What a trip!
From last-minute repacking to accommodate the newest fear mongering (No liquids! No gels! No toothpaste! No Tylenol Gel Caps!) to being seated in middle seats, 2 rows apart in the back of the plane, to being berated by the Chinese lady with a very bad dye job about not buying the extra rental insurance, Thursday’s leg started off, hm, not great. Hulk hadn’t had any sleep the night before (stupid insomnia) but once he divested himself of his stomach contents while I wrangled the rental car keys away from aforementioned bad dye job, he started to feel a bit better. We made it across the bay and met QIR for some late-night Ethernopian, settled in on her futon, and ended the evening much better than the day had started.
(My haircut was fine, and I like it. I paid $50 for the damn thing including tip but I figure since it’s been a year and a half since I cut it, it wasn’t a high price to pay.)
Friday we cooked a leisurely breakfast and drove to the city. We shopped for a reunion outfit for the Hulk (Johnny Cash-esque), QIR found me a shirt at Marshalls, shoes were gawked at but not purchased and we found one of the two H&Ms in SF (Turns out it was the wrong one, and that we should have gone to the flagship store. Oh well.) What I really wanted was a wrap or a sweater or something for my reunion dress, and I found this little black lace-edged shrug thing that ended up being perfect. We ambled up to Chinatown, got our egg tarts (hooray! egg tarts!) and window shopped, and had some passable food in a little informal restaurant with only Chinese people inside (usually a good sign).
Then it was back to the Beast to shower and dress and meet Leah and Simon for sushi in Albany. Leah is really the only person who comments on my blog who I didn’t already know for years from Eurotrip, and I started reading her blog when I found that she wrote frequently about adventures in the Bay Area. It was lovely to meet both of them; we had an amazing sushi experience that more than made up for our crappy time in March, and then we hung out in a pub for several hours. I was kind of sad that they live in CA and we live in CO, because it was kickass to hang out with them. Perhaps next time we’re out.
Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed after not-enough-sleep and ran a few errands. I made my Berkeley Bowl pilgrimage and we picked up fancy mushrooms and fruit (even a dragon fruit from Southeast Asia! I was so excited to see one in the US!) and breakfast things to bring to my mom’s. Driving over the underrated Richmond-San Rafael bridge, up 101 through Marin and Sonoma counties, I was reminded of all the times I’d made that drive over the years, noting all of the familiar towns, trees, features of the land that are like noplace else. My mom’s yard was jungly and green as usual, and we got ready for the party.
The reunion should have its own post. I’m still kind of processing. Long story short: it was good. I had a good time. Hulk was nice enough to put up with an entire evening full of mostly people he’d never met. More later.
Sunday we lounged at my mom’s, eating sourdough bread (ah, SF sourdough, nothing like it on earth) and peaches and eggs with stuff and some of the dragonfruit. I wasn’t impressed; it wasn’t nearly as good as the dragonfruit we’d had in China. Perhaps it was a fluke; perhaps it should have been chilled; perhaps that kind of fruit just doesn’t travel well. Ah, well. I did manage to get some pretty pictures of it. We drove around Dry Creek Valley and up to Lake Sonoma to show Hulk and my sister’s BF (henceforth known as Drat) a new part of the county. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts the lookout point road is closed and we attempted to hike to the point, only to find that it was a much longer hike than we’d expected. So we drove down to the tiny dock and watched people playing with boats and ski-dos for a while.
My mom took us to the World Famous Hamburger Ranch for lunch. It wasn’t nearly as good as I’d remembered (my food was pretty bad; the service was terrible) but there were a whole bunch of really cool old shiny cars out in the parking lot. And a picture of Joey Tribbiani on the wall.
After getting updates on the status of the horrendous traffic from sister and Drat, we decided to wait it out a bit. We stopped at Trader Joe’s in Santa Rosa and found that while S&D had had stop and go traffic for hours, we’d waited long enough and only had slowdowns in the usual places. Sunday night was spent in the company of QIR and another friend in from Ireland/London, the type of guy who can hoist a Guinness and whose dry, quiet humor always makes me laugh, the guy who took me to a No Doubt opening for U2 concert in 2001 the first time he met me in thanks for getting the grand walking tour of SF. It seems as though his trips to the Bay Area tend to coincide with ours, and it was lovely to see him as always. QIR made us all some fabulous drinks from her fabulous bar, and we all drank entirely too much. Shocking!
Monday mostly passed in a haze of not enough sleep plus too much booze, stopping in at Comic Relief before taking my sister away from her awful job for an hour for lunch. We sagely advised her on guidebook brands for the kind of travelers she and Drat will probably find themselves to be in Greece, and we drove her back to work, went to the airport, drank all our water before the security checkpoint, and enjoyed our side-by-side (he on window, I on aisle) bulkhead seats on the first flight. The layover at LAX was only notable for the awfully stale potato chips purchased to fulfill our salty snack craving (you can tell we weren’t feeling great because we bought POTATO CHIPS, but LAX didn’t leave us many options) and the roving pack of guys in army fatigues who looked like I might have changed their diapers if they’d grown up in my town. There were perhaps 12 or 15 of them and someone from TSA was rolling a SmartCarte full of plastic gloves behind them. I never understood what that was all about.
Our friend Julie picked us up at the airport (thank Jeebus, we didn’t have to take the bus and then walk home, not arriving ’til prolly 1 AM), our kitties said hello (well, Loki said “Yay! You’re home! I will talk to you all night, steal your pillow repeatedly, and butt my head against you marking you up as much as possible” and Petra said “Harumph. You left me.”) and we fell into bed after noting that indeed, our privacy fence exists (hooray!).
It was a jam-packed, emotion- and booze- and good food-filled weekend, and I “worked from home” today to give myself a chance to vacate a bit from my vacation. Reunion post and a post about my friend who (literally) never farts coming soon.