On the day we traveled home, we had a couple extra hours to walk around the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens.
We knew we had plenty of time before our flight back to Seattle, so we didn't rush things our last morning in Santa Cruz. We also knew we'd rather kill time in San Jose so we wouldn't need to worry about traffic on 17, so after breakfast, we started north.
Traffic was pretty good until we hit Los Gatos, but even then cars were still moving, and by the time we hit San Jose we were moving along at a normal rate.
With a couple extra hours, we went to the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, although it took us an extra time circling around to find a parking area. As it ends up, we were at the Visitor Center, so we picked up a map and got some recommendations on things we wanted to see.
The first destination was the Historic Orchard, which looked, well, like an orchard. It was pretty large for an urban orchard, and didn't seem like they wanted people wandering around among the trees. Next to it was the Heritage Rose Garden, where they definitely encouraged you to see the plants up close.
Since the whole park is right next to the San Jose airport, there was consistent traffic of planes making their landing approaches. Lots of Southwest planes, and we even saw a 787 fly overhead.
Finished with the gardens, we hit the trails and started heading south. There were a few spots where we had to double-check the map and figure out where we needed to go, but we did figure it out. At the southernmost part of our walk we were in the Little Italy area, which had banners of notable Italians and Italian Americans in the Bay Area's past.
After we got back to the car, we still had some time to grab lunch, then it was off to the airport. Our plane was delayed a bit, but we made it home with plenty of the evening left.
Thinking back on Santa Cruz, we did enjoy our time there. It's what you would expect, a small coastal city which is used to seasonal crowds. Lots of skateboards (one skateboarder was walking his dog; the dog was wearing sunglasses) and several people wandering around downtown and Cliff Drive.
Our motel ended up being in a good location, just a few blocks from downtown and a short walk to the beach. The bus worked out well going to Natural Bridges State Beach, and we could have also taken it to the Arboretum had we known for sure what we were going to do afterwards.
As for San Jose, that's the most I've ever played tourist there. The downtown area seems to be much nicer than when I lived in the Bay Area (in the 1980s). There are still many things left to see; it's nice to have more things to look forward to exploring in the future.