Friday was the first beach day of 2024. Beach days in Sanford are very different from beach days in Arcata, because the beaches themselves are so different. But I love the ocean and any day that includes some time near the ocean is a good day, IMO.

C & G picked me up a little before noon. I was extremely well prepped, with my sunshine-y beach chair, my insulated water bottle, my towel, my multiple forms of sunscreen, and some snacks (all birthday presents from C, G, and J, with the exception of the snacks.) Oh, and also some headphones so I could listen to the new Taylor Swift album, and, of course, my phone with Blink camera app so I could check in on poor Sophie.

beach chairs with the ocean in the distance

I’m sure you can guess which chair is mine

Yeah, dogs aren’t allowed on Florida beaches. Instead of this being a “take a long walk with Sophie running free” excursion (which she and I both do miss, quite a lot), this was a “sit in the sun, well-sunscreened, and appreciate the light and the day and the water” excursion, (which I did appreciate, quite a lot.) I wore a bathing suit and went in the ocean up to my knees, but neither the water nor the day was so warm that I felt inspired to actually swim.

Also, I slightly need to get over my knowledge that New Smyrna Beach is the shark attack capital of the world. I know that the numbers are really ridiculously low — only 8 people were bitten by sharks in Volusia County in 2023, and I guarantee, even without looking it up, that a heck of a lot more people were involved in car accidents. And yet…

Afterwards, we went down the street to a restaurant with a patio rooftop and $1 oysters.

the remains of a dozen oysters on the half-shell

The remains of my oysters

Christina and I ordered a dozen oysters each, plus shared a really delicious “pulled pork stack,” which was a mound of sushi rice, topped with pulled pork, a vegetable slaw, pickled red onions, grilled corn, and jalapeños. No picture of the pork stack because I didn’t think to take one until it was long gone, but I would absolutely eat it again.

We spent much of our meal discussing which restaurants in the vicinity might have better GF options, because the place where we were didn’t have a lot, and agreed to try one down the street next time, but honestly, the rooftop bar concept delights me. There’s something about sitting up high with a view of the tops of the palm trees and the sky that feels magical. I wish I’d thought to take a picture — actually I did think to take a picture, but I couldn’t find a view that really captured the essence of how it feels. I know it’s something about the palm trees, but it’s also that the air is fresher up higher, that it feels more ocean and sunlight, less traffic and dust. And I didn’t spend long searching for the perfect photo op, because it was so much nicer to just BE where I was than to be thinking about where I was and how it looked and whether the light worked, etc.

In other news, back in March of 2023, I mentioned that my dentist in Arcata thought I needed $10,000 worth of dental work and I was looking into dental tourism. I did look into dental tourism and had a whole trip scheduled for February of 2024, where Suzanne and I would drive to Arizona, I’d walk across the border and get my teeth taken care of while she hung out with dogs, then we’d meet up with my brother and a friend of his and hang out in Tucson for a couple weeks, exploring the area and having fun being tourists. Reservations were made, appointments were scheduled. But for obvious reasons, that trip did not happen.

A couple weeks ago, however, I went to a dentist here in Florida, who agreed with my dentist in CA. Unsurprisingly, it wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to do the dental work in FL, but I was still looking at spending the next six months or longer having dental appointments, as well as about $5000. I decided if I was going to spend $5000, I’d rather have an adventure to go with it, and so last week, one of my big projects (and my only successfully completed project) was to research dentists in Costa Rica. I’ve got an appointment, a hotel reservation, and a plane ticket now, so I’ll be heading to Costa Rica for ten days in May. I am both excited and anxious. Obviously, I think it’s going to be fine or I wouldn’t be doing it, but… whee! Solo travel! New country! Foreign language! I’ve added Spanish lessons to my daily Japanese lessons and am hastily trying to remind myself of the basics. I think it’s going to be fun, though. Well, somewhat fun. The major dental work, probably not so much fun.

Sophie has reached the stage of putting her paw on my arm and earnestly staring into my eyes, so it’s time to get my day started. But I woke up this morning with the certainty that today would be an excellent day, so I’m ready to get it started, too. Happy Monday!