And on the second day of Christmas . . . my humans and I jumped into my chariot and took a quick drive to New Orleans to meet my Instagram friend @goldenluver, also known as Erika, who’s visiting the Big Easy from her home in Indiana. Naturally, our tour of New Orleans had to begin at my favorite watering hole, The District. We then headed to Grand Isle for a bite to eat and a very nice visit. Miss Erika has three sweet Golden Retrievers back home–Bogey, Bear, and Bagus. She was having major Golden Retriever withdrawal, which means that I got lots and lots of love and attention. Perfect for me!
Then we went on a short tour of New Orleans hotel lobbies. (My human mommy says that you absolutely must visit New Orleans for Christmas so that you can see the decorations in the hotel lobbies. They are truly stunning.) Our first stop was the Windsor Court Hotel. While Miss Erika and my mommy went into the lobby to enjoy the festive atmosphere, my human daddy and I waited outside in the beautiful courtyard. And that’s when the doorman uttered these magical words: “You can go inside. We’re completely dog friendly.” It was the poshest place I’ve ever been. Mommy was so stunned by the fact that I could go into the lobby, she totally cut off Santa’s head in my photo in front of the Christmas tree. But it was a day I’ll always remember . . . meeting yet another of my fabulous Instagram friends, showing her my favorite spots in one of my favorite cities, and walking into the Windsor Court Hotel to see the beautiful Christmas decorations. What a perfect Second Day of Christmas!
Can you believe that life got even better after my first day at the beach? Can you believe that I woke up the next morning and got to go back to the beach?
And can you believe that I was joined by friends? I had a Golden Beach Bash with eight of my Golden Retriever Instagram friends. It was the best day ever! We started gathering around 11 a.m. at Canova Beach Park, the only dog-friendly beach in Brevard County, Florida. It was a little chilly, slightly overcast, a bit drizzly, and the wind was blowing like crazy. But we didn’t care. That’s Sam on the far left, Brinkley, Carter, and Cupcake. I’m the one on the right with the super happy and totally silly grin.
The day was organized by my friend Carter’s mom. His mom is the hostess with the mostest. She made the fabulous reindeer bandanas for all of us. Isn’t Cater the most handsome boy ever? And why do I look like such a wet rat? Oh well, I didn’t care. I was at the beach . . . with friends . . . and it was the best day ever!
And if you think I was happy, just look at my humans. I would say they were in hog heaven, but it was more like dog heaven . . . Golden dog heaven. That’s my daddy kissing Carter with me hidden in the background . . .
. . . and there’s my mommy with Carter and Harper Lee bookends. More than two weeks have passed since that day, and Mommy still has that smile on her face.
That’s my daddy handing out treats. Carter’s in the middle getting a treat; I’m on the left; and Sam is on the right. It looks like Sam was getting ready to move closer so she could be in better treat-gathering position. I just look like I’m wondering why in the world Daddy is handing out treats to others. The humans distributed a lot of treats that day . . . when they weren’t snapping photos.
Believe it or not, Mommy didn’t take that many pictures. She was having too much fun hugging all of my friends. That’s Brinkley. Brinkley looks just about as happy about hugs as I am.
It’s not a real beach party until the new girl’s face is covered with sand. Just for the record, I was the new girl.
Carter, Cupcake, and I took a quick moment to pose with our reindeer antler headbands. I’m on the left, looking for my daddy at the other end of the beach; Cupcake’s on the right, looking toward the sky in hopes that treats will fall; and Carter’s in the middle, looking handsome for the camera. Can you tell which one of us is the show dog?
The party ended around 3 p.m. with a final group photo. Actually, the party ended with many, many, many attempts to get the perfect group photo. Finally, the humans abandoned any hopes for perfection and settled for fun. Fun is what you get with nine Golden Retrievers at the beach. In the front row, from left to right, that’s Riley, Sam, Cupcake, Brinkley, and Glory and Katie from Lakewood Golden Retrievers. I’m in the back row with Carter in the middle and Luna on the right (Luna and Riley are sister and brother, but they have different human families).
