Monday, August 5, 2013

Santa Cruz - Another "Kamping" Trip

Yosemite was fun and beautiful, but there was not alot for my youngest son to do. This year, we decided to take a 4-day weekend (Friday through Monday)  KOA "kamping" trip to Santa Cruz. During this trip we planned to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as well as one of the state beaches.

I chose the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA as it was the one closest to the Boardwalk and to the beaches. I have to say that out of all of the KOAs that I've been to, this one was the most crowded both in terms of how many people were there, and how many spaces/cabins were squeezed together. That's neither good nor bad; just an observation. Of course, we were there on a the middle of summer...right before school starts. So, yeah, it was crowded. However, alot of people left on Sunday morning so the campground was a little quiet on Sunday and Monday morning. The camp store had just about everything you could need or want in case you forgot something, or in our case because our car wasn't big enough to bring. Since we couldn't pack our coffee maker, we were soooooo glad this KOA store served fresh hot coffee for a fair price.

On Saturday, we went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I purchased tickets at Costco (follow link for other discounts and offers) and then had to exchange those tickets for the all-day ride wristbands and arcade tokens. While we were at the ticket booth, the clerk behind the counter noticed my younger son and mentioned that we might want an Exit Pass. I did not know that the Boardwalk had those. I did not see any mention of those on the web site, but they are mentioned in the Accessibility Guide that you can download. Basically, this pass allows you and your family (4 people maximum) to go to the EXIT of a ride and get on the ride that way. Not all rides can accommodate this and the pass clearly lists which rides do and which rides don't. (See pictures.) Also, since there was no way that my youngest son would wear the all-day ride wristband, a clerk stapled it to the pass. Really, everyone was very nice and accommodating, but I do want to say that my son has an obvious disability. Other people's experience might be different.

Everyone in my family loves the beach; it's one of the few places we can go where everyone has a good time. The Santa Cruz area has many beaches and it was difficult to make a choice. We opted for the Manresa State Beach because it was literally a 4 minute drive from the KOA. We were not disappointed. This beach was littered with shells, sand dollars, and little crab carcasses, along with lots of seaweed and surfers. The sea gulls were annoying, but really this is their turf and it was fun watching toddlers chase them.

For this beach, you park in the parking lot and then you have to walk down the cliff to the beach. Parking for all state beaches is $10. What we loved about this beach was that there were concrete stairs as well as an accessible ramp down to the beach. Score! This made walking with my youngest son so much easier. He is very apprehensive about walking up and down stairs; consequently, he is very slow. With the ramp, I could walk with him and haul my beach stuff without feeling like I needed my inhaler. Very awesome. The fog decided to lift about the time we decided to leave. All in all, it was still a lovely day at the beach only this time, we had a 4 minute drive back to "kamp" instead of a 2 hour drive home.

Tiny crab carcass
Sand dollars and shells
Manresa State Beach - view from ramp


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