Sunday, May 25, 2008

A day at Tomales Bay

Today my favorite place in California is Tomales Bay.

A classmate has a long term rental of a great house there and invited a bunch of us to a day at the beach. Potluck. With a vague idea of when to show up, knowing this was potluck but not sure how many hours we'd be there, with a forecast of cold, overcast, and rainy, we left in a caravan, grumpy.

Instead, the day was sunny and warm. Duck Cove turned out to involve seven hours of hanging out, throwing rocks into the water, boating, hot tub, and lots of eating. J brought sangria, which we slurped and munched; I brought enough snacks to ruin our appetites for real food, which included tri tip, grilled asparagus and other vegetables, sausages, and hamburgers.

The boating was kicked off by seven children and three adults piling into our host's tiny Boston Whaler to go across the bay for oysters. As they returned, we on the shore thought they looked like refugees, absolutely packed into the boat.  Either that or the scene from "The Sound of Music" when the von Trapps kids joyfully swamp their boat as they greet their father.

Fresh oysters on the grill -- even the kids were eating them.

I have a thing about water.  Whenever I am near it, I must go in.  J and I were reminiscing about a trip we took up the coast years ago with a crowd of classmates.  We stopped at a rocky beach, the kind with huge eruptions of surf as the waves hit the rocks.  I got closer and closer, loving the smell and the spray.  Dragged J with me, and one of the waves totally soaked us.  (I really believe someone has a picture of this moment.  We must dig it up.)  I was wearing jeans and learned that getting wet in jeans is no fun; since that day, I bring a change of clothes if I think I will be anywhere near water.

Until today.  Today I sat by the picnic tables and hung out and had random sangria-filled conversations and took pictures, working up the nerve to ask our host if I could be next in the sea kayak.  I know how to canoe, but I'd never sea kayaked.  I'm a convert!  It's a hull of plastic like you'd buy at Toys R Us, and you just fly with little effort.  Much easier than a canoe.  I anticipated being so lame at kayaking that I said I'd just toodle around near the shore, but once I figured out how spectacularly simple it is to kayak I was off and running.  Not even noticing that I was dripping water all over myself as I paddled out into the bay.  It was like flying, like dancing.  Others of our party were out there in a pedal kayak, and I hung out with them on the water, sprinting off, moving in all directions, letting myself drift in the sun.

By the time I got out, which involved grounding the kayak on the shore and then kind of falling out into the water (not the most graceful landing), I was definitely soggy.  And in jeans.

Nothing drinking more sangria, sitting in a hot tub overlooking the bay (as the fog rolled in), and eating oysters off the grill (throwing the shells off the cliff), and having more great conversation can't fix.  Today we ate 100 oysters.

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