The first day of the conference we were attending in Santa Clara was a tutorial, and very educational. The second day bridged today’s technology with advances. The third morning was about industries in which we didn’t have an interest, so we opted to take advantage of our location to visit the Pacific Ocean at Santa Cruz, and tour the Santa Cruz mountains with the possibility to visit some wineries. It was a little over an hour on a scenic drive to arrive at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
On a weekday in December, the rides were silent, and we were practically the ones ones in the park.
There’s irony that the famous boardwalk is now concrete rather wooden boards.
Despite the fact that we hadn’t yet walked on the sand, and the park was empty, Stephen wanted to be first in line for the foot wash station.
The Sky Ride runs along the beach side of the walk.
We wandered south on the beach, to the sound of the ocean washing up against the shore.
We decided to stroll to the north end of the beach and circle around through the park.
The Santa Cruz Casino in the early 20th century had a history of burning down, and now operates as the Casino Arcade.
At the north end of the boardwalk are real wooden boards by a cafe. Away from the theme park, the city streets are much closer to the beach. We started the return walk south.
In the distance, we could see the beach volleyball courts.
On a weekday morning, these volleyball players must either have been professionals, or serious athletes.
Beach Street was quiet. I could imagine the traffic jams on a summer weekend.
To rejoin the conference for the afternoon, we had to watch the clock. The direct route through the Santa Clara Mountains is CA 35 — Skyline Boulevard. This route doesn’t follow the usual definition of a boulevard, which has a centre median.
CA 35 has the feel of a mountain road for the use of local residents. The main route is relatively clear, with a few smaller roads merging and intersecting. Actual road signs are few and far between.
The road narrowed and widened at various points. Stephen played his usual role as chauffeur, while I puzzled as navigator.
Coming around a curve, we paused to wait for a truck turning around. We rolled the window down as he passed by, asking about the address numbering. The driver gave us some advice — which we later discovered would have misguided us. The numbering must be associated with various hamlets, so the sequences on Skyline Boulevard don’t run consecutively in one direction.
Why would anyone put farms up near the ridge of a mountain?
It seems that, in addition to the Santa Cruz mountains being known for wineries, it’s a Christmas tree trail.
Continuing north on CA 35, the view opened up. I’m not sure exactly where we were, but it’s probable that we had reached the Open Space Preserves, looking west.
We paused to take photos. Since I’m not a camper, I can’t imagine hiking through this region.
Seeing cyclists on this road was unexpected. With relatively low traffic, I would guess that these are riders who are used to being on their saddles for hours, and climbing steep inclines.
After wondering if we had gotten completely lost, we found the gates to the Thomas Fogarty Winery.
The pond and the well-kept grounds suggest that the site might be desirable for private events.
This property is but just one of the many vineyards for the winery. The Portal Springs Estate vineyard grows chardonnay on a steep incline, much like it might have on the original terroir in Burgundy.
The tasting room is part of an impressive pavilion complex. Inside, we were surprised to see some displays of medical instruments from Dr. Fogarty in his previous career.
Through an open door, we saw some sample fermentation tanks that must serve as significant visual aids in a tour.
We sampled a few wines. None of chose to spit. I held my consumption down to just a few mouthsful, and still got the Asian blush.
As we left the winery, the haze to the southeast seems heavier than we had seen looking west.
Looking to the northeast, the proximity to Silicon Valley was striking.
From the winery, there wasn’t a route directly east back to our conference. We continued north on Skyline Boulevard to Woodside, which took us much farther north in Silicon Valley than I would have expected. We drove through our hunger to make it back to our afternoon meetings, ordering lunch during the afternoon coffee break.
daviding December 26th, 2009
Posted In: travel