
Maurisa State Beach Campground and a distant view of a small bunny.
from Santa Cruz Wharf, home of yummy clam chowder and numerous seagulls.
Cruz Boardwalk in the background - the tallest structure is the Giant