I was pretty sure Shaun would be stuck home working while Nate and I headed up the coast to visit my sister and brother in law in Ventura, so I decided to splurge on our room. That doesn't sound right, but basically since I wouldn't have the comfort of my usual personal navigator, I wanted the comfort of familiarity in our accommodation and location. When our regular spot was booked, I reserved a room down the street, due West, thank you very much.
I must be getting anxious in my old age because almost immediately after hitting "reserve", I began to consider the earthquakes we've had lately and from earthquakes come tsunamis and a room in the sky overlooking the ocean may not be the ideal spot to be in such a circumstance. I hoped for above ground parking at the hotel and wondered if Ventura had installed the tsunami escape route signs that dot our own beach town landscape. I am acutely aware of just how wack these new anxieties of mine are, yet somehow they ebb and flow amongst the rest of the clutter in my head.
Nate has always been a trouper on a road trip and this time was not much different, with the exception of a few cases of role reversal. I was called upon to answer the age old classic question from the back seat, "Are we there yet?" at least a dozen times. Also, on the way home, when I got lost, he informed me that he knew how to do directions better than I did. Yeah, that's not really a tough contest to win with me.
Once we arrived I could scarcely get him to leave the hotel room. The kid loves hotels, figuring out every piece of new equipment in his reach, and arranging everything to his liking. This tests my patience much as it is tested with his father anytime we rent a car. He also must test every operation of the vehicle before we leave the rental garage. I'm certain I should count myself lucky that he doesn't peruse the owner's manual before inserting the key in the ignition, but I don't. Instead, I roll my eyes, do a lot of sighing, and think how much further along in our journey we could be if only these tedious details could be figured out in the event they were actually required. Yes, this from the woman who didn't bother to bring a map with her for a road trip with her five year old and proceeded to make a seventy mile, two hour mistake en route home.
Eventually, we made it out to the playground on the beach and met Terry and her friend there shortly after. It was really cool to see Terry share her pregnancy news with a very enthusiastic friend, who is a new mom herself. Jeff met us later and we all went downtown for a lovely dinner.
Saturday was a big day. We slept in and read and watched cartoons followed by breakfast at Nona's at Nathan's request. Next we played text tag with Terry and headed for a stroll through the the farmers' market.
The Ventura Farmer's market is much smaller than ours which is great in that there are way fewer people to jostle about with in the crowd. There are also way fewer farmers offering tastes of their crops since there is much less competition amongst them. Dreads, new age hippies, and folk music made it feel just like home. We stopped to listen to two gals playing Irish country tunes when Nathan promptly demanded money to show his appreciation. I suggested he give them the dollar I knew was in his pocket. There was no hesitation, "I want to give them your money not my money."
Occasionally I know when to pick my battles so I forked over a buck and after a few more songs I pulled Nathan aside and decided it was time he had some spending money of his own. I was feeling bold and curious so I asked him how much money he would like for the weekend. He thought for a good while and wide eyed answered, "ten dollars".
"Whoa, that is a lot of money, how 'bout I give you five instead and you can add it to the one in your pocket, then how much would you have?"
"Is that good?"
I had it on good authority that the coolest candy and soda pop shop in town was a mere couple of blocks away. Primed and ready, we were off.
There was much browsing and calculating, in the end I was pleased that Nathan chose to spend the bulk of his cash on a small toy instead of a red lacquered bucketful of sugar. It was extra thrilling when the leathery man behind the cash register gave him the candy portion of his purchase since the cash register wouldn't ring it up. Yup, .29 and a balloon made his day.
We met up with Terry and Jeff for more strolling and then a relaxing couple of hours in the park. Nathan had a blast with his Uncle Jeff while Terry and I lounged and chatted in the sunshine. She got to witness Nathan's friend making technique of silently approaching a smaller child and either gently taking their hand, or if he is really enamored, trying hug the child while lifting him or her from the ground. Usually I intervene before the picking up of children, at which time he proclaims his love. If the little one continues to hold his hand or hug him, he is most certain of their love of him.
Next Nathan and I went to the Harbor for Pirate Days, where we met Jack Sparrow...several times.
The slides and jumpers invigorated my boy.
When he ran out of tickets he did his own interpretive dance for a good 45 minutes next to this guy on the otherwise unoccupied pirate sound stage.
We ended the day at Terry and Jeff's for dinner. Turns out my brother-in-law is a good cook and an even better garage/studio designer. It was fun to see their space and some of her works in progress along with pieces from her peers.
One might think I should have been showering my sister with gifts being that she is newly pregnant with a birthday approaching and one would be correct; but this night I was to be the recipient.
Nearly a year ago, I became a certified, ordained Reverend in the interest of serving as officiant in Terry and Jeff's wedding. While I was honored to accept the job, I was terrified on many levels. Perhaps there is another post in this whole experience, but for now, I'll just say I spent a good amount of time on it--where good amount of time, means every spare moment during the month of August 2009. They had a beautiful wedding and I was relieved not to have crumbled into a blubbering mess at the top of the mountain.
As if the whole experience were not gift enough, they touched me deeply after dinner with thoughtful words and gifts, perfect mementos of the day.
Sunday morning, before we headed back home we had breakfast in a super cool courtyard restaurant in Midtown and took in the views from a hilltop over Ventura.
Nathan is a sweet affectionate boy and shall we say...has a soft spot for babies...I suspect Auntie T was getting a little extra lovin' for the peanut too.
Congratulations to Terry and Jeffrey, I couldn't be happier for you and for all of us.