Trip through the Southwest,
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
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
after a long day we went home to my mom's to sleep.
6-24-05 Friday, LA
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
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
6-25-05 Saturday, LA, Joshua
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
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
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.
we awoke at a reasonable hour and left the hotel for mesa verde, a short
6-27-05 Monday, Colorado, Mesa
Verde, New Mexico, Albuquerque
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
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.
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.
6-28-05 Tuesday, New Mexico, White
Sands, Texas, El Paso, Juarez Mexico, Carlsbad
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
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
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.
6-29-05 Wednesday, 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 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:
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
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.
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.
6-30-05 Thursday, Austin
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
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.
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.
7-3-05 Sunday, Austin
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.