Ben and I just returned home from a long weekend in Santa Cruz with my mom, my sister and my brother-in-law.
It was a great time. We had really good food, amazing weather and lots of belly clutching laughs, mostly at the expense of my mother and her choice of accommodations which my sister and I swore never to talk about.
We spent our second afternoon at Twin Lakes Beach. Gorgeous location. Perfect area for Ben to wade and swim and dig.
Prior to the trip, I scoured the greater Sacramento area for beach umbrellas. At this last moment, I scored two - deeply discounted - and I told everyone that they could thank me later for protected skin. So, with my two umbrellas and my SPF 110, we were set.
Except that I only sprayed the SPF stuff on Ben and instead of sitting under the umbrella, I sat kinda to the right of it.
I never want to see that shade of red on my skin again. I wore a jean jacket for the rest of the trip and winced out loud every time I took a shower. That's how bad it was.
On our third day, we drove north of Santa Cruz and my mom and I took Ben on a walk up the bike path. It was breathtaking. I was so in awe of the view that I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the sound of a blow hole from beneath the drop-off next to us. Ben's eyes widened and he exclaimed, "It's a WHALE!" I love this age. I love it, love it.
Monday night at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the time to go: most rides are $1.00. Ben's not a fan of rides, in general, but he did point out the "Fright Walk" on the Boardwalk web site and he asked me over and over, during the course of the weekend, when we might go. And so, that is why, against my better judgement, I entered that damn thing with Ben in tow.
It was pitch black. Skeletons and goblins and all sorts of bloody creatures jumped out at every turn.
Do I need to tell you that Ben was a mess? Just a few feet into the dark hallway and I knew we were screwed. Not even the light from my phone could illuminate the way as my terrified child clung to me and screamed bloody murder.
For any parent who is stupid enough to take their tentative child into a haunted house, I offer these two words to you: Emergency Exit.
Ben and I sprinted the short distance to the door, flung it open and found ourselves in the middle of some kind of employee lounge. At the other end of the Boardwalk.
I will say this: that Fright Walk is one long adventure. You certainly get your money's worth.
The only way to redeem the night was to take Ben to laser tag and actually play with him. I never thought I'd have so much fun strapping on a heavy vest and chasing down 10-year-olds and I have to say, I think I'm hooked.
We came home the night before school started and this I do not recommend at all. I did have the foresight to have one of Ben's ink tattoos placed on his shoulder so that he could keep it for school but the giant, black skull on his forearm had to go.
Not only did I not purchase any shirts, or shoes for the lad, I also did not have requisite school supplies ready nor did I cut his long and unkempt hair.
But I do have the whale story.