Final Day: Big Basin & Santa Cruz, Day 5

We debated about stopping at one final winery in the morning before leaving for Big Basin, but since the drive was so long (2-1/2 hours), we opted not to. Instead, we had a final omelet breakfast, spent an hour packing our “souvenirs” (yes, an hour, which you will see why at the end!), and then were on our way.

Why Big Basin? I did quite a bit of research on the redwood forests nearby; and while I really did want to go further inland to see the true giants, we didn’t have the time. Big Basin was my compromise to seeing more of the trees without taking too much time out of the trip.

The drive to Big Basin was a heart pounding affair along raised highways and heavy traffic back around San Francisco, followed up by the windiest, hilliest, most nauseating mountain road I have ever been on.

Was it worth it?

Well, the trees were bigger than Muir Woods. They were a touch less picturesque (though that could also be from the time of day), but they were obviously older and in more of a traditional wooded park.

They were also much wider than Muir. I have always wanted to hug one of these trees.

We did the Redwood Loop Walk, an educational short walk by the main park entrance.

With no further plans for our final day, we decided to head into Santa Cruz so I could see and walk in the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, like our journey to Muir Woods, the way out was less nauseating than the way in.

We stopped at Parish Publick House for lunch (thanks to another successful Yelp search), where I had the best Shepherds Pie I have ever had outside of Ireland (and maybe including). Brian had the Irish Dip, a special sandwich like a French dip with an Irish cheese and Jameson dipping sauce.

They had an extensive beer list, and Brian was excited to try Deschutes Hop Henge and Black Butte, both of which he enjoyed. For myself, I enjoyed the casual atmosphere, pool playing in the back, and the simple wildflowers placed in Lagunitas mason jar glasses on the tables. The rustic flooring was charming.

Santa Cruz was beautiful on the nearly cloudless day. We walked down the pier though and the wind made it pretty chilly. The pier is long, and midway through, there is a staircase down a level, and there are sea lions, basking in the sunlight! I had to take a video as another sea lion swam up and greeted the others.


At the very end of the pier, I looked out at the ocean and then straight down, and I saw this:

More sea lions, lying across a single plank of wood all along the end.

We walked back and walked along the sand up to the amusement park along the boardwalk.

(Proof I was really there)

We didn’t ride any rides, though it was a crowded and happy amusement park; I did get some ice cream though.

The sun was starting to go down, so we drove up to the lighthouse for a final sightsee before making our way to the airport and home.

I was pleasantly surprised to capture some surfers, hopping over the fencing for us tourists, ignoring or maybe just taking to heart the warnings about being cautious, as this place has seen many surfer’s deaths.

Then it was time to turn our backs to Santa Cruz and toward the airport.We did one final stop when we got gas. We didn’t get out of the car, but I had fun seeing the google maps “placemarker” and their street sign.

We were taking the red eye out of San Francisco, so we had plenty of time to eat dinner and have another Buena Vista Irish Coffee before our flight.

We arrived home early Tuesday morning, and I worked from home that day, unfortunately. Meanwhile, Brian unpacked our souvenirs.

All of that made it home successfully on the airplane, no breakage. 6 mason jars, 6 wine glasses, and if I’m counting correctly that is 7 bottles of beer and 9 bottles of wine (one of which had been opened and re-corked without spilling).

Brian was the master of that packing, and the key was packing a suitcase within a suitcase on the way there, surrounded by bubble wrap. Glasses were carried on, alcohol was checked in. The handheld weight meter that Brian’s parents loaned us was a help too. We hit the exact limit on both checked bags.

Mastermind, I tell you.

And there you have it, the end of our 5 day long trip that felt more like 7 or 8 and somehow left us feeling rejuvenated despite the exhausting walking and travel. Thanks, California, it was fun!


P.S. If you were wondering in all this how many times we called to check on Jameson, the answer is really just once. And we were told he was singing “ee ii ee ii oh”, seeing family at a bridal shower, and keeping his grandparents busy. If it wouldn’t get me in trouble, I would say that I didn’t miss him much at all, simply because I was confident that he was having a blast without us.

Though I also know that the last Monday and Tuesday at daycare, he asked for mommy and daddy a lot throughout that day. So maybe he missed us too.

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