Travel Diary Entry One: Tennessee Valley hike to beach (Alone with double B.O.B. and twins)

“We’re going to the beach! We’re going to the beach! We’re going to the beach!” I sing to Jack and Fiona. I’m jumping up and down. They smile sitting in their high chairs eating waffles and strawberries. I am making stuff for our picnic, quesadillas, cutting up more strawberries, making a nice salad, 2 bottles of milk, and I’m bringing a beer. Billy is looking through the back door, dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, I feel really guilty. I want to check out this hike though. Sorry Billy. Sunscreen, hats, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, teething biscuits, water, beach blanket, shoes, I think we’re ready to go. We are listening to the Sirius reggae station, sun roof open, I’m feeling excited. I’m feeling the same excitement I felt before Jack and Fiona, when I would take my hikes and beach trips with Billy and Zappa. The drive is short, no traffic. We turn down Tennessee Valley road, I lower all the windows, turn off the radio. I’ve never drove down this road before, dogs aren’t allowed on these trails. The only time I was at Tennessee Beach was the time I took my mom and brother on a hike. We started at the Miwok trail by Fort Cronkite. Instead of just following the regular route I took them on an adventure, we scurried down a really steep hillside to get to the beach. Then we had to walk super far to get back. I think they wanted to kill me! My mom and I got really bad poison oak too. The parking lot for the Tennessee Valley trail head is by Miwok stables. I got the babies into the B.O.B. stroller, loaded as much as I could into the underneath storage and showed Jack and Fiona the horses. I say “Neigh” like I do when I read their stories. “That’s a horsey, a beautiful horsey.” I’m not sure they are making the connection. We start down the trail to the beach, it’s almost 2 miles. My friend who has one baby told me it was easy. Maybe with one but with the double B.O.B., 50 lbs of baby, my back pack, I think it’s challenging. It’s definitely a work out. It’s mostly downhill to the beach, there’s a nice breeze, the tree’s move, total peace. We say our hellos to people walking back up from the beach, a lady with a baby asks, “Are those twins?” I say “Yes” She says “I’m a twin, I really want twins. Do twins run in your family?” I say “My husband’s mom had two sets of twins.” We have this conversation a lot when we’re out and about. We get closer to the beach, the babies drink their bottles on the way. I smell the ocean, I am so happy. This is our first trip alone to the beach. All the years I was trying to get pregnant, each month when I was hoping, when there was still hope, I thought to myself I’m going to take my baby to the beach all the time. With twins it’s not possible, the stroller is impossible to roll on thick sand. I am fearing that this will be the case when we get to the beach but I have lots of ideas of how to make it work. I can take one baby at a time super-fast down to the beach, or we can walk back to a picnic spot, we’ve passed several nice ones along the way. But my heart is set on sitting in front of those waves, listening to them crash, sharing my love for the ocean with Jack and Fiona. We get to the sand, it’s not that bad, I employ my upper body strength and get us to a great spot on the beach. I lay out the blanket, sit Jack and Fiona down on the edge, put on their hats and take a picture. They pull off their hats, they put sand, which at this beach is rocks in their mouth. “Don’t take off your hat! Don’t put that in your mouth! What’s in your mouth? You can choke, that’s a big rock!!” Plan B is to slather sunscreen all over their heads, I try to get their faces covered as much as possible and keep putting their hats back on. It’s the best I can do. I think it will be O.K. We eat our picnic, I drink my beer, it’s really hot out. I worry a bit about sun stroke but again, I know it will be O.K. Jack runs so much on the beach, he comes back to the blanket and lays down. So precious. I change diapers, put the babies in short sleeve onesies and into their stroller. They are tired. I pack up and head out, looking back every few minutes at the coast. I turn the stroller around and tell Jack and Fiona to wave goodbye to the beautiful ocean. Ten minutes into the hike back the babies are asleep. There’s a sweet little picnic site near the parking lot I sit and eat my salad with my fingers because I forgot a fork. At first it feels weird but I start grabbing the lettuce, beets, cucumbers, and putting it in my mouth. I mix the dressing perfectly. It’s amazing. My hand is all dirty. First Jack wakes up, he watches me eating like him. I finish and pick him up. He smiles, we’re under a huge tree, green grass is all around us and Jack wants to explore again. Fiona wakes up next, There’s a black bird on the ground next to her. I pick Fiona up, put her on the ground to explore. I wish we could stay longer but I have no more food or bottles. “I’m gonna take you guys home now for chicken soup.” I say. What a great day we had.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist