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2021 October 24

Secret Walks: Wharf

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On Saturday 23 October, my wife and I chose to do a short walk, as we had done a long one the previous week, and I’d had a 5-mile walk with a friend along West Cliff just the day before.  We initially chose a nearby walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover—the Neary Lagoon loop, but we remembered that the floating walkway was closed for tule removal a couple of weeks ago, so we had the Santa Cruz Wharf as a backup plan.  As it turned out, the walkway was still closed, so we did the wharf loop and came back through the trail across Neary Lagoon that was still open.  The total walk was about 4.2 miles.


There is a lychee tree on Neary Street that I had never noticed before. The fruit is very pretty.


Someone wants to be very sure that the trains don’t use this track, though it is the one that the Roaring Camp Railroad normally uses for its tourist trains.


The screaming-hand logo is so well known that shops don’t even have to say what the product is. For those who don’t know, the logo is for Santa Cruz Skateboards (the world’s oldest skateboard company) and has been their official logo since 1985.


The Pelton-wheel davit is no longer functional, but the gears and pulleys make a nice display.


The ratchet on the Pelton-wheel davit makes a nice color contrast.


Fishing boats like these are no longer used in Santa Cruz (though I believe that there there are still a few larger fishing boats operating out of the yacht harbor).


This sea-otter mural seems to be one of the new sea-themed murals around town.


Steamer Lane (the surf area near the lighthouse) did not seem to be very populated—there were a lot more people watching from the top of the cliff than surfing. I suspect that the waves were a bit high for the beginners, so only the dedicated surfers were out.


There are usually quite a few sea lions hanging out under the wharf, but the number we saw on our walk seemed unusually large—there was not enough room for all of them!


This sea gull looks almost like a cartoon character, with just his head showing above the back of the bench.


A few more of the many sea lions.


The Boardwalk was still operating rides, though they are coming to the end of the busy tourist season. I took this picture of just a small part of the Boardwalk, as the whole thing makes too wide a panoramic shot to make a good image for the blog.


This kayak-rental shack has more murals, though these seem a little less well done than many around town.


The whale mural on the other side of the kayak-rental shack.


The tule marsh in Neary Lagoon has been cleared back quite a bit, so that there is open water visible from the trail again.


The mallard ducks like the tule reeds.


Many houses have up fancy Halloween decorations—my wife and I both rather like these skeletal musicians at Seaside and Laurent.

2021 October 17

Secret Walks: Branciforte-Delaveaga

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:09
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On Saturday 16 October, my wife and I were feeling a little guilty about the short walk the week before, so we did one of the longer walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover—the Branciforte-Delaveagea loop.  The loop itself is 5.4 miles, but we added 1.7 miles at each end, for a total of 8.8 miles.

[24 October 2021: I forgot to say last week that we did have one suggestion for an improvement to the loop—rather than walking down La Fonda after crossing and walking along Soquel, it would be better to take the sidewalk in front of the Santa Cruz Adult School, and walk down Park Way.]

We had lunch near the end of the walk on the back patio of the Crêpe Place.  It was quite pleasant there in the shade next to the fountain, and we were there late enough in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.) that there were few others dining.


This is one of the new ocean-themed murals around town—it seems rather crudely drawn compared to most.


We rather liked the way this stump of a palm tree had been decorated for Halloween.


We’ve always admired this blue and cream house on N. Branciforte Ave. If I remember from the historic plaque correctly (it’s been a couple of years since I looked), it was originally the home of a dentist.


This little free library on N. Branciforte is very nicely painted.


Nicely painted on both sides.


We don’t see many pomegranate trees around town—I’m not sure it gets warm enough for them to ripen properly.


This little free library is on Goss.


The pillars at the west end of Old Vineyard Trail used to be part of the main entrance to Delaveaga Park, back when there was a streetcar that went there.


There was once a zoo in the park also—I believe that this concrete foundation was part of the zoo.


