Don't forget to read the blog posts for California 2022 Days 1-4 first!
Jeremiah and I had our alarm set for 6:30am to get up for whale watching. At 6:10am, however, my mother knocked on our door wanting us to get up, even though the plan wasn't to leave the house until 7:30am.
Jeremiah and I were ready by 7:00am. We offered multiple times to help pack lunches and get everything ready, but our offers were ignored.
At 7:20am, Leo showed up with Starbucks. Thank goodness. He had written "BECCA BOO" on my cup. Apparently he had learned it was my family nickname, and I thought it was very sweet of him.
We left the house around 7:40am and made our way to Moss Landing. We all had regular tickets, which get you on the main level of the whale watching tour boat. I ended up getting a free upgrade since it was my 30th birthday. The upgraded ticket allowed me to go to the upper deck. My mom went and got everyone upgraded tickets so we could all stick together. Almost the whole California family was present: My parents, Jacqueline, Leo, Giovanna, Orazito, Marcelle, Jeremiah, and myself. We boarded the Sea Goddess, ready to see whales!
Out at Sea
We immediately saw an otter in the pier.
As we left the pier, we came across a group of dolphins. Trivia bit: a group of dolphins is called a pod. They didn't surface, so we only got to see a bit of their backs as they came up for air.
We went further out into the bay where we found a humpback mother (cow) and her baby (calf). The calf breached a few times for us, which was incredible!
It was time to return to the pier. On the way back we saw sea lions and another otter.
Moss Landing State Beach
We all loaded back into our cars and made our way over to Moss Landing State Beach.
Jeremiah somehow spotted an otter near the rocks on the coast, all wrapped up in seaweed. It was so well wrapped that I was convinced he was mistaken until I was within ten feet of the otter. The otter had entangled itself so that it wouldn't float away while it napped.
My parents stayed near the car, but the rest of us were down on the rocks admiring the otter and other sea creatures we could find. Marcelle spotted a huge purple starfish in the rocks!
The group all went into Santa Cruz for coffee. We went to Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company. They make excellent blended coffee. We also did a little shopping but didn't purchase anything.
Back at Home
We went back to the house, where Jeremiah and I played Matching with Orazito for a few rounds. We also completed four puzzles with him.
King's Fish House
One of my requests for my 30th birthday was to have a seafood dinner. We all went out to King's Fish House, where Leo very generously paid for dinner.
My 30th Birthday - It's a Wrap
We returned to the house. My mother had baked me apple pie for my birthday (my other special request). The family sang me happy birthday, and we had the delicious pie. Seriously, my mom makes the best pies.
I opened my gifts after we were done eating pie. I received a Polish pottery piece that was a pitcher with a bunny design on it from my parents. Jacqueline and my sister Katy (who was in Montana at the time) gifted me a baseball tote purse and baseball Keds. Leo gifted me a gnome from Germany that he had purchased when he was there a few weeks prior.
It was a lovely birthday, and I'm deeply grateful for my family.
If you haven't read California 2022 Days 1-3 blog posts, you'll want to go there first to get the full story!
Hanging out at Home
Jeremiah and I kind of slept in on this day. We both were snuggled in on Giovanna's bed, a twin-sized bottom bunk, but we had slept rather well. Maybe we were just exhausted.
We went out into the rest of the house where my father, Jeff, was sitting on the off-white sofa doing stuff on his laptop. Elizabeth and Jacqueline were in the playroom working on accepting an offer Jacqueline had received on a property. I decided to sit on the sofa with my dad. Jeremiah sat in the same room on one of the red leather arm chairs.
San Francisco Zoo
My parents, Jeremiah, and I all left the house around 10:00am for to go to the San Francisco Zoo. First, we stopped for coffee at Java Cafe, which is located across the street from the zoo. They had good coffee! My dad decided to stay behind at the coffee shop, while my mom, Jeremiah, and myself went to the zoo.
We couldn't get a paper copy of the zoo map, so Jeremiah downloaded it onto his phone and took charge as the leader.
The first area we went to was a farm animal exhibit. There were goats, mini donkeys, mini ponies, rabbits, a llama, and more that we couldn't really see. We weren't allowed to pet any of the animals, which was a bit sad. We've been to several other zoos where petting the farm animals is allowed, so we were kind of surprised at the lack of interaction.
In the next area there were prairie dogs. There were even a few babies!
I spotted a hummingbird up in the leaves of the tree above this area of the zoo. Can you find it?
We saw a lot of animals during our time at the zoo. The highlights would include the penguins, who were actively swimming in a loop or resting in their little cabanas.
An otter was napping inside a burlap sack, which was adorable.
We saw orangutans go down these ramps like they were going down slides at a playground - one was even wrapped up in a blanket!
We also got to witness an anteater and a grizzly bear play in their water pools.
We went to the gift shop at the end and found a blue monkey hat which we purchased for Zander, our nephew. We also got a penguin mood ring for Orazito, a sloth mood ring for Giovanna, and a purple and green giraffe figurine for us to take home. Jeremiah also purchased a gold souvenir coin.
