This past weekend Jeff and I went to Santa Cruz, where I was planning to attend a UC systemwide computing services conference from Sunday evening through Tuesday afternoon. I had never been to Santa Cruz, so we drove down together Saturday morning to do some sightseeing ahead of time.
We went to the boardwalk, rode a few rides, ate hot dogs, and walked on the beach. That evening we picked up some paninis, popcorn and sodas and went to the local drive-in, where The Simpsons Movie and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were playing as a double-feature. I think the last time I was at a drive-in before last Saturday was in 1978 or 1979, when I saw Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings in a triple feature with “Worst Movie Ever Made” candidates Plan 9 from Outer Space and the truly execrable Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, along with my high school (platonic) girlfriend and two high school teachers—a married couple—with whom we were close. These same teachers were responsible for introducing me to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass and the work of Peter Shickele and P.D.Q. Bach.
But I digress.
We had a great time at the drive-in, which seems a popular place to be in Santa Cruz on Saturday night. And the entrance fee was just $6 each for the double-feature; you can’t see even one movie most places these days for $6, and both of these were brand-new (in fact, The Simpsons Movie had opened just the previous night).
Sunday morning we went to the UCSC Arboretum, where we saw a hawk, several hummingbirds, and many bees… and a sign warning of mountain lion sightings. Fortunately, we saw only the sign. Afterwards, we had a veggie brunch with Julie and Ziggy, then walked around and visited some cool little shops, and had tea at a tea-house before Julie and Jeff (and their luggage) swapped cars: Jeff rode back to Daly City with Ziggy, and Julie came with me to the conference.
The conference itself was mixed. The UCSC campus is breathtakingly beautiful, bordering redwood forests on a hill high above the Monterey Bay. A doe and her two fawns grazed outside a dorm, less than five feet from us, as we carried our luggage from the car. Monday night a huge raccoon walked out of the undergrowth two feet away from me, looked up at me briefly, and continued on his way, unconcernedly. The windows of the “apartment” (read, dorm room) in which I was staying opened onto a grove of redwoods. The nights and mornings were cool and foggy, but the fog burned off by 11:00 most mornings, leaving clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Truly, I think I could fairly happily live in Santa Cruz.
Tuesday, however, stayed cool and foggy for longer, clearing up only as Julie and I left to drive up the Pacific Coast around 12:45. That day was also my 45th birthday (though Jeff and I had celebrated a kind of joint birthday/anniversary/solstice/housewarming party the previous month), and I arrived home in Daly City to a beautiful bamboo plant my mom had sent, a DVD of the fourth season of Family Guy from Sheldon and Gretchyn, and a card from Craig, Heidi and their two boys. Jeff’s mom insisted on taking us out to dinner to celebrate. All in all, it was a relatively low-key birthday, which suits me quite fine.
Oh, July 31 was also the birthday of Deval Patrick, the current governor of Massachusetts (he turned 51) and William Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts (62), J.K. Rowling (42), Wesley Snipes (45), Dean Cain (41), Ben Chaplin (38), and Primo Levi (born 1919, died 1987). The 31st is also the day in 1981 that Rowling purported for Harry Potter’s birth, so he would be 26 this year.