Gas station without pumps

2022 May 30

Secret Walks: West Cliff at sunset

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:41
Tags: , , , ,

On the evening of Sunday 2022 May 22, my wife and I took my sister to see West Cliff Drive around sunset.  We did not walk far—just a little bit from the Shrine of St. Joseph to the end of Lighthouse Field, then back across Lighthouse Field.  My wife’s feet were a little sore from all the walking over the weekend, the sunset was not particularly colorful, and there was way too much noise from the two groups playing loud music at the lighthouse (at least the fire dancers were somewhat interesting to watch, though they were not very good—Sunday night seems to be a time for beginners to gather to practice).  I did not attempt to take any pictures of the fire dancers.


There were a pair of sea otters in the kelp near the shrine. I believe it was a mother and pup. I managed to get this shot of the mama sea otter, but I never got a clear shot of the pup.


The squid boats were out, but much closer to shore than I expected.


There were a lot of squid boats.


Here are more of them—I did not get a shot of all of them (I would have needed to take a panorama shot to get them all).


I’ve no idea what the purple plants on the side of the cliff are by the lighthouse. The texture is much finer than iceplant (which covers the top of the cliff).


I zoomed in on the natural bridge across Its Beach.


Here is Its Beach and the natural bridge without the zoom. As always, there were a lot of off-leash dogs on the beach, which I believe is legal before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

2022 January 3

Secret Walks: West Cliff

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:11
Tags: , , , , ,

On Saturday 1 January 2022, my wife and I  did a modified version of the West Cliff to the End and Back walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. We started out taking King to Bay, then all the way down Bay to West Cliff, then followed the route in the book, which is just walking the length of the West Cliff path.  Because it was nice weather, a Saturday, and a holiday, the path was packed with people.  When we got to Natural Bridges State Beach, we decided not to walk back along West Cliff, with the crowds and traffic noise, and made our way back through the neighborhood instead.  Our route took us halfway up Modesto Alley, which we exited through the vacant lot between 235 and 243 Chico, up Chico to Modesto, then along Modesto to a right-of-way between Auburn and Sacramento, that leads to an entrance to Sargent Derby Park, through the park and out the driveway to Swift, up to Delaware, east on Delaware to Bethany Curve, up Bethany Curve to Pendegast, around the top of Errett Circle to California Avenue, stopping at the Santa Cruz Market for It’s It ice-cream sandwiches, along California to Van Ness, up to the parking lots to get over to Laurel, crossing Mission at Laurel, then back along Mission to look at the murals on the back of Sabieng Thai, then up Van Ness to home.  The walk out was 4 miles, and the walk back 2.9 miles, for a total of 6.9 miles.  It took us about 3:15, so our walking speed was a very slow 2.1 mph (probably because we stopped often to look out to sea or take pictures).


There were king tides last weekend, and the water level was as low as I’ve seen it, even though it was still a few hours to low tide. This rock was much more exposed than usual.


I’ve no idea what this concrete and wood construction is for, but I get the impression that it is usually submerged.


The rocks that the cormorants like to rest on were much more prominent than usual.


Here are the same rocks from above—you can see that the rocks are wet on top still from the earlier high tide (though that may be from wave splash, not full submersion). Looking into the sun for much of the walk made picture-taking difficult (as well as giving me a bit of a headache).


We have decided that any walk that involves water (streams or ocean) is only well-formed if we see an egret. Here are the obligatory egrets wading on a beach that is usually submerged. There is a small stream from a culvert coming in from the bottom right of this photo.


The base of these stairs is usually wet—and the rocks submerged.


More rocks on a beach that are usually submerged.


The ocean was very calm, so we saw only one surfer, but we did see a paddleboarder and a kayaker. These 6 paddlers in the outrigger canoe were making very good time.  (Apologies for the low quality—digital zoom is terrible.)


Another seasonal stream from a culvert.


The vacant lot on Chico has clearly been lovingly maintained by neighbors, as has most of the length of Modesto Alley.


I believe that this Little Free Library is at 247 Chico.


If I remember right, this cat on the fence overlooks the walkway that leads from Modesto Ave to Woodland Way aligned with the entrance to Sargeant Derby Park.


The exit from the Park goes out the drive way by Natural Bridges High School, where this mural can be seen.


This palm tree is unusual in having ivy growing up the bottom third of it—a rather mixed-up combination of climates.


This dragon windvane seems to be a new addition to Bethany Curve.

Most of the pictures I attempted on this walk did not come out well—either because of digital zoom or because I was shooting into the sun.  I have finally ordered a new camera (a Panasonic LUMIX ZS80), which I expect will arrive just after we finish doing all the walks in the book.