My dad met us at the gift shop for the zoo, and we loaded back up in the car and went to China Town for lunch. We parked and walked down to the infamous arch that was the entrance to China Town.
We had lunch at Far East Cafe, where we were served very large helpings of delicious food.
Red lanterns were hanging high up across the street.
After lunch we stopped in a souvenir shop and bough a nice set of chopsticks to use at home.
It was time to return to the San Jose area. My parents stopped at a Safeway to purchase ingredients to make an apple pie, which was my request for my birthday dessert. We all returned to the house.
Jeremiah and Rebecca immediately went and changed into swim suits and hopped into the pool. Orazito got super excited that we were in the pool and decided to join us. We engaged in water-gun battles, tossed a pink ball back and forth, as well as a football, and had races up and down the pool.
After each of us had a chance to shower and get cleaned up after the pool party, my mom had Jeremiah and I open up Peter Rabbit figurines she had purchased for us.
We returned to the bedroom we were staying in and found that Jacqueline had put together a giant Happy Birthday sign, about three feet by eight feet, made of tissue paper. She also had found two rainbow gnomes that she gifted to Rebecca, a guy and a girl, who were birthday themed.
It was so thoughtful!
At the end of the night Orazito was a smidgen upset that we were sleeping in his room, so Jeremiah went and read him a bedtime story.
If you haven't read California 2022 Day 1 and Day 2, I highly recommend you read those first so that you get the whole story. :)
Jeremy and I had breakfast at our hotel, and then checked out.
We went down to Scrapper's Edge, a scrapbooking store in Eureka. If you are into paper crafts, I highly recommend this store!
We then made the drive back towards Oakland. We stopped along the way to view the vineyards from the road.
We also stopped at this very touristy spot called The Grandfather Tree. It had a large redwood tree and a gift shop to go along with it.
Our stomach's decided to rumble on the way back, so we stopped in Ukiah for lunch. We ate at a place called Stars, and then hopped back in the car and finished the drive to Oakland.
The John T. Knox Freeway bridge took us across the bay into Oakland. We had made good time, and were two hours early for the Oakland A's game. We tried driving around to find a spot to hang out, but there's not really any great locations around the ballpark - in fact it's a lot of warehouses and lot of homeless camps. It was decided, in the end, that the best place for us was to just wait it out in the car in the parking lot at the ballpark.
My sister, Jacqueline, her fiancé Leo, his two kids Luigi and Marcelle, and my mother, Elizabeth, all met us at the ballpark for the game.
One of the coaches for the A's called Jeremiah and I out in the stands, telling us we were at the wrong ballpark since we were wearing our Rockies wedding jerseys.
The A's played the Seattle Mariners, and the Mariners won, 8-2.
On the Road
Jeremiah and I left Comfort Inn in Ukiah, California at 7:00am Pacific Time, and immediately went across the street to Starbucks. Coffee was greatly desired. Jeremiah then drove the remaining 3.5 hours to Redwood National Park via 101.
We came upon a beach right outside the park entrance, and exited the vehicle to walk down the sand to be closer to the water to admire the coastline. It was a beautiful beach that extended far down the horizon to a rocky cliff on the Northern end of the shore. It was not a swimming beach, there were several signs warning people to not go into the water because of a steep drop off. Nonetheless, it was beautiful to look at, and the sea air was sharp yet welcoming.
Lady Bird Johnson Trail
The trail is quite popular and has an unfortunately small parking lot, so we ended up driving up the road a bit and parking on the shoulder. We walked down hill back to the trail's parking lot. At the end of the lot, there's a ramp (not stairs, which I was pleasantly surprised about) that you go up to get to the bridge that goes over Bald Hill Road. The trail starts at the other end of the bridge.
One of the first giant trees you encounter has been burnt through. We took turns standing inside the tree and posing for photos. We could stretch our arms out, and we still didn't touch the sides of the inner tree!
There were a lot of sister trees (trees that start separately but grow into trees that share a base trunk). We also saw tropical looking leaves with pink flowers. Shout out to Lynnette Fox for helping us identify these flowers as rhododendrons!
We also saw what looked to be giant three-leaf clovers, but these ones had pink on the underside of their leaves. I was extremely fascinated with the "giant shamrocks" in the "giant woods", but it turns out they weren't clovers at all! They are called Redwood Sorrels. I learned that an easy way to tell the difference between shamrocks and sorrels are the shape of the leaves - shamrocks have rounded leaves and sorrels have heart shaped leaves. Learn something new every day!
On occasion, there would be a fallen tree along the trail. The park cut the trunks of the fallen trees so that you walked between the pieces of the trunk on the trail. We thought that was a pretty cool way to preserve as much of the tree as possible for natural decay/compost, as well as allowing the trail to remain accessible.
The trail was about a mile long, and was a loop - which is always nice so you don't have to turn around and go back whence you came. The uphill walk back to the car was honestly more difficult than the entire trail, ha!
Redwood Creek Overlook
We continued on in our original direction on Bald Hill Road, stopping at Redwood Creek Overlook. We didn't see a creek, but the view let's you take in the mountains and the distant ocean.
