A Visit with Alexa Verde

So, if you get Alexa’s newsletter, you already know that she invited Julia and me to spend a couple days with her in South Texas last week. 

I want to say that Alexa is just as sweet and amazing in person as she is in her newsletter and online. But we did get there when they were having somewhat of a cold snap, I guess. It didn’t feel cold to me, but I don’t live in South Texas, either. 

Anyway, Alexa lives pretty close to the beach, so she booked a hotel room with an awesome view of the ocean and I rented a car and picked her up.

I think I might have mentioned before that I’m a terrible driver. Part of what makes me so terrible is that I get distracted, either by losing myself in my head and forgetting to pay attention to road signs, etc, or by watching the scenery and forgetting I’m supposed to be paying attention to keeping the car on the road. 

That’s usually not too much of a problem, you drive off the road, and you just swing back on it. Bridges and tunnels are my downfall, though, and in order to get to the beach and our hotel, I had to drive across a bridge. One of those that go up high so boats can pass under them. Yeah. Probably not the best place for me to be looking at the ocean (and all the cool ships) and driving off the road. 

I think Alexa thought she was a worse driver than I was and I don’t think she realized how precarious our situation was, or else she’s just really cool under extreme amounts of stress, because she chatted like nothing was wrong as I white-knuckled the steering wheel and tried not to be distracted by glorious views of the ocean and wondering thoughts about where the ships came from and where they might be going. Tried.

At one point when we were on the bridge (it was a looong bridge) Alexa pointed out the fishermen who were standing in waist deep water and exclaimed how cold that must be. I had two thoughts. One that I voiced, which was that the fishermen must be serious about catching fish to be so dedicated. 

What I didn’t say was I was relieved the water was only waist deep, because if I accidentally drove off the bridge, the car wouldn’t be submerged and we could all hopefully get out without drowning. I was tempted to try to casually ask Alexa if she could swim, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to scare her. 

Anyway, we made it to the hotel and went to take a walk on the beach. Now, I’ve been to a bunch of beaches along the east coast and down in the gulf, including Mobile and Pensacola, and when I go out on the beach, I always take my shoes off and walk in my bare feet. Even in Ocean City, Maryland in February, I walked in my bare feet in the sand. I don’t know, I guess that’s just a thing for me. 

Anyway, I always hit the dunes, take my shoes off and leave them there. I think I kind of surprised Alexa, but she was too kind to say anything.

So, yeah, we sat on the beach and chatted. I was wearing a sweatshirt, but the sun was warm and I ended up taking it off. I left it where we were sitting when we decided to take a walk.

I almost wrapped my phone up in it, but decided I might want to take some pictures, so I carried that. Thankfully, since, when we came back to where we were, my sweatshirt had disappeared. 

I was more shocked than upset, and finally realized that either someone felt like they were cleaning litter up from the beach, or because of the cold snap, they needed my sweatshirt more than I did. I guess I was glad to make the donation. 

Ironically, that sweatshirt was from the OBX. Someone had already taken my puffer vest (and just so that none of you are skipping to the end of my story to find out, I did, indeed, have enough clothes so that I was not naked on the trip home) and, when we got to the edge of the dunes my shoes were still there. 

On the way home, Alexa gave me what I thought was her address to put into the GPS, but none of us saw anything on the trip home that looked familiar. 

We were on a toll road part of the time, and on the way out there had been no toll road, so when the GPS said to take the next right, and at the same time I saw a sign that said, “Next right International Free Trade Bridge to Mexico” I admit I panicked a bit because if I get lost in America where the road signs are in English, how will I ever find my way out of Mexico where the road signs are in Spanish? And, I know Alexa is really smart and she speaks five languages and all that, but I never thought to ask her if she could read those languages! 

I didn’t want to insult her, so I just eyeballed that sign, listened to the GPS telling me to take the right and tried to sound casual when I asked Alexa, “Does anything look familiar to you?”

