Sunday, September 12, 2010

Busy Busy Labor Day

Monday the 6th was Labor Day.  Our plans for the day were to go to pick up some items from my co-worker, Gail, who needs to clear out her barn as she is selling her ranch vineyard home and moving to an apartment - at least temporarily.  I also promised Becca that we would go to Memorial Beach at the Russian River in Healdsburg.  Which was going to come first, I wouldn’t know until Becca got up.

I had originally thought it best to go to Gail’s in the morning, before the heat set in, but it got hot more quickly than I had expected.  By the time Becca was up and moving, the house was starting to feel like a warm oven, and I knew that loading the truck would not be a good thing to do until the thermostat was on its way down, instead of up.  I called Gail to check in and see if a 5:00 pick-up would work.  It would!

Off to the beach it is, then!

Becca and I had made our favorite spicy peanut chicken recipe the night before and I had grilled the chicken breasts for the week, so there was chicken to shred and leftover sauce that would make a great picnic lunch.  We packed our insulated picnic backpack with good food and some of our special treat Pepsi Throwback, and headed off to the beach.

I knew that at this hour (about 12:00 by the time we got everything together), that it would likely be hard to find parking.  I was worried when we saw people walking up the road toward the park entrance, and then a sign saying that the lot was full.  But - what is this?  A truck is pulling into the parking lot, and a ranger is manning the gate.  I slipped into the driveway to check in with the ranger, and he waved us through!  Woo-hoo!  There is a $6 fee for parking, and the ranger at the booth was also very kind and cheerful.  We cruised slowly through the lot, looking for one of the two apparently open spaces available (the ranger closed the gate behind us - score!).  Up ahead, I spotted another ranger, showing us where the last available spot was in the lot.  It was in the sun, but I was *not * going to complain!

We gathered our things and walked through the grassy picnic area.  It is lovely, with tables and barbecues, though many people brought their own.  Becca and I disagree about whether the hammocks hanging in the trees are provided by the park or were brought by the people using them.  We took at look at the sun-soaked beach and scoped out a place to put our chairs.  There were plenty of people there, and a line of colorful umbrellas down the middle. 

We walked along the sand, which felt more like a combination of sand and dirt, and Becca decided to step out of her flip-flops.  Not for long!  Ow!  The ground was super-hot, so she jumped right back into her shoes.  We found a spot near Memorial Bridge and settled ourselves in.  We made a mental note to find a beach umbrella to bring next time, and then headed into the water.

OMG.  It was cool, but super comfortable, and so easy to be in.  I only waded in to about my knees, but Becca got my permission to cross the first barrier to about 4 feet. 

The bottom of the river here slopes very gently, and the current is basically non-existent.  I can see a little bit of river movement on the other side of the buoy lines, but the nearby dam really eases that flow.  There was a group of people near us in the water, and then suddenly I saw a woman grabbing a pair of pants from the water and frantically checking the pockets.  Somehow (I never figured out how) her pants came off in the water, and out came her driver’s license, credit card and ATM card.  While enjoying the water, we observed the group setting up a search area and looking for these tiny items in the cloudy water.  You couldn’t see more than just a few inches, and she was in about 3 feet of water.  Eventually, she found credit and ATM cards, but by the time we left her ID was still missing.

After a while, I decided to go back to the beach and sit down, while Becca stayed in the water.  She did somersaults in the water and had a good time.  I had brought a book, but just wasn’t comfortable enough with her in the river to read.  There were two lifeguards on the beach, one right next to us, but plenty of people, and this is *my* kid.  I am still not very comfortable with natural water, having lost too many loved ones to it, but am trying to get over that fear, as Becca loves being in the water so much. 

We watched the canoes coming in and out of the boat launch area, and some teenagers on the other side of the river with a rope swing near the end of another bridge.  Becca and I enjoyed watching the boys grab the swing and run out in an arc, leaping into the air over the water.  Some just let go to fall in, and others did spectacular flips and dives.  Apparently these kids have used that part of the beach a lot.

When it was time to eat, Becca pointed out that the umbrella behind us didn’t have any belongings under it, and suggested we moved our things to take advantage of the shade.  Just as we got our food ready to eat, a woman came and asked if we could move - it was her umbrella!  How embarrassing!  Now we know that these are not park umbrellas.  After moving, we finished lunch, and after a bit of a resting period, Becca went back into the water.  We left about 4pm to head home and change, put our things away, and get the truck ready to go to Gail’s in Sebastopol.

Gail lives in a remote part of Sebastopol, among ranches, farms and vineyards.  It was a beautiful drive through the country, as we took back roads through Forestville to get there.  I love the “back way” that we take down Westside Road, past vineyards and farms, through cool redwood groves, and across the 1929 built Wohler Bridge over the Russian River.  We look for ducks as we cross the bridge, and often are able to spot them swimming about.

Gail heard us coming and was at the gate to open it for us when we pulled up.  Her house is so cute, and I loved the vineyards surrounding it and the cottage and other outbuildings.  She directed us to the barn, where she had the water trough ready for us to load up.  She started going through things in the barn, offering many - shelves?  Rocking chair?  Wagon wheels?  What about this box of things?  She pulled out a small enameled bowl that I joked with her about offering me a commode, as it was similar to the container my grandparents used to leave at the back door so we kids didn’t have to trek out to the outhouse at night when we visited.  Without going through the rest, I agreed to take it and browse through what was in it.  She didn’t care to look before giving it to me.  We loaded the truck up and said some sad goodbyes, as I know that she is saying goodbye to her home over and over again as she packs and prepares to leave.  We arrived home late, and fed the animals, moved the goats, in the dark.

I finally opened the box yesterday morning and sorted through everything.  Oh my goodness.  Many of these items I was keeping an eye out for in the antique shop for when I had some money to spend on them, and then some that I never would have been able to buy.  Beautiful enameled pots, including a huge roasting pan, a copper container that I haven't figure out yet what it's for, a hand crank set of beaters, enameled ladle and spoon and coffee cup - I could just imagine a cowboy over an open fire using some of these items!  Some I will have to post pictures of later to see if anyone can help me figure out what they are and what they are for.  An antique sifter, and - Cast. Iron. Coffee. Grinder. From. Brazil.  So many treasures that I can really use on the farm.  Thank you, Gail!!!

All of this was just the Labor Day holiday, and here we are already at the next weekend.  This short week just flew by, so I am going to end this for now, and work on a separate post for this weekend, which has been really good!  Ending with another sunrise picture from my house.  I love this place, especially in the morning.

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