On November 13th, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Leslie Chavez and Sara Clevenger, two of authors of 100 Things to do in Santa Cruz Before You Die. We met up at Coffee Cat, their favorite cafe in Scotts Valley. Both Leslie and Sara were quite charming and excited to chat about their new book, which is part of a national series and available in Bookshop Santa Cruz and on Amazon.
The four authors met working at Beach House rentals in Capitola. According to Clevenger, when her coauthor, Dede Harrington, bumped into 100 Things to do in Napa Valley, she realized her coworkers would be perfect to create the Santa Cruz version Clevenger, Chavez, Harrington, and Misty Oliver divided the book up into five separate sections: culture and history, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, shopping and fashion, and food and drink. The book also includes tips, seasonal suggestions, and recommended itineraries. Chavez noted that “we all bring something different to the book, because we’re all different ages, we have different personalities, and different interests.” Their ultimate guide to Santa Cruz and its surrounding areas took about a year to put together.
Both Chavez and Clevenger reflected on the experience of writing the book. Clevenger reminisced, “It’s been fun to build relationships with shop owners and say ‘Hey, we featured you! You’re a big deal to us.’” Chavez really enjoyed researching the history of Santa Cruz and the surrounding cities, realizing that surfing on the mainland first took place here and that Santa Cruz was first explored by settlers seven years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Both authors struggled during writing as well. Clevenger lamented, “Can we make it more like 200 things to do?” as both she and Chavez recall their many experiences throughout Ben Lomond, Felton, and Scotts Valley. Chavez added, “We were overwhelmed because of all of the things to do in the area.” Don’t worry though, if you read the book and are disappointed by the lack of your favorite Santa Cruz pastime, the women are already working away on a second edition.
Specifically in our area, their book highlights taking the Roaring Camp Railroad, hiking in Henry Cowell, the Big Foot Discovery Museum, Mystery Spot, and zip lining at Mount Hermon, amongst other activities. In the greater Santa Cruz area, Chavez loves taking the Chardonnay sailboat, “It’s a beautiful way to see Santa Cruz, especially on a clear day.” Clevenger recommended visiting the migrating monarch butterfly at Natural Bridges State Beach. She reminded me that the monarchs are here now, “so make sure to see them!”
If you’re a new arrival or visitor to Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo, this book could be perfect to familiarize yourself with the area. Or maybe you’re a committed friend of the Press Banner and quite knowledgeable about all the wonderful experiences surrounding you. Even so, this book could be the perfect nudge to finally visit the Big Foot Discovery Museum or easily change-up date night. Chavez remarked, “Even for people that live here, it’s fun, because sometimes you get into your routine and you don’t adventure out… it’s like a bucket list.” According to Clevenger, “[Santa Cruz] can feel so small. 100 Things helps you see your town in a different light.” Either way, I’ll be gifting my family a copy when they come visit for the holidays.