Of Alfred Hitchcock, bear hunts and unexpected adventures
There are three guaranteed constants when it comes to Ryder. He'll drop everything to sing along to Girl on Fire, he insists that I sing Five Little Monkeys the entire way to pick Maddox up from school, and every night before bed he has to sit next to me in a laundry basket while we read Going on a Bear Hunt. Every character in the book is someone from the family and he never fails to gasp when they actually find a bear in the cave. So we went on an accidental bear hunt on this trip, but before we get to that, let me back up....Jason is very type A, I'm very type Whatever. He loves to have a planned out itinerary and I love to go wherever the wind blows us. He was a little concerned that we didn't have anything planned for the second day, but I've learned that the best adventures are the ones you don't plan for. We packed up that morning and drove. We spotted a sign for a scenic overlook and couldn't resist. One last longing gaze....
And then we got back in the car and hadn't driven more than a couple of miles when we pulled over to a beach. There was a huge flock of birds just hanging out on the bank, which of course is any little boy's dream scenario. Jayden and Maddox were so stealth as they snuck up on them, but I think they ended up with the bigger surprise as they fell under attack. It was part fascinating to see so many birds swarming, but mostly Alfred Hitchcock-ish. I have to laugh as Jayden starts out as the concerned big brother trying to save Maddox, but ended up ditching him and running for his life.
They always love to race the waves. The waves never fail to win and we always end up with soaked pants, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's to always carry a spare pair of pants whenever water is involved.
And then we got back in and drove a few more miles before we spotted this incredible cave right off the side of the road. Stopping was a no brainer. Especially when that cave was the exact replica of the bear cave in Ryder's book, right off the shore and everything. He was equal parts excited and terrified to explore the bear cave. He felt safe with Jason holding him, so off they went. Dark caves don't particularly excite me, so the rest of us just hung back. Pretty soon Jason came darting out of the cave looking like he had just stared death straight in the eye, shrieking about something being in the cave and about something growling at him. After all of our experiences with growling seals the day before, we figured it was a seal and started busting up. I think the last time I saw Jason that scared was when we were dating and a guy dressed in animal suit was hiding in the trees and telling us we were going to die while we were in the canyon with friends, but that's another story for another time. I would have been totally freaked out too, hearing something unexpectedly growling at you in the pitch black has got to be pretty unnerving, but Jason regained his manhood when he went back in there with the kids (sans Ryder, he had enough bear hunts to last him a lifetime) and a flashlight and found that it was indeed a seal. Now everytime we read Bear Hunt, Ryder goes on and on about the "cereal" that was hiding in the bear cave. It makes for a much better bedtime story. We ended up spending about two hours exploring caves, having a picnic, daydreaming about mermaids, collecting shell rings and heart shaped rocks, playing pirates, climbing rocks and letting the kids just be kids.
Maddox taught Ryder how to hear the ocean inside the shell. Then he kept trying to dump the invisible water out of it.
Maddox found me a fine collection of rings, that boy holds my heart.
And then we got back in the car and drove only a few more miles before we just HAD to stop again. The 2 hour drive home turned into a 6 hour drive home. We passed this most amazing sight, these steep lush mountains with cows and sheep grazing at the base and just enough mist from the ocean that it could have passed as a dream. I gave him the look and without even asking, he turned around so I could take a picture and the kids could find more shells. This boy of mine is a keeper. The farmer came out while I was taking pictures and I immediately thought he was going to get after me, but Christchurch doesn't get it's 12th friendliest city in the entire world ranking for no reason. Instead, he asked me if I wanted to climb over the fence and get a closer shot. I politely declined, but we got talking about how beautiful it is here, and he told me his 80 year old mom sits in her room upstairs all day with her back to the window. It's hard to understand how anyone could ever get tired of looking at this view every day.
We eventually made our way back home, while the kids slept we were spoiled with the most amazing scenery. Jason and I didn't feel the need to talk, we just basked in the silence and beauty. We kept getting passed by car after car and I realized that I really like this new Jason that was evolving. Gone are the days of getting from point A to point B in record time. Jason had the Phoenix to Vegas route down to the minute. One bathroom, gas and drive thru stop in Kingman and that was it. He was always the one doing the passing, the one gripping the steering wheel when he got stuck behind a trailer and now seeing him take the time to stop and smell the roses, er, salty sea air made me unexpectadly fall even more in love with him. We are welcoming this whole joy in the journey with arms wide open.