Last fall break, I stayed on campus. I went to the International Balloon Fiesta and took a trip to Santa Fe. This fall break, I hopped on a plane to San Jose, California. In both cases, it is undeniable a four-day weekend is the best thing ever and is very much needed. Fall break comes when homesickness really kicks in and the second round of exams really kicks your butt. Ever since I moved to ABQ, I contracted the travel bug like never before. For me, a four-day weekend screams a trip to the beach where I could visit my friend doing the UNM National Student Exchange to UC Santa Cruz.

I left mid-day Thursday. The flight was about two hours and, thankfully, nonstop. I flew into Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. San Jose is the third largest city in California and about 35 minutes without traffic to Santa Cruz. After I was picked up, I was in awe of all the trees and greenery I was driving through. Tall redwoods towered over as I enjoyed the not-too-hot, not-too-cold 75-degree weather of California.

My motel was about a 20-minute walk to the beach. The closer you got to the ocean, the higher the hotel prices skyrocket out of the poor-college-student-could-afford-these-rates zone. When I got there, I set my stuff down and practically B-lined straight to the bay. There was a nice walking path next to a barely there river to the boardwalk. While I felt safe walking on it in the daylight, I definitely took an Uber back to the motel that night.

There is somewhat a housing deficit in Santa Cruz, and some streets felt a little like walking down Central Ave. here. Walking into a Patagonia store, I even saw someone getting arrested. Aside from that, the town is totally a beach town. The closer I got to the sandy shores, the more surfers, paddle boarders, and sandcastle enthusiasts I saw. I hung out near the boardwalk on Thursday and Friday enjoying fishy meals and ice cream cones on the wharf.

On Saturday, I made the hour or so drive to Monterey with both cheese and setting of the TV show Little Big Lies in my mind. The first stop was the aquarium. While I was able to get a student discount, the adventure was expensive starting with the $15 parking fee. I was, however, totally worth it. I got there just in time to see the Open Sea Exhibit get fed. I learned both what a tuna and mahi mahi looks like not on my plate in a restaurant. I also got to see a scuba diver hand feed leopard sharks in the Kelp Forest and trainers feed five sea otters which are some of the most adorable animals I have ever seen.

Venturing out into the city after the aquarium led me to an amazing sushi restaurant and cute walking path down the bay. Once I left Monterey, I stopped at the UCSC campus. The school was basically right in the middle of a forest. The buildings were pretty far from each other and the campus had so many hills to climb. UCSC students have a less sketchy bus system that takes them around campus and into the city. On the way back, I stopped at an Italian restaurant before really preparing for early flight back to ABQ Sunday morning.

I hope you all had an adventurous fall break and are refreshed to tackle the rest of the semester!

Anna