Honeymoons

California Dreaming

Who needs an exotic honeymoon when West Coast adventure awaits?

If I'd been asked, six months ago, to describe the ideal honeymoon, I'd have said, "romantic dinners, dancing in the dark, walks on the beach." Well, that may be ideal for some people, but as it turned out, not for us.

As soon as we got engaged, Jon and I started pondering exciting honeymoon possibilities. Spain and Portugal? Peru? Chile, perhaps? Each day, we added another option, but nothing seemed quite right. "Northern California?" I offered finally.

Hmmm. A few years earlier, Jon and I had driven the Pacific Coast Highway—Route 1—to San Francisco and the wine country. We passed through Sonoma and took a whirlwind tour of Napa. On the way back, we stopped in Santa Cruz, a beach town on Monterey Bay. The 30 minutes we spent there can only be described as enchanted. We recalled that the air was clean and cool, and that we actually saw humpback whales splashing in the waves.

Now we had the perfect opportunity to really see Santa Cruz, and we liked the idea of experiencing more of the wine country too. We could also explore Point Reyes, an ecological haven two hours north of San Francisco.

After flying to San Francisco from New York, we rented a car and drove for a little more than an hour to Costanoa, a high-end coastal campground in Pescadero, 25 miles north of Santa Cruz. We'd heard it offered private bungalows and cozy cabins overlooking rolling hills and coastal bluffs, with secluded beaches and four state parks nearby. When we turned into the eucalyptus-lined drive, I imagined we'd soon be sipping wine and dreamily recounting the milestones of our relationship over dinner. I'd be wearing one of the several flirty dresses I'd packed, so as to give Jon a new, romantic image of me (quite different from the way he usually saw me, working at home in my pj's, with my hair all rumpled). We unlocked our cabin door. I scanned the room: cozy fireplace, private porch…no bathroom! My heart sank. It's not that we'd never done the shared-bathroom thing, but this was our honeymoon. I wanted to look good for all of this supposed romance, and proper primping required privacy.

I coped with the bathroom situation and decided to forgo the cute dress in favor of shorts. Jon went to the camp store, returning with cheese and a bottle of Beauregard Chardonnay, a local wine. With our goodies, we plopped down on the wooden swing out back, getting drowsier and drowsier—until crashing at 7:30 p.m. and sleeping for 11 hours. Not the romance I'd envisioned, but pretty blissful nonetheless.

In the morning, we drove four miles to Butano State Park, some 2,200 acres of forest with a majestic canopy of ancient redwoods and Douglas firs. We felt like carefree kids, hiding in hollowed-out tree trunks, snapping silly photos, and celebrating the unexpected sighting of a bright-yellow banana slug.

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