I have no idea what this weird shed is, nor why it has steps down to the retaining wall.


The radio tower is a distinctive landmark. It is probably for the 911 services that are in Delaveaga Park, just above the Audrey Stanley Grove stage for Santa Cruz Shakespeare.


There is a nice stand of prickly pears in one place just beside the Old Vineyard Trail. They make a nice change from the eucalyptus, pine, and coast live oak.


Here the trail opens up to a flat field covered with both coast live oak and European cork oaks.


Yet another little free library—this one on Prospect Heights.


This green and yellow house has a very European style with very Californian landscaping.


I like the roofline and the wind vane on the top of Gault School (picture taken from the back of the playground).


The main door for Gault School is an impressive entrance.


The auditorium door is also fine. They don’t seem to make schools like this in California any more—all the more recent ones are really rather ugly.


Another new mural—this one on the side of Harts Fabric, right next to the Roller Palladium (which still has roller-skating parties, after being in business for 70 years).


Another new mural on Soquel Ave.


Many of the murals are tucked away in pedestrian alleys—you really can’t see them from cars.


I’ve always liked the mosaics on the Soquel Ave bridge, made by local middle-school students, but they are often hard to photograph.

After the walk, I shaped my focaccia dough (I’d used basically the same recipe as Sourdough focaccia 2, but with only bread flour) and took a 2-hour nap.  After the nap, I baked the focaccia and my wife made a small frittata and a lovely butternut-squash soup to complete our dinner.

2021 October 14

Secret Walks: Downtown

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On Saturday 9 October, my wife and I were feeling lazy, so we did one of the shortest walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover—the downtown loop.  The loop itself is only 1.5 miles, but we added 1.3 miles at each end, for a total of 4.1 miles.  We did not eat lunch on this walk, but I did have sorbet at Mission Hill Creamery.

Much of the interest of the downtown walk is the public art.  I took pictures of a lot of it, but only include a small sample in this post.  Because discovering the art is half the fun, I’m not revealing the locations (though most are pretty obvious just walking the length of Pacific with a few excursions out a block or two to the west).

A lot of the artwork is in the form of murals, which often are not viewable from directly in front. I played around with perspective transforms on several of the images, to see if I could get a more centered view—many of the views shown here are not possible in the unmodified world.  Some of the murals have also faded rather badly, and I used a little post-processing to restore them to closer to approximations of their original colors.


Dr. Miller’s house was a good coffeehouse for several years, but it has been closed for a while now. I think that there were plans to reopen it as a pizza or beer place, but the pandemic seems to have stopped (or delayed) that. Too bad, as they are one of the few places downtown that would have adequate outdoor seating.


Far West Fungi has a nice signboard.

2021 October 5

Secret Walks: Wharf-Seabright

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I’m behind again on blogging about our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. On Saturday 2 October, my wife and I did the loop walk from the Wharf to Seabright.  The loop itself is 3 miles, but we added 1.4 miles getting there and 1.5 miles home, for a total of 5.9 miles.  We had lunch at the Picnic Basket on Beach Street.


This streetlight, between Depot Park and the old bridge with the Howe truss is a little fancier than most in Santa Cruz.


Across the river from the Boardwalk were a number of birds—I think that they may be egrets, but even with max zoom I could not get a good look at them. I’m wondering if I should get a camera with more optical zoom—even if it would weigh twice as much.


These shutters (on Hiawatha, if I remember right) are rather amusing. The residential neighborhood here is surprisingly quiet, given the noise and tourist traffic on the streets that surround it.


This wind vane was just one of three on the house—either the person living there really likes windmill-style wind vanes, or they make and sell them.


This mural seem to be a fairly new one. The DNA helix is twisted the wrong way.


This house added the flag, in case anyone was unclear about the inspiration for the choice of colors.


Our former next-door neighbors used to own the TeaCup Restaurant, before the Loma Prieta Quake of 1989. The sign seems to have ended up as a decoration for someone who collects commercial signs (they have several decorating the house).


