Monday, March 11, 2013

Refreshed and Gladdened

First of all, I am feeling much better. A few weeks ago I had my hemoglobin re-measured, and it was up to 11 which is much improved. No doubt it is higher now, but I won't have another test until April or so. My symptoms have mostly gone away, and now I just need to get some strength and stamina back.

The weather here seems to have turned a corner, and it looks like spring IS on the way in. I can go out and walk just fine now, and I have returned to my usual activities like taiko drumming and Tai Chi. Soon I'll be back to gardening at Red Butte too, and life will be back to normal.

I also started to do some cooking again. I'm getting more motivated to be interested in food, and I am thinking that when I am in my summer home and have plenty of time, I will make efforts to cook much more often. This weekend I made the "Beef Ragu" that Luisa Weiss has in her memoir "My Berlin Kitchen" and chicken thighs braised in pomegranate molasses written by the gluten-free girl, Shauna James Ahern. I need to keep eating meat and want to find tasty recipes that don't involve having a grill.

The big news is that I also went on vacation. An official vacation, just like last year. Modeled after last year, as a matter of fact. Going to Laguna Beach last February was one of the best things I ever did for myself, so I decided to repeat it...except not at Laguna Beach because I wanted to try some place new. So with the help of my good friend, Sheri, originally from Orange County, I picked Santa Cruz, California which is still on the coast but a farther north.

I stayed in a hotel in the same group as last year. This time it was the "Dream Inn." This hotel was better than the one last year in that all the rooms faced the ocean, and each had a balcony that overlooked the beach directly. The most of the businesses of the town of Santa Cruz are not right on the beach road the way they were in Laguna Beach. That was OK with me. I made forays into town for some specific purposes (to visit two different yarn shops, for example), but I spent most of the time in or close to the hotel, just soaking in the sea air and sounds.

I walked on the town pier which you can see in the photos above where I found that sea lions also like to relax in Santa Cruz. A whole lot of them were just lying on docks or floating in large groups resting. A sign said they were mostly males who were resting up during their migration time.

It wasn't the high tourist season. I walked down to the board walk, but it wasn't open during the day. It was open at night over the weekend, but carnival rides are not my kind of thing, so I didn't go back. But the lights were pretty for the distance.

Santa Cruz is the home of surfing on the continental US. There is a surf museum there with an iconic statue.

There is a beautiful walking / biking path alongside the ocean that goes quite a long distance. This was an obviously popular place for the locals (and of course visitors like me) especially ones with dogs. You could walk, sit awhile, walk, sit, get down to the beach, walk, sit, you know, just have a good time  being beside the ocean.

By the way, do you notice how there are green things and flowers all over the ground?

Plenty of people were surfing. I have no idea how many would be out there when the weather is warmer than in February, but the popular spots seemed pretty packed to me. People were also just swimming wearing regular swim suits, rowing and sailing, but surfing is obviously IT in Santa Cruz. I watched a young boy emerge from the ocean with his surf board, put it onto a carrier on the side of his small sized bicycle and ride away once he was done for the day. I saw several groups that looked like parents and kids surfing together.

This time, because I didn't feel all that comfortable going out walking alone after dark, I ate all but one supper in the hotel (Friday night I ate at a restaurant right at the top of the pier that had a prime rib special on Friday night. I ate meat every night.) It was quite nice because the restaurant staff got to recognize me after the second meal or so. I felt like I was home in a way.

I loved the hotel. The rooms were decorated in a modern, bright, cheery, coastal kind of way.

The bed was really comfortable. I spent a fair amount of time just in my room with the sliding door open listening to the surf while I knit or read or dozed a bit. I had no schedule because I was on vacation.

I watched some TV, but this time HGTV was not on the menu, so I didn't find that much I enjoyed. Still I did watch Rachel Maddow instead of just listening to her on the podcast, so I got to see some of her props and charts and things.

I watched the Oscars partially in my room and partially in the hotel restaurant. That was part of the tradition. But this year I didn't have as much opportunity to talk with people during the program.

The whole point, though, was just to get away from my regular life and spend some time hanging out in  a beautiful place. I succeeded with that and then some. It was just what I needed, especially how bad I had been feeling the first part of the year. I will do this again next year for sure! I'll probably go to someplace else new, but I will go away at the end of February, when the winter is old, to someplace else that will refresh and gladden my spirit. Something to look forward to.

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