Trip through the Southwest,
6-23-05 Thursday, Davis,
got off of work a bit early.
went home to make sure everything was in order. meryl and i left the house
for LA at around 6:15pm.
drove to stockton and found
a suitable (one that had a TV playing game 7 of the nba finals) place for
dinner. turns out they have a graduate there, i thought that was a davis
only thing, guess it's a chain. learn something new everyday.
i had a burger and fries,
she had a blt. both were good.
pistons lost mostly because
of some good shots made by duncan down the stretch. don't remember all
the specifics, care not to at this point.
i drove the rest of the
way to my mom's place and arrived at about 130am. mom woke up and i introduced
her to meryl. we all talked for a bit and then went to sleep.
woke up early, 7-ish.
drove to beverly hills
to see sarah graduate from high school. meryl kept insisting that a 9am
graduation was out of the ordinary, i honestly didn't think about it. hers
was at 5pm, mine (if memory serves) was around noon. having it early is
nice because it gets it out of the way and, since it was outdoors, it's
still relatively temperate. the graduation featured the normal level of
pomp and circumstance. it was about 1hr 45mins long, had some boring speeches
and then it was over. i'm proud of sarah for making it through high school
without much trouble.
after graduation i drove
meryl around west la a bit. showed her my high school and my old stomping
grounds. didn't make it to santa monica which is a shame. we didn't have
much time so after a brief tour of the westside we went to brentwood to
have lunch with my sister, mom, grandmother, aunt, sarah's friend (gary
sinise's niece who was on her cell phone quite a bit), and mom's neighbors.
at this point meryl had
met everyone in my family who is really important except my maternal grandfather.
after the lunch i walked
sarah to meryl's car and laid some vinyl on her as a graduation present.
hopefully she liked it. after that i went to paid a visit to malcolm (my
old bug). sarah has trashed it pretty thoroughly. i started it up and it
runs a bit rough at first, but runs okay after it warms up. it was painful
to see it in such sore shape. the front end was replaced with primed body
pieces because of sarah's most recent accident and there were several large
gashes that came as a result of other people not knowing how to park.
after that i took meryl
down sunset to see the strip. we went into amoeba and bought some things.
i met up with a work-related friend (frank) to say hi and he returned a
movie that i had previously lent him.
having exhausted the possibilities
of sunset we headed over to my dad's place to hang with him and sarah.
we went to westwood village (as is the custom) played some video games
and ate pizza. i kicked meryl's ass at air-hockey, a racing game and basketball.
while in westwood my dad pointed to a parking meter which had a wire that
ran its length and went into the street and asked what it was it was. i
hadn't seen it before, it looked like a regular parking meter, but with
a covered wire that ran into the street. i theorized that it was a way
of resetting the meter when a car left with any time left on the clock.
i'm probably right and it's actually a surprise that that's not a more
ubiquitous device. afterwards we went to a movie store and my dad bought
a vertigo poster. a good time was had by all. it was fun hanging out with
three of my favorite people.
we returned to my dad's
place and i set up the receiver which i brought down for him. after i left
he was one digital coax cable away from true surround sound.
after a long day we went
home to my mom's to sleep.
woke up on the early side
to get a jump on the day. we went to breakfast with my mom at some place
in the valley and were served by a waitress on meth.
left LA around 11 or so
and set course for joshua tree national park (been there once before with
dad and sister).
went through the valley
and san bernadino to get to joshua tree. it's a nice enough park, but not
worth a full day's visit. on the way in i spent the $50 my mom gave (thanks!)
me on an annual national parks pass.
it's a great deal since we planned on visiting at least three national
parks and it goes to a great cause so i had no problem doing it.
