On the first floor it has the Heart Room. A lot of knick knacks and mysterious objects that encourage you to start a conversation, with yourself or whoever is listening. You can even make your own booklet, with writer’s prompts, designed by the Young Writers Program.
If you climb the stairs to the second floor, you’ll notice the surfboards and some modern art. While it also offers changing exhibits, the floor itself is the home of the history museum. Santa Cruz’s history is well displayed in various sections, from the Native Americans, to the farm workers, to the Hippies, all who shaped Santa Cruz.
The current exhibit: Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum runs until December 31st, 2017 and is a must-see! Understanding the system and the people behind the foster program was sad and eye-opening. Nevertheless they leave you with a plan on how to help and take action.
On the third floor you step into the Ballooniverse Addi Somekh’s space for balloon art. A small room with huge balloon sculptures. That made me smile. You can even make your own balloon hat in the hallway. On the opposite site is the Secret Garden, an outside area that lets you unwind and refocus.
Santa Cruz, aka Surf City, was the first city in the United States to learn about surfing. In 1885 three Hawaiian princes took a break from boarding school in San Mateo and taught the locals how to surf.
The Surfing Museum in the old lighthouse in Santa Cruz lets you in on over 100 years of surfing history. The museum is free, but kindly asks for donations. Listed in decades, it takes you through the advancements of surfboards and the history of local surfers. You can see the board that was attacked by a white shark, including two of the teeth left in the board!
From here, if you start walking towards the boardwalk, you come across the memorial for surfers that have left the earth for good. Behind the memorials are some surfing rules by Sam Reid.
If you continue your walk there is another tribute in form of the surfing sculpture (“This monument is dedicated to all surfers – past, present, and future…”).
I had a fun time watching the young surfers (I assume this was a summer camp) trying out the waves.
Whale watching is an activity you can do almost year round in the Bay Area. I have never been whale watching on a boat – that is still on my to-do list, but the gray whales migrate and swim quite close to shore, so sometimes you can get lucky and see the giants from land.
From December to May the gray whales migrate back from Mexico. First the males and the juveniles and later when the babies have some blubber the mothers with their babies. Orkas, not really whales but named killer whales, can be seen then too hunting the baby gray whales. Humpback whales and blue whales are in the Monterey Submarine Canyon from mid April to December.
If you want to get an idea of size of a whale I recommend stopping by the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Outside is what might be the world’s longest blue whale skeleton, Ms. Blue is an impressive 87 feet long! They also have a grey whale skeleton. I took the tour – which comes with the $8 admission, the volunteer was very knowledgeable and they let you touch some baleen, the whales filter system for eating. Plus you can pet a shark and some other ocean creatures inside the center.
April 22nd 2017 is Earth Day and you can support your scientist by marching. Many of the marches end with an Earth Day celebration, or with activities for kids. A great way to introduce the importance of marching for democratic rights to your children.
Like the Women’s March on January 21st, the March for Science’s biggest crowds are expected in Washington D.C. But there are eight satellite marches in the Bay Area where you can show your support:
San Francisco Start: Justin Herman Plaza, 11:00 AM; End: Civic Center Plaza
San Jose Start: San Jose City Hall, 11:00 AM; End: Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Santa Cruz Start: Santa Cruz City Hall, 10:00 AM; End: San Lorenzo Park
Pacifica Start: 2:30 PM, from Linda Mar Beach to Rockaway Beach and back
Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds in the world. They get their name from the humming sound they create by beating their wings about 50 times per second. I have always been fascinated by them and they give me joy when I spot them.
The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum has a hummingbird trail where the plants in bloom are sure to attract the little birds. For $5 you can wander the grounds and learn about plants from all over the world. And if you like to see more flying objects, they also have a butterfly walk.
The migration path of the monarch butterflies is quite amazing. They are the only insects that migrate to places that are 3,000 miles away. From October to January the monarchs visit the Bay Area. Last week I namedArdenwood, the historic farm in Fremont, as one of the places you can see monarchs.
Another special place to see them is the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. They created a boardwalk for people to observe and learn about the butterflies. For some reason the clusters are at Lighthouse Field State Beach, two miles away from the Natural Bridge State Beach.
In an eucalyptus tree hundreds of them bundle together and warm each other. They look like brown leaves, but when it gets warmer they start flying off. The monarchs need a temperature of over 55F to be able to fly.
Some monarchs live for only four to six weeks, while others live six to eight months and have to fly really far to escape the cold weather. What is amazing is that the fourth generation returns to the places the first generation came from.