Santa Cruz!

12/5/21

Today provided a variety of experiences in Santa Cruz. The day started out foggy (my weather app even showed a fog advisory) and chilly. It didn’t warm up as much as I had hoped—nor as much as the forecast had predicted—but by mid-late afternoon the sun had come out and I did get to bask in it a bit.

The first item on the agenda was a soak with a friend—actually a former Portland neighbor from a few doors down in my building, who now lives here—in a private hot tub in a beautiful wellness spa with a view of a Japanese garden!

My Servas host here happens to be the founder of this wellness spa, called Well Within, and was able to get us this appointment. He is also a Japanese garden enthusiast, so the garden had been incorporated into the design of the place, decades ago. So my friend and I actually got to see koi fish swimming, as we let the hot water soak away our troubles and sore muscles.

Afterward, we tried a local West African vegan restaurant, Veg on the Edge, and enjoyed some authentic peanut stew from the Nigerian owner’s home country.

Then my friend gave me and my bike a lift to the UC Santa Cruz botanical garden and arboretum. The sun was just beginning to peek out, so in addition to enjoying some of the Australian and succulent gardens, I also made a point to just rest on a bench and bask in the sun for a while.

When I felt it was time to move on, I began pedaling back home, but checked out two locally owned natural foods stores on the way: The Food Bin (what a delightful small old-school “health food” store!) and Staff of Life (which occupied a much larger and newer building, but was originally founded in 1969, vs. 1971 for The Food Bin. Santa Cruz has a long history of this sort of thing; it’s my kinda town!) Outside The Food Bin, I struck up a conversation with the woman who was painting a beautiful scene on the windows. (If you’re reading this, Melissa, hi! It was great to meet you.)

Then I returned to my home base here, and joined my hosts for a takeout meal from local Mediterranean restaurant Zameen.

I’ve got another day here in Santa Cruz tomorrow, and my two priorities are the beach and the redwoods!

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