LA, Joshua Tree, Arizona
the visitor's center was
built in the 30s as one of the many WPA projects. going around the country
and seeing the national parks is like a tour of everything that's right
with the roosevelts - TR and what he did to establish numerous parks across
the country and FDR and all the ways his new deal programs helped build
infrastructure throughout the parks system.
joshua tree behind us we
grew hungry. we stopped at a small californian town called needles. everything
about it was pretty average for a small town off the interstate. i had
a mushroom burger and fries. when i went to the bathroom to wash up i noticed
an odd dispenser. usually they have condom dispensers, but this place had
a fragrance dispenser. $.25 and you could get one of three scents inspired
by calvin klein and other designer names. it was hilarious.
drove through california
and camped out in chloride arizona (packsaddle, BLM site). arizona has
the 2nd most vehicle deaths per 100 million vehicle miles (2.6) according
to my lonely planet guide to the usa. the campground was 9 miles off the
highway and it was a bad dirt road. we were also driving up there at about
10pm and there was a climb of about 3500 feet. we spent the night there
and it was nice to be away from everything.
being on the road away
from everything for a few days makes you pensive; at least it should. i
got to thinking about the people who made that 9 mile road (and all the
others like it) cut into the hillside near chloride arizona. the trailblazers
who first traversed the rockies or the grand canyon, the people who took
everything they had, put it in a wagon and did 10-20 miles a day for however
many days it took to get to wherever it was they were going.
view from the campsite:
6-26-05 Sunday, Arizona,
Canyon, New Mexico, Colorado
woke up early thanks to
the rising sun's heat and light. broke camp and headed down the 9 mile
road to civilization.
a couple hours later we
were at the grand canyon's south rim. i had been to the north rim twice.
south rim is warmer and much busier (90% of the traffic goes through the
walked along the rim, listened
to a ranger talk, took pictures and talked.
along the way there was
a one-legged woman going the opposite direction of us and a family ahead
of us. after she passed a young girl turned to a woman i presumed to be
her mother (but wasn't) and said: "that lady had her leg cut off." the
female guardian said "girl! if your mother doesn't teach you some manners
i'm going to knock the shit out of her and you!" i burst out laughing as
meryl and i were passing them. i just couldn't hold it back. hopefully
the girl's mother is slightly more understanding than the woman who was
the grand canyon is amazing
and should be seen by all. it's the kind of thing that makes you seem amazingly
small and, to me, it's far more impressive than the tallest skyscraper.
yes, a skyscraper is impressive in part because it signals a pause in man's
relentless desire to destroy (albeit only long enough to make something
for the purpose of making more money), but they're never as impressive
as landmarks created by thousands of years of aging and weathering.
on federal highway 160
heading towards the four corners we came across a 20 minute delay. meryl
got out and walked a bit until some people in an RV stopped her and said
hi. she talked with them about the delay, they turned out to be from sacramento.
it turned out to be a really bad two car collision which required a helicopter
and several ambulances, police cars and fire trucks. the cars looked about
as fucked up as i've ever seen. here is where you should be remembering
that stat on arizona vehicle deaths.
notice the backed up
traffic as a result of the accident...the accident occurred right at the
point where the road meets the horizon on this picture.
noticed quite a few hitchhikers
in this area as well. it's a shitty place to try to catch a ride, believe
me. it's out in the middle of nowhere - there's no roadside shade, it's
on a highway and it's 90+ degrees. most of the hitchhikers seemed to be
native americans. new mexico has 25.3% of its population below the poverty
line, that makes it first in the nation. i'm sure that that has something
to do with the utter failure of our dept of the interior to deal with the
native american population.
