Once Bijou and her people hooked up with Elizabeth and her people, our first stop was a candy store called Candy Heaven (do not go to “candyheaven.com”!). As Michael noticed, there’s almost nothing but candy stores there. And they were making money hand over fist. Michael was, as usual, smarter and more disciplined than I was, limiting his daughter to just $5 worth. I think Elizabeth cost me $12 in candy before we got out of there.
When Greg and June joined us, they wanted to stop for ice cream. Elizabeth got one, too. Like I’ve said, whatever she wanted, she pretty much got on this trip. Spoiled, I know, but she was actually very well behaved most of the time, and we were on vacation, so I didn’t mind spoiling her a little.
For dinner, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant across the street from some sports bar. As we ate, I realized the sports bar across the way was the one in which a couple of innocent men were murdered. I just happened to read about it online while researching things to do in Sacramento. Being murdered was not on my list. What happened was some guy accidentally spilled his beer on a girl. The girl turned out to be a local gangster’s girlfriend. An argument broke out, the bouncer stepped in, and at some later point two gangsters shot both the beer-spiller and the bouncer, dead. The story I’d read was about the conviction of the girlfriend, the one who insisted on the shooting. For spilling a beer! Psycho b****!
Anyway, I was in the middle of recounting that story, and had just said the words “…the guy spilled his beer …” when Elizabeth next to me dumped her large raspberry fruit tea onto the floor. She mostly missed Bijou and herself. Everyone, Greg especially, was amazed at the timing of it all.
With the sun about to set, Michael said they “had a plane to catch,” so everyone said their goodbyes. We ended up walking alongside each other for another block, though, feeling awkward because, like, we had already said our goodbyes, and yet, here we were just walking along. Eventually, it really was time to say goodbye, so Elizabeth and I walked back to Don’s hotel to get Dad’s car. Elizabeth wanted to go swimming and Don’s hotel just happened to have a pool.
It was almost dark by the time we changed clothes back in our room and returned to the pool. Much too cool outside for swimming, but we swam, anyway. We should have first jumped into the main pool and gotten used to that. But, we hit the hot tub first, warmer than most baths, which made the main pool even harder to take. After all the walking I’d been doing all day, I really didn’t want to get out of that whirlpool. It felt nice to just float a while. But Elizabeth was insistent. She was going swimming with or without me.
The main pool was heated, but not nearly enough. We did eventually get used to it, but I kept everything below my neck underwater to avoid the wind. Turns out, Elizabeth had learned more at last summer’s YMCA swim lessons than I realized. She never got any sort of certificate, but in the pool now she was doing pretty well. She demonstrated, for example, how the “doggie paddle” only works for dogs. When a person does it, they sink. She did the American crawl, too, though she didn’t know its name. She went underwater often, which I never like, but she said she needed to practice holding her breath. I was thinking she could do that in the tub at home, but I let her do it. I was right there to pull her out, if necessary.
Early Sunday morning, Doug drove me, Elizabeth, Milan and Natalia to the airport and just dumped us there. I don’t know why! But seriously, that’s where I picked up my rental car. From there, in a shiny new “mid-sized sedan” Chrysler 200, we drove 2½ hours north to Jeannie’s ranch in Cottonwood.
By the time we got there, I was very happy to be pulling into Jeannie’s driveway! She and her grandkids Shayden and Skyla were out in one of the paddocks preparing the horses and saddles. Tiffany was off at one of her other jobs. David was in the house, sick. Matt was around somewhere, probably lurking, waiting to sneak in to my rental car and smoke cigarettes! Inside joke. Milan had expressed concern that Matt might do that despite explicit instructions from the man behind the car rental counter that this was a non-smoking car.
We all rode horses. As I told Jeannie, I’m not a very good rider. I can see where it might take a while to get it right. All of the kids did much better, even Elizabeth, who hasn’t ridden a horse in half a lifetime. She’s a natural. Other than Shayden, who lives there, Natalia seemed to be the most accomplished rider. When it came time for “Part 1, Part 2, our consent. Thanks!