Capitola, CA, USA


Sharing a bit of my hometown summer joys. 
Originally posted July 2012.
When someone asks you where you are from, how do you answer? Do you reply with the city or town in which you were born? Or is it where you grew up? Or perhaps where your home is right this very moment?

When I am asked, I usually answer San Francisco, because that is where I was born and since my college days at UC Berkeley I lived most of my adult life either in The City or in a town on The Bay overlooking The City until I moved to the Deep South, about 21 years ago this week.

This is the spot I used to ride my bike to, park it, and then walk down 100+ steps with my best friend to the soft sand in my hot pink and orange bikini. It is a small beach town about 80 miles south of San Francisco and about 40 miles north of Carmel…in Rio del Mar, California.

Last month my husband, son, and I spent a week in the Bay Area along the Pacific Coast. It’s been several years since I have been back “home,” as my immediate family does not live there anymore (they moved from California a few years before I moved to Georgia). We had fun visiting my Italian cousins, beach bum cousins, and our close extended family, and I reminisced with several of my long time girlfriends.

This was the first time I was able to show my little boy where I grew up and show him some of my favorite spots along the coast and in and out of San Francisco.

Capitola-by-the-Sea was the first beach I remember playing on as a little girl. My Mother would gather my two little brothers and me in her red Ford Mustang convertible and tote us to the beach every chance she got during the summer. My brothers and I were the Coppertone mascots. My baby brother was still an infant, but my other brother and I would run from the beach to the corner store and buy Popsicles when we got hot - root beer for my Mom always, and the coldest, juiciest ones for us.

The Capitola Venetian, located on the beach in Capitola Village, is the oldest residential seaside resort in California, and a charming all-suite, boutique hotel. This resort began its construction in 1924 and was later listed as one of the first seaside tourism developments in California. It is now called "Capitola Venetian Hotel." The Venetian is built in the Mediterranean style reminiscent of an Italian village with mermaids on the arches, hand-carved doors thematic of Venice, and vibrant, colorful exterior facades.

I would collect river rocks from the creek that fed into the ocean, and then paint them with whimsical designs when I got home. On our next beach day I would walk door to door at the Venetian Court beach houses selling them as paper weights. I think this was about the time when my career in the arts began.😉

This visit brought back all those memories and the beach was as charming as ever. It still has the small town, old world innocence that I will forever remember as a part of my childhood.

The stucco walls of the Venetian Court have been painted brighter colors than their original pastel Mediterranean pink (this happened after the devastating earthquake in 1989) and it’s crowded with summer tourists now, rather than the year long residents that used to live there, but it still remains one of my favorite places and it will always continue to be an important part of my life.

When we headed north on Highway 1 to return to our Airbnb for the week, we stopped to watch this group of kite surfers dance on the ocean.

It was a gorgeous day and tugged at my heartstrings.  It's nice to remember my childhood town this way. 

I do not think that I took it for granted as a child.  I wonder if now as an adult and being away from it for ten years makes it seem better than it was...

No, I don't think so. It was a fabulous place to grow up!