The Cactus Patch
August 2017

Cruz'n Again
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 29th of June we picked up John after work and headed up to Santa Cruz.  With dinner at Denny’s (free for John as it was his birthday) at Lost Hills and dessert at Denny’s at King City, we reached Sunset State Beach at 10:55.  We didn’t have a map of the campground and couldn’t phone as there was no service.  We finally went back to the entrance and found there was service.  Even then we had trouble following given directions and were about to go into town for a motel when our daughter-in-law, Emily, found us as she drove around. We settled in at 11:55!  Fortunately James and Emily had a pop-up camper with a bed waiting for us.  Poor John had to set up his tent before sleeping.

Next morning we all moved to the group camp and were joined by other relatives.  We were shown the tie-dyed shirts (prepared at camp the day before) that had Alice and the Caterpillar with the words “Who are you?” Appropriate for a gathering of relatives to honor my mother Alice’s 100th year. That evening we went to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz and had supper. I was interested to learn from John that the trestle at the East end of the boardwalk had been used in a zombie movie.  I now realize this was the source of nightmares I had as a kid which involved walking across a trestle that I could fall through!  Back at camp we huddled around a fire as it was cold!

Saturday 1st July was spent in camp.  At 2:00 we had birthday cakes with Disney Alice figures from the Buttery in Santa Cruz.  That evening John led us to some blooming Dudleya caespitosa plants on the cliff above the beach.  The beach itself had beach radishes and sand verbena in bloom, but most of the wildflowers were going to seed.  We watched the sunset over the ocean, but there was no green flash as the Hills of Santa Cruz lay directly across the bay from us.  Back at camp we had dinner at the campfire followed by singing (with nephew Leo on Guitar) and S’mores.

On Sunday there was a church service at the campfire with singing led by nephew Leo and a short sermon by nephew Daniel.  Lunch was take-away from the Golden Palace in Santa Cruz. This was followed by a painting session in which we were led in “creating” a specially prepared scene of Alice, the white rabbit and the grin of the Cheshire Cat.  I especially liked nephew-in-law Nick’s painting which had the mad hatter and March hare instead!  That afternoon we went with John to Watsonville to get quarters for showers. (The camp charged 25c per minute.) We then had ice cream next door at Yum Baluu Paleteria.

Next morning, at my instigation, we went with John to the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz.  It is interesting as it focuses on Mediterranean climate plants.  Proteas and their relatives from South Africa and Australia were the dominant plants. There were also sculptures inserted here and there.  The one I liked best was a giant metal sculpture of Eucalyptus leaves and fruits.

The succulent garden had OK Agave and Cacti, but the African Euphorbias were sad looking.

We then got gas and take-away in Santa Cruz and headed north to the Roaring Camp at Felton where we joined the others for a picnic lunch and a ride on an old logging train. Our grand daughter Alice (now 2) was ecstatic over this.

When we returned to Roaring Camp, I left everyone to follow a trail into the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park next door.  I asked about banana slugs, but was told it was the wrong time for them.  None-the-less I followed the trail in a loop and found one about ¾ of the way along.  Meanwhile, Anne had bought a model of one at the gift shop at Roaring Camp.  That evening we had a cake and told stories of Anne’s late husband Wayne and our late sister Karen, both of whom had been born on the third of July.

On the 4th of July those of us still around went to Aptos to march in the “World’s Shortest Parade”.  Most of the group had on the tie-died shirts, but I had red-white and blue suspenders and tie under a matching vest with a white shirt and pants.  I wore a mad-hatter hat to go with the group which marched behind a banner from Alice’s 95th birthday (updated to 100th).  Little Alice danced around us the whole way!  Back at the camp the kids used a curved plastic pipe and used water bottles to shoot paper rockets into the air.  That evening we went to the airport at Watsonville where food trucks were parked along the runway.  We had a picnic and then there was a terrific fireworks show.  I don’t know the regulations in Santa Cruz County, but there were other fireworks going up all around us.  The only damage I saw was a fire across the airport from us which engines rushed across the field to extinguish.

On the 5th we had breakfast at Sanderlings in Aptos (originally scheduled as lunch, but everyone wanted to hit the road). This officially ended a reunion organized by my sister Lora.  She is to be congratulated for her work. Those still left from Bakersfield met at Casa de Fruita for lunch.  The place has grown into an enormous complex with a train, zoo etc. They even have a selection of succulents for sale (displayed on an old truck).  Polly and I continued to Fresno and stayed with her sister Nancy.  After Santa Cruz, the heat was horrible.

We relaxed on Thursday and went to the Fresno succulent meeting.  We had heard Peter Walkowiak in Bakersfield, but felt we should be sociable. We reached Bakersfield in time for our exercise group on Friday and, of course, were at the BCSS meeting on the 11th. Andy Siekkinen gave a great talk, but there were too many Hechtias for me! The only exciting news now is that John is now in Australia diving in the Great Barrier Reef.  This will be followed by an international caving conference. Wow, am I jealous!


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