Spooky time in Santa Cruz

Still having no idea where we would end up that night, we left Skyline Campground in the morning and headed towards Santa Cruz. We took the 680, which either of us had never been on before. We went through several bizarre parts of CA that we haven’t realized even existed…like Lake Herman. The whole area was dotted with smoking factories and huge ships on the lake which must have been floating refineries of some sort. It was an industrial wasteland, but fascinating to see as we drove through. We went around the bustling bay area and made some calls from the hwy. After some places being full (we hadn’t considered that it was a Friday as we had yet to come across a full campground) and being shocked at the high prices in the area we were looking, we settled on Cotillion Gardens RV Park and Cabins. I am so glad that we did! They had a two day minimum for this weekend since it is their special Halloween Weekend, but we were happy to stay for two days anyways. We found out that there would be a number of kids events, people decorating their rvs, costumes and trick-or-treating, Cool! It was the first family-focused campground we had stayed at. It was a long morning of driving for us but Zoe was a champ. I was thrilled to entered the magical area of the Santa Cruz mountains…it always feels so good to be here. The camp is just outside of Felton and lies directly alongside the Henry Cowell State Park, so…more redwoods! We checked in and drove to our spot. It was a back-in. Uh oh! Not having much practice at all with the tight back-in spots it was a daunting task. I stepped aside and let some helpful camp-neighbors assist with the process. Everyone assured us that they had been there and you have to learn somehow. It felt like a bit of a show that we were putting on, but William did great and we got situated. We couldn’t fit the truck in our space though so it went into overflow parking just up the road. The campground was full of energetic families who seem to come every year and have their own fun traditions and lots of great decorations. I felt so unprepared, but enjoyed the atmosphere created by everyone else. Orange lights, cobwebs, tombstones, music, campfires and lots of squealing kids. Good stuff.

We stayed on the grounds the rest of the day. We explored some of the trails that led into the state park, found banana slugs, saw horses, played in the kids area and enjoyed homemade burritos. Tomorrow would be for checking out Santa Cruz and then coming back to the park for trick-or-treating! Oh what a day we had! I am writing this tonight (Sat, Oct 24th) and I have rarely felt so wiped out! We left early in the morning and made the 20 minutes drive into town. We hit up a breakfast place across from the boardwalk for yummy breakfast. I knew that I wanted to visit one of my favorite dog beaches. It is along Cliff Drive at the base of a bunch of stairs…right near the lighthouse. There was some sort of event going on as they were serving coffee and there were probably 50 dogs there! It was a blast! We love watching dogs do their thing…probably one of the most entertaining sights ever. We saw everything from St Bernards, pugs, wolfhounds, poodles and a sweet pup in a doggy wheelchair, all playing together in the sand and the waves. There were some other small kids as well and Zo got to borrow a bucket and shovel and climb some neat rocks, as well as pretend to be a dog for most of the time…haha! I could have hung out all day, but there was much more to do! Shep was so satisfied after his playtime that I didn’t feel toooo bad leaving him in the car for an hour while we perused the boardwalk. We didn’t intend to ride or buy anything, but I had never been inside before and there were lots of entertaining sights, sounds and smells. It was the day of the chili cook-off and my eyes were tingling from all the spices in the air. It would be fun to come back again when Zo can go on some of the kiddie rides…she still needs several inches!

