Then toss in:
Stir well, and you'll get a typical outing with Richard, Ivy, Bethy, Sabs, Ronnie, and I. A day full of laughter, noisy hilarity, thinly veiled innuendos, and the usual mass hysteria that always ensues when this crowd gets together.
Saturday, Richard and I drove down Bethy and Sabs' afterdinner-mint house in Berkeley, to scritch kitty heads and catch up on careers before heading out in the minivan to pick up Ivy and Ronnie. From there, it was off to Olive Garden, where those of us with morals argued with those who were more free-spirited about whether the breadsticks should be clothed or left to hang free. There was pasta with sausages and meatballs. Alfredo sauce abounded. The water was plentiful, and we left, sated perhaps a bit too much, but ready for adventure (and probably not a bit too soon for those seated around us. We tend to be a fairly boisterous crowd).
Off to the Presido we drove, Sabs doing seat belt tests all the way there as he pretended that the minivan was really a compact car. He took the teasing and screeching from the rear seats in good humor. I'm sure it didn't help that we had him laughing half the trip.
Bethy and Sabs had been to this area the weekend before and had found this truly gorgeous spot. It was a bit off the track, but we parked and all piled out of the van to take in the breathtaking view over the cliff and out across the ocean. The presence of a tiny path was too tempting for some of us, so four of us headed down toward the beach far, far below. Those of us who are just not all that keen on heights (that would be me!) kept our eyes to the ground and tried our best not to slide right off the cliff to the rocks below. It was slippery and rough going at times, but occasionally we'd reach a bluff that would offer yet another impressive view, with the beach just enough closer to tantalize us into going the distance.
It wasn't until we were nearly there and could see the beach itself that we realized that it was inhabited primarily by men. Nude men. This was a new experience for me. Heck, I've never even skinny-dipped before, and here we were, amid naked men. What with the water crashing against the rocks, the pristine beach, the pelicans and seagulls soaring overhead, and of course the inhabitants, the scenery certainly was um....impressive.
Bethy was first out of her shoes and running for the waves, but the rest of us soon joined her. It's been an awfully long time since I've splashed in the ocean - too long since the feel of sand as it slips away under my feet with the surf, the swirl of the foam from the waves, the grit of salt coating the skin. There's something a bit magical about the ocean. Lakes may be crystal clear, placid and cool to the touch, but there is nothing like the feel and sight and smell of salt water as it crashes against rocks and eddies around your bare feet.
I think we'd all have been perfectly content to stay there for hours, but two of our little group had stayed up above, so we reluctantly squished back out of the water, having remembered early on that rolling pants legs up never works because the water always splashes higher than you expect, and promising to go back again, next time bringing towels and changes of clothes.
Going back up that cliff was just about as bad as I'd expected - the trail was steep - but bare feet actually made it easier - toes grip rocks easier than sneaker soles, and so by the time we made it back to the clifftop and the cars, it was easy to brush off the sand before putting shoes back on, although it took a few of us a bit longer to catch our breath (okay, so I'm *really* more out of shape than I'd thought!).
After that rather exhausting trip up and down a cliff, the four of us weren't in any mood to do much more exercise, so after a brief stop at the Palace of Fine Arts to admire the sculptured archways outside, we all decided to go to the Metreon and see what was playing. We ended up watching Beautiful, which was a predictable, but nonetheless entertaining film.
The day ended late, as these gatherings so often do, and Richard and I regretfully bid our farewells. It's perfectly beautiful days like these that make me wish, even if only for a brief moment, that we lived a bit closer to the Bay Area. Oh, I'd hate the traffic, and the cost of living is insanely expensive, and I'd miss the smaller town atmosphere of home, but sometimes, oh sometimes....