Tattoo on the arm of our waitress at Santa Cruz?s vegetarian restaurant: ?The journey is the destination.?
Today we crossed a great divide. At some point just south of Santa Cruz, we reached the half-way point. Those of us from Northern California were entering new ground. Our Southern compatriots will now be able to lead the way.
We started the day greeting Coastwalk members Stan and Gloria Hoo, our cooks at Cascade Ranch, who will be with us for the day. Also joining us for a week were members Lewis and Penny Clement from Fair Oaks.
We?ve been getting good press coverage along the way but this day we were definitely not the main attraction. We left our hostel and, arriving at the boardwalk area, joined a throng of some fifteen thousand people; runners in the 31st ?Wharf to Wharf? 6-mile run. We timed our departure to witness the start of the race. Beach Street, from the wharf to the first turn at the southerly end of the boardwalk, was solid humanity. The sound of running shoes on the pavement sounded like locusts devouring a crop as the main bolus of runners passed us on their way to Capitola and the finish line.
In the northern California, we could list the various flowers we saw along the way. Here it was bands. Bluegrass, Brazilian drummers, punk, funk, rock and roll, jazz, Taiko, and marching, all added their rhythms to the race and our walk. It was a great opportunity to hand out our small leafletts to the spectators along the way.
The run, which occurs on the fourth Sunday of July each year, raises money for the Santa Cruz school-system athletic programs.
Leaving Capitola and the run, we progressed to New Brighton State Beach. We came down off the bluff at China Beach, named for the Chinese fishermen who lived here in the late 1800?s. They were driven out by the increasing recreation industry in the area and racism.
Near the wonderful visitor?s center at New Brighton State Beach, we met and had a combined lunch with Santa Cruz County's Coastwalk summer hike. They were headed north on the last day of their walk.
In the visitor?s center, there are pictures of the damage done by the 1983 and 2002 storms ? seawalls crumbling before the sea?s might. Then, at the base of the cliffs at the back of the beach we see huge, expensive houses protected by rock and concrete. It is only a matter of time before they fall to a very persistent foe. Longfellow had it right:
The ocean old, centuries old
Strong as youth and as uncontrollable,
Races restless to and fro,
Up and down the sands of gold.
At the visitor?s center is a pier, now in disrepair, which runs out to a concrete ship, now broken. She is the ?Palo Alto?, a concrete ship built as a tanker for World War I, but sailed only once before 1929, when she was towed to this location and scuttled to be used as an entertainment center complete with amusement arcades, swimming pool and dance floor. By 1932, her owners were bankrupt and she a broken hulk.
As we departed, Ranger Jim Barnes presented each of us with a Seacliff State Beach commemorative key chain.
The remaining four miles or so were all beach walking. Along the way, we came upon a Marine Mammal Rescue sign and two monitors guarding a sick sea lion. A truck was on the way so that the animal could be taken to a shelter for treatment. (Jon Breyfogle; photos: Linda Hanes)
Left: Wharf to Wharf race leaves Santa Cruz. Right: Marine mammal rescue.