I’m afraid I can’t take any credit for creating this fun event. Kimlin leaves on Tuesday for the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and she set up a grand excursion circling Santa Cruz so her friends could join her on her last training hike and wish her well on her journey. But I was very glad to be a part of it, and to share it on my blog.
Kimlin’s Camino Conmigo was set up in three parts. Stage One: Kimlin’s house to the Westside Farmer’s Market, around 5 flat urban miles. Stage Two: The Farmer’s Market to Twin Gates at UC Santa Cruz, about 6 miles mostly through a state park. Stage Three: “It’s all downhill from there”, another 5 or so miles back to Kimlin’s house.
Now I must also confess up front that I seem to have had something of a bad camera day, remembering to take pictures only in small spurts. I suspect I was distracted by too much interesting conversation with the other participants. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
We gathered at 8am and were greeted with a fabulous buffet breakfast, with muffins and juice and a home-made Swedish omelet, complete with eggs and lemons from Kimlin’s garden. Yummy. A few group photos –none with my camera, see note above– and we were off. Our path took us along Branciforte Creek and the San Lorenzo River (yes, the same one we walked across last week, but much tamer as it runs through downtown Santa Cruz, and with bridges). We left the river to climb the staircase up to Beach Flats.
This brought us in just a few minutes to Santa Cruz’s famous Beach Boardwalk. You can just see the roller coaster in the distance.
The next 3 or 4 miles were along the coast. First, along the beach, where a volleyball tournament was taking place.
And then along Westcliff Drive, where we could watch the surfers at play. You can also often spot otters, seals, and whales from this path.
The sky was spectacular, as it tends to be in Santa Cruz. Here are more surfers, waiting for the perfect break.
While the scenery was spectacular, we were nonetheless happy to turn inland, as the wind had picked up and it had grown chilly. Even though we were walking through a residential and light commercial area, it was still quite scenic.
The white tents of the farmer’s market soon appeared, and our group of walkers spread out to find perfect spring vegetables and other treats. Most left the outing at this point, having afternoon commitments or a good sense of when to call it quits. Carpools took them back to Kimlin’s house to pick up their own cars. And a few hardy souls soldiered on to the next segment of our adventure.
The first part of which brought us to some stables just outside of the city, where we were met by Leslie and Maggie, with their trusty steeds Poco and Treasure. Here you can see some of the variety of transportation our co-adventurers brought: horses, a stroller; you can just see a shadow in the distance, which represents John, Kimlin’s husband, on his bicycle. He gallantly carried various supplies and snacks in his panniers, which came in very handy. John will be joining Kimlin midway through the Camino in Spain, roughly in the vicinity of Leon.
We turned further inland, climbing from sea level to the hills through Wilder Ranch. It is beautiful country, with rolling hills covered in grass and, as you climb, fabulous views back out over the ocean. The wind made the grass ripple so we felt that we too were in a sort of green inland sea. And the wildflowers were still in bloom, making pools of lavender and yellow in the green.
We turned onto a trail through redwood forest.
And eventually came out up by the university. The horses and riders turned around at the gate, but the walkers and biker continued on for a few short blocks to reach Carl and Martina’s house, where Kimlin had dropped off lunch supplies. It was a fine meal, on a cool and pleasant patio, and we had to pry ourselves up out of our seats to finish the last leg of our journey. (One walker had to leave at this point, but we added two bicyclists to our crew.)
There’s not really a lot more to add at this point. We continued on through Santa Cruz’s downtown and back to our starting point. It was a long day, but a lot of fun, and a sort of a grand tour of the amazing landscape we find ourselves lucky enough to live in. And it was a great chance to meet new people, find common interests, and start new friendships. And to say to Kimlin: Bon Voyage! Buen Camino! Ultreya!