This weekend, our founder and CEO, Quynh Pham, rented a room in an Airbnb in Santa Cruz. Given our busy schedules, however, we could not rest the entire time. Those of us located in the Bay Area decided to meet her on Friday morning to work. We worked for a few hours, went to lunch and then head to the beach. This was great for some team bonding. Along we realized that every trip will have some surprises along the way. It doesn’t really matter the size of the trip.
Experience in Santa Cruz…
Quynh’s house was tucked far back in the hills of West Santa Cruz. It was in a truly beautiful, secluded, and quiet area. So secluded, in fact, that there were few street signs or other indications of the exact location. Quynh got lost in the mountains for nearly 30 minutes trying to find the place. Even driving in broad daylight the following morning, the rest of us began to wonder if there could really be a house this obscure, or if Quynh was just camping out in the middle of nowhere. However, when we finally arrived we realized how beautiful the place was. Located at least 25 minutes from the nearest town, it was a quiet and peaceful cabin surrounded by rolling mountains and towering redwood trees. We set up shop on a table in the cabin’s backyard around 10:30am and began the day’s work.
The morning was productive but uneventful. Once we were settled it felt as if we were back in Mountain View, except for a cat who surprised us with the occasional purr under the table. I assume it belonged to our host Pascal, whom we did not meet until we were packing up our things to go to lunch. Pascal was a friendly and talkative man; he was much more outgoing than I expected of someone who lives in such a private area. He happily recommended a restaurant located near a beautiful beach free of the crowds that gather in the touristy parts of Santa Cruz.
The restaurant was a quaint local place with a hotel on the second floor. We enjoyed some sandwiches and soup, and then we were off to the highlight of the excursion: the beach. The weather was overcast and windy, not unusual for the Northern California coast, so we decided to leave our swimsuits in the car and just enjoy the view. We parked on the side of the highway and strolled up a hill, over some train tracks, and down a slippery, rocky terrain until we finally arrived at a gorgeous beach. The hill we had to walk down, combined with the massive waves that made swimming difficult, seemed to keep most tourists away. But the views were breathtaking; we were surrounded by cliffs and rocky protrusions that extended gracefully into the water. The massive waves made magnificent splashes against these rocks as the tide crashed in.
The more we explored, the more we saw, until we came upon one sight we could have done without: nudists.
Just passed a large rock in the middle of the beach was a group of about 8 adults. Most of them seems to be in their 60’s and they were relaxing completely naked. 2 of them were hula hooping. Safe to say it put most of us a bit out of our comfort zone, and we wondered if Pascal knew about these nudists when he recommended the beach. Whatever the case, at the very least it was something for us all to laugh at, which is the point of a company bonding trip right? The trip definitely brought the team at least a bit closer together.
So with a bit more exploring and splashing in the tide, we called it a day. We trekked back to the car, up the mountain and through the trees to drop Quynh off for the remainder of her excursion. The rest of us headed back to Mountain View, feeling finished with surprises for the day.
What we learned
Reflecting now, the trip was absolutely a worthwhile experience. It was refreshing to get out of Mountain View for a day and explore the beautiful Bay Area. We are definitely so lucky to live in here. It was an opportunity to explore an area of Santa Cruz and I doubt I would have on my own. We worked, talked, and shared a few laughs. We now enter the week more prepared to help customers enjoy their own excursions, and all the surprises they hold.