I have never seen Santa Cruz so crowded before! Granted it was a Saturday, but the beach-side city just felt so big and fast to me this time around. We actually got turned around in the car and drove in a weird circle and gassed up before reaching downtown…parking on a side street for free. We first stopped by the park and community center. They were having a free mask-decorating event. After playing outside for a bit (all she wants to do these days is “swiiiing!!!”) we went in and decorated ours with some markers, glue and glitter. Spoooky! I also pocketed some pipe cleaners hoping they would entertain her later. Smart move, self! It was hot and we (parents, Zo always has her water or elderberry drink with her) were thirsty. We remembered this place, 99 bottles, which has….99 varieties of beer! It was a bit of a hike over there through town with kid and dog and backpack in tow. Whew. We settled on the patio and enjoyed our drinks and a fruit cup to share. We then wandered downtown. As always, the buskers and street performers were the best part. We watched an accordion player covered head to toe in a purple, leopard print body suit, matching platform shoes and a purple mustache and creepy star-eyes. He was great. He got a woman to get up with him and sing “It Had To Be You”. Zoe couldn’t look away. Her favorite though was a nice gentleman playing classical violin pieces in front of a bookstore. She watched him for about 30 minutes, running up to him, presenting leaves, spinning in circles and running away giggling. He could not be distracted though. We walked back to the park to handle a poopy situation (ahem) and swing some more. It was 2ish by now and we needed real food again. No other choice but Saturn Cafe. We were hoping our friend Sara would be working but she wasn’t there. We got a vegan milkshake to share and vegan burgers. Soooo good. I was eager to get back to camp so I could throw together a costume for Zo. Trick-or-treating starts at 4:30. We found the car at last and drove back into the forest. I just love the location of this camp and would be happy to come again and stay even longer. There is so much to see in the area and we didn’t even come close to checking out all our favorite things. Important to pace yourself though, especially in our situation! We have to remember that we live like this now….we aren’t exactly on vacation.

So, back to camp we went. Actually, first we grabbed some jelly bellies and M&Ms from New Leaf to give out to the trick-or-treaters. William had to find a new place to park as the camp was even fuller now with guests. I threw together a pretty rocking gypsy costume for ZoZo out of tidbits from her dress-up basket and a bunch of scarves. I am really proud of how it turned out. Obviously she would be adorable in absolutely anything (I actually considered the Paper-bag Princess) but now I can just improve on this costume for the real holiday next week. It was absolutely free and used all pre-owned items though so it can’t really be beat. I would like to get her a mini tambourine and maybe put a beauty spot on her cheek. Eeeee the cuteness. Of course her daddy accompanied her as her minstrel. We walked hand-in-hand through the park and she got her first trick-or-treat experience. She caught on really fast. She said her own toddler version of “twickateet” and always said “thank you!!!” as well. She had no idea that what she was receiving was candy (has never had it), but loved putting the colorful, crinkly packages in her little gypsy basket. A few of the displays were too spooky for her to want to approach, but she truly loved walking around with the big kids and the ritual of being given these goodies. Everyone was completely charmed by her. We sat outside the trailer to check out her treasures. Somebody had handed out Halloween pretzels, so she got to eat those, and the rest we added to our candy bowl which was now empty. Win-win! She got the experience but none of the sugar 🙂 For Halloweens in the future I have a plan: She can keep a few of her favorite pieces and then put her bucket of candy out for the Goblins before she goes to sleep on Halloween night. Then, in the morning (All Hollow’s Day) it will have been traded for a gift of some kind….something thematic like a book about fall, a stuffed animal, pumpkin, etc. We’ll see, but I think it’s a fun idea. I love Halloween so much. Looking forward to carving pumpkins with family in Morro Bay next week!

The sticky, sandy, exhausted gypsy got a calming lavender bath and some cuddle time. She fell asleep faster today than any day on the road yet. She is definitely getting comfortable in her new bed. Heck, I almost fell asleep in there. So cozy. William and I are watching the old Batman flick and transferring pics to the computer…gotta use that wifi while we have it. We are thinking of going as far as Gilroy tomorrow, but have no concrete plans. Monterey would be nice, but probably too pricey. Either way, check-out is at noon and I would like to enjoy our time here in the morning, For some reasons, mornings have been our most hectic time. Perhaps an early walk among the trees, slug-spotting, will be a good way to greet a new day. Long post for a long day!

Be well everyone,


Oh about the title, Zoe learned the word “spooky” yesterday and since we have seen so many Halloween-themed things during our stay here, it has been in high use! Seriously, this town is full of zombies and skeletons and pirates this weekend. Love it. So now, when she sees those fake cobwebs she exclaims, “spooky!”


One thought on “Spooky time in Santa Cruz

  1. All so wonderful. We have a mini Tamborine, Zoe’s!!
    Do you remember the picture of Kasia when she was about Zoe’s age on Halloween? A little gypsy! I will find it!!
    We have three pumpkins to carve and a cool sage green one.
    I’ll be a zebra again this year. Dad may be “Jake” the life is good guy, right?!
    Love the posts, the writing and the photos, thank you!!!!!!!!
    Love and light, mama (Nicole’s mama)!💜


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