we had planned on visiting
the four corners and finding a place to rest before heading off to mesa
verde (we saw a picture of it at the grand canyon and decided, on a whim,
to visit it). unfortunately the turn off was so poorly marked that we missed
the exit and had to turn around. i found a suitable turnaround area, which
was located next to a 'welcome to colorado' sign. meryl got out and took
a picture of the sign and we headed back towards four corners. when we
got there we were blocked from entering by a stoic navajo woman in a truck
who said that the site was closed for the day. when i went with my dad
and sister it was late at night. i remember it was the day jerry garcia
died and i didn't know who he was at the time. at any rate, we went very
late and the site wasn't closed at all. apparently, at some point between
then and now the navajo nation was put in charge of the site and has applied
hours to the monument. we chatted with a family from texas who said they
had come all the way from salt lake city to see the monument, but were
turned away. when we drove up it was actually just a couple minutes before
the hour so the site shouldn't have been closed. at one point the texan
father asked in the thickest texan accent ever: "do y'all always close
five minutes early?" he even offered the woman $20 to let the family in
to take one picture, but she wasn't having any of it. the wife took a picture
of the woman as a memento of their failed attempt to see the four corners,
meryl took a picture of the wife taking a picture. it was great. meryl
and i couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if the signage
for the area was better, thus allowing us to see the exit before it was
too late. of what would have happened if we hadn't decided to take that
snapshot of the 'welcome to colorado' sign. oh well.
somewhat bitter we continued
to cortez colorado where we got a hotel for the night. the purveyor of
the hotel had one of the cutest little kids i've ever seen. it was late,
but we were hungry and on vacation so the regular rules didn't apply. we
left the hotel and went to a local denny's. the town was somewhat downtrodden.
wendy's was the local hangout of the teens and meryl got yelled at by some
boys in a car driving by while she was checking the local theater for showtimes.
the denny's waitress was very nice and eager to give information on mesa
verde, the road towards durango, etc.
meryl saw an advertisement
for "glo-golf" in durango. it's mini-golf played indoors in the dark with
black lights. we resolved to hit that up the next day after mesa verde
we awoke at a reasonable
hour and left the hotel for mesa verde, a short drive.
Colorado, Mesa Verde, New Mexico,
while approaching mesa
verde i noticed a definite haze that limited our view of the rockies and
the surrounding hills. i found out later that it was thanks to several
fires in CA, AZ, NM and UT. it was unfortunate. the drive up to the visitor
center at mesa verde was long and winding. there was evidence of a recent
fire which i guessed to be 3 years old. it turned out to be five years
old. there was more fire damage near the visitor center which was ten years
old. it reminded me of the fire damaged landscape in parts of yellowstone...beautiful
in its own way.
mesa verde np is atop a
large mountain in colorado. it's significant primarily because of the ancient
puebulan (anasazi) ruins there. the anasazi (not called that anymore because
it can be interpreted to mean "enemies") built small cities in the alcoves
of the mountains. it's an impressive site considering they did all of it
about 700 years ago.
at mesa verde they have
"no flush" toilets which apparently save about 45,000 gallons of water
a year. considering it's in the middle of nothing that's a pretty significant,
and important savings. it got me thinking about camping two nights prior
and how we both brushed our teeth and washed our faces and hands with less
than a quart of water. in the city we feel entitled to water - it's not
a precious resource. these things that are essential to life, that were
essential to the lives of our ancestors are taken completely for granted.
it's not a novel thought by any means, and, yes, precious resources are
relative to time and place, but it's something that's worth thinking about
when we were on the tour
of the ruins a young boy asked his father (who was wearing an american
flag handkerchief on his head) what the anasazi people did all day...did
they just make things and get food or what? the father ignored him. it
was a good question and one that may have planted the seed for that boy
to look at his sony psp or nintendo gameboy a bit differently next time,
but the father was oblivious.
i love camping because
it's where water, food and shelter are precious and money is merely kindling.
everything takes on a new worth and for that reason alone it's a worthwhile
activity. perspective is a cornerstone of my personal philosophy and nothing
gives city life a new perspective more than camping and roughing it.
while climbing one of the
few ladders along the tour one of the middle-aged, pot-bellied men remarked
that it must have been all the climbing that led to the early death of
the anasazi. some people are just plain stupid.
after the tour and some
vista stops we left mesa verde. we made a stop at durango colorado. a nice,
upper class tourist stop. it's along a river and two major highways, plus
it's less than an hour from mesa verde, so it's a good place to stop. they
have a great tourist info station with a big park. we stopped at the local
mall to play some glo-golf and meryl kicked my ass so hard that it made
up for the ass kicking she received in westwood.
