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LIghthouse between half moon bay and santa cruz
Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz CA
flying into san fran I wasnt sure what I was really going to do.  I knew I had 2 days before I had to "work (eat and drink wine in wine country with customers)   I have driven almost all of hwy 1 but one small part - san fran to almost Monterey.   This is only about 60ish miles - I wondered if it would be much different then other spots on Hwy 1.....there was a lot of similarities but WOW - so close to the city and soo spectacular.  
I left the airport and within 30 minutes the scenery went from people, cars, fast food, smog, exhaust TO cliffs, ocean, ocean breezes and small town restaurants and cutesy shops.  My first stop was #1 rated restaurant in Half Moon Bay - Pasta Moon.  THe name made me nervous but they have been in Business for many years.....I walked in and what a great space.  Fresh Flowers everywhere - Hard wood floors and the intoxicating smell of fresh baked bread in the air.  I ordered a glass of fallanghina (Italian white wine) and started to study the menu like a 10th grader before a test. 
I ordered a roasted brussel sprout, butternut squash, onions, goat cheese, roasted onions and pine nut salad....SOO delicious (it was earthy and the roasting of the veggies made it sweet)
Then a grilled flat iron salad with arugula, lemon oil and fresh tomatoes.
Great lunch.....started the drive down to Santa Cruz.....I stopped at a beach I had read about to get a full view north and south (of course Its named San Gregorio beach) and then also stopped at Pelican Point Lighthouse.  Succulents hung on to the rocks and cliffs like they were fighting for their life.  Truly an awesome sight - red and green succulents, the towering lighthouse and the angry ocean behind it all....
As I drove nearer to Santa Cruz the vibe changed.....there were kiteboarders in a cove wrestling the lines, VW busses everywhere with surf boards tied to the roof, people in wetsuits sipping suds.....very cool...
I went to a local B&B (West Cliff Inn) overlooking the boardwalk and ocean and got a room, then took a walk and  watched the sunset which may have been one of the best ive ever seen...top 5 for sure. 
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Santa Cruz sunrise
After a great night of sleep, I went to a local "mystery"  called appropriately "the mystery spot"  I dont understand if its a hoax or a hoax....but it was fun none the less and they had a 3 miles hiking trail in the coastal redwoods so I was happy.  I had called to go Ziplining but they had no Openings so I was pretty bummed. So i decided to check out some of the local Wineries.  First stop was Bonny Doon WInery - crazy owner Randall Graham has always been a favorite Rhone winemaker.  Ive always wanted to go there and it was well worth it.  I drank some awesome wine - an albarino, a viognier, a roussane/viognier blend and then bunches of red blends (mostly GSM's)  and then a crazy viognier port.  Meg was a great host.  I definately recommend going to this part of wine country.  Great food, cool wines and the ocean and Mts. 
I decided with no hotel room or dinner reservations to head north back to Half moon Bay.  I needed some more time there - or maybe some r&r.   And i found it where most do- The Ritz Carlton.  Now I know where the song "putting on the ritz" comes from.  Its luxury at the top end..its the place you walk in and they use your name.  Its the place as I am checking in they hand me a glass of the cult and crazy sought after Blackbird Red blend from napa valley (retails at $250 on a restaurant wine list)  Ok I will take it and then ask for another (why not right?)
I have a king suite overlooking the ocean. Seriously.  The hotel is gorgeous, over the top, and filled with employees, Gucci, Prada and Rolex. There was a wedding outside overlooking the ocean and people drinking champagne around fire pits in adirondak chairs. 
I went to dinner and had a half bottle of Italian Dry bubbly and a huge bowl full of seafood.....clams, octopus, squid, salmon, halibut, scallops, mussels.  SOO fresh and delicious like they had caught it fresh minutes ago (which they may have!)
Then sat by the fire and had a champagne nightcap. 
You can have any and all in that 60 miles stretch- luxury to  roughing it, camping to classy, taco stands to fine dining......surfing to yachting, $5 tshirts to $35000 hand carved tables.   Winery tours to ziplining,  Its all here packed in with an ocean view.....




Dont look back at this crumbling fool
 


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