Between the Mountains and the Bay


I am writing on Sunday morning now, in Aptos, California, one street up from the ocean.  The morning is cool and misty, trying to lull me back to sleep, but I will not succumb. 🙂  Daniel went to bed just after 11 last night but was awake to eat from 2:30-3:15am and then again at 6:00am.  I kept him up until 7:10am and am now officially awake for the day since if I go back to sleep now it will make for a rushed Sunday morning trying to get off to church, but if I stay awake I can have a leisurely breakfast, complete with hot tea.  Wish I were still sleeping, but hopefully there is a nap in my future…

On Friday we left Northern California for the Central California coast, via Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, elevation 7,056 ft, located just above Donner Lake.  I took some pictures along the way – none of which captured the majesty of the views – which I will include (the ones that weren’t blurry!) but here is one I found on the internet to get you started:

Donner Lake

A roundabout – in America!! So funny that it had a sign to tell you how the two different lanes work – as if you’d have time to read that while driving if you didn’t already know how to drive in a roundabout 🙂

We took a while to pack up from Joel’s house after my run (and the divine coffee and donut experience I related) and were on the road around 12:30.  Here are the kids eating cereal on the couch with their cousins, and also Daniel looking cute before I started packing up our stuff:














Once we were into the Sierra Nevadas we were in Tahoe National Forest.

Having gone over Donner Pass, we continued down the mountain and made a pit stop around 2:30pm.  We went to Jack in the Box, about which I was very excited, but as we pulled in to the parking lot I made the quick decision for the drive-thru over eating inside because the building just looked depressing.  We took the food with us over to refuel and then in to a Starbucks where I got an iced coffee to justify 8 people sitting in at their tables for half an hour and 5 little kids queuing up for the potty. (Jack in the Box has yummy freshly-brewed iced tea with flavored syrups, so I had just picked one of those up and did not need the coffee, but I took one for the team :))  I also had the deli trio sandwich and seasoned curly fries – not as good as Arby’s, but better than the alternatives we saw in town.  I drove after lunch while John tried to nap in the back, making it to the other side of Sacramento into Vacaville.  Once we switched, though, John had the misfortune to drive in crazy traffic most of the rest of the way, which added an hour and a half to the trip (I was happily resting during this time :))  Turns out there was a broken down RV taking up a whole lane a few miles up the road.  Before the traffic, though, it was an enjoyable drive since those highways are very familiar to John.

Once we were off the highway and on to California 17 near Santa Cruz, the drive through the Santa Cruz mountains began.  Here’s a picture from the internet:

the “Garden of Eden” in the Santa Cruz Mountains

These mountains are part of the Pacific Coast Range.  We arrived around 7:30pm hungry for dinner – for which we swung through McDonalds and brought to our friend’s house – and then we had Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.  We are staying with  family we know from when we lived in Monterey (a short drive down the coast from here) who went to our church.  After staying up a bit to chat, (we stayed here a year ago as well on our trip from Hawaii to England, so we had less catching up to do) we were in bed at a decent hour and asleep instantly.  It seems like every night recently I am dozing off while feeding Daniel before bed each night, because be 11pm I am a zombie.  I woke up with him at 4:30 in the morning to feed him, and then we both went back to sleep until 7:30.

My friend Heather made all the children fried eggs and English muffins for breakfast (they have 4 children ages 14 down to 10) while I got ready to go for a run.  It ended up being my best run in a while – still an overall slow pace because of the stairs down to the beach and back up at the end, but my limbs didn’t feel heavy, and the scenery was heavenly.  This afternoon we are going for a walk down to the beach as a family, so I will be sure to get pictures to post tomorrow after I go on the same run.  My average was 11:14 min/mile, but the first and last mile I practically walked for the stair portion.  They were irregular stairs – some wooden and others dirt with railroad ties, so it would have been unsafe to really run them all out.  The second mile was 11 minute pace, which helped bring my average down from the 11:33 pace where I started out, and I felt like I was pretty consistent throughout.  Possibly by next run will be under 11 minute pace – but I will find out tomorrow!  I am sure the beach path, alongside gorgeous cliffs, helped to spur me on, as did the mild weather and patchy blue skies.  Either way, I was pretty happy to have such a nice run 🙂

Here are a few shots with the bird of the family – Peaches:

After the run and feeding the baby again, Heather and I walked to a nearby shopping center to enjoy conversation and a cup of iced coffee at the Aptos Roasting Company.  It was a funky little place that had live music even during the day!

Have I mentioned that in England they don’t serve hot apple cider? Cider there ALWAYS refers to what we call “hard cider” in the states. Hot sweet winter drinks are usually alcoholic – like mulled wine.

Cool mailboxes seen on the walk

Once back from our peaceful stroll, it was time to start primping for the wedding John and I were attending at a Winery in the mountains.  It was for a Navy friend of ours.  We brought Daniel so I could nurse, but the other children stayed back at the house since it was an adults-only event.  It was a gorgeous wedding, with every facet of it reflecting the couple.  The food was the best I’ve ever had at a wedding – all of it hot and tasting like it should, with individual cheesecakes for dessert.  They also sent us all home with mini bottles of wine, made and bottled by the bride’s father, who owns the winery.  It was a nice evening and started early enough that we were home by ten.  Time to get ready for church now, so I will leave you with some wedding shots…

Grapes on the vines

At Soquel Vineyards for the wedding (the bride’s parents own the vineyard.)

The tasting room


3 thoughts on “Between the Mountains and the Bay

  1. Yay you finally made it there! The internet views look beautiful 🙂 I love the family bird, reminds me of one that a lady had in Kailua and always showed to people. That’s too bad about the crazy traffic though but I’m glad you all made the trip safely. That Aptos Roasting Company looks like a cool little place to go to 🙂 You and John looked AWESOME in your wedding outfits!! You guys always doll yourselves up so uniquely and fashionably 🙂 Hope you enjoy the rest of your time there 🙂

    • Thanks Christine 😉 Someone at church yesterday in Monterey saw the coat from behind and thought to himself it was a coat John Armstrong would wear–he went over to tell another guy but the other guy spoke first and said-hey did you know the Armstrongs are here?

  2. BEAUTIFUL Pictures, I love John’s attire, and the dress with the hat look smashing! What a great time you must all be having. Well, have fun you guys.

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