I rather liked the nautical theme for this house’s porch railing, though it is on a busy street, in a not-so-great neighborhood, so I would not want to own it.


We saw this plant along the river levee (just a little below the RIverside bridge), and we wondered if it might be the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant.  I don’t think so, as it seems too large and does not have the dark centers to the flowers that most photos show. 2021 October 8: My sister tentatively identified this as gumweed (genus Grindelia), but which of the gumweeds is not clear—perhaps Grindelia stricta (coastal gumweed).


Here is a close-up of one of the flowers. Can anyone identify it for me?


And another close-up.


In the Beach Flats Garden, the corn is easily 4m high.


Poets’ Park is one of the smallest parks in Santa Cruz, though it does include a small community garden, extending the Beach Flats garden.


Beach Flats Park has a large mural surrounding a small park—here is one of the panels from the mural.


Another school-themed panel from the mural.


This part of the mural does not have the heavily Mexican theme of the rest of the mural—it seems to have been taken from George Ow’s photos of the now defunct Chinatown.


Yet another panel of the mural.


After lunch at the Picnic Basket, we tried to head home through Neary Lagoon Park, but the floating docks were still closed for removal of tule (though they were supposed to have reopened the day before). So we detoured through the neighborhood just north of the park, where we saw the Neary St. Memorial Library—a little free library that we had not seen before. The library is “in memory of Beverly Barnes, who created this library for everyone to use and enjoy.”


The same house has this very fine decorated mailbox.

2021 October 4

Secret Walks: Arana Gulch-Jose Ave Park

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:54
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I’m behind again on blogging about our walks from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. On Saturday 25 September, my wife and I did the loop walk for Arana Gulch and Jose Ave Park.  The loop itself is 3.3 miles, but we added 2.4 miles getting there and 2.8 miles home, for a total of 8.5 miles.  We had lunch on the way home at Charlie Hong Kong.


On the way to the beginning of the loop, we passed this cute little free library on Broadway—it is modeled after the house it is associated with.


Arana Gulch as many fine coast live oaks, some with branches brushing the ground.


Arana Gulch also seems to have ground squirrels, though we saw only the holes and not the rodents themselves.


We had never walked on the Marsh View Trail before, but it has some fine views of the wetlands for the creek that ends in the yacht harbor.


Another view of the marshy part of the creek.


Another fine tree with dramatic branches.


The Marsh Creek Trail is worth taking just for the fine twisty trees.


Yet another lovely tree—this one with a large hollow.


And another.


After walking the trails in Arana Gulch, we took the bridge across the creek, which has these fine steel panels of fish.


The creek looking upstream from the bridge.


Zooming in a little to see the fallen trees across the creek.


This birdhouse may have the only vacancies in Santa Cruz.


The great-blue-heron sculptures are one of the highlights of Jose Ave Park.


The oversize heron footprints (to match the statues) in the sidewalk are a nice touch.


On Eddy Lane, just across from the park, there is this “Book Bot”—a very fine Little Free Library.


Another “Little Outdoor Library Thingy” on 7th Ave.


Coming back over the bridge, I took a picture of another of the fish panels—the series seems to show salmon spawning.


Leaving Arana Gulch on the west side is the Hagemann Gulch Bridge. It took bicycle activists many years to convince the City to install the bridges to provide pedestrian and bike access across Hagemann Gulch and Arana Gulch, and the final placement of the bridges was not optimal, but they are heavily used now.


There were 3 raptors circling over Arana Gulch as we were leaving. I don’t have much zoom on my camera, so this was the best shot I could get of a pair of them, after cropping out a lot of blank sky.


We walked back along Soquel, passing this small mural on Mackenzies’ Chocolates.


I’ve always liked this back door, which used to be for the Bicycle Trip (before they moved) and is now for the Childish Toy Shop.


We passed one more little free library on the way home (on Cleveland)—I may have included a photo of this one in previous post.

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