Trip through the Southwest, 2005

6-23-05 Thursday, Davis, LA

  • 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.

  • 6-24-05 Friday, LA

  • 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.

  • 6-25-05 Saturday, LA, Joshua Tree, Arizona

  • 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.

  • Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree
  • 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, Grand 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 south rim).
  • 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 watching her.
  • 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 national park.

  • 6-27-05 Monday, Colorado, Mesa Verde, New Mexico, Albuquerque

  • we awoke at a reasonable hour and left the hotel for mesa verde, a short drive.

  • 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 nonetheless.
  • 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 shot.
  • 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 than others
  • 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.

  • 6-28-05 Tuesday, New Mexico, White Sands, Texas, El Paso, Juarez Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns, Texas

  • 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.



  • 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 room.
  • 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.

  • 6-29-05 Wednesday, Texas, San Antonio, Alamo, Austin

  • 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.

  • 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 character.
  • 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 very seriously.

  • 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:

  • Karen's
    Kountry
    Kitchen.
  • 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 to bed.

  • 6-30-05 Thursday, Austin

  • 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 trip.

  • capitol building in austin:

    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 to myself.
  • 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 thing.

  • view from their back patio:

    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 10 hours.
  • 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 at night.

  • 7-3-05 Sunday, Austin

  • 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 most everything i already wanted. 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.

  • meryl and stepmom:

    meryl and pop:

    i look like a retard here:

    7-4-05 Monday, Austin, Davis
  • 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 well.
  • 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 of living.