San Francisco, Part 2.

Sunday

Sunday we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz to visit the beach.  First we needed to stop in Mountain View to exchange my sister's luggage which broke on the way out to California.  That was an adventure.  It took no less than one hour.  The store was supremely crowded, more crowded than I have ever seen.  Mom and I wanted to get the kids some toys to play with at the beach, but of course we picked up a basket with no UPC code.  The cashier asked US to go back and get one with the code.  Mom tried, but they were all out, and so she picked up another toy.  Guess what?  That one didn't have a code either, and that damned cashier had the nerve to actually ask us to go back for yet another one and told us she couldn't sell it to us without a barcode.  Scoff!  At that point I had another meltdown and nearly came up over the cashier's station at her.  'No,' I said.  'We want this toy, and you need to send someone else back there for a price check, because I'm quite certain this establishment would like to sell this to us.  We should not have to run back and forth when your store failed to maintain UPC codes on your items.  It is not OUR fault that these toys have no barcodes'  She still didn't seem to understand but finally pulled a customer service manager over, and I figuratively took her by the ear back to the toys section and SHOWED HER WHERE WE GOT THE DAMN THING, thereby allowing us to purchase it.  Whew.

By the way, it was the strangest thing — all the employees at this store were wearing rubber gloves.  ALL of them.  Even though we don't do that at the stores here and they didn't do that anywhere else I saw.  I'm not sure what kind of virus was going around and it's probably best not to know, based on my experience there.

Mountain View is also home to Google.  Naturally, we had to stop and take photos — Greg wanted to go, after all.  And he had just finished waiting on a bunch of women in the car with a napping toddler during this entire fiasco, so we felt we owed him something (a lot, actually).  Plus, I thought it was kind of cool because I'm almost as nerdly as he is.

This speaks for itself.  Greg wrasslin' a toddler while Anita and I look on.

Greg and I pose while Ethan has HIS own meltdown on the sidewalk. Yes, I'm wearing the same shirt as the day before because it was all I had that was appropriate for the weather and I had done laundry. So there. Google has a large campus, but I think this is the main building. 

They even have plugs for electric cars!

On to Santa Cruz.  The roads were curvy and winding, and 3 out of 6 of us got sick.  The only reason I didn't was because I was playing the role of navigator up front next to Greg.  Ethan, well, he doesn't get carsick.  Yet.  But Mom, Anita, and Laurel were all feeling the pain by the time we reached our destination.  And woe were we, as we somehow had the impression things wouldn't be very crowded.  There was NO PARKING available.  Lots were full, people were walking, traffic was at a standstill, half of us were queasy.

The Santa Cruz Experience. Look at all the cars!

Not to be derailed from our mission, we doped up on Dramamine and started up the Pacific Coast Highway back toward San Francisco in hopes of finding a beach.  Lo, we were not disappointed.  We found one.  Natural Bridges State Beach.  It was flat awesome.  The weather was perfect, though the water was cold.  But we expected that of the Pacific Ocean, and we were not deterred.

Look at all the pelicans atop the rocks! Laurel was undaunted by the chilly water.

One of my favorites, taken by Anita. Ethan was afraid of the ocean. He was also afraid of the sand covering his toes. Laurel participated in a tradition. Sand burial!

Ethan recovered from his fear of sand and had fun with his newly acquired (and hard-won) shovel.

It was so nice sitting there on the beach that the horrors of the day left my mind and I was able to just enjoy the serenity of the afternoon.  That was, of course, until Greg told me I really needed to walk out a little further in the surf, whereupon a wave took Laurel down (and almost took me down in the process).  That was, well, cold.

At any rate,
we left the beach much happier than we arrived.  Beaches must just do that to you.

Everyone piled back in and off we went again, this time taking the Pacific Coast Highway north.  We stopped at a roadside produce farm for strawberries.

This photo really makes me think of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." I can almost see Tom Joad and Rosasharn riding in the back of this truck. Ethan was fussy by this time, so this wheel at the produce farm was a much-appreciated diversion.

We wound our way back to San Francisco along the Pacific Ocean.  It was absolutely beautiful, and certainly an experience I will not soon forget.

Another Anita photo -- they are parasurfing! That's something I'd never seen before, but it's fascinating and beautiful. Notice the fog hanging out in the back, just waiting to come ruin the evening. This was across the Pacific Coast Highway from the produce stand.

Stay tuned for Part 3!