2021 August 15

Secret Walks: Woodrow-Swanton-Derby Park

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:15
Tags: , , , , ,

On Saturday August 14, my wife and I took another walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. Because our last walk was hilly, we decided to do a flat one in the neighborhood this week.  The total walk was about 6.8 miles, with 1.7 miles to walk to the start at Woodrow and West Cliff and a somewhat longer route home.

We took King to Miramar, where we crossed Mission to the Safeway shopping center, then Rankin to Bethany Curve, and Bethany Curve to West Cliff. We crossed at West Cliff at Woodrow, and walked west along the West Cliff path.  The path has been eroded in a number of places and is really too narrow now for both pedestrians and bicyclists.  I think that it is time to close a lane of West Cliff Drive and move the bike path onto the closed lane.

We turned up Swanton and right on Modesto Avenue, as the book suggests, but we discovered that there is a parallel secret route, which I’m really surprised is not included in the book: Modesto Alley, parallel to Swanton.  We walked back down Modesto Alley, then a block back on West Cliff to go up Chico Avenue back to Modesto Avenue, where we rejoined the original route that went through Sergeant Derby Park.

We made another modification to the route when we got to Swift and Ingalls, walking through the courtyard and past West End Tap to the rail trail, rather than the route up Swift suggested in the book.  We continued the route in the book back to West Cliff, but did not feel like repeating any section of West Cliff, so we went east of De La Costa, north on Almar, east on Plateau, north on Woodrow, and counterclockwise on Walk Circle.  We stopped at Santa Cruz Market for an It’s It sandwich each, then took California to Palm to Mason to Bay to King to Van Ness to get home.

Here are some pictures from the walk:


This is the pedestrian cut-through connecting the two parts of Bethany Curve. It is one of the wider “secret” connections, but is surprisingly hard to see from even half a block away.


I showed this frame in a post for an earlier walk, but I thought it might be useful to give little more context.


The “naked ladies” (Amaryllis belladonna) are surprisingly hardy and can be found at this time of year all over Santa Cruz. These are near the ocean end of Bethany Curve. We like the bare stalks, but don’t care as much for the pinkness of the flowers. There are other naked-stalk lilies with bolder colors (various Lycoris species), but I’ve not seen them in Santa Cruz.


The walk along West Cliff Drive has several impressive views of waves breaking on the rocks.


Views of beaches, cliffs, and trees are also plentiful.


These conifers (I think a pine and two cypress) are particularly fine.


My wife and I are both partial to the growth patterns of cypress trees.


The waves sometimes get quite high, as evidenced by this strand of kelp dangling from the edge of the cliff, obviously washed up by a high wave and tangled in the ice plant at the top of the cliff.


We’ve known about the existence of the wavemotor for a long time, but never looked for it before. It is easily seen from the point just east of Chico Ave.


The waves were not cooperating while I was photographing, but I did get one shot of the jets of water coming up through the wavemotor. When the waves are bigger, it is probably more impressive.


This map (basemap from Google Maps) shows the location of Modesto Alley and the approximate location of the wavemotor, which is just visible in the satellite view on Google Maps.


Here is the entrance to Modesto Alley from Modesto Ave. The road only extends to the Modesto Alley sewage-lift station.


Past the sewage-lift station is a pleasant walkway that the neighbors have planted as a garden.


I’ve never used this entrance to Sergeant Derby Park before—it used to be easy to cross the Natural Bridges School property (now rented out to Gateway School), but all the Santa Cruz City School properties have now been fenced in to keep the public out, making schools much more prison-like.


The skatebowl in Derby Park is not as modern a skatepark as the others in the city, but it was one of the first public skate parks in the country and is still popular.


Graffiti in the skate bowl is accepted as part of the skateboard culture, but I’m not sure what the building owners think of the graffiti facing the park.


On all our walks, we stop at little free libraries, which Santa Cruz has by the dozens. I was going to check, to see how many were mapped (only a small fraction, I suspect), but the website was not responding.


The obelisk at the “Court of Mysteries” has been nicely restored, but chopping the site up into two lots does somewhat damage the integrity of the art.


The gate and the main building have been restored also, but the big house added on the lot does intrude a bit—unfortunately, building the house was probably the only way to provide the funds for restoring the site and making sure that it was properly cared for.


The second obelisk is really quite close to the new house.


My wife likes this cactus garden, though she thinks that the few non-succulent plants around the edges should be removed and a full desert look maintained.


This fountain decorated with large abalone shells has clearly been here for a while—large abalone shells are now extremely difficult to obtain.

%d bloggers like this: