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My earliest memories of a terrific family vacation is Santa Cruz.  Our family of six would pile into our ’46 Chevy and motor our way to a cheap hotel with at least two and sometimes three per bed.  Good memories of the boardwalk, beach, pier, sunburns and seafood blend together.

Those recollections of yesteryear made it an easy choice when my bride and I had a day with no plans and we loaded up our rental car in San Jose.  Wow, let’s go to Santa Cruz for lunch and drive up Highway 1 to San Francisco.  Sure!

We wound our way into traffic on Highway 17.  Carefully, we navigated the narrow two-lane road along with thousands of other travelers.  While the beauty surrounding me was flying past, I fixated on a safe drive around blind turns, tight turns, big rig trucks and of course the not-to-in-frequent speedy sports car.

The weather was perfect on this November day.  Strong sun rays blasted through the tall stand of firs and redwoods.  Blue skies with cotton ball cumulus clouds decorated the skies above the busy roads.

Soon we rolled into the parking lot of the Crow’s Nest.  There we would dine in the upstairs cafe, advertised as a great view with great food.  This was an ad that was not overselling the product.

Our table was next to the picture window, a perfect description for our seascape view.  The river from the harbor meandered below us.  Its waters were disturbed by a playful otter, hungry pelicans, squawking seagulls and several sail boats navigating upstream.

In the distance the beaches of the Boardwalk stretched out while the endless surf licked at the sandy strip of land.  The famous Santa Cruz pier that supported many of  my childhood walks reached out into the salty waters as it has for decades.

The sun was low in the afternoon sky.  It showered all of us coast lovers with warmth, light and healthy doses vitamin D.  Visiting this favored destination of mine was topped by the serving of a delicious lunch.

The CN clam chowder is made from scratch at this eatery.  It was creamy, smooth and evenly flavored.  I recommend it.

Alongside were three planks of Alaska cod.  They were dressed in beer batter with excellent tartar sauce.  It was fabulous.  So many of  the reasons that I treasure this vacation spot flood my mine and now just a few I share with you.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography