A Dose of Our Own Medicine: An ear infection, a few wrong turns at Nisene Marks, and everyone drinks Unicorn Tears

This story is dedicated to any parent who has had to give medicine to toddlers, and taking a dose as adults, and getting slightly off track in between. But don’t worry—there’s a happy ending. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s begin.

It started with horrific screams in the middle of the night. My older daughter came down with an ear infection. A trip to the urgent care clinic later, and she came home with a prescription for amoxicillin—you know, the pink chalky stuff that’s really more like a right of passage for children than anything else.

One look , and she refused to try it (she only tends to eat foods on the lighter side: rice, chicken, salmon, etc). Just brushing it to her lips and the screams and tears flowed. My wife and I tried everything in the first 48 hours to get her to take her medicine. Hilarity did not ensue. The end result: half the medicine spread around the kitchen table, our daughter’s hair, face, and fingers.20190330_165834 The other half possibly in her mouth (we never were sure). At this point in this epic struggle I told my daughter one of those simple things that I hoped would motivate her, “Honey, your medicine is pink because it comes from unicorn tears. Unicorns, hearing that little children like yourself are sick begin to cry and we collect their tears for your medicine.” She fell for it hook, line, and sinker, but still wouldn’t try the pink cup before her. On the evening of the third day my wife put her foot down and trying to avoid another epic meltdown told my daughter, “You don’t get dinner until you take your medicine.” A two hour standoff of epic proportions ensued. In the end the four year old caved, tears in her eyes, whimpering something about how bad unicorn years tasted. Such is life.

About a month later I scrolled through my Facebook feed and came across this:Screenshot_2019-05-11 The mythic Unicorn Tears returns to SCMB

In my own little sinister way, I chuckled to myself. Not only could I prove to my four year old that yes, in fact, unicorn tears existed, but that adults drank them too. I pulled my wife aside and talked her into it. We looked at the date, and it being Good Friday, she agreed to take the day off while our girls were in day care. All we needed now was a good path to warm up with.

We found that good trail in Aptos on the way to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing in the form of Forest of the Nisene Marks State Park. I first fell in love with this majestic state park in October 2006 when I jumped into trail race there in preparation for a marathon later in the month. Recently I did a little bit of research on Nisene Marks to find out more about the park and its beauty. According to the California State Parks webpage, Nisene Marks was “the nature-loving mother” of the Salinas farm family that bought the land in the 1950s and whose children donated approximately 9,700 acres to the state in 1963 with the provision that the land never be developed. This 9,700 acres equates to 30 miles of trails for the biker, hiker, and runner in the beauty of the redwoods. On this Good Friday though, Nisene Marks represented an opportunity to having a running date with my wife.

As I’ve mentioned previously, last fall we welcomed our new daughter into the world. With that said, my wife has been busting her butt to get back into running shape (it was just over a year ago she ran an ultra). This day at Nisene Marks provided a good gut check: we’d aim for 4 and see how she did. It wasn’t about pace or mileage—just about spending time together among the scenery of the park doing what we enjoy.

Driving up late in the morning, we arrived and parked inside the park at George’s Picnic Area. 20190419_121140.jpgFrom this spot runners and hikers are met with a series of trails in varying directions to explore. I had in mind where I wanted to venture: a generous looking loop which would take us up the west side of the park on the West Ridge Trail to the Ridge Connection back east, before meeting the Loma Prieta Grade to take back down south. My wife was even on board; if it was more than 4 miles, as long as we kept a conversational pace, she’d be in. We headed north on the main road jumping onto the West Ridge Trail and nature welcomed us with a magnificent forest canopy. It was truly spectacular, so spectacular in fact, we missed our sharp right turn to stay on the West Ridge Trail and headed due north for over a mile.

By the time we did some terrain association on a hilltop and realized the error of our ways, we were nearly two miles in, so we turned around, headed back down, and found the correct turn. At this point though, we only followed it maybe a half mile further. My loop would have to wait for another day. For the day we eked out just over 4.5 scenic miles regardless. As my wife noted, “Is your sense of direction sick?” Not exactly what I was hoping for, but what could I do? Besides it was beer o’clock.20190419_144851

Early in the afternoon we arrived at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. Feeling just like a kid in a candy store, I proudly made our order at the counter and took our beers. In addition to a pint of Unicorn Tears we ordered a tasting flight—but the prize was Unicorn Tears.

True to form, the beer did not disappoint. A hazy IPA, which I’m not normally a fan of, delivered big with big citrus flavors but not overly hoppy (my main beefs with IPAs), and a nice finish. It was refreshing but not over powering. Exactly what a dose of our own medicine needed to taste like!

In addition to Unicorn Tears I sampled a few others. Here’s a rundown:

Full Suspension Pilsner: A Czech-style light and refreshing pilsner perfect for a warm day in the sun or that backyard barbecue. Great porch beer!

Good Grief Charlie: this brown ale was tasty with hints of rich chocolate and caramel, but not overly strong. It sat well on the palate.

Little Known Fact: this juicy pale ale is just the right mix of flavor and hops. Not too hoppy or over the top in alcohol. You walk away from it feeling good!

When it was all said and done, I bought a 4-packs of Unicorn Tears for personal consumption. At home I proudly showed it to my four year old. She looked perplexed at the fact I had unicorn tears medicine too “Daddy you’re not sick! Why do you need medicine?” And without missing a beat, her mother proudly responded, “Daddy’s sense of direction is sick.” I grimaced. Sometimes you just can’t win. I opened some medicine and poured a glass. I haven’t had any issues with land navigation since. Happy trails!


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