after a thorough ego-lashing
she took me out to dinner at an all you can eat buffet. the consensus was
that the food was crappy, but edible. we left durango for greener pastures.
a couple hours later we
were in aztec new mexico. we hit up the aztec ruins national monument and
did the six minute self-guided tour....we got there six minutes before
closing so the guy told us what to see and that we should hurry, so we
did. it was pretty great, but not as cool as the ruins at mesa verde. apparently
the holy grail of ruins sites in this area is chaco culture national historical
park which is south of aztec, NM. we didn't see it, but the pictures looked
even more impressive than the aztec ruins.
we played with a super
ball in the parking lot and it was great fun. small moments like those
make life good.
we wanted to make it to
white sands national monument before the night was over because frank (who
grew up in albuquerque) told me it was great at night under a full moon.
even though the moon was only about 67% full we figured we'd give it a
cuba, nm. elevation of
7000. i've been to cuba.
stopped in albuquerque,
NM for dinner at the frontier restaurant. it's right next to the university
of NM campus in the nob hill district of the city. it's a great place because
it's a 24hr joint, it's big, it's got a good location, the food is good
and the prices are very reasonable.
overall albuquerque seemed
a decent city...the first real city on the trip. parts of it are nicer
drove on to white sands
and got there about 1am. we couldn't see much and were very tired so we
found a hotel 6 at nearby alamogordo.
a long day ahead of us
we left the motel 6 on the early side.
white sands was a short
drive from the hotel. white sands is created because of gypsum crystals
that are turned into sand. it's quite a remarkable sight and it's made
even more remarkable by the fact that it's one of the few places in the
world where the conditions are such that gypsum sand dunes can exist. it
takes just the right combination of minerals, water flow (specifically
a lack of an ocean outlet) and climate. it's also a remarkable park because
of the vegetation that is able to exist in spite of the harsh conditions.
the yuccas of the area are actually able to grow fast enough to avoid being
buried by the constantly moving sand dunes. in some cases a yucca might
be two feet above the top of a 30 feet sand dune, which mean the yucca
is actually 32 feet tall. in these cases, if the dune moves, the yucca
will collapse because of the lack of support which the dune once provided.
sometimes other plants are able to keep part of the dune intact and what
results is a block of sand with the plant poking out. here's
a bad picture.
New Mexico, White Sands, Texas,
El Paso, Juarez Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns,
the visitor center of white
sands national monument was built by the WPA, another new deal organization.
before departing we checked
the closing time for carlsbad and discovered that they actually close a
bit on the early side (530 was the last available elevator down to the
caverns). we hit the road with purpose.
a couple hours south was
el paso so we went there. el paso is basically a shit hole. i thought that
one of the sad things about a border town might be the clear cut difference
between the two sides, an illustration of the disparity between mexico
and the us. in this case i was wrong. el paso gets progressively more crappy
as you approach the border. i had never been to mexico so we parked the
car at a somewhat shady establishment and walked across the border.
it was $.35 to get into
mexico and $.30 to get into the us. i found that to be a bit funny. it
was also laughably easy to cross the border both ways. granted, i'm a white
guy without any bags, but it was still very easy to cross both ways. juarez
was pretty sad. as soon as you get there there are people approaching you
(only white people) asking if you want a cab ride or prescription drugs
or any number of things. not to sound like a snob, but the place is downtrodden
- it's just a poor, dirty place. we spent about 20 minutes in mexico looking
around at the numerous street vendors and just getting a feel for the place.
i didn't see the utep campus.
we left for carlsbad happy
to have el paso and juarez behind us.
carlsbad is one of the
more remarkable national parks because of its size and other-worldly quality.
i recommend it to anyone interested in visiting the national parks, it's
worth the trip to a relatively deserted part of the country.
one of the research centers
(or was it a visitor center annex?) at carlsbad was built by the CCC, another
new deal program.
