Magic Days in Santa Cruz

Magic Days in Santa Cruz

Written by Emilie

Topics: Traveling

I was all ready to sit down at a cafe and write about confidence, or following your dreams, or something. But then I met someone and everything changed.

Imagine jangling crystal jewelery, curly silver hair, a maternal energy. She turned to me in line and asked how my day was going. I mentioned that this was my first day in Santa Cruz, and that I was loving it so far. She asked if I was a student, I told her I am a writer. Then she invited me to a 60 person Thanksgiving dinner at her house tonight: friends, family (she has 5 kids around my age) and live music.

The cafe turned out not to have wifi or peppermint tea, so I had to find an alternate workplace. But there was a reason I was in there that day…

And this is what I’m finding to be the most wonderful part of traveling: if you move from place to place with the intention of simply connecting with people, you’ll begin to notice energy pulling you along, showing you signs of where to go and what to do. You’ll meet people you never would have met, you’ll hear about their lives, and you’ll learn to be present.

Don’t worry too much about hitting the sights. Go where the people are. When coincidence and synchronicity happens, notice it, use your intuition and trust yourself. If an opportunity feels right, embrace it. If it doesn’t feel right, go do your own thing.

Some lessons to carry through life.

What serendipitous travel experiences have you had?


  1. Holli says:

    Love this! Splendid and delightful story – but I want to know about that Thanksgiving meal:)

    The only story I have is about taking a Road Trip from Seattle to West Virginia. At 17, I rode along in a packed wagon with my Mom, brother, sister and Grandma. It was epic in many ways, but the best part was meeting Ray in Virginia City, Montana on our way home. A historic tourist destination, I met him at a gift shop – he was the cashier. He invited me to play golf the next day using his little brother’s clubs (his family is TALL, so I was about the right height for those). I was missing golf like a duck misses swimming. I had spent the last year in HS playing 3 hours a day.

    Somehow I convinced my family to stay an extra day so I could play golf with Ray. We got paired up with a couple of grown up guys to make an interesting group of golfers, where I learned more about Montana than just walking around a small ghost town where tales of the Gold Rush are but a distant memory.

    We’ve been friends ever since.

    • Emilie says:

      Haha.. the Thanksgiving meal was wonderful too! I headed up to Boulder Creek on this rickety little bus, not really sure where I was even going. But as soon as I walked in, I was greeted with such warmth!

      And yes, I met more interesting people, had more great conversations. I also ate some delicious turkey and… omg Holli, I had this dish made up of processed brussel sprouts with like caramelized shallots, garlic, apple cider vinegar and butter. It blew my mind. I’m totally going to try to recreate it.

      Wow, I LOVE your story about golf with Ray! That’s amazing. And the fact that you maintained that friendship to this day is truly precious. Way before the days of Facebook too.

      Thanks for sharing, Holli!

      • Holli says:

        Cool, lemme know if you make that recipe up! Sounds yummy.

        I know, right? Life before Facebook – actually calling on the phone and emailing works:)

  2. Hey Emily, I’ve been a reader for several months but don’t think I’ve ever said hi. Santa Cruz was my home for 4 glorious years (minus one study abroad year), and it is one of my favorite places on earth so I think this post provides a perfect time to say hi! I’m so glad you had a great time.. it really is a magical city full of magical people.

    I really dig your writing, honesty, and willingness to go where nobody has gone before. Although I’m getting stronger and better at it, I know its not always easy to follow your intuition and put yourself out there. So i wanted to say thanks for all that you do and for sharing what you learn cause it sure inspires me and many others.

    I just got back from a year in Berlin (think you know Mars Dorian who just took over the entrepreneur’s group that i started there?) and am visiting a bunch of friends in the bay area. I’m heading to Santa Cruz today and will be there for a week to interview possible interns for my “muse” of gangster-rap letterpress greeting cards. I would love to meet up and swap stories or show you a couple of my favorite SC spots. Let me know if you’re still around!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for the kind words, it’s nice to meet you! I’m glad you spoke up… I always wonder about those lurkers– who they are, what their interests are, you know. :)

      Yeah, Santa Cruz is a truly special place! I’ll definitely be back. Did you go to college there?

      Sounds like you’re up to some seriously interesting stuff yourself! And yeah, Mars and I have a love-hate relationship (really it’s love-love though. :)

      I left SC for Monterey today. Don’t suppose you’re heading South at all? I’ll be in the LA area from about Dec 2-9.

  3. Harrison says:

    Your story is exactly why I love traveling. Especially when I’m traveling solo for most of the time. It brings back my fond memories of exploring France from Marseille, Lyon, to Paris going from house to house. And then when I’m exploring the little side streets, love encountering random people, whom would invite me into their personal lives.

    And I second Holli, tell more about your Thanksgiving dinner!

    • Emilie says:

      Yes! I know what you mean. I’m so grateful to be traveling alone. At first, I was nervous about it. Now I’m loving it.

      And see my reply to Holli’s comment above. :)

      Thanks Harrison!

  4. janet says:

    yes, there’s a reason for everything.

    “And this is what I’m finding to be the most wonderful part of traveling: if you move from place to place with the intention of simply connecting with people, you’ll begin to notice energy pulling you along, showing you signs of where to go and what to do.”4

    This is exactly how I felt when I walked Palawan. Moving from place to place by foot everyday. It was possibly the most magical experience i’ve ever had.

    • Emilie says:

      Wow, incredible Janet.

      I love the idea of walking by foot too. I’ve gotten back into my morning gratitude jog routine. It allows me to really see all these new environments in a different way. Each morning is a different, yet familiar experience.

  5. Jason Moore says:

    It’s so crazy true! Glad your feeling the travelflow…one of the absolute greatest experiences you can have on earth. Keep rolling with it, your in the zone now!

  6. Eliza says:

    I totally thought of you and your travels today!! I was sitting at restaurant, waiting on my food, and having a bit of a middle finger day when the nice old Japanese man to my left started asking my about the menu. He’d never been to the restaurant before and wanted to know what was good. Now, I’m never rude when strangers start talking to me, but today I was more in a “please leave me alone so I can read my stupid magazine and eat my stupid noodles” mood… but then I though of you’re cafe line up experience (a few posts back) and the thanksgiving invite you received at another cafe. And I looked over at the nice old man who was so smiley, and we started chatting.

    It wasn’t a huge life altering moment or anything, but it did bring a little charm back into my Parisian adventure. I suppose I’m not “travelling” around Europe now that I’ve settled in Paris (…for now ;) but the whole connecting with people idea still rings pretty true for me, and I’d totally forgotten until your lovely road trip posts. I’d become so absorbed by the daily grind I was ignoring my favourite thing about being in a new place: the great people that come with it!

    I got a commendation on my use of chop sticks (he was quite impressed that a Westerner new the whole chopstick-to-soup-spoon dance, and he talked to me about Mallorca (where he lives). I had to run back to work, but I left feeling grateful for our little chat, for the reminder to look beyond the comforts of a daily routine and reach out to the people around u…

    so… thanks em :) keep it up!

  7. Harley says:

    Wow! I have lived in Santa Cruz for the past 3 years now, and I am just getting ready to move.

    My first experience of travel serendipity was when I came here. Everything just seemed to click, and I fell in love with this place. I couldn’t leave!

    I could not have read this at a more perfect time, as I am starting a new phase of my life that will include a lot more traveling than I have done in the recent past. This was a perfect reminder to stay open to all possibilities, and go with the flow. Thank you!

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