The Cactus Patch
July 2017

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On 31st May we joined my sisters Lora and Anne on a recon trip to Santa Cruz to prepare for a reunion which will celebrate our late mother Alice’s 100th anniversary. Our first stop was at Santa Nella for Anderson’s pea soup. Then it was over the coast range to Gilroy and Watsonville and finally the Best Western Motel in downtown Santa Cruz. I was pleased to see their garden was planted with succulents and other water conserving plants.

That evening we had dinner a block south at the Golden Palace which has an eclectic choice of Chinese cuisine.  We even managed to order some large and succulent scallops.  They have agreed to supply takeaway food for our reunion. This is in memory of the annual gathering of the nuts at my grandfather’s house in Stockton back when Chinese was about the only takeaway available.

On the 1st of June we went back to Watsonville and checked out Sunset State Beach where we have reserved a large group camp site.  The wild flowers were in full bloom on the dunes – more California poppies with more variation in size and color than California Hot Springs!

On the road in there were two large stumps (presumably redwoods) with aloes on one and prickly pears on the other.  The vast fields of strawberries were being harvested, so we stopped at a stand and bought a large box.  The taste was fantastic!

Next we had lunch at Sanderling’s near Aptos which has a beautiful view of the ocean.  We could see the cliffs of New Brighton Beach State Park where we used to vacation from Stockton so we could visit our grandmother Hargreaves who lived in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately the park is too small for large groups to camp.  The food was a bit expensive, but the large scallops were great.  Unfortunately, the hot wings were just so-so.  We arranged for the farewell lunch of the reunion to be held there.

From there we drove up north to see Roaring Camp where they run old logging trains though the redwoods and down to the boardwalk.  Unfortunately it was anything but roaring as the season had not started.  We still managed to find what we can do during our reunion.

That evening we ate at a hole-in-the-wall Cajon place called Roux Dat.  The food was good and cheap, but it would never do for a large group. On our way back to the hotel we stopped to see a “weeping” agave.  The tall flower stalk had branches hanging down which not only had flowers, but had plantlets on them!

Next day we went to the Buttery to order an Alice cake for the reunion.  We then stopped at a Sewing Center which had quilts etc. and then across from it Dig Gardens which had not only succulents but orchids, insectivorous plants and even a three sided palm from Madagascar.  They had a picture book on Bancroft Gardens, but I didn’t buy it. The echium (Borage family) across the street was glorious.

We had lunch at the Boardwalk which included a long, curly potato, fried artichoke (greasy) and a giant doughnut which Lora bought since it was national Doughnut day.  I was disappointed to find the old Funhouse was no longer operating, but they did have a historic section with some of the old distorting mirrors.  The reunion will include a day at the boardwalk.

After that we went to the harbor so Anne could photograph a light house.  The S.C. Natural History Museum was on the way back, so we stopped to see the model whale and the exhibit on banana slugs. (Yes, they are big and yellow, and live in the redwoods.)

That evening we had dinner at the Crow’s Nest, a very expensive restaurant overlooking the harbor. The scallops were good and the artichokes not greasy.  We each had an orchid flower on our plate.  We decided not to include the restaurant in the Reunion.  The shop next to the parking lot had lots of souvenirs.

That evening the news included an obit on Jack O’Neil of Santa Cruz who invented the wet suit.  We also learned it was the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

On the 3rd we drove down to the Succulent Garden in Castroville which has succulent wall mosaics, a mail box and an old trunk full of succulents.  My favorite was a blooming Echinopsis X glorius.

We then went to the Giant Artichoke (and bought baby chokes), only to find that the Castroville Artichoke Festival is now In Monterey!  So we went there and dined on artichoke in sausages, fried chokes, artichoke ice cream, an artichoke burrito etc.  Lora entered the artichoke eating contest and won third place! It was a long trip home from there but we arrived not too totally exhausted.

We shall see what we are like after the reunion!

On the 13th we heard Steven Frieze talk on Chile.  An excellent talk except that we didn’t need to see every Copiopoa in the whole country!

The only other major event was a dinner at Hungry Hunter on the 14th to say good bye to Jean Caughill who is retiring as pianist for the Goldenaires.  We will miss her.

Bringing Strawberries to our Hotel

Polly at Sunset Beach

Weeping Agave

Dig Gardens

The Boardwalk

Anne at Castroville succulents

Hungry Hunter

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