we barely made it to the
caverns on time, but we got there and did the self-guided tour of the big
after the tour of the caves
we stayed for the sunset migration of the bats. approximately 400K mexican
free-tail bats live in the caves and make their journey to get breakfast
at sundown. in austin there's a similar group of bats, but they have about
1 million there. apparently there's a colony of mexican freetails elsewhere
in texas that numbers about 10 million. it took about 15 minutes for the
majority of the bats to leave the cave at carlsbad so i can only guess
how long it would take 10 million to leave. it's a pretty cool sight at
first, but then it gets boring because they just keep coming and coming.
one of the better things about carlsbad's setup, though, is that you are
sitting very close to where the bats exit. at a couple points some of the
bats flew about 10 feet above our heads as they were exiting the cave.
that was relatively exciting.
less exciting was the asshole
customers at the diner inside the visitor center. they kept giving the
waitress shit about the quality of their mashed potatoes. meryl and i were
eating and listening to them go on and on about how piss poor the mashed
potatoes were and how the waitress should bring it up with her supervisor.
another depressing moment in the history of humanity. speaking of which,
i took this at carlsbad...
also while at carlsbad
we talked with a reporter from a odessa, texas newspaper about the caverns.
she was doing a story
and we noticed she was interviewing people so meryl asked her what the
story was for. we talked a bit and she had her photographer take photos
of us. so, we may be quoted in the Odessa American. to date the story
isn't on their online site.
we left carlsbad in search
of a campground. there was supposed to be a free campground around eunice
new mexico, but we were unable to find it. without any other promising
campgrounds in the area we decided to drive for a couple more hours to
give us more time the next day. later that night we landed in odessa texas
and started looking for a reasonable hotel room.
one more note on eunice
and the road between it and kermit texas...there's some sort of national
enrichment center there which smells of one of the most noxious smells
i've ever encountered. i'm not saying it's as bad as the lower freeborn
smell, but it was close. it gave me a headache and had me breathing into
a pillow to help filter some of the smell. avoid at all costs.
we tried a best western
first because it was close and looked reasonable. the sign outside declared
the establishment to be "american owned." on the way inside i noticed that
they had several pricey flat panel security displays. once inside we asked
the man behind the counter how much it would be for a single room with
a AAA discount. $65, he said. we said thanks, but no thanks. he said good
luck. what a bastard.
right next door there was
a slightly less impressive looking establishment. we walked in and rang
the bell. a few seconds later a indian man emerged and greeted us. "how
much for a single?" we asked. $30. we took it.
when we got to the room
we found a well cared for, cool, spacious room with a refrigerator, tv
and everything else. it sorta made me wonder how much business this guy
didn't get because of his nationality. he was charging half as much as
the place next door and still had vacancies. i wonder how far the "american
owned" sign goes in texas. at any rate, we had no problem with the place,
him or the price.
another thing that i noticed
about texas was the smell of the gasoline - it's noxious. i theorize that
it has something to do with the lack of additives in texan gasoline.
woke up early again and
hit the road. west texas (especially) is a wasteland so we wanted to get
through it as quickly as possible.
somewhere in the vicinity
of sheffield we encountered a small cafe called "pepe's." throwing caution
to the wind we elected to dine there for lunch.
Texas, San Antonio, Alamo,
pepe's is exactly the kind
of place that you hope to find when you take a chance on a local establishment.
we tried to avoid chain places as much as possible and were quite successful
in this. pepe's has a lot of charm and is relatively progressive for texas.
they have american and mexican cuisine and it's all good. inside the walls
are plastered with sports and music memorabilia. jordan, griffey and james
rookie cards are in a display case along with a signed cal ripkin jr. bat.
there was an original harry houdini promotional poster, drawings of jordan,
tupac, stevie ray vaughan, ray charles, bob marley and others. a lot of
having had our fill at
pepe's we hit the road again. this part of texas is not only big, but it's
got the same boring, rolling landscape throughout.
