After church this afternoon in San Jose, my traveling party and I thought it would be fun to check out the beach in Santa Cruz and then, eventually, find dinner. And so we did, although the trip was a lot more circuitous than I would have guessed. Then again, quests and explorations are typically less straightforward than they could be, and they reveal a lot about oneself and about the places one is adventuring in. Adventuring parties frequently find themselves involved in quests of a larger significance than immediately appears to be the case, and find that their little adventurers often touch on the bigger affairs of the world around them. So it is when one travels in unfamiliar places, as was the case for us today.
For one, we thought that it would have been a great shame to have only been a few minutes away from the Pacific Ocean where we are currently staying without having taken the time to see the ocean. And so it was that we decided to go to the coast even though we were very overdressed for the beach in our church clothes. Not always do adventurers find themselves wearing the appropriate clothing and armor for their quests, and make themselves look far more distinctive than they intend to in the course of their travels. And so it was here, as we stood out, but not necessarily in a bad way. It did not hinder our quest in any way, thankfully.
What did hinder our quest was the matter of parking. This is not an unexpected problem. When we drove to the boardwalk we saw some spaces that looked like very good parking spaces but they had no meter near them and were near a bike lane that was clearly marked as a no parking zone, and it was too good to be true that such spaces would be for free, when, as we saw later, parking in the lot for the Santa Cruz boardwalk area would put one back $20 or so. Here was a case where a bit of suspicion and a keen knowledge of what was and what was not too good to be true was very helpful. At any rate, it was obvious that the coastal land of Santa Cruz was far too valuable to save much room for parking, an impression that was furthered in our exploration of the rest of the town in general. In fact, the beachfront area of the city was far too valuable to put restaurants on as well, something we found as we traveled through homes, some of them lovely and some of them rather small, that were shown as being for sale by realtors who advertised global luxury. It was also obvious that there was a magic line after which there were not only no restaurants but no buildings of any kind, for miles, which led us to turn around and return to the growth area of the city, which was very close to the city’s boundary and evidence that the high prices of property in Santa Cruz was due to restrictive zoning that prevented large swaths of highly desirable land just outside of the city that would reduce the demand for the overpriced land within the city’s boundaries.
Eventually, though we found parking and found a nice Italian place to eat, although admittedly the menu prices were more than a bit on the spendy side, so there was a bit of sticker shock involved. Sometimes that is the nature of things as well. At any rate, we managed to visit the coast, look out over a couple of beaches, and drive through the town, and eat dinner, even if I would have liked more food and lower cost. At least I had polenta for the first time that I can remember and found it tasty and enjoyable. Overall, the quest was successful, even though it took longer and cost more than expected. Sometimes the experience is worth it, and the food for thought makes it something well worth appreciating. Such is the nature of one’s quests after all.