Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

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A Stroll By the Lake

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Nestled by the Santa Cruz Mountains in California is a beautiful, storybook town called Los Gatos. This is a town where the downtown, tree-lined streets are iced with white lights year round. And although “Gatos” means “cats” there are more dogs in this town ready to cozy up to you, regardless of whether they know you or not. Just outside the center of town is a hidden lake located in Vasona Park. This is a secret place for me to escape, either in the morning, at lunch or as the sun quietly sets.

In the summer you’ll see children playing and the sound of their laugher is contagious. The water splashes with families loaded into paddle boats, exploring the shoreline under the heat of the sun. I’ve ridden my bike along the trails a few times, my basket loaded with books, water, snacks, in search of the perfect, remote bench along the way. In the fall and winter the lake becomes quieter, almost thoughtful. The trees slowly change and like large snowflakes, the yellow and red leaves quietly float to the ground. If you are wanting to travel alone, then first do some outings by yourself. A day trip, walk in the park, or overnight trip. Visiting a beautiful lake is a wonderful place to start. Grab a book, bottle of water… you’re about to travel with an amazing person. You.

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As you approach the lake stop and breathe deep. Next, take a look around and just listen to the sounds. The water fascinates me as it takes on the color of the sky and although we have a lot of sun, the fall does bring clouds and rain. In the summer, the sun beats down and on those days the water looks like melted sapphires. When the clouds come in, the sapphires transform to the color of liquid emeralds and orange quartz. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when the rain and sun mix, making the water look as if it is a thick oil, dark and glossy. Along with the color of the water, I love the reflections. It’s as if there are trees and clouds that are floating under the water. In a secret world where angels float like birds. Peaceful and lovely.

The lake has two sides and one unfortunate fact is you can’t walk “around” it. The trail is more U-shaped. Each side of the U is a bit different. As you wonder up the left side there is a huge park, picnic tables and benches. You’ll also find the launch site for paddle boots and paddle boards. As head further up the trail, it narrows and becomes wooded, with views of the lake off to one side. You’ll see men (and some women) at the shoreline fishing. Just the other day someone pulled in a fish about 2 feet long! Big enough to make me think twice about balancing on a paddle board in the middle of the lake.

There is a beautiful bridge that connects the two shorelines. As you cross to the right side you’ll find more eucalypts trees and the air becomes pungent with the smell. If you are close to Los Gatos I hope you take a walk along the shoreline of this beautiful lake. Bring a book and a cup of coffee and take some time for yourself.

HOLIDAY EVENT: If you are around during the holidays you can enjoy the Fantasy of Lights, which is a 1.5 mile drive through Vasona Park. Perfect for kids (and adults), you’ll slowly drive along winding roads lined with thousands of twinkling lights. Stop at Starbucks before you go and pick up hot chocolate, eggnog lattes or another favorite holiday drink and enjoy! The Fantasy of Lights starts Friday, November 23 and goes through December 31 / 6pm – 10pm nightly including holidays. (Closed November 28)

©2012 Shelley D Spray – No content  on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.


9 thoughts on “A Stroll By the Lake

  1. Gorgeous! Can’t believe we’ve never been and we live in San Francisco! Is there a place close by where you can rent paddle boats?

  2. These photos are gorgeous. Is love to take by boys to the holiday event someday!

  3. I live in Aptos, near Santa Cruz, and have never been there!! Your photos are stunning and make me long to jump in my car and visit there…NOW! Thanks for the maps also. So helpful.

  4. What a wonderful place for long walks!

  5. Beautiful photos, Shelley. I work at the park and am thankful for it everyday.

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