We wanted to stay at a campground where our Aussie friends, Al and Sue, could stay nearby. We are in a beautiful spot overlooking the Pacific, but it’s an hour drive to most of the things we want to do. Because their flight left NYC at 7am, they got here so early that we made it to the airport to pick them up without difficulty. We wanted to take it easy their first day since they had gotten up at midnight California time. Perhaps because they are considerably younger than we are, they seemed to handle the lack of sleep with aplomb. So we headed to Santa Cruz to see the boardwalk, have dinner and wander around. We did not realize that this is spring break week for the schools around here and this coupled with fantastic weather made us feel like everyone in California decided to go to Santa Cruz at the same time we did.
We remember the amusement park on the boardwalk as slightly seedy and worn, but business must have been great in the intervening years. The beach and boardwalk are over a mile long and there were long lines for every amusement ride. We weren’t planning to taking a roller coaster anyway, but we did plan on parking somewhere. After inching through the beach front area twice for over an hour, we gave up and headed back to the campground for steak and s’mores we prepared ourselves.
Today we wanted to relive something else we have done a number of years ago - ride a bike along the San Francisco waterfront, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and take the ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco. We got an early start and a parking place right in front of the bike rental place. The weather was perfect and we stopped many, many times to photograph Golden Gate, Alcatraz Island and the harbor from various angles. We wanted to stop for lunch before tackling the bridge, but the waterfront had gotten so crowded with people, we kept going. The bridge was crammed with bikes on the west side and pedestrians on the east side. Cars were backed up for miles. Some bike riders who were built like greyhounds zipped along and others who got tired just stopped wherever they were in the middle of the lane. It made for a challenging riding situation.
By the time we reached Sausalito we were hot, tired and hungry. It was about 3pm, but we couldn’t find a restaurant without massive lines of people waiting, so we got in another set of massive lines to get on the ferry. This also involved a longer wait since the ferry we wanted to take filled up to the brim. When we got back to San Francisco and rode the waterfront, it too was crammed with people. At 4pm we finally had lunch/dinner in a diner at Ghirardelli Square. The food was welcome and the views were fabulous.
Most of the drive back to the campground was filled with cars heading back to town, the opposite direction we were going. Probably the traffic back up on Rt. 1 was thirty miles long. As we drove along the beautiful beaches an hour before sunset, their parking lots were still crammed with cars. It would seem a safe bet that those folks didn’t get home before midnight.
The day was beautiful and frustrating. We could understand why so many people were there, but are hoping that they all go back to school/work and leave the beauty to us tomorrow. Luckily, Al and Sue are fit and good sports and took all the waiting and hunger in stride. You can put up with a lot when you are surrounded by such beauty.