Ukitake_tea_contemplation

A Very Worthwhile Day

We were pretty glad this morning that we pushed a little last night and made it out to Santa Cruz. We ended up at a hotel right on the end of the 17, and while it was a little noisy it was a safe little room and we managed to get it for the two nights despite there being a jazz festival in Aptos, one town over, and a whole bunch of people deciding that being right by the ocean would be good for the Memorial Day Weekend.

Because by pushing a little last night, we were Right Here this morning.



John and Jet went across the street to the donut store to get donuts for breakfast. They bought me a nice big coffee and two donuts and John got the famous apple fritter and Jet enjoyed his cinnamon cake, so we started off the day Right. *laughs* It was good, as they let me sleep while they did the walking to the store. I'd stayed up a little late getting the account done for yesterday, but that was nice to have done for the last two days and not have to play even a bigger game of catch up today.

Not that I had time. *laughs*

Natural Bridges
We went from the hotel out to Natural Bridges State Park, which is at the far end of the drive along the edge of the ocean here in Santa Cruz. I got to see dozens of houses for sale, as things seem to have hit here as well as everywhere else, and while the prices haven't really come down that much, the sheer number of houses that are available has gone up. The park was by a natual set of rock formations that made a bridge. Hollowed out from underneath, there was an arch in the water. There used to be three, back in 1900, but tide and time has brought down two of the arches, and only left one by itself in the water.

There's a sand beach right by the arch and a set of tidal flats beyond it, and the park volunteers gave a walking tour out to the tide pools in the rocks.

What was interesting was that they took us through what looked like a gated mobile home park where the homes had been anchored and set on foundations. They were still very close to each other, had nearly no yard, but there was a stream that flowed through the "park" and they were beautifully decorated and maintained. The water had been slowed enough to make ponds with huge fish, swans, ducks, and lily pads, and in the midst of the lily pads were two enormous sounding bullfrogs.

Bullfrogs are rare in the West. Usually there isn't enough water for them, and when there is enough water, there isn't enough heat for them to do well. So they're as rare as good hush puppies. *laughs* So it just delighted me to hear real bullfrogs.

IMG_0559
The volunteers took us out to the stone tide pools and we spent a good hour just looking for and at the pools. There were lots of shellfish, periwinkles, mussels, crabs, snails, and the like. There were anemone, sea stars, and all kinds of seaweed and algea. The pools varied in depth and width as well as activity levels and clarity. The crabs were the biggest hit when they moved and moved fast. The sea urchins, what few we could find were brilliant purple. The shelves of stone made for some spectacular water spouts as well.

It was a lot of fun to just go wandering about, stepping on as few shell fish as possible, and just see what there was to see out there.

From there we headed back to the beach and spent another couple of hours building sand castles, digging trenches, and then John and Jet went out deep into the water. It was cold, too, most of the locals were in multiple layers on the beach, and in the water most of the folks had wet suits on to keep warm. Of course John and Jet just went in straight, and I found the water pretty cold. Jet came back out after a while said that his feet were numb. *laughter*

Buried Jet
It was good and cold in the water, but warm on the sand on the beach, especially lying down out of the wind. Jet asked John and I to bury him so we did. *laughs* Jet was even able to hold still long enough for us to get a good picture of him. *laughs*

After that he went back out into the water to get good and washed off and then we wrapped a towel around him to keep the wind off and Jet needed to stay until the last of my sand castle fell down. I'd built it pretty solidly, but between the sun and wind and water it eventually cracked and fell to the oncoming tide.

We headed back to the room then and got showered and changed. Jet and John bought Jet some lunch while I called flit to give her an hour's warning that we were coming to her house. On the way over I'd seen a Marianne's Ice Cream, which marypcb had mentioned at Sugar, Butter, Flour the other day. So we stopped there, and couldn't find parking, and when we went in they were serving someone in the 50's but the numbers had just reached 80, so we knew it had to be good as people were still coming in and taking numbers.