as you approach san antonio
the landscape changes a bit. san antonio is surrounded by five military
bases and walking around it's easy to guess as much. we parked along alamo
street in downtown and walked around a bit. the alamo is rather unimpressive.
it's small and the placards outside talk about how noble the americans'
fight was. it's revisionist, texan history and i wanted nothing to do with
it. that said, we decided to go in. there's a sign at the front that reads
"gentlemen please remove your hats." i was wearing a hat because i got
a bit sunburned at joshua tree. meryl was also wearing a hat. we entered
and a docent approached me from behind and said "sir, sir, please remove
the cap." i took off my hat and looked at meryl because i had told her
outside that i wasn't going to remove my hat because i thought the custom
was bullshit. i looked back that the guy and said "what about her?" no
response. i stood inside for a second longer and said "fuck this i'm outta
here." so we left. it pissed me off on two levels - the double standard
(only "gentleman" need to remove their head wear) and the fact that the
people who died there weren't american heroes. i don't really wish death
upon anyone, but i also don't think the people who died at the alamo are
worth removing my hat. i told meryl that if i went to the pearl harbor
memorial i'd remove my hat, but not at the alamo. so, fuck the alamo.
san antonio, and texas
in general, has piss poor road signage. freeway entrances/exits are poorly
marked or marked only at the point of departure, rather than 100 feet in
advance to give adequate warning. california is much better when it comes
to this. texas, however, does have good signage when it comes to reminding
its citizens to follow the law. there are posted fine schedules for different
offenses - $80 for going over the speed limit 1-10 mph, $100 for littering,
etc. signs like "LITTERING IS unlAWFUL" are everywhere. it's an interesting
dynamic - a constant reminder of the fact that the man is watching and
that you should keep in line. rather interesting for the "lone star state."
speaking of which, there are texas stars fucking everywhere (not just san
antonio or austin) in texas - on the manhole covers, adorning the fences
at public institutions, on street signs, etc. there are also quite a number
of texas flags at businesses. texas is a proud state that takes the law
having had our fill with
the downtown area of san antonio we headed for the car. along the way we
encountered a mall and i said we should go inside - primarily for the change
in temperature. we found a bench and sat there for about 90 minutes just
watching people and talking. people watching is great and it was the most
fun thing we did that day. one of the things we noticed was the complete
lack of attractive people. it's superficial, i know, but in the 2-3 hours
that i was in san antonio i saw only two attractive females, and one of
them was meryl. it's not just a texas thing, though. dallas had far more
attractive people, and so did austin. i'm not sure if it was just a bad
day or what. very strange.
and by the way, spurs fever
was in full pitch. businesses everywhere had billboards and signs congratulating
the team on their championship. spurs shirts and hats were also ubiquitous.
san antonio, overall, didn't
seem too awful. it's not the kind of place i see myself living, but it
wasn't a horrible city so i guess that's better than i expected.
on our way north to austin
i found a somewhat disturbing roadside sign advertising a local eatery.
often there will be roadside signs saying "food, gas, lodging ahead" and
then they might have a brief listing of some of the establishments...this
was one of those signs - it wasn't a billboard, it was a highway sponsored
sign. it was in a town called Kyle, which is about 20 miles south of austin
and the eatery was:
it was justified on the
left, just like that, but i don't remember if it was in all caps or if
just the "K"s were capitalized. either way it's pretty bad. KKK. i guess
it's possible they just didn't think about it.
another thing i noticed
about texas is the abundance of highways. the cities i've been to in texas
have quite a few highways and that indicates to me that they haven't learned
much from the mistakes of a city like los angeles. at least with LA you
can make the valid argument that they didn't know what they were getting
into - mass car ownership was newer, mullholland and other businessmen
manipulated certain elements, and the transportation system just got out
of control. i actually heard that the trolley car system that went down
santa monica blvd. was purchased by unocal and shut down in an effort to
increase gas sales. but anway...texas has a lot of highways and a lot more
coming - there's a lot of freeway construction in san antonio and austin.
