The next day, the morning of the 22nd, after a delicious "Continental Breakfast" of cheap donuts and watery coffee, we continued. Traveling through relatively flat countryside in central California, I realized I could never mistake it for Oregon. Everything is different. The trees are shorter and look quite different, the other plant life is far more colorful at this time of year, even the grass is a different shade of green. And there is, of course, the presence of palm trees, and farther south, entire woodlands of eucalyptus.
We also briefly visited the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, where we saw all manner of birds. My mom quite enjoyed it. Jonah was convinced he saw a four-eared rabbit. If anyone else had said it, I may have believed them, but Jonah...
We finally reached our destination, my friend Arjun's house, at about 3 PM on the 22nd. Several hours of driving on poorly maintained bay area freeways had left us all rather worn out. Jonah and I gladly kicked back for a little while on Arjun's Wii, we had quite a bit of fun doing that. Mom frankly pointed out we looked ridiculous waving our arms around, which was probably true, but eventually even she tried it out--something I'd never thought I'd see--my own antigamer mother in front of a console.
That was yesterday. Today we went to Santa Cruz, with Arjun and his family.. As far as I'm concerned, it's not all it's cracked up to be, due to the fact that the entire town seems to be designed for the sole purpose of attracting tourists. The beach is wasted by a massive amusement park a hundred feet wide and a half mile long. I escaped from the rest of the group as quickly as possible, and managed to find the part of the town where real people lived, not just colorful facades. I took some great pictures.
The others finally tired of the amusement park, and we left to find a less crowded beach. We ended up in Half Moon Bay, a nice coastal town about twenty miles south of San Francisco. Along the way, driving forty miles up Highway 1, we were treated to a beautiful view.
The ocean was on the left, about a half mile off, with fields and old wooden buildings in between. I'm not sure what could grow in fields so close to the ocean, but there they were. On the right, massive hills were present, covered in scrub and punctuated by the occasional grazing cow. Eucalyptus forests dwarfed the surrounding trees, reminiscing to a Southeast Asian jungle, and ancient barns stood in the middle of fields of yellow flowers. It wasn't all pretty, however. The winding highway was the site of a horrible car crash.
Half Moon Beach was very windy. None of us had come very prepared for wind, so we hunkered down in the coarse sand and tried to protect ourselves from the cold. Jonah and Arjun dug a shallow pit with a wall against the wind, which proved to be quite windless and warm inside. Eventually, the wind became too much, and we left for home after a long day. We'll be in San Jose all week, so I'm going to write at least one more post from here. I'm currently using Arjun's computer, and am therefore unable to add photos, but will do so as soon as possible. I only took 286 of 'em.