Bald Hill Road
We hopped back on Bald Hill Road, this time journeying back towards 101. Remember the questionable fenced area I mentioned earlier? We still don't know what it's for (sorry), but there was a herd of elk behind the fence, and so we pulled over so I could take photos. The herd included several fawns, they were absolutely adorable.
We turned back onto Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and found the trailhead for Corkscrew Tree. This was, by far, our favorite giant tree we saw in the park. For a short while it was just us, admiring the tree, but after bit another couple joined us at Corkscrew. We talked for a bit about cameras and photography, and then went our separate ways.
Two locals were having an argument at the bar. The woman was offended that the man didn't remember a night they shared together. The bartender was also quite obviously drinking behind the bar. As we closed our tab, the bartender tried to give us travel advice, but most of it was slurred. He mentioned driving down to the scenic road that goes along the river, driving through a brown gate, and going by the "Indian stuff" to find the mouth of the river. Unfortunately, we were never able to find this brown gate and "Indian stuff", as you can imagine.
After lunch, we went back out to 101 North, turning left onto Requa Road. Requa Road turns into Patrick J. Murphy Memorial Drive. This lead us up to Klamath River Overlook, where we got to see the mouth of the Klamath River as it flowed into the ocean. It was the first time either of us had seen a mouth of a river, and it was intriguing to see where fresh water met salt water.
We made our way back down to 101, this time heading South. We did end up turning on the scenic road the bartender was telling us about, and we found a few side roads that were interesting, but we did not find the "landmarks" he told us to search for. Who knows, maybe he was playing a prank on a couple of tourists.
We continued on 101 South, making our way back through the park. Right outside the park is a place called Elk Meadow Cabins, where there was a different herd of elk than the one we saw previously. We stopped to take photos, and then continued onto 101 South.
Jeremy and I decided to book a hotel room at the Comfort Inn in a town called Eureka, California. It was okay, I think we'll try somewhere else if we are ever in Eureka again.
After showering and getting refreshed, we went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant called Jack's Seafood. The food was delicious, and funny enough, the couple in the booth behind Jeremy was the same couple we had conversed with at Corkscrew Tree. Funny how life works sometimes!
Flying to California: A Day of Coastal Relaxation
We arrived in San Jose and made our way to baggage claim. Rebecca's mom, Beth, came running in to give us hugs while we waited for our bags to arrive. After we received our luggage, we went outside to greet Rebecca's dad, Jeff.
All four of us went to Beth and Jeff's house in Campbell where we dropped off a majority of our luggage. We then left and had breakfast in Capitola. We ate at a locally owned restaurant called Avenue Cafe. We then walked downtown, eventually making our way to Mr. Toot's for a cup of coffee.
We strolled down a path by Soquel Creek, walking a loop back to Avenue. The antique store that was right down the road from the Cafe had opened, and Rebecca went inside to check it out. However, she left empty-handed.
Natural Bridges State Beach
Rebecca waded in the water, taking photographs, but the water was too cold for Jeremiah. Beth and Jeff set up a spot on the beach to sit and admire the waves. Jeremiah and Rebecca wandered over to the nearby tide pools. There wasn't a lot of sea life activity, so we made our way around to the deeper tide pools. Here we saw a lot of anemone and crabs.
Beth, Jeff, Rebecca and Jeremiah left Natural Bridges and drove to Santa Cruz. We were ready to bum on a beach, but wanted to check out a few shops in Santa Cruz first. The first store was a place called Mythic Games, which, contrary to what you may believe based on the name of the place, had very few games for sale. Despite that, we bought Azul: Queen's Garden. We went to Bookshop Santa Cruz, which we thought was a second hand book store, but it was mostly new books. There were very few used books. Right next to the bookstore was a place called Comicopolis, which wasn't on our list of places to check out, but we are glad we did! They had way more board games than the game store, and we picked up two: The Tea Dragon Society and Autumn Harvest. Afterwards we made our way to The Hat Company, where Rebecca purchased a giant straw sunhat, and a green sunhat. Next to The Hat Company was another coffee shop, called Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting. Jeremiah and Rebecca both got blenders, and they were delicious!
After seeing how busy the beach in Santa Cruz was, we decided to drive a bit further to more quiet beach called Rio Del Mar, located in Aptos. Jeremiah and Rebecca did quite a bit of seashell hunting, while Jeff tried out his brand new metal detector. Towards the end of our time at the beach, we saw an otter, though it was too far away to get a good shot.
We made our way back to Campbell, to Beth and Jeff's house, where Beth made orange chicken with white rice and broccoli for dinner. Jeremiah and Rebecca then re-arranged their luggage to fit a few night's worth of outfits in the smaller suitcase, and hit the road. Beth and Jeff let Jeremiah and Rebecca borrow their car, which was kind of them.
Jeremiah and Rebecca left the house around 9pm and drove North toward Redwood National Park. We arrived in a place called Ukiah, and stayed at the Comfort Inn, where Jeremiah had booked us a room.
Photographer, visual artist, wife, mother to five fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.