when we got to austin i
listened to a local community radio station (kvrx) and they were talking
about the "keep austin weird campaign" which essentially is a campaign
to encourage small, non-chain, business. i thought that was good. the music
they were playing was also decent.
once we arrived at meryl's
dad's place (which is about 20 minutes outside of downtown austin) i met
her stepmom. her dad has the biggest house i've ever slept in and they
also have an M3, which is the most powerful car i've ever been in. more
horsepower (390) per wheel (97.5) than my bug had in total (about 90).
her dad wasn't home yet
because he was out on business. we sat around talking a bit and then went
we slept in a bit before
starting the day.
we went to chili's for
lunch and it was good.
her dad came home from
his trip in the afternoon, but still had work to do. so we went in the
pool for a few hours. despite using sunscreen i got a bit burned on my
shoulders, it sucks. i think i just didn't wait long enough before going
in the water.
after doing the pool thing
we left the house to see downtown austin. we hung around 6th street most
of the time. there are a bunch of bars and music venues in the area. north
of that there's the campus (UT) and west of that is guadalupe (pronounced
gwad-uh-loop or just "the loop") street? blvd? at any rate, those are the
places where things are happening so that's where we were. was sat on a
park bench near the capitol building and talked, it was nice.
there's a chipotle in downtown
that's only open m-f 11a-5p. how they make enough money to have such a
great location is beyond me. i'm sure they're busy during those hours,
but to not do any business outside of those days and hours just seems ludicrous,
especially for a chain restaurant.
on our way back home we
stopped by waterloo (whose logo is the british "underground" logo with
"waterloo" in the middle), a major local music/movie store. i didn't even
go into the movie store out of fear. i went into the music store and was
pretty impressed overall. they do everything a-z. so cannonball adderly
is next to ryan adams even though one is jazz and the other is crappy rock.
on each artist card, though, they have color codes indicating what genre
the artist is. i like this method more than the way most stores do it -
separating the music by genre and then having is sorted alphabetically.
they had a fairly impressive selection of music and a good deal of vinyl.
they also had a few nice shirts, but i'm a lot more disciplined nowadays
so i left without buying anything.
we got back home late.
overall, talking with meryl this night may have been the highlight of the
capitol building in
7-1-05 Friday, Austin
friday meryl had to go
to work for half a day to get some paperwork and training taken care of.
her dad was also at work and her stepmom had errands so i had the house
i worked out a bit, watched
a movie and watched some sportscenter. i also read a local community (lakeside
[a suburb of austin], i think) paper. the editor had an editorial commentary
on some of the recent vandalism that occurred and he expressed his outrage.
he also wrote about the fact that two local businesses failed to provide
window space to advertise the fourth of the july party the community was
planning. he lamented over this fact and suggested people show their displeasure.
i found it to be a good insight into the texan mentality of conformity
and the importance of the LAW.
after work and errands
we all went out to a local get together near the lake (travis) which was
about 10-12 people large. i certainly felt out of place here since i was
the guest of a visitor (meryl doesn't spend much time with her father since
he moved). of course this was compounded by the fact that everyone, save
meryl, was older than me, rich and either drinking or smoking something.
meryl's dad's best texas friend offered me some chewing tobacco and i politely
declined his offer. he was actually the coolest guy at the picnic - he
lived in davis for a couple years and is a hippie who sold his business
and retired young. he was fun and made me feel welcome. i'm not very good
at social gatherings like this in general, but this one, all things considered,
wasn't too bad.
meryl and i left early
and went back home to watch some fireworks and swim. later her stepmom
and dad came by and joined us. we talked and this was the first time i'd
really gotten to talk with her father. he's into guy stuff like sports,
electronics and house maintenance. i like him and that's certainly a good
view from their back
7-2-05 Saturday, Austin
meryl's dad recently purchased
a boat so saturday we went to the dock and went for a boat ride that last
all day we were out on
the lake driving around, stopping at coves here and there and getting in
the water to cool down. it was about 104 most of the day.
