We had meant to get up a little early, but even six hours of sleep was not enough to get us all moving quickly. We packed up as efficiently as we could and bolted breakfast. What was the rush? Today was the day we were going to spend with Ruth and Bethany!
The traffic seemed to be especially awful just to irritate me, and I was chafing with impatience by the time we finally got to Jensen Beach. Ruth had given excellent directions and we had no trouble at all in finding the apartment. As the boys had schemed, when she opened the door they knelt and shouted, “All hail the fabulous dork queen!” Only, having a touch of stage fright, what really happened was that she opened the door and everyone froze for a few seconds and then knelt and shouted. It was still awesome.
We met Bethany for the first time a moment later, and instantly felt as though we had known her forever (we have been in touch through our blogs for some time). Just for the record, too, my hair was really cute. For about five minutes. At that point, we changed for the beach and my hair was instantly a mess.
We hopped in Ruth’s car and Bethany drove us to the beach, since Ruth was very busy balancing a big pitcher of icewater on her lap (in her teacher voice, Ruth said, “You have to stay hydrated on the beach.”). A bit later on, Ruth demonstrated the concept of karma by mocking me for not being able to open my door, and then immediately turning and smacking herself on the head with her own door.
It was really overcast, but that made it absolutely the perfect temperature to be on the beach. The boys headed for the shoreline and started building sand castles. Ruth and I sat on the beach towel and warmed up a bit in the meager sun, and then we went out with Chris and Bethany and floated in the water and watched each other get swamped by waves because it seemed that one of us would always be oblivious to the huge incoming wave.
Steven joined us after a while, so that the only view of Andy we really saw for most of the morning was his backside, appropriately clad in fishy swimming trunks, as he dug in the sand and decorated castles with sea shells.
Ruth got out of the water first, but only after she managed to get caught right at the break point by a huge wave and was tumbled in the surf. As soon as we saw that she wasn’t injured (well, her pride might have been a little dinged), Bethany and I laughed ourselves silly, at which point I got thrashed by a huge wave.
Before we headed back, we knew that we needed to have some good Jumping Off Things pictures, but there wasn’t anything to jump off of, so we jumped into the surf instead. With every jump, the challenge got a little sillier, until we were taking pictures of each other jumping in pairs. We were, apparently, quite the spectacle for the sunbathers on the sand, and one woman walked past and said, “It’s so nice to see people really enjoying themselves on the beach.” I almost fell over in the sand as she was speaking (I was standing precariously) and Ruth and Bethany found this hilarious.
We showered at the girls’ apartment and then we all went to the mall to eat lunch at Ruth’s brother’s Chick-Fil-A. We felt like celebrities as the manager told the cashier (who was new and didn’t know Ruth and Bethany) “That’s Nathan’s sister!” We ate our sandwiches and Ruth made me tell Bethany the barbecued chicken story from the first time I met Chris’s parents and we made fun of each other trying to eat chicken sandwiches gracefully.
Sadly, Bethany had to go to work, so we were left at the mercy of Ruth. She drove us down to the Shell Bazaar, where there is a giant seashell where you can take pictures. We had already taken a few pictures when Ruth and I decided that we should have a picture of the shell eating us. We were trying to scramble into position when a teenager roared past in his car and shouted “Get out of there!” In the confusion, I stepped on Ruth’s sore toe. So then we posed a couple of pictures and then started to clamber out of the shell.
Andrew asked, “Mommy, what did that man say?” We told him, and then he asked why, since it was obviously okay to climb in the shell. I responded, “Because he’s a dork,” and then stepped out onto the sidewalk, at which point my ankle twisted slightly and I fell to my knees on the sidewalk. Ruth, meanwhile, had been in the midst of saying, “Because he dropped out of high school,” and Andrew’s response to my sprawling on the sidewalk was, “Mommy dropped out of the seashell.” By this point, both Ruth and I were laughing so hard that we couldn’t breathe and I thought I might never be able to get off the sidewalk.
When we recovered what we could of our breath and our dignity, we wandered around inside the Shell Bazaar in search of the #1 Worst Gift. We finally found it in a huge metal wall-hanging in the shape of a pair of flip-flops. The boys bought sharks’ teeth and some other things that are fabulous to boys of ten and eight, and then we hit the road again. We were going to go explore a local park, but it started raining, so we decided to go back to the apartment and hang out for a while.
We looked at pictures and then Ruth made dinner—yummy chicken with green bean casserole and noodles and fresh veggies. It was delicious and nothing caught on fire! By the time we finished dinner, it was time to head to the stable for our trail ride with the fabulous Bethany.
Of course, it poured rain on us. We got stuck in traffic and were a little late, but it barely mattered because it was raining too hard to ride, anyway. Bethany predicted that we could wait out the rain and still ride, so we locked each other in stalls and then Ruth and I took turns pretending to clean out Bethany’s horse’s stall. Chica looked unimpressed.
Finally, the rain did taper off and we got to help Bethany prepare the horses for riding (basically, we carried stuff and made fun of each other). Bethany and the horses ignored us, probably wisely. Andy made friends with the barn cats and Steven made friends with Baker the dog, who got him to throw a nasty tennis ball several times.
At last, we were all ready to go: Bethany in the lead with Chica; Andrew behind her on Red Man; Steven on Tutor, Chris on Shadow, me on Nikki, and Ruth on Foxy. Only Nikki wanted to take over the world and eat everything, so she’d walk really fast and get too close to the other horses and then come to a dead stop and start eating. She was only bested by Shadow, who wanted to stop every five seconds to eat something. I ended up being the second in line for a while because Tutor was a slow walker.
We splashed through some deep water and saw another horse and had a lovely time. Steven, who had at first been the balkiest among us and had in fact been ready to quit a few minutes into the ride, even had a great time and was full of enthusiasm by the time we got back to the barns.
We squelched through the mud and Ruth and I helped Bethany by standing in a chute and looking vaguely threatening at three horses who ignored us and ate grass. Then Ruth discovered that she had been standing in a fire ant hill. This was NOT FUNNY AT ALL until she started talking about it and a nearby barn cat came to mock her from the fence post, at which point I could not stop giggling, which made Ruth shake a halter at me and attempt to look grumpy.
We had to head back for the apartment, and a good thing, because Chris was having an allergic reaction to something and his eye had swollen up, poor thing. We ate peanut butter cup ice cream and gave Chris allergy medicine and a wet washcloth to put on his eyes. Then we began the Quest to Take Normal Pictures of Kat and Ruth, which took longer than one might expect.
We didn’t leave until about ten and we were already worn out, but it was the Best. Day. Ever. Andy dreamed of horses.