Inside Marianne's Ice Cream
It was absolutely awesome.

There were more flavors than we could really pick from, and Jet asked for Root Beer, John got a chocolate mint chip, and I went for a double with both cardamom pistachio and cantaloupe. The cardamom pistachio was filled with chewy roasted pistachios and that creamy lovely cardamom flavor that I just love, and the cantaloupe was like having a bowl of the fresh fruit, ripe in the middle of summer, with plenty of cream. It was just wonderful.

It was worth the side trip on the way to flit's. When we got there, we got greeted by Jack, her big dog, and by her and her husband, Brad, who was in my year at Caltech. *laughs* We'd known of each other as we knew everyone in our class of 200, but I didn't really get to know more about him until after Carl introduced me to the Horde and all the people associated with it. It was great to see them! And flit took John, Jet and I down to Rivendell to buy tea! That was fun, and I actually got a nice packet of chocolate mint black tea, that we took back to her house and iced so that we could drink it and talk for a while as Jet and I did some origami for them. The tea was very, very nice, and I'm sure that I'll enjoy it as an very nice iced tea this summer. Beautifully sweet with mint and just the right hint of chocolate throughout.

When dinner time came around we walked down to Mobo Sushi, and had a wonderful time ordering from their very special menu. I had something called the Eliminator with unagi, lemon, cilantro, cucumber, sweet sauce and spicy sesame seeds, their Sunrise, which I always get which has tuna wrapped about maguro topped with quail egg, and a simple order of saba the marinated mackarel that I just love. Jet got an enormous mound of vegetable tempura and an order of tamago sushi, which came with lovely brown streaks through it looking like marble. It was beautiful and tasty as well as he was only able to eat once piece after eating all the tempura he could handle.

It was amazingly good and lovely and elaborate in a way as I couldn't even remember what everyone else had. Jet authoritatively ordered his "ball drinks" or the Japanese marble bottle drinks, and I got a ginger tea that was pretty much made from chopped ginger in hot water with a spoonful of sugar on the bottom. *laughs* It was wonderful, and I think I'm going to have to make it for myself as I have plenty of chopped dried ginger.

It was a lovely, lovely meal.

Jet with the Bazooka
The walk back to their house was wonderful in the near twilight, and we said our good-byes on their doorstep as it was close to Jet's bedtime and we wanted to at least see the Broadwalk before leaving.

That might have been a mistake as it was Sunday Night of Memorial Day Weekend, and the Boardwalk was something of a madhouse. It was full of people!! And all the lights were going and the neon was running and while it was much smaller than Atlantic City's Broadwalk, it was just as full of people. The weather had suddenly gone cold when the sun went down, and we all had jackets on and it was good that we did.

The games were going full blast as were all the rides, but Jet decided he just wanted to shoot the Bazooka, which shot out tennis balls at high velocity. He had fun with them, and got one right through the tire and into the target on the other side, and really enjoyed doing it. *laughs*

But everyone was leaving at about the same time, and so traffic was quite the mess. The nice thing wa sthat the GPS gave enough of the map that we were able to figure an alternative way back to our hotel. That was very, very useful indeed, and so we're all snug in our beds, and Jet's snoring away as he was tired the moment he got off the beach, even.

All in all it was a very busy and wonderful day, all worth while doing.
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It sounds really excellent. I love the sound of the tide pools, and the homes with the stream and ponds, and the sushi.
I love those little ball drink bottles! It was neat to actually see one in person instead of just in anime; Jet has a good eye!

I'm glad that you made it to the Boardwalk while it was being fun, even though you had to contend with traffic. It might not be open until Memorial Day! It's neat to see it all lit up like that.

Also I am going to have to do an ingredient check on Marianne's Icecream... cardamom pistachio, yum!
I'm glad that you got to keep the bottle, too!! *laughs* It's fun to see them work.

The boardwalk was beautiful! I hadn't known it was only just opened! No wonder it was so crowded. Wow....

It was very yummy indeed. *happy sighs*