To the beach! The bambini woke up with this battle cry. They were excited to spend a day in the surf, digging, looking for shells and playing with Bella. Bella. Hmmmm. When we've gone down to the beach in the early hours, we've noticed the 'no dogs' sign. It's a law, along with 'no feeding the squirrels'. I thought I'd ask at the front desk where the closest dog beach was.
'Del Mar.' the front desk lady told me. Del Mar. We'd been there before. Several times, actually. Cajun was our first 'child' to play on the Del Mar beaches. I thought of those times as we drove down the scenic Coastal Highway watching for 'the' street. And there it was - 29th Street. That was the one! I quickly made a right onto it and announced "Cody, here is where you found Happy 11 years ago!".
There was stunned silence from the bambini. Finally, tentatively, "Really Dad?" Cody asked searching my face to see if I was joking. "Really. Right over there." I parked and they fell out scrambling to the bush that I had pointed at. It was here, Kim holding his 3 year old hand, that Cody found a California land snail, named it 'Happy'. Kim was as excited at Cody and put the snail in a plastic cup to take home to Tucson later.
I think we were both surprised that Happy survived the rest of our stay in California and the ride back to Tucson. But, not as surprised as we all were when Happy had babies a month or so later!!! Kim called me at work, squealing "Happy had babies!! Hundreds of them!!!" She couldn't decide what to do, thinking maybe she should let them go in the garden. In the end, she determined it was better to save the Arizona ecology and not allow the California snail to become a part of that...She allow Cody to believe that she had let Happy and her family go in the wild...
The bambini love the story of Happy and were thrilled to actually be standing right where the story began. "Was Cajun there too, Dad?" Autumn asked. Of course. We never went anywhere without our Cajun girl. The girl had been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, putting her paws in the water at the Jersey Shore. She was an excellent traveler.
It was a special day, to be where we already had some great memories The kids love to hear the stories...
Del Mar is a really pretty beach. Towering cliffs make it seem so exotic, foreign. Cody didn't remember it, and Autumn and Tonio had never been there...they loved it. Oh, and Bella. It was her first time too. The thing about Bella, is, well, she doesn't know she is a dog. She thinks she is a 'sister' in our family, who's job is to entertain and take care of the bambini. And she does a great job! Much like Cajun and Zona before her. At first, she was all happy to be there. Bouncing around, pulling us towards the waves. We immediately let her body surf.
We all took turns getting out as far as Bella could stand, and then some, as she ran, jumped and bit the waves!! It was so fun to see her having so much fun!! The bambini exhausted themselves laughing and shouting and trying to hold her back from swimming to some far off place...
When it came time to take a break, Bella took notice of the twenty plus other dogs running around the beach, most off the leash. When they'd try to come up to say what's up? Bella began to growl gutturally, from deep within her chest and then would bark ferociously!! We kept telling her to chill, that she was actually a dog too, but she did not believe us. She'd sit next to me for a time, but whenever a stray pup would approach anyone of the kids, she'd shoot up, giving a loud warning!
Tonio found lots of pretty shells, "This one reminds me of Mama." he told me.
The boys discovered a cave!
We spent the day this way, the kids having such fun and Bella actually wearing herself out!
I let the kids take a swim at the pool when we got back from the beach. We help save a three year old Australian boy, who was clowning with the kids by the water's edge. His mom and grandmother were seated pretty far away and this boy, wearing long sleeves and long pants, kept getting more and more daring. When he fell, I was there in a second, pulling him out by the elbow, while the kids helped push. We wrapped him in one of our towels, while the mom thanked us profusely.
A quick thank you to our 'Snack Angel', who packed us a nice bag of these snacks and more for our trip!! We sure are enjoying everything and they've come in handy multiple times!
We gave Bella a shower and let her at our room to take a nap and went back to the beach. This time at Carlsbad's beaches. We took a long walk and then, picked a nice spot to sit and wait to watch the sun set out over the Pacific. The bambini ran to the water's edge, dug for sand crabs and glanced at the sky.
I cannot tell you how many times that thought of Kim these last few days...but, I thought I saw her in Legoland. I was sitting in the warm sun, waiting for the bambini to finish their ride on Project X, when I glanced up and saw her, turned away from me, and even as the lady turned, same sun glasses, I thought it was her, in the moment...Then, today, as we ate lunch, her favorite Paolo Nuttini song came on (how often does that guy even get air time??) followed by her favorite Gnarls Barkley tune, which Cody really likes a lot, too. We all saw her in tonight's sunset, the bambini commented on it to me...
And in a brilliant flash, the sun was gone...
...just like Kimmy...
My sun has set