Nate’s Birthday Getaway to Dog Beach

Do you ever just need to get out of town? After the excitement of Christmas passed, Shannon and I began to get antsy. So, we decided at the last-minute to pack up the car and take the dog on a two-day trip to the beach for my birthday.

North of Huntington Beach, CA, there is the world-famous Dog Beach, one of the few places anywhere in the country where a dog is free to runaround leash-free on the beach and splash or swim in the waves. Maverick is a huge fan of swimming, so we wondered how he would like the ocean.

December 30, 2009: Nate’s Birthday
We found a room at the pet-friendly Balboa Inn in Newport Beach, notified everyone that my birthday plans had changed, and hit the road. Maverick slept in the back of the SUV for most of the way. When we stopped for a bathroom break and snack at In-n-Out, Maverick got out to run around and have a bathroom break of his own.

We arrived in Huntington Beach in time for an afternoon stroll along the beach (no dogs allowed on the pier?) and a late lunch at Wahoo’s. I picked up a new beanie and my first pair of Sanuks at the local surf shop before we loaded up again for the quick drive down to Newport Beach.

The Balboa Inn is right on the beach near the pier on the peninsula. Our room was beyond small but perfect for the three of us. It began to rain as we arrived, so we spent the rest of the afternoon reading in bed (and in Maverick’s case, napping on the floor).

As dinnertime neared, the rain let up, and we all got in the car for a quick trip south to dinner in Corona del Mar at Bandera. My dad, sister, and step-mom met up with us for my birthday dinner. We shared a couple bottles of merlot and plates of roasted chicken, ribs, pork tenderloin, lamb, skillet cornbread, and plenty of sides. Well, I never did get a bite of Thayer’s lamb sandwich…guess it was really good. Honestly, we were all beyond full, but I had heard the banana dessert was amazing, so we all shared one. And it was.

After dinner, everyone came to the car to meet Maverick before we said good-bye and drove back to the inn.

As we pulled in, the air was still and the moonlight cast a dim, silver light on the beach. Maverick, Shannon, and I enjoyed a peaceful night walk along the beach path and even ventured onto the sand for a bit where Maverick happily discovered a buried ping-pong ball. We slept with the window open that night and made sure not to set an alarm.

December 31, 2009
I awoke to a cold, foggy New Year’s eve morning and a dog happy to see someone else was up. After throwing on jeans and a hoodie, Maverick and I headed down to the beach for some frisbee in the fog. It took him awhile to realize he couldn’t run to catch the frisbee quite as quickly in the sand as he could at home on the grass.

After our morning game of frisbee, everyone was ready for breakfast, and on the last morning of 2009, that meant pastry and coffee.

When I was growing up in Corona del Mar, the neighborhood bakery was C’est Si Bon. My sisters, my parents, and I had all told Shannon about it, but she had never been. Sadly, the Corona del Mar location has long been closed, but the original store in Newport Beach is still going strong. Though they don’t have as extensive a menu as they did when I was a kid, I am happy to report C’est Si Bon still has great pastry. We shared croissants, cinnamon rolls, and an apple walnut roll. We took a couple more croissants to-go and picked up an almond croissant to take back to my mom in Las Vegas.

We then met up one last time with my dad, step-mom, and sister for coffee at Peet’s, and headed up the coast highway for the day’s main attraction: Dog Beach.

Suffice it to say, New Year’s Eve 2009 may have been the best day of Maverick’s life. Dog Beach is over a mile of beautiful, flat, sandy coastline where dogs happily run free chasing frisbees and tennis balls on the beach and in the water. For over an hour, Maverick raced other dogs to catch the balls Shannon through in the water. He and I swam together through the whitewash. And after a quick water break, he was ready to do it all over again.

As the day came to an end, we dropped Maverick off at Petsmart for some grooming while Shannon and I went to Wahoo’s a second time. On the drive back, we stopped at In-n-Out again for dinner, but this time Maverick was less interested in running around to stretch his legs and more interested in returning to the car to continue his nap. We arrive back home at 11 p.m., just enough time to unpack and watch the fireworks go off before falling asleep for the first time in 2010.

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