Santa Cruz! After a shaky start to the day (girls had been playing up all weekend and were driving us crazy, also S has had the blues), we decided to just get in the car and drive the 40 minutes to the coast. Basically, to just get blasted by the sea air, and let our feet be massaged by the sand (note to self: if I ever get blue or angry, or just need a mood-booster, I just have to drive down to Santa Cruz). It’s guaranteed to lift my spirits, and today was no different. We visited the tiny Natural History Museum (a steal at $2.50 each, kids free) and admired their displays, touched some starfish in the rock pool, although F was a bit concerned that they might bite. Then wandered up a couple of streets past the typical Santa Cruz houses, some quite spectacular, modern design and all, others in need of some TLC, most a tad shabby, but all lovable. Had some nice lunch and then walked along the beach to the lighthouse, past a guy who was strumming his guitar and singing, all by himself, and past a dog wearing a life vest, who’d obviously just been on a surfboard, and was rolling enthusiastically in the sand. E and F ran through the sand, got splashed by the surf, and generally just got rid of some pent-up energy by screaming with delight and being crazy.

We also heard (but didn’t see) seals, and watched a few pelicans swooping down from the sky to catch fish. Fantastic. Add in a bit of shopping in O’Neill and Billabong mecca, and mum was happy too. I also had the best coffee ever in a little cafe. We’re seriously considering chucking it all in in a couple of years time and moving down there, open a cafe/shop/whatever, and live the Santa Cruz lifestyle. It’s our almost perfect place, definitely. We’re both agreed on that. If only, if only, if only it wasn’t so damned far away from everything (insert a biiiiig sigh here). And of course, if it wasn’t for the earthquake situation. Of course Santa Cruz is prime earthquake country, the last big one in this area, the Loma Prieta in 1989, having had its epicentre just north of it. And according to research data, we “might be entering a period of more frequent seismic activity” (even the local paper in Germany where my parents live had an article about an article about increased risk of quakes in Northern California in it). Anyway, I have my earthquake kit (food, water, first aid kit, clothes, blankets, torch, batteries etc) ready and packed, some of it in the car (although that is obviously only of use if the garage hasn’t collapsed on top of it), and the rest by the front door, ready to be grabbed when rushing out of the house. Both girls have emergency zip bags at school, filled with non-perishable food and drinks, and emergency contact numbers on them. Yep, that’s what you need to do here. I have to say I feel slightly better now that I actually have got all that stuff ready, but I still have to forbid myself to think about the possibility of a quake, because it scares me to death. And people here have lived with this danger all their lives and are quite matter-of-fact about it all.
And now I feel all anxious again, damn! After such a nice day… I better go and get myself a nice glass of wine (we have quite a selection now!).

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