Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mother of the Forest (Right in Time)

Lately, I've been thinking about writing a book called "Awesome Day Trips." Well, I'll have to work on the title - but seriously, I'm so into mastering the art of day-long getaways. What works, what doesn't? How much sun is too much sun? How much driving should be done? Now it's starting to sound like something from Mother Goose or Doctor Seuss (ahh, stop rhyming!) - it's not a childrens' story. Anyway, you get the picture!

This past Saturday, Sarah and I spent the whole day out of the city. We had a plan in mind, but some activities were spontaneous. We knew where the day would begin and where it would end, but mostly we went where the wind took us. With a little bit of planning (nothing set in stone), it's actually easier to let things just happen. So, without keeping you in too much suspense, welcome to our day (which, by the way, was a 17 hour endeavor):

A day beginning with a pancake is a good day indeed. A long adventure benefits from a hearty breakfast, which is what happened for us in Ben Lomond (note: this is a "place" not a town or a city, FYI). Some earlier research lead us to find a quaint diner called Spanky's. It was the perfect pit stop on the way to our next destination: Big Basin State Park.

Big Basin is California's oldest state park, dating back to 1902. How had I never been?

We decided to take the Redwood Trail, a short walk through the trees with lots of fun facts. Like, for example: redwood roots only grow about 6-10 feet deep, which is surprisingly shallow given their height (around 380 feet!). So, one might wonder, how do they withstand the storms and high winds? How do they not fall down? Well, the roots extend as wide as the tree is tall, linking, as if holding hands, with the adjacent trees. I'm sorry, but is that not the sweetest thing?

Our friend Maggie said we couldn't miss "Mother of the Forest" - the tallest redwood in the park (actually Maggie was the driving force for most of the day - giving us the idea to go Big Basin and also suggesting our main event later in the eve - wait for it). So, back to the trees. A resilient force, the "mother" stands at 329 feet. In the abstract, that number has no impact on me. Standing at its base is another story.

It was so tall, I didn't know what to do with myself. Necks don't go back that far! Where was the top? To get the full effect, watch this.

After Mother of the Forest, one can only marvel at the poetry of trees. Winding down with the nature portion of our day, we took a rest by a beautiful meadow.

Big Basin is technically in Boulder Creek, another "place" a la Ben Lomond. Stopping into this place was not on our agenda, but we couldn't help but pop into some antique stores. We spent a while in one that caught our eye, trying on rings and picking out records. Alas, it was getting close to lunch time and we had another destination in our plans: Santa Cruz!

Just 9 miles on a windy road and there we were! After strolling around downtown, we got sandwiches at New Leaf - a cozy local market that I always like to visit when I'm in Santa Cruz. Their made-to-order sandwiches are de-lish!

Our original plan was to see a movie in Santa Cruz - but the sunny weather and the blue sky vetoed that agenda item. We had many hours in Santa Cruz before our special evening event (wait for it), so we thought we'd spend them on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. We screamed on the roller coaster, got soaked on the log ride, rocked side-to-side on the Rock-n-Roll, ate churros, and played Dance, Dance Revolution in the arcade. Does anyone realize how hard that game is?

Amusement parks aren't really my thing, but I was very swept up in the purity and fun of the whole thing. Just strolling along the boardwalk in the beating hot sun, it was the concept of "forever summer" embodied. My favorite thing to watch were the Sea Swings, a ride designed in Italy. We didn't take a swing, but were still mesmerized by the people with their feet dangling in the air.

Every day getaway must come to an end, but before ours did we had somewhere to be. Our final destination was the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, where we had tickets to their summer concert series. Who was performing on their outdoor stage? Lucinda Williams!

We enjoyed pinot from the winery as the sun set over the vineyard.

Showing off my Boulder Creek purchases! I'm not really a two-rings-on-one-hand-kind of girl (think Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life or Emily Valentine from 90210), but I couldn't help myself and it felt right. The turquoise was an obvious choice, but then I spotted the little heart ring. I couldn't help but think about the redwood roots linked, as if holding hands...

Lucinda on stage under a star kissed sky. It was a perfect summer day - going from town to town, place to place, accepting spontaneity's invitation, driving along the California roads, car wheels on a gravel road...


  1. Magical day and you should totally write that book. You have taken us on the most amazing day trips! love u!

  2. Great idea. And I'd buy that book. Do it.

  3. I wish that day could have gone on forever...

  4. Oh! I LOVE Lucinda and am so so jealous of this trip! xo

  5. WOW! What an awesome day trip. Very inspiring!

  6. so many familiar places! Going to SC in a couple weeks... my mom lives there.

  7. i'll happily be a member of your research team. xo

  8. Love day trips - no packing, no airports. They can be so restorative.
    Yes, write the book, and one for LA too.

  9. I think you should send in your resume to "Travel and Leisure." You are a natural at travel writing. I see this in your future.
    And Yes to that book, you must do it. But I also want you to write a weekly column for a magazine or newspaper. "Weekend Day Trips by Meg Taylor" and do it for different cities.

  10. I'm with everyone too...hope you write the book! I really enjoy how you capture all beauty of nature and special memories behind every day trip. :)

  11. I'm visualizing you on the stage at the SV Writer's Conference...

  12. this looks like a perfect day...audrey and i were in big basin awe-struck over "mother of the forest" this time last year and the boardwalk in santa cruz reminds me of my childhood...the giant dipper was the first roller coaster i was ever brave enough to step on.

    totally nostalgic post for me... ;-)

  13. this looks like good fun! i live in the bay area, and might have to do this trip!

  14. You are clearly the most qualified to write this book. So hurry up, 'cause I need it to plan my weekend.

    Always amazing, Meggie!