After a sunset beach frolic, Kalen and I headed north. I had been told by multiple people how much I would love Santa Cruz, and based off of their descriptions, I was expecting a small beach town nestled along the coast, with some low-key surf shops and cafes and bungalows and people riding around on bikes and playing the guitar. There was some of that, to be sure. But the rest of it turned out to be a surprise. 

Kalen and I checked into our motel, and as we struck out to find a place to eat, I peered across a giant parking lot, trying to decipher the dark shapes looming against the only slightly brighter night sky. At first I thought they were part of some sort of industrial park, but as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized that they were, in fact, the twisty-turny slopes and pillars of amusement park rides. 

Just so that there are no misunderstandings: there is an amusement park in Santa Cruz.

My mind was blown. It seems like a silly thing to get so worked up about, but my vision of the tiny seaside hamlet of Santa Cruz was so thoroughly blown out of the water that I had a hard time adjusting to reality. How does one plan to go somewhere and not realize they have an amusement park? More importantly, how had the handfuls of people who told me how awesome Santa Cruz was failed to mention that there was an amusement park? It was a little Twilight Zoney. 

I woke up the next morning eager to ride a roller coaster by the ocean, but it turned out the park didn't open until after we were planning on hitting the road to begin our drive back down the coast to Los Angeles. Instead, we wandered around watching staffers get the rides ready for the day.

Next time, Santa Cruz. Next time, I shall be prepared for you.