Through the Forest & To the Beach… (Elks Lodge 522 – San Jose, CA)

We started out our Saturday here at the San Jose Elks Lodge by going into the lodge because we were told by the camphost (Glenn) that there was a Veterans Fair and luncheon from 11 AM to 3 PM.

I talked to a Veterans Supportive Services Agency (VSSA) representative and got an appointment for Monday to review my disability rating.  This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.  It was nice to get this unexpected opportunity.

Then we toured the lodge and checked out the pool…



Very nice pool… too bad it’s closed for the season.



A nice lunch spread was provided for the veterans.


After we enjoyed some lunch and checked out the Veterans Fair in the lodge, we jumped into the Silverado with our little dog ‘Coach’ to make the most out of the rest of the day.  My cousin Phil told us about a nice route to take towards Santa Cruz.

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We went south on scenic CA-9 through the hills (or should I call them mountains?) and turned west into Big Basin Redwoods State Park on CA-236 which was basically a loop that returned us to CA-9.  (see GPS pic below).



What a beautiful drive.  The road through most of the State Park was very winding and narrow, we often had to stop at wide spots to let oncoming traffic pass.


We stopped briefly at the Park Headquarters:






The park website tells us that Big Basin is California’s oldest State Park, established in 1902. Home to the largest continuous stand of Ancient Coast Redwoods south of San Francisco, the park consists of Old Growth and recovering Redwood Forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The climate ranges from foggy and damp near the ocean to sunny, warm ridge tops.

After our stop at the Park Headquarters and Visitor Center, we continued south on CA-9 until we reached the beach in Santa Cruz… just in time for the sunset.


Nice looking beach… we’ll have to come back here when we have more time.  People were firing up their campfires as dusk closed in on us.



This is the Santa Cruz pier in the background (below).


And this is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park (below).  Check out the link.  Looks like a lot of fun.  We drove by the other side of the park later but didn’t go in… parking looked dicey and we didn’t want to pay just for a quick look.


The sign (below) near the beach access says the area is closed.  Looks like the locals didn’t think so.  What a difference from our time at the “no fun” beach we visited near L.A. earlier this year.  I wrote about Manhattan Beach in this post.



After a quick drive by the Santa Cruz pier and amusement park, we headed back north to San Jose through heavy traffic on CA-17 where we stopped at a Korean restaurant for dinner.  Another great day 🙂

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Check back tomorrow for a full recap of our Alcatraz tour.  We locked in a 10 AM (Sunday) tour a few days ago.  Hopefully the weather stays nice.  The forecast calls for rain 🙁