Sunday 3 April
After breakfast in the hotel, as no Denny’s nearby, it is off to the train journey to Santa Cruz from Roaring Camp Train station.
Ours is a diesel and it has some open carriages much to the amusement of Harry on the way down the hill to Santa Cruz beach.
The steam engine only goes around the woods at Roaring Camp although this does take some time.
Stopping to avoid trespassers on the bridge we soon get going again through redwood trees and by the sides of rivers meandering down the hill.
Lots of people walking and cycling with car passengers at a couple of level crossings waving to the train passengers.
On reaching the outskirts of Santa Cruz, the train reverses on a triangle before riding the rails in the middle of the main promenade road to it’s stopping point.
We all get off for an hour or so on the beach and to buy drinks and souvenirs if that is your wish.
I wouldn’t say I would rush back to Santa Cruz, the beach was a bit dirty, a few pieces of glass were scattered on the beach which could have caused damage to feet but of course being Sunday, the place was absolutely packed with all shapes and sizes as well as sporting types in evidence.
A fairground environment existed on the boardwalk with lots of amusements including something that shot you up into the sky at break neck speed, a bit like a sitting version of an inverted bungee jump – not for the faint hearted.
Far more civilised was the cable car ride which seemed to be popular.
Back on the train which seemed less crowded, perhaps some folks had got on the first one from the beach this morning and returned on ours.
On the way back we passed a couple of camps of homeless people and re-passed the faces carved in the crumbling earthworks that had been cut out for the building of the railway.
The tunnel each way was an interesting experience especially as I was at the back of the train on the return journey for the guard to get off the train and lock gates to the tunnel “to stop the homeless sleeping in the tunnel” we were told.
After our three or so hours from start, we were back at the Roaring Camp Terminus after a good day out.
By now, there were virtually no tourists left at the Camp, but a wedding reception was being held in the vast expanse of a barn type building – good use to help the finances.
Overnight at Holiday Inn Express, Watsonville for the next two nights with a dinner in Applebee’s.
Monday 4 April
Drive to Monterey for a visit to the Aquarium which is very crowded for a Monday but understand it is Spring Break week so lots of children around including some on organised tours.
Fascinating few hours spent looking, and feeling, some of the fish and other wildlife.
Penguin feeding was popular to start with but it perhaps went on a bit long for some of the younger viewers.
The octopus was interesting but the highlight was the bird swirling around in the water in an attempt to force smaller fish and insects to the top for feeding purposes.
Our lunch today consisted of a freebie Chirondelle square and an ice cream each eaten in the Chirondelle cafe in sight of the Various seafood restaurants which somehow, Mel wouldn’t allow me to photograph her nearby!
Before setting off for the hotel, a drive around the “17 mile drive” park with it’s stunning views and sumptuous housing.
Too windy to get out for long though but we did manage a few steps near the lone pine rock and a couple of other places including a very isolated golf tee green.
Dinner tonight in our room, we do know how to live it up followed by packing and off on our next adventure tomorrow.
Quote of the holiday from a receptionist at the hotel; “I would like to travel and go to England but only really want to go to places where they speak English. Do they speak English in England?”
Tuesday 5 April
We have made a booboo and whilst it was planned that we would head off to Florida for two weeks and leave Mel to fly to the UK with Sarah, Ali & Harry, we forgot that she had to get to the airport some 5 hours after us with no chance of there being any room in Sarah & Ali’s car from Watsonville to the airport especially as Sarah had bought a new snowboard!😧
A few options explored but another car rental and a taxi were too expensive so Mel is off with us to spend s lonely 5 hours in SFO watching some downloaded films on her iPad using the free Wi-fi and my contribution to her lunch – no smaller notes available.
Lots of traffic on way to airport, takes 2 hours instead of the planned 80 minutes.
Take an American Airlines flight to Charlotte with an hour or so stop over and then another to Tampa getting us in at 11pm (8pm San Fran time).
Manage to have got priority boarding at San Fran through security passage which was helpful but no free food on the five hour flight which is not helpful.
Pass south of Lake Tahoe in the distance and then over the desert, probably Salt Lake City in Utah. Cabin staff say we are arriving 18 minutes early, pilot says on time which is a bit worrying. Actually we are off the plane about 5 minutes earlier.
Grab a slice of pizza whilst changing planes in Charlotte and we are off to Tampa on time just over an hour from when we land – will our luggage arrive?
Arrive at Tampa at about 11:30pm with no one else around – yea, our luggage is here. Taxi to hotel for a long sleep.
Tomorrow it is off to Anna Maria Island.