The Beach House<br />nWeekend of 14 Dec 2012<br />n<br />n<a href=”” title=”Beach House Weekend”><img src=”” width=”320″ height=”180″ alt=”Beach House Weekend”></a><br />n<br />nWe arrived into Aptos after dark, traffic over the hill was not entirely terrible, most likely due to the weather (it had been drizzling all day, cold) and the fact that we are so close to the holidays. We didn’t want to cook, weren’t planning on it, so we decided on pizza for Penny and dad, and perhaps spaghetti and meatballs for Harold and mom. Italian it was! We put our trust into the GPS, which led us to <a href=”” title=”istorante barolo “>Ristorante Barolo</a>, at the <a href=”” title=”bayview hotel”>Bayview Hotel</a> in downtown Aptos.<br />n<br />nWhat a lovely dinner it was. With kids behaving themselves in this upper scale restaurant, and a piano available for the practice, we had a very nice time despite no pizza (!) and no meatballs (!!) and no spaghetti (!!!). Penny did some practicing of her recent recital music to the acclaim of nearly all the fellow diners. If only she had a tip jar! And after we were through with the meal, we decided to wait to hear the band, which had been setting up nearly the entire time we were eating. The band turned out to be jut two women, one on guitar and the other strictly vocals, who playing various popular songs. The performance was entirely in the seating area of the old hotel (est 1870, according to the sign out front) in front of the fireplace. With lights turned down low, and the tall holiday tree lit brightly, it was a cheery time, enjoyable as we haven’t had for quite some time.<br />n<br />n<a href=”” title=”Playing on the Beach in Aptos”><img src=”” width=”320″ height=”240″ alt=”Playing on the Beach in Aptos”></a><br />n<br />nSaturday saw us out of the house fairly early. We went to Seacliff and played in the sand, making trails with the biggest sticks we could find, and exploring the visitor center for a good hour or 90 minutes. Toward the end of that time, I had to ask Rita, Do we have a teenager yet? Moods were bad until we had lunch. Amazing what chemical balance can do to a set of moods, the lot of us, in fact!<br />n<br />nThen, we made our way through town and the light rain to the <a href=”” title=”seymour center”>Seymour Marine Discovery Center</a>, a part of the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory in north Santa Cruz. We took the tour, which was mainly outside, which was rainy, cold. We saw the dolphins. We saw the two full-on whale skeletons. In the visitors center, there are lots of exhibits. Rob petted a shark and Penny pretended to. The place tries to encourage visitors (children, assuming, as well as everyone else) to become a researcher, a scientist. Awesome. The place is a low profile gem, and I’m surprised I had never heard of it before.<br />n<br />nAfter the science center, we went to the boardwalk area to enjoy snacks and happy hour at a deserted Mexican place (deserted mainly because of the weather, the location was prime). Chicken nachos, beers and wine. Then the boardwalk was visited with the games center. Outside near the railroad tracks, we saw Thomas the Tank Engine, and finally boarded our Santa Express. A half hour out, a half hour back, average about 7 mi/hr. Santa, carols, holiday trees, stoves and hot cider onboard.<br />n<br />nIt was a full day. It was great to be able to go back to the beach house and crash rather than driving back over windy highway 17. Next morning, we were out by 9:30AM, ready for a pal’s birthday party at 11AM.<br />n<br />nThank you, our wonderful neighbors next door!