Alexa assured me that we were close to her house and she knew the area and so I closed my eyes and took the exit. (Then I opened them quickly, since I was driving and Julia hates it when I close my eyes while I’m driving.)

Anyway, we dropped Alexa off, stopped for gas and the gas station declined my card. I had a small moment of panic while I thought about the long flights ahead and the idea of Julia going an entire day without eating.

Actually, a while ago I opened a checking account online. What the bank neglected to mention when I opened the account was that before they would release any of my money from that account, I had to show up in person at the bank. The nearest branch was in Richmond. 

So, I drove two hours to Virginia’s state capital and walked into the branch, waiting in line. The lady in front of me had some kind of issue that had her pretty upset, and, when the teller was finished helping her with her problem, the teller asked her if she would like to fill out a form to get a credit card. The teller started to go through all the benefits of the card, but the lady was upset and ended up being rather rude to the teller. She snapped at her and stomped off.

The teller was shaken and close to tears, so when I got to the window I made a little joke about how terrible my dl is, and she laughed and stopped looking like she was going to cry. After she’d confirmed the fact that I was who I was, the teller gave me the credit card offer. 

Normally I’d listen to her speil, then gently decline because the Bible says the borrower is servant to the lender and I hate, absolutely cannot stand, owing people money, so I didn’t have a credit card and never have. 

But that day I felt bad for the teller after the abuse she took from the lady in front of me and figured she probably got some kind of perk when people signed up. So, anyway, I filled out the form and ended up with a credit card. 

I had paid for the car rental in full online (I hate owing money) except a few fees they wouldn’t allow me to pay until I got to the car rental counter at the airport. I handed the woman the card I’d used to pay online. She looked at it, shook her head and said, “I’m sorry. If you’re going to use a debit card we’re going to have to charge a $500 deposit and I’ll need to see another form of government-issued id with your picture on it.” 

Well, that kind of floored me. I almost said my library card doesn’t have my picture on it. Is a mug shot okay? but I didn’t figure she’d appreciate my humor at that moment. 

Anyway, I stood there trying to figure out what to do, when I remembered the credit card I hadn’t wanted, but had gotten just to do something nice for someone. Isn’t it funny the way God works things out? 

So, yeah, I paid the car rental fees with my credit card. Julia was standing there beside me while all of that was happening. 

Then, after we’d dropped Alexa off and stopped for gas, Julia had her window down while I got out to try to pump gas and my debit card – the one I used to pay for the car rental online and buy my flight tickets to the town I was standing in – had been shut off by my bank. Sometimes things just don’t make sense, right? You’d think the computer would figure out where I was, and that it would make sense for me to be buying gas in that town, but you’d figure wrong. 

Anyway, I stood at the gas pump and said, “I can’t believe they shut off my card.” And Julia, who usually worries much more than I do, said, “Mom! You have that credit card!” 

So, yeah, super neat how God worked that rude lady’s actions out for good.

So, my card got declined when I tried to buy gas, but I was able to pay for it with my credit card, then at the airport I got flagged at security because I put the wrong birth date in for myself when I bought the ticket (who DOES that? And I made myself older than I am, so you know it was an accident), so we had to walk back across the airport to the far counter and got to go through all the lines again, (Julia really loves me) but we did make it to the gate in time to board so Julia did not have to ride to Dallas on the wing of an airplane. 

I already told you Alexa was awesome, and I wanted to share three things I learned about her on my trip:

1. She is constantly looking for everyday items to use as murder weapons. (Alexa is actually very sweet, so this was surprising to me, but she assured me it is perfectly normal behavior for someone who writes romantic suspense.)

2. She has great taste in Cowboy boots! (And also in booking ocean-view hotel rooms!)

3. If you need a partner for an eating contest, Alexa is your girl. (Alexa and I hereby challenge any other author pair to an eating contest, loser pays for the food. Spread the word!)

Alright, and, what is a vacation without pictures, right? So, here is a pic of Alexa and me – can you guess who is who? : )

Thanks so much for spending time with me today!

Hugs and blessings,

~Jessie 🍁

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