it's not exciting to write
about, but fun was had by all. we talked, joked around, ate lunch on the
boat, docked at a restaurant for dinner, saw some ugly catfish, gawked
at some of the lakeside homes and watched some good fireworks displays
we woke up early and meryl
made some of her famous waffles. they were good, but not as good as my
grandmother's pancakes which are the best breakfast mankind has ever seen.
after breakfast we went
to a local shopping center to get me some new swim shorts - the ones i
was wearing were about 8-10 years old so i figured it was about time. we
walked around looking for a birthday present for me, but i'm hard to shop
for. meryl wanted to get me something good so she felt bad and i felt bad
for being picky, not wanting her to spend too much, and i have almost everything
i want. the only things that i can think of wanting are books, movies,
music and expensive things like a house, a car, a digital camera and a
dvd recorder. it used to be that i always wanted something and could rattle
off a list fairly easily, but that's not really the case anymore. eventually
she decided to get me a basketball encyclopedia online, which is a great
gift because i know i'll use it and i've wanted one for a long time.
we all went to salt lick
bbq which is about 40 minutes away from the home base. it's supposed to
be a great place for bbq so we went there for an early dinner on the last
night that i'd be in town. the food was quite good. i had baby back ribs
for the first time in a very long time. i had had a bite of melanie's a
few months ago, but other than that i haven't had ribs in several years.
before dinner was served meryl's stepmom gave me a bag with my birthday
present in it - they had gotten me two dressy, blue, short-sleeved shirts.
a good gift. i wore one the next day.
after dinner we went to
a local theater called the alamo. to date the coolest theater i had been
in was the crest in westwood or the theater in fargo because they have
great interior design a good screen and retro styling, but the alamo is
in the running. instead of commercials and bad music before the movie they
had cheesy short films and cartoons and anything else with entertainment
value. they also had long tables in front of every row of seats. there
were menus, pencils and paper at each table so that you could write down
your order (pizza, beer, popcorn, sandwiches, milkshakes, etc.) and a waiter
would bring it to you. they also have midnight showings of old films and
all sorts of good stuff. cool place overall.
after the movie (mr. and
mrs. smith) we went back home and chatted a bit. meryl and i went to bed
knowing that this would by the last time we could sleep together for weeks.
7-3-05 Sunday, Austin
meryl and stepmom:
meryl and pop:
i look like a retard
7-4-05 Monday, Austin,
woke up early because my
flight was at 930a. said goodbye to the parents. they thanked me for coming
by and said they were glad to have me. i was happy to hear that i wasn't
a pain or inconvenience.
there was a mixup with
southwest - meryl had ordered my ticket so that she could apply an old
refund voucher she had gotten to the purchase. unfortunately we neglected
to put my name in as the passenger so they had her down as the passenger.
i turned out to be a costly mistake, but charged it so it's not like i
actually have to pay. she offered to pay half because she's good like that.
i told her no, but i think she's going to anyway.
saying goodbye at the airport
was predictably sad and depressing.
i had a two hour layover
at lax during which i read, watched people and ate. while at lax i faced
the decision of breaking my mcdonald's boycott or paying $13 for a sandwich,
chips and a drink. i had a big mac with fries and a sprite. it's been about
10 years since i last had a big mac. the beef was poor, the cheese was
cheap and the special sauce wasn't as special as i had remembered it. oh
i also got a quick reminder
of some of the more stereotypical portions of la culture, like the two
girls who had shirts that said: "my barbie takes it in the ass" and "one
boyfriend is never enough." both looked like barbie and as i walked by
and read the shirts i said aloud: "fucking california" ala john mcclane
of die hard.
after the flight to sac
i took the bus to davis and walked the rest of the way home. it was a long
day and i was glad to be home, rather than in the air or in an airport.
being with meryl was great
and the next couple months is going to suck. i don't want to go to work.
i just want to be on the road with meryl and without the worries of normal
life. road life has different worries, worries that i like, worries that
i can cope with, worries that seem part of the adventure rather than annoyances