Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the PCH 8/20-8/22

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 9:51 PM
Me and my significant other decided to drive up the coast on CA-1 this weekend. We left when he got to LAX at 10:00pm on Friday night.
We drove up to Carpinteria that night and stayed at a pretty mediocre Motel 6. It wasn't mediocre as far as hotels go, but rather as far as Motel 6's go. It was clean though, so I can't complain too much. I booked the hotel over a week prior and that Motel 6 was the only thing I could find with vacancies anywhere in the Santa Barbara area.

We left the next morning at 8am. We made a stop in San Simeon at Hearst Castle and took tour #2. It still amazes me that someone could have the money to build such a place.

Driving on, we made many stops at the turnouts through Big Sur to take pictures. Wish we would have had time to hike some of the trails in the state parks there, but we had a quite a drive ahead of us yet.

One last stop in Monterey. One of my friends from college is stationed there with the army right now learning Arabic at the language institute that the military has there. After dinner at a great little middle eastern place, we headed on to Santa Cruz.

Ok, so the beach boardwalk was my guilty pleasure for the trip. I couldn't drive all the way up PCH to San Fran without stopping in Santa Cruz. I had always wanted to ride the Giant Dipper. It was already 7:30 pm before we got to town, and we still had the drive to our hotel near Nob Hill in SF to complete. My plan was to hit Giant Dipper twice and Hurricane once and then leave.

The directions we got on our AAA Triptik were great for finding the boardwalk. I probably would've taken some wrong turns otherwise. They took us right to the lot across the street from the boardwalk. After paying the $10 for parking, we headed up to get our tickets. 6 for each ride on the coaster, so we needed 36 tickets. Grabbed the tickets and headed straight for the Giant Dipper.

I was excited to see the traditional curved loading platform. I was not excited to see the Morgan trains however. I was just hoping that they didn't have the same single thigh-crushing lap bar that Giant Dipper in Mission Beach has. I couldn't move an inch on that one. So we were let in to choose our seat, we took the 3rd row. And that's when I saw the lap bars. A few expletives came out, and I hopped in the train expecting yet another painful ride (btw watching the trains disappear into the tunnel is great).

Me and the bf hop in (I'm 6'4" and he's 6'5"). No luck getting the lap bar to lock. Tried crossing our legs. Nothing. So we ask if we can get in seperate rows on the next one. They said we could try. He sat in 1-2 and I stayed in 2-1. His still wouldn't lock, but I got mine to click. Whew, I would get my ride. Unfortunately the ride op looked at something on the side and said it wasn't locked all the way. He begins to once again cram the bar against my legs. No Go. So I leave the ride dejected. This was one of those coasters I always wanted to ride, and it doesn't look like I'm going ever going to. It wasn't a matter of losing weight either as my legs were simply too long to let the lap bar come down any further (it comes down mid-thigh).

I was ready to leave at this point because I was so pissed and it was getting late. I've never been not able to ride a coaster. Wildcat at CP requires me to ride alone because of the leg space, and Schwarzkopf loopers are a bit tricky too, but I've always managed to get in. Fortunately, my better half convinced me to stay and use our tickets on the other fun rides. He wanted to make sure this stop didn't ruin my trip.

So we headed over to Hurricane. I wasn't expecting much out of this ride, but figured the credit would be nice. It looked might it be a bit on the jerky side. We got on right away (no wait for this one), and pulled down our lap bars to notice how tight these were too. Plenty of leg room on this one, but the individual lap bars are super narrow, barely allowing your legs through. We got em down a few clicks though and I braced myself for the worst.

Surprisingly, it wasn't rough at all, actually quite smooth. It had some decent pops of air, great helices, and a fantastic dive mid-course. Oh, not to mention all the great head choppers. I laughed all the way through. Since we still had 12 tickets each, we decided to hop right back in line. Second ride was in the back, and even better than the first. I let the beau sit on the right this time, and you should have seen his face at the head chopper out of the dive :) Not a list topping coaster, but lots of fun.

We still had some tickets left so we took a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl. The bf had never been on one, and it took some convincing that it wouldn't make him sick. He had the same reaction I had to these rides. I simply giggle the whole time.

I managed to pass up a few games of Fascination for the sake of time. We left and headed to Nob Hill Hotel. We got in around 11:15 or so and had the pleasure of finding street parking (I wasn't paying the $23 for 12 hours of parking). Found something on the corner of Post and Jones and checked into the hotel. By the way, driving a stick in SF sucks, especially trying to back into parallel parking on a steep down slope.

We were going to head down to a little bar 2 blocks away on Polk Street, but we were both too drained to do anything. We woke up the next morning, ate the free breakfast at the hotel, and made our first venture into SF (both were SF virgins).

We walked back to the car to put our luggage away, and then the 6 more blocks to the Chinatown Gate. Looked around in a few stores and turned down a lot of Dim Sum offers (he doesn't like Chinese). Continued down Grant towards Pier 39 with a quick stopoff to look at St. Peter and Paul church halfway there. Beautiful inside.

We watched the sea lions for a while on the pier and then walked down Embarcadero for a while. We finally grabbed a street car to Union Square area, and then the subway down to Castro. After walking around the area for about 2 hours, we decided to sit down and eat at the Sausage Factory (fantastic Bruschetta). I bought a few books at A Different Light bookstore (Screening Party, Home at the End of the World, and Margaret Cho's "I'm the One that I Want") before heading back. I got a quick picture of the flag above Harvey Milk plaza with the street sign in the picture as well before getting back on the subway. Got to our car about 4pm and began the journey back home.

Two short detours (not my fault that the sig other can't read maps quickly) and we were on the 5 heading back to LA. Traffic was great til we hit town. 405 was backed up from Wilshire, so I jumped on the 10 to 110. Thank god I did, as we could see the traffic continuing in a dead stop as far as the eye could see. Got home about midnight. Very long weekend, but it was so worth it. The drive up the coast was breathtaking, Hearst Castle was astounding, SF was everything I hoped it would be, and SCBB was still fun even with the disappointment.

Only other coaster trip I have planned for the year is to SFMM for Odyssey Adventures outing. Well, and I'll probably make at least one more visit to Knott's and Disney before xmas, can't get enought of those two :) *** Edited 8/25/2004 1:59:44 AM UTC by Blaster_1578***

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