I had driven 760 miles across the Louisiana border and then through Mississippi, Alabama, and most of Florida. (Technically, I was chauffeured, but you know what I mean.) I had enjoyed a magical day in Melbourne, Florida. I put my toes in the sand and frolicked in the surf for the first time in my life. And then I got to spend a day at the beach with eight of the very best Golden Instagram friends ever. The next day, my friend Carter’s mom had a Christmas photo shoot planned for me (you’ll have to wait to see those photos). Then I would hop into the car and drive with my humans to Tampa for one night before heading back to Baton Rouge. But that night, after a wonderful day at the beach, I put my little head down, drifted off to la-la land, and had sweet dreams of my fabulous day . . . the best day ever!
It happened, friends. It really and truly finally happened. After driving 760 miles for 13 hours (we made a few stops), spending a relaxing night at the hotel, and a taking a leisurely morning stroll through historic downtown Melbourne, Florida, it finally happened. I made it to the beach. I put my toes in the sand, surveyed the waves, breathed in the ocean breeze, and glanced back at my humans as if to say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
And then I headed straight for that water. For the first time in my life–after five years, eight months, and five days on this Earth–I was in the ocean. I think my human daddy was every bit as excited as I was.
We walked and walked and walked along dog-friendly Canova Beach Park. My humans kept telling each other how wonderful it was that I liked the beach and how great it was that I wanted to be in the water and how happy they were that the waves didn’t bother me. Seriously, humans? I’m a Golden Retriever. Of course I like the beach. I was just wondering why it took you so long to take me there.
And then, just like that, the humans told me that it was time to go. They were hungry and we needed to find a place to eat. What? They promised that we would return to the beach. My humans keep their promises, so I reluctantly agreed to join them for lunch.
So we headed back to downtown Melbourne and discovered dog-friendly La Crepe de France.
La Crepe is owned by Patrice Chaffaut from Brittany, France, and his lovely wife Celeste. Their sweet daughter Nadege was our waitress. You might be wondering why I look a little drunk in this photo.
Well, the very creative menu offers suggested craft beer and wine pairings for each crepe. Yum! I also had a bit of turkey from lovely Celeste, so it’s possible that the tryptophan tired me out (although I’ve heard that’s actually a myth). Mommy had the Parisian–smoked turkey, sliced apple, glazed walnuts, brie, and honey on a traditional white crepe–with La Chouffe Strong Pale Ale from Belgium. Are you drooling yet? Daddy enjoyed La Tarragon–chunks of chicken breast and organic mushrooms in a creamy tarragon sauce served on an organic buckwheat crepe–with another Belgian beer called Duvel. I know you’re drooling now. There’s a good chance that my humans would get back in the car and drive 760 miles to see Patrice, Celeste, and Nadege at La Crepe de France.
Thankfully my humans were able to roll themselves out of La Crepe so that we could go back to the beach.
Now I totally understand why my mommy is so crazy about the ocean.
Before we could leave the beach for the day, there was one last thing that we had to do. You might recall my dear, sweet Golden friend Bear. In August 2013, after Bear lost his battle to cancer, I wrote this about him in a post titled “Remembering Bear”:
Even though I live in South Louisiana and he lived in Southern California and more than 1,700 miles separated us and we never actually met, Bear was my friend . . . and he was special. Bear loved the beach. He called the ocean his, and it was. Last October, when Bear had tweeted several playful beach photos, I tweeted back that I loved the photos and I was with him in spirit, romping through the waves. I still love Bear’s response: “So glad! I’ll put you in my mind next time I go to the beach so you can come with me! BearHUG!!!”
This past May, Bear found out that he had cancer. His incredibly loving human mom and dad did everything they could to make him better. But perhaps more importantly they did everything they could to make Bear happy. Bear ate pizza. He swam in his ocean and he chased his tennis ball. Bear enjoyed dinner from Smashburger. He dressed up for opening day at Del Mar Racetrack. He visited his favorite park and he rolled in the grass. Saturday evening, my mommy read this tweet from Bear:
Woof bye anipals. I am going to see Fuzz & Oliver real soon. Thx for being my friends. #bearHUGs
My mommy hugged me, and she cried, and she cried, and she cried. And I knew that I had lost a friend. One day, Bear, I will visit the beach and I will put you in my mind so that you can come with me.
I had finally made it to the beach, and my humans and I put Bear in our minds and our hearts, and he was there with us.
It was quite a day, friends. But the best was yet to come. Stay tuned!