Boardwalk sign at Santa Cruz

Ride the rollercoaster on the boardwalk

For thrillseekers and beachgoers the Santa Cruz boardwalk is a great destination since 1907.  

A golem watching over the sky glider at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

There are more than 40 rides, something for every kind of rush seeker. The romantic gondola ‘Sky Glider’ and  the 1924 wooden roller coaster ‘The Giant Dipper’ are just examples of the variety of rides offered. 

Sky glider with a sign that says: deep fried underneath at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

On rainy days you can enjoy a game of bowling or mini-golf, or play some arcade games. The food rises to the occasion: soft serve ice cream, hot dog on a stick and pizza all classic accompaniments for your boardwalk experience are here.

Bands on the Beach stage, Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Tonight, August 30th, is the last Bands on the Beach event for this year. Papa Doo Run Run has the honor of ending the free concert series with two show (6:30 and 8:30). For the prime seating area reserve your seats as early as 4 pm. You might enjoy a nice picnic on the beach. If you bring chairs make sure they are low backs for the prime area. 

For the history buffs they put together a walking tour (http://downloads.beachboardwalk.com/BoardwalkWalkingTour.pdf).

A lot of different events are happening on the boardwalk, so check before you go. Some events, like the overnights, can limit access to attractions.  

The boardwalk is open daily. Admission for the rides can be purchased in various forms. Day and season passes are available.

Have you been to the boardwalk?


Hallway of the fifth floor County Government Center, Santa Cruz

Admire young artists

Animal sculptures from students of the Tierra Pacifica Charter School, Santa Cruz

The County Government Center in Santa Cruz might not be the first place that comes to mind if you want to see local art. But while you are in to get a marriage license or to register to vote I strongly urge you to wander the halls of the first and fifth floor and admire the youth art exhibit. 300 artists from schools and art institutes in Santa Cruz County present their local talent until May 10th, 2019.

Mark your calendars if you are inspired. May 3rd is a First Friday Reception where you are invited to make art yourself.

Posters from students of Scotts Valley High School, Santa Cruz

‘Make art happen’ is the slogan of the Arts Council Santa Cruz County, and they are the driving force for this exhibit. In fact they exhibit year round at this location and at the Simpkins Family Swim Center, Health Service Agency, and other County offices.

I enjoyed seeing the different styles, from elementary to high school. They even have sculptures in the glass cases. My personal favorites were the political action posters from students of the Scott Valley High School, making us aware of equality, mental health of veterans, and gang violence issues.

Hallway of the County Government Center, Santa Cruz

The indirect lightning of the hallways might not be ideal for viewing the art, but I do appreciate a glimpse into the creativity of Santa Cruz County students.

Are you a supporter of youth art?



A swell shark to touch

Touch a shark

I touched a shark and it was swell!Touch a shark and get a sticker to proudly proof it. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz is one of my favorite places in the Bay Area. Besides petting a shark – a real swell shark that is! – you are also invited by the great volunteers to get your finger wrapped up by sea creatures like anemones, spot a hermit crab or hold a sea star. The aquarium tanks hold shark babies and jellyfish. Jellyfish floating in a tankDid you know that jellyfish needed a round tank to generate the circular flow keeping them suspended in the tank?

If you talk about the wildlife of the Bay you also need to see the exhibit on the sea otter. There is otter fur to touch, which is the softest fur ever.

Shark Science Week is July 22 – 28. 2018 – to get a deeper understanding of sharks.

Sea Otter Awareness Week is September 22 – 30. 2018 – this is an annual event all around the Bay recognizing the importance of the sea otter for the nearshore ecosystem.

Inside Ms. BlueThe tour that is included in the entrance fee takes you outside the center. It starts off with the history of the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. An important stop is Ms. Blue, the 87 feet long blue whale skeleton that greets every visitor. You are invited to go into her belly, touch some baleen plate, that is used to filter out food and a glass jar of krill to understand how much food is needed for these giants. The tour might end behind the scene of the Joseph M. Long Laboratory. Here our group got to see two dolphins and a seal that are being studied.

In July and August the Seymour Marine Discovery Center is open every day 10 am – 5 pm. Adults admission is $9, senior, children and students are $7. For the free days you need to check the web site. They also participate in the Discover and Go program.

Have you ever touched a shark?

 

homeless garden project store, Santa Cruz

Shop for homeless

It’s the time of the year again when we might soon exchange gifts. I am always on the lookout for something meaningful. Gift giving can be joyful, especially when helping others.

If you are in the same situation, looking for gifts, and find yourself near Santa Cruz, you should stop by the Homeless Garden Project pop-up stores, either in downtown Santa Cruz or Capitola.

The Homeless Garden Project operates a farm, which is on Shaffer Rd in Santa Cruz. This is a great spot to visit in spring and summer, when you can either pick your own vegetables or buy from the farm stand. The 3 acre organic farm provides the materials for the retail goods.

homeless garden project store, Santa Cruz

As examples of the bounty you will find in the stores: they offer wreaths uniquely created from dried flowers of the farm, organic jams and baking mixes, bath and body products.

homeless garden project store, Santa CruzCurrently they reside in two locations: one near the MAH, 110 Cooper St, Suite 100G, in the Cooperhouse Breezeway; open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, the other in Capitola on the Esplanade, 222 Esplanade; open Thursday – Saturday 11 am – 7 pm, Sunday 11 am – 4 pm. Both locations are open until 12/24/17.

 

They are even online, so no more excuses: http://www.homelessgardenproject.org

This is a great project that provides job training, transitional employment, and support services for people who are homeless.

Do you know of other great gifting opportunities?

Mix-up your museum visit

Mix-up your museum visit

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is really five experiences in one.

 

Mysterious objects at the Heart Room of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and HistoryOn 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.

 

Toys in the exhibit: Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History 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.

 

Ballooniverse created by Addi Somekh at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and HistoryOn 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.

 

Which experience do you prefer?

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Line-up on the surf history

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.

Surfing sculpture in Santa CruzIf 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. 

 

Where is your favorite surf spot?

Watch some whales

Watch some whales

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.

Ms. Blue, a blue whale skeleton outside of Seymour Marine Discovery CenterIf 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.

Where do you go whale watching?

Science not Silence, pin designed by Penelope Dullaghan

Stand up for science

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.

Science not Silence, pin designed by  Penelope Dullaghan
Science not Silence pin designed by
Penelope Dullaghan

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

Walnut Creek Start: Civic Park, 10:00 AM

Livermore Start and End: Livermore High School; 1:00 PM

Hayward Start: Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, 10:00 AM

Berkeley Start: Sproul Plaza, 4:00 PM

Here is a list of Earth Day events in the Bay Area:

http://www.bayareaearthday.org/bayareaearthdayevents/

 

Will you stand up for science?

Hummingbird Trail at UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Spot some hummingbirds

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.

 

Hummingbird at the Hummingbird trail at UC Santa Cruz ArboretumThe 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. Butterfly chart from the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

 

Where do you spot hummingbirds?

Welcome the long-distance travelers

Welcome the long-distance travelers

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 named Ardenwood, the historic farm in Fremont, as one of the places you can see monarchs.

 

Boardwalk at the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa CruzAnother 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. Cluster of monarch butterflies at the Lighthouse Field State BeachThey 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.

 

Graphic illustrating the flight path of four generations of monarch butterfliesSome 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.

 

 

Have you seen a cluster of monarchs before?