Happy New Year!
We just returned from our Annual Winter Vacation. I know that sounds pretty lofty, like maybe you're picturing a family dressed in matching designer snow gear jetting off to their vacation home in Aspen where they'll spend toasty nights by the fire sipping cognac, their children lounging nearby playing backgammon. But for us? A hastily planned road trip in our van, a van whose windshield cracked an hour into our trip, heading up the 101 along the coast of California with stops in Pismo Beach and Big Sur. We bought Cheetos along the way, and I sipped this in front of the wall heater in our room at the Big Sur Lodge while the kids ate Cup O' Noodle and played Mario Kart on their Nintendos nearby. We're high class.
I'm a big fan of road trips. The main reason, and I'm being totally honest here, is because I don't have to think twice about how much crap I'm packing. The black sweater or the blue sweater? Bring them both - in fact, I'll just bring the whole drawer! Do I really need twelve t-shirts? Who cares? Eight pairs of shoes may seem excessive for a six day trip but not when you can just toss it all in the large cavernous backside of a van. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's an airline around that would let me step on board dragging a small ice chest, a pack of juice boxes, a bottle of wine and two Trader Joes shopping bags stuffed with snacks.
Another benefit to a driving destination is freedom from schedules. Having to be at a certain place at a specific time has never been one of our strong points, and for us trying to catch a plane makes the launch of the space shuttle seem like a trip to the market. Being forced to figure out how to actually get to the airport is bad enough, and then there's those unreasonable, unyielding flight schedules. Damn you, all you efficient, on-time people! We're always frantic, scrambling not to miss our boarding time and are always incredulous that the departure time on our ticket doesn't actually mean TAKE YOUR TIME - WHENEVER YOU GET HERE, WE'LL FLY THE PLANE.
Big Sur was spectacular, and I don't want to spoil these pictures with some inane narrative. For instance, I could really ruin the moment by telling you how our heater wasn't working when we got to the room, and even after it was fixed I couldn't sleep that night worrying that we would all be killed in our sleep by carbon monoxide poisoning and even imagined what the newspaper headline would be: 'Family Enters Eternal Sleep In Historic Big Sur.' Or how the front desk told us the restaurant closed at 9, when it really closed at 8 and then we had to drive five miles to a local bar where I had one of the worst meals of my life, a pasta dish that contained fist-sized chunks of raw onion and a bowl of clam chowder that was fluorescent yellow and had an odd sour taste to it, a dish that had 'Food Poisoning' written all over it. (Next time? We'll listen when Kira says, "I don't like this place. It seems unstable.") And stop me before I taint these beautiful images by telling you about the old guy who kept walking by our table, giving us the evil eye, and how he had probably never seen an Asian before in his life, and when he saw me sitting there next to my white husband and my two half-breed kids I just knew he was thinking that Rigel was a traitor and how any minute he would summon his white-hooded friends to take our nice family out back for a little lesson.
But like I said, enjoy these photos:
We ended our trip at one of the girls' favorite destinations, Rigel's sister's home in Northern California. She lives in a beautiful house, and since she's single and without children the place looks like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog, everything neatly arranged and in it's place. It's strange to be somewhere that isn't strewn with tank tops, pajama bottoms and plastic jewelry, where you can actually see the tabletops and where you don't have to wade through a sea of backpacks and sneakers to get from the living room to the kitchen. At one point we were looking for Kiyomi's necklace and when I reached under the couch cushions I was shocked to find that there wasn't a single raisin, Cheerio or gum wrapper stuck to my hand. I did find a year-old People magazine that I hadn't read, though, which I was excited about since I was getting tired of all the ones stuffed into our couch back home.
Our usual routine is to go to San Francisco and get a hotel in Union Square for a few days, but after our Japan trip this past summer and the excesses of the holidays we decided that our remaining funds should be spent on other necessities like groceries, the mortgage and beer for Rigel. So we just drove in for a visit and spent a day shopping and eating, and I knew the long drive had been worth it when we saw this sign in an alcove next to a restaurant:
I'm thinking of posting a couple of these in our bathrooms, just for fun.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Happy New Year!