Vacation: Beach, Big Trees, and the Bunny Man

Do you know what this guy’s doing? Then you probably know the state I’m in….

Saturday morning at the airport Martin and I stared nervously at one another.

“I forgot something, I know it,” I said, patting my back pockets. “Phone, wallet, camera…”
“I feel the same way,” Martin said. “Something’s missing. We’re traveling too light.”
After peering into our bags and fishing around for nothing in particular, we finally realized what was missing: three kids and all of their crap. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to travel light.
Five hours in the air and we touched down in San Francisco, our destination and jumping-off point for several days in the Sonoma Valley wine region.
But first off, we’d head south and spend two nights in a cabin near the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Okay, we weren’t staying in a “cabin.” More like a “tent cabin” — a piece of canvas, framed out with 2x4s, barely wide enough to house a full-sized bed. The tent came with electricity: two tiny reading lights clamped overhead, and an electric blanket.

The first night we huddled under the covers and listened to the revelry of a wedding reception while skunks scuttled beneath our tent. But by day two, the place had grown on us. We hiked the redwood forest and the second evening — buoyed by a cooler of booze —  we commandeered the camp jacuzzi and staked out chairs in front of the fire pit. The next morning we woke to birds twittering and the distant crash of breaking waves.

Our very first afternoon, in a quest for a new camera battery (which died immediately on arrival) we stumbled on Santa Cruz, a lively town teeming with hippies, hitchhikers, homeless and high-end stores. Parents pushing baby strollers, dreadlocked teens flopped down on the sidewalk reading, and retired beachcombers muttering about global warming. Martin and I pawed through trinkets at a flea market, thumbed through vinyl records(!) in a music store, and I drifted into a blissful, literary coma in the best bookstore ever.

On the sidewalks we wove between street performers beating bongo drums, wrestling balloons into elaborate hats and singing off-key a cappella. My favorite was a disheveled, leathery guy that resembled the Nick Nolte mug shot. He happily belted out Christmas carols while his large pet bunny (neither caged nor tethered) sat beside him. A few children gathered around him – likely drawn to the bunny, not to his rendition of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.”

(Sorry, no photos of the Bunny Man. You’ll just have to do with sunset shots as we ventured back to our tent in the woods.)