You breathe the crystal clear air, as you walk down the boardwalk towards the amusement park. Dark has surrounded the area and has left very little signs of life as you walk through the sand to the oceans edge. The bark of sea lions heard out by the wharf, other than that just the sound of the waves as they crash against the beach. It’s a somewhat eerie feeling as you finally come up to the boardwalk amusement park.
Normally, the amusement park is filled with laughter and large amounts of people walking through and enjoying the entertainment. This was of course, before COVID struck. Now, the amusement park stands still with very little activity at all. Security and small amounts of people walking past to catch a glimpse.
I stop to take photos of the situation. As I line up my camera, security guards walk by. They give a nod when they see I’m taking pictures. Being that I’m being a good citizen and staying behind the barriers, they pay me no attention. As I walk through, I’m reminded of movies like Us and the Lost Boys. I get a little anxiety, when I hear a devilish laugh coming from the amusement park as I take pictures. Was it in my head or did I actually hear the laugh? Note to self, probably stop watching horror movies about a place before going to said place. Either way, I make my way back close to the wharf, where I see activity and hope that my mind stops playing tricks on me.
The wharf starts early in the morning. Right around 6am, you start seeing the fisherman get ready for their day. As you walk down the road to the end, there is still a sense of calm as you walk past people. People with their coffees in hand, chatting a bit, but also still waking from the night before. Some look like they just rolled out of bed and put a hoodie on so they wouldn’t lose fishing time.
The restaurants are now open after being closed for the pandemic. You see outdoor seating across the whole right side of the wharf. Perfect to fit those COVID requirements for outdoor dining. I’m sure as the day moves on, these seats will be packed with people. Awaiting their first meals since the shut down of restaurants. A nice wharf meal of fresh oysters or crab legs is nothing to take for granted.
Walking further I get a glimpse of seagulls sitting by themselves getting ready for the day. They sit still like gargoyles on their perch. All perfectly positioned next to each other as a form of unity. Creating a perfect picture for a morning walk down the wharf. They stand still for the perfect photo with the sun coming up and the boardwalk in the background. They will be ready soon. The fisherman have started and I know they will be ready to pounce at any chance for an early meal.
The sea lions are just waking as well, swimming up and barking out non stop to each other. I can only imagine the conversations being had in the morning. Talking of plans for the day, whether it relaxing in the sun or finding food. It’s always interesting to see these creatures near a wharf. How they get themselves so high on top of the docks, is quite impressive when you look at the sheer size of them. They cut through the water and jump ever so gently onto the perfect perching locations.
I finish my Sunday morning trip and start heading back to the hotel after it starts to lighten up a bit. Volleyball players coming out in droves to get the early courts before anyone else does on the beach. Impressive enough, there were several that I saw the previous day that came out early morning again. That must be quite an obsession with volleyball to get to the courts at 7am! As I make my way to the car, I continue to see all forms of life starting their day off.
This city by the ocean had plenty for tourists to see and do at all times before being hit by the pandemic. Now that it’s taken its toll, there is still something intriguing about visiting Santa Cruz. The city will come alive again and so will the tourism, but something about an early morning trip to the beach can set your mind right. In the darkness, you might find a slight chill, but push past that and you will see the daily light at its core. A city making its way back from a very tough pandemic, a day at a time.