US5 – Down in town the circuit’s full of switchblade lovers so fast, so shiny, so sharp…

… As the wizards play/ down on Pinball Way/ on the boardwalk way past dark (Bruce Springsteen, 4thof July, Asbury Park (Sandy))

A couple of days ago I cycled my rented bike, following the coast east, from Santa Cruz back to the Aptos beach house where we’ll stay till next weekend.

Cycling is fine here. Most roads have a marked cycle lane. The enormous SUVs are gentler with us soft-shelled cyclists (and with each other) than many of the snippy little cars at home.

I called into the bike rental shop on Pacific Avenue for a free check-up, as they’d suggested when we rented the bikes. The geniality of a week ago was gone. You’ve been leaving this bike outside, haven’t you! We told you that you should never take it outside except when you are riding it! We told you that the salty moist air would destroy it! You have destroyed this bike – look at the rust on these components – they will all need to be replaced!

What I had heard – and perhaps I misunderstood – was that I should not leave it out on the street because Santa Cruz is full of bicycle thieves.

I suspect that they have few long-term renters, and the person who briefed us just assumed we were day renters like the rest.

Next I cycled past the boardwalk, a raucous amusement arcade. (We visited it last Sunday. People only got their phones out to take photos.) I thought that the train tracks you cross round here are all abandoned. But I was there at the right time for the tourist train from Roaring Camp, in the hills above the city, to chug in.

train boardwalk Santa Cruz 818 101.JPG

Just past the boardwalk I crossed the river on a trestle bridge like the disputed one in Capitola. I think that according to the plans, the new rail service and the new trail would both pass by here.

trestle bridge Santa Cruz 818.JPG

Soon after I met a man who asked me to photograph him among the objects he’d laid out in his drive. I thought it was an art work. He told me it was one day’s worth of rubbish he’d picked up from the main town beach. I have a meeting with them soon, he told me. Who do you mean by them? The people who run the boardwalk. I took the photo on his nice Fuji camera, he agreed that I could take another picture on mine.

man with a day's worth of rubbish from beach Santa Cruz 818 2.JPG

Further east I turned off East Cliff Drive down 16th Avenue to look for a road closure  that I’d read about in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. (The road where we’re staying in Aptos is a private road. That’s got me interested in them.)


I didn’t find the new “heavy duty vehicular gate” which the Sentinel said now blocks access from Geoffroy Drive to Sunny Cove beach at B. But it looks as if the wall at the bottom of the photo below is the means by which “homeowners in the area blocked off the pedestrian access at the Twin Lakes Beach side of the point almost 20 years ago”, heading for A. To get between the two beaches, you now have to walk via East Cliff and 14th Avenue.

This is about surfers, I think.

no beach access Santa Cruz 818 4.JPG

I had lunch in a dark Thai restaurant in Capitola, drinking Anchor Steam beer from San Francisco. After Capitola you have to leave the coast and the route is less fine. You climb up and cycle alongside California Highway 1. There are some tempting No Through Roads that you have to resist (when they say that here they mean it, even for bikes, I’ve discovered) before turning off on Mar Vista Drive and rolling down, through pleasant American houses and flags, to the beach.

There’s a Recreational Vehicle campsite here, with fifty emplacements looking out over the ocean at the bottom of the cliff. When we went caravanning as children, our father’s car pulled the caravan. In this picture the motor caravan, just arriving at the State Park entrance at the top of the cliff, is pulling the car.

caravan towing car Aptos 818.JPG

That afternoon I went for a swim.

public shark sign beach Aptos 818.JPG

The shark notices along the beach made me slightly uncomfortable. Later we were told that (a) the sharks around at the moment are juveniles; (b) juveniles only eat fish; (c) they are only to be found near the concrete boat; (d) they won’t come and get you if you stay in your depth; and (e) if you see a fin you should get out. When a seal popped its head up between me and the beach I shrieked.

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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

5 thoughts on “US5 – Down in town the circuit’s full of switchblade lovers so fast, so shiny, so sharp…”

  1. Very enjoyable read Paul. Keep them up. Lydia and Imare at other end of country at the moment, upstate New York at family home. It is funny when your Home country has become a place strange to you.


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