the santa cruz boardwalk is a spectacular place to eat bad funnel cake and people watch. Under the intense sun back-dropped by a swimming pool blue sky I discovered that back tattoos – lingering between the shoulder blades – are the new “in” tattoo for young women and people surreptitiously sip beer on the beach from banned glass bottles.

And there are the rides. I’ve never been to a boardwalk that had anything to offer beyond…well…boards. But there were a myriad of rides including my favorite – the upshot (that I affectionately named the most fun you can have with your legs in the air!) which sent me sailing into the air repeatedly with no warning.

And there was the mystery spot. I’m still trying to figure out if it is simply an optical illusion or if there is some strange thing going on. I stood on the edge of a table and leaned way over without bending any part of my body…and yet felt like something was pushing me up, I watched water roll uphill, and people seemed to lose inches – sometimes feet- in height. Well worth the $5 entrance fee (plus $5 parking).

That was only Saturday. Sunday I found myself winding lazily toward the one of the higher points on berkeley’s campus with a sprawling view of the bay replete with skylines, bridges, and water. Blue birds chased each other and the sun warmed my skin – a welcome feeling for the last few weeks in the bay.

From there we wound leisurely toward napa without a real plan in effect. We stopped just short of the bridge marking the way to sacramento and had a delightful time talking with friends and watching the river flow by. Another flawless day with the sun kissing my skin and good company.

The bay area is expensive and there are times when writing a check or pricing something hurts me in a special southern kind of way. But even as I write that I know that what I have access to – the world I enjoy here – makes it as worthwhile as any place I’ve lived.

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