Santa Cruz Connected: The Best of #SantaCruzLife

santa cruz connected, nov. 2015

Collage includes photos from Instagram users @rubcabjr, @kcdrojas, @billhalleckart,  & @jasonpriz. Tag photos with #SantaCruzLife for a chance to be featured next month.

November signaled the beginning of the festive season in Santa Cruz and we had plenty to celebrate, some mystery mixed in, and by some act of sorcery, we actually got some rain.

In this edition of Santa Cruz Connected, we look back on November 2015 and some of the highlights of the month.

A massive shark was caught off the coast, a UFO was spotted in the sky, and a local martial artist turned pro.The Boardwalk got some love from Google, SF Gate continued its love affair with Santa Cruz tourist activities, and we look back at the first “acid test” of the Merry Pranksters.

All that, plus the best of the month from Santa Cruz Social media, friends to follow, and new businesses in town.

UFO Spotted In Santa Cruz, But Not Really

What was that mysterious thing we all saw streaking through the sky in early November? It turns out that it was nothing more than a missile test being conducted by the Navy. The object, which was fired from a submarine off the coast of Southern California, caused quite a stir as it could be seen as far away as Mexico. According to an article by KTVU, the classified tests use unarmed missiles and are carried out on a regular basis to make sure the system is working properly.

Massive Shark Caught Along County Coastline

A 12-foot-long, 300 pound thresher shark was caught off the coast of Davenport in November. Two fishermen from Milpitas, Gil Higbee and Dave Woodward, caught the shark–using a rod and reel no less–after a 3 hour struggle that saw the shark jump out of the water three times. Thresher sharks, depending on the species, can reach up to 20 feet in length and 1,000 pounds. You can read more about the story in this article from the San Jose Mercury News.

Painting of Boardwalk to Grace Google Car

Google’s prototype self-driving cars will be feature images of famous Bay Area sites on the side of the cars, including one with our very own Boardwalk. The self-driving cars will be tested around Mountain View and feature work from artists through the Bay Area. The painting chosen of the Boardwalk is called “Giant Dipper” by artist Kerrie Brandau, who you can learn more about by visiting her website or reading this article.

SF Gate Goes Bananas For Santa Cruz

SF Gate often has articles about Santa Cruz, but we got the deluxe treatment in November. One article detailed 10 reasons to visit Santa Cruz, highlighting everything from local shopping to sports and outdoor activities.

Another article reviewed four great places in Santa Cruz to buy vintage items and artisan crafts for the home. A third article offered a road trip itinerary for Santa Cruz, starting at Wilder Ranch and ending at the Cremer House.

Santa Cruz Wins Award For Bike Friendliness

Bike on West Cliff, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz won a Bicycle Friendly Community Gold Award in November from the League of American Bicyclists. The award recognizes communities which demonstrate a commitment to development and advocacy for bicycle friendly measures.

Santa Cruz was one of only four cities in California to receive the Gold Award, with the others being Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Luis Obispo. Davis, of course, has a platinum ranking–the only one in the state. The award stands for four years, at which point Santa Cruz hopes to achieve platinum level status. You can read more about the award and see how we scored by clicking here.  

Mayor Proposes More Services For Homeless

Citing a combination of lack of funding, upcoming storms, and a housing crisis, mayor Don Lane addressed the issue of homelessness in Santa Cruz on his Facebook account in October. He authored a lengthy letter, which continued to make headlines in November, detailing some of the measures being taken locally, including both the successes, shortcomings, and challenges of certain services and programs. 

Lane continued his efforts in November, proposing RV “safe zones” in which homeless that live in vehicles could park overnight without being ticketed.  According to an article by KSBW, a similar program has had success in Santa Barbara.

UC Santa Cruz “Census of the Invisible” Survey

In a collaborative effort to document the working poor of Santa Cruz County, UCSC partnered with California Rural Legal Assistance, a nonprofit political advocacy group, and the Day Worker Center of Santa Cruz County.

The study, which can be viewed as a PDF here, is called “Working for Dignity” and is based on interviews conducted with 1,380 of Santa Cruz County’s lowest wage earners. You can read more about the study and what into it in this article from KQED.

Merry Pranksters & the First Acid Test (In Soquel)

November marked the 50th anniversary of the first acid tests of the Merry Pranksters, which took place in 1965 at a home in Soquel. The group included Ken Kesey and a band called the Warlocks that would later go on to become the Grateful Dead. (UC Santa Cruz has an excellent Grateful Dead archive at McHenry Library, which can also be viewed online here.)

The Rolling Stone published an article about the 50th anniversary of the acid tests, including the first then-legal LSD party held in Santa Cruz. According to the Rolling Stone article, Santa Cruz has plans to commemorate the event with a small museum near the original acid test, which is appropriately an unused bus station.

Local historian Geoffrey Dunn published an excellent piece for the GoodTimes which has more in-depth information about the first acid test in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz MMA Fighter To Make Pro Debut

Dustin Moore, Santa Cruz MMA

Santa Cruz native and local mixed martial arts fighter Dustin Moore announced that he will make his professional debut in December with the Bellator MMA promotion. Moore compiled a 9-6 record as an amateur fighter, having made it to the Northern California championship in 2014 and the state championship in 2013.

As a flyweight (up to 125 pounds), Moore has been consistently ranked as one of the top ten amateur fighters in the state, at one point holding the number one spot as the top amateur in the state for his weight class. You can support Dustin through donations, or by purchasing tickets or apparel through his fighter page here.

Friends To Follow

Save Our Shores

save our shoresSave Our Shores is a local nonprofit marine conservation organization based out of Santa Cruz.

For more than 30 years, they’ve offered educational tools and preventive measures to help protect the Central Coast. You can also find them on social media on their Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter.

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museum Santa Cruz – The Museum of Natural History is one of the oldest museums in California, dating back to 1905. It’s also one of the best places to learn about nature and the local environment. They host regular workshops and events and offer free admission (by appointment) on the First Friday of each month. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

New In Town

Colligan Art Theater – Construction of a new theater at the Tannery Arts Center was completed in November. The Colligan Art Theater offers better views and a more spacious venue for the Tannery’s Jewel Theater Company to perform. You can read more about the new theater in this article from the Sentinel and you can take a virtual tour by clicking play on the video below.

Sala Thai – Sala Thai had its grand opening in November, replacing the Thai House at 353 Soquel Ave. They offer traditional Thai dishes and Pho soup. If you’d like a glimpse of some of their tasty dishes, you can find them on Facebook and  Instagram.

Best of the Month from Santa Cruz Social Media

Want to see your photos here next month? Just tag them with #SantaCruzLife. We’ll pick our favorites to feature in next month’s edition of Santa Cruz Connected.

The sun peaks through clouds over the harbor.

Great picture of a sea lion cluster.

Some mellow action by the wharf from Cowell’s.

A golden sunset indeed in this lovely pic.

View this post on Instagram

Great sunset last night.

A post shared by Jason Prziborowski (@jasonpriz) on

… and a surfer on his way to meet it.

We never tire of the rainbow shots–especially when there’s actual rain involved.

A lightning strike from as seen from Olitas.

A reflective mirror of fall colors by Depot Park.

It might have been a little under the radar, but we also had Hot Rods At The Beach last month.

An artful shot of an endless-looking pier at Seacliff State Beach.

About Joshua Vincent

Joshua Vincent is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for 12 years. Follow his tweets at @VincentChirps.