Where else can you go and get a t-shirt and a slice of pizza for only $7??? Why Pizza My Heart of course! The t-shirt designs change frequently, the pizza, not – always consistently great. Ah, Santa Cruz, California – so unique and special to my heart!
Speaking of eating and drinking (duh, don’t those always go together?). Try out “burger.” While I have included a link to their website the burger menu on site is far broader – listed on a chalkboard as you first walk in. I had the Godfather – a sumptuous bacon cheeseburger with two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns! The shit! (or should I say, the shits? No one should eat this much cheese in any one sitting but cheese is my favorite food group!)
I was first introduced to this idyllic place when doing college visits with the ninja daughter (for an explanation of this moniker see this previous post). Being accepted to a UC (University of California) school is a real accomplishment and an honor. But UC Santa Cruz is in a league of its own.
First of all, their mascot is the Banana Slug – yes it is a real slug and can be seen in the surrounding redwood forests. A fucking slug – and they are proud of it!
The natural beauty surrounding the campus is unparalleled. Atop a hill overlooking the Monterey Bay, you encounter the peaceful Great Meadow as you approach the campus and all of the dorms and buildings set in the redwood forest! As the ex-ball-and-chain said upon dropping ninja off for her freshman year, “What am I paying for? Is this a campus or a resort?”. (he has always had a really subtle way with words…)
Most often there are cattle grazing in the meadow as you drive up to campus. On our first trip, I said to the ninja – look there are your cows! She rolled her eyes – can you imagine? I said it again on the next trip to campus and it really pissed her off. So, of course, I did it everytime we passed the cattle! For four years!
And speaking of the redwood forest, the campus is truly situated among it! Most students, the ninja included, take full advantage of exploring the woods just outside their dorm rooms. There are many famous (or infamous?) secret places to explore. One of which is the Buddha Hut. Check out this link to “10 Hidden Spots at UCSC” – maybe not so hidden?
As you may, or may not have, figured out at this point, the student body is primarily pro everything 420 and weed related (I am not condemning or condoning – hey, it’s legal in California – however, when it comes to your own kid you strongly condemn – not that it makes any difference at all…). So it should come as no surprise that the university is home to the official Grateful Dead archives and that there is a sociology class that’s curriculum is based on their lyrics taught by a professor from South Africa (I know – WTF?).
So why was I surprised when the ninja came home from freshman year in Birkenstocks and tie-dye? The year before she had been the sophisticated runner-up for the prestigious Rose Court for the Pasadena Rose Parade. Kids!
I must digress for a moment to talk about the beaches. There are plenty of amazing spots of sand far from the boardwalk area that is typically crowded with tourists. On the drive back from one such excursion I saw the most amazing display of marine mammals ever. We stopped (along with the entire population of Santa Cruz) to watch several grey whales breaching and feeding in a bay just 100 yards or so from the beach! We were mesmerized! I think we stood there for an hour. (sorry, Sea World!)
No, I won’t tell you how to get to Santa Cruz. I want to keep it all to myself, damn you! But if you happen to go you might encounter the towns of Gilroy – garlic capital of the world, Salinas – home of John Steinbeck, or Castroville – artichoke world capital!
So, in closing I will posit this question – in helping your college-bound student make a choice would you prefer they select an excellent university while spending free time skipping stoned in the forest? Or one where their free time is spent puking on their shoes at a frat party?