Monday, September 17, 2012

Stretching That Birthday Out

There is a bit of benefit when you cannot have all of your friends together to celebrate your birthday.  I used to find it humorous that my son-in-law Anthony likes to celebrate his "Birthday Week," but this year I am beginning to see the fun in that.

My friend Roni is one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  She is kind, intelligent, funny, kind, witty, energetic, and did I mention she is kind?  She is near the top of all the people I know who has the biggest heart, and no matter what is going on in the world or in my life, we always find ourselves laughing out loud together.  You know the kind, big belly laughs, with mouths wide open, often bent over, unable to contain it all.  I love spending time with her, and now that Becca has gotten to know Roni, she loves spending time with her, as well.  Yes, Becca loves Roni's cats and her new kitten, Leo, but that's not the only reason.  The kid has a respect and admiration and love for Roni that sparked early and deep, which is pretty unique.

Roni asked if she could take Becca and me out to lunch for a late birthday celebration.  I love spending time with her, and no matter where she wanted to go I was game.  She picked one of the best spots in the area, The Tides at Bodega Bay, so on a bright and sunny Saturday, we headed over to her house to meet up.  Of course, there had to be a little play time with the kitties beforehand, but we kept it short so that we could go enjoy the coast.

We headed out Highway 12 and through downtown Sebastopol, then off on the curvy and winding road to Highway 1.  The rolling hills and quaint farm houses dotting the scenery as we drove made it feel as if we were truly traveling into a different place and time.  The sky was overcast, but it wasn't too cold, and Roni and I pointed out the old town of Bodega and the church made famous by Hitchcock's film "The Birds" to Becca.  She'd seen the movie in class recently, and it was fun for her to see these spots in person.  We rolled up the highway, and as we approached Bodega Bay the fresh scent of saltwater became more evident.

We found a parking place easily and walked into the restaurant.  As we waited very briefly we admired the freshly baked pastries in the nearby display case and Roni said that we would shop here after lunch to bring some goodies home.  The restaurant was busy, but not overly so, so we didn't have much time to admire the surroundings before we were able to be seated.

We had a great view of the bay from our table, and Becca spotted a sea lion playing in the water not long after we sat down.  It was hard to focus on the menu when there was such a beautiful view outside, but we were hungry and attended to that quickly.  Roni suggested dungeness crab cocktail to start, and we agreed.  Becca and I had never had one before.  We really enjoyed it, but next time I think I will do without the sauce.  It was good, but covered the delicate crab flavor.  We enjoyed our meal over lively conversation, Roni having perfectly prepared calamari and me closing my eyes to savor the fresh fish and chips.  We teased Becca that she wouldn't be able to get the tall club sandwich she ordered into her mouth, but she worked hard and was able to prove us wrong.  All in all, it was a spectacular lunch, enjoyed with Roni and I sipping margaritas and Becca a Shirley Temple.

After lunch, we perused the glass case containing all those wonderful pastries, and each of us selected some to bring home.  We stashed those in the car and grabbed the bag of stale bread that Roni had been collecting for the seagulls and headed out to the pier.  We settled at a table and I started to open the bag.  As soon as I had the bag open and my hand touched a piece of bread, suddenly a loud cry started from the seagulls and we were surrounded!  We had a ball feeding them, at first tossing them to the ground so the birds could grab the pieces, and then learning that the seagulls could easily catch them if we lobbed the bread just right.  Eventually, Roni discovered that they would eat from your hand, so the three of us began a combination of feeding by hand and playing "catch" with the birds.  The sea lions were playing, and one was trying to take a nap through the chaos of the calling and flying birds.  We spent quite some time in the fresh ocean breeze playing with the gulls before depleting the store of bread and heading to the car.

Our conversation on the drive home was just as animated, and we briefly visited with the cats at Roni's before heading home to rest up and take a nap after our coast adventure.  It's amazing how tired good food and ocean air will make you!  It's a day I'll never forget, especially learning to feed the birds by hand, which was a special treat.  Thank you, Roni, for a special day!!

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