On the 21st, the husband and I celebrated our five year anniversary. To mark the occasion, we decided to head south to Santa Cruz for a few days.
For those of you who have never been, Santa Cruz is a lovely place, like a piece of Hawaii dropped in Northern California. We rented a fabulous house half a block from the beach. While it was too chilly to swim, it was perfect for strolling, and sitting and watching the waves, both of which we did every day, at least twice. The beach was barely populated, which, to two people who live at a busy intersection of a crowded city, felt like a gift.
There's nothing Frances loves more than the beach.
Just being near the water makes you feel relaxed and hungry and tired, in a good way. Throughout our trip, which was all too short, there was a lot of wine drinking, mystery reading, and snoozing on the patio. We also ate some great food, including teriyaki ribs and mac salad at the Aloha Island Grille, which was close enough to walk to. And lunch at the harbor. Who doesn't enjoy looking at boats while eating a juicy cheeseburger and crispy fries?
We cooked in the evenings. At the end of our block was a little Mexican market, where one night I picked up a handful of ingredients for grilled chicken with orange, lime, and cilantro. I topped it with guacamole and served it with red-pepper rice, cooked in a pot. I was relieved it turned out as well as it did. A girl is spoiled after 17 years with a rice cooker.
The night after, the chicken made its way into fajitas.
The first night, though, was the best dinner of the trip. The husband had it in his mind that he wanted surf and turf, something splurgey for our anniversary. He grilled New York strip steaks and I sauteed some scallops wrapped in bacon. We made a colorful salad and drank plenty of wine to apologize to our arteries which were hardening by the minute.
We also watched The Lost Boys, which some of you may know is based on the city of Santa Cruz. Set in the mid-80's, it's about a band of mullet-sporting vampire thugs on motorcycles (led by a bleach-blond Kiefer Sutherland) that terrorize an amusement park in "Santa Carla." It's a gloriously bad movie, which we enjoyed every second of, while slurping Haagen Dazs ice cream bars.
What is it about being on vacation--particularly near the ocean--that makes everything you eat taste like the best thing in the world? I suppose it has to do with your state of mind: you're happy, and you're feeling indulgent.
I've heard people say they can't relax easily when they go away, that they can't forget about things at home. I, on the other hand, have always been good at going on vacation and checking out of my dull, day-to-day worries. It's like my regular life disappears behind me into the San Francisco fog.
For a few days, we imagined quite seriously that we lived in Santa Cruz. We got used to the floor being perpetually gritty from sandy feet and paws and woke up in the morning listening for the sound of the waves. On the way home, we discussed how easy or hard it might be to get a job there. I suppose living there would be different than being on vacation. But it's an idea we're not done with yet.
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