Ready or not, California Here We Come!
Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
I just got back from my week-long, whirlwind vaca to CA. We flew back to Boise, via Los Angeles, on Saturday, and boy are my arms tired! Okay, I know its an old joke, but it is, perhaps, a nice lead-in…....or not…......My sister, Ultra Aunt Debi (I mean “Panther”) has become an avid fan of my posts, and reminded me a couple of times, say every hour or so, that I would be expected to blog the trip. Being a creative genius is a lot to live up to, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure. As a matter of fact, I had several slight, momentary seconds of not immensely enjoying every aspect of my vacation. So, I feel the need to start with a disclaimer, setting the bar fairly low, if you will. That way, if my CA trip blogs are not up to my usualy sparkling standards you can all say “Poor Ultra Mom. She is cracking under the unwarranted pressure.” and if they ARE, you can say “Bravo, brave UltraMom. She came through despite overwhelming obstacles and hardships.” Frankly, I don’t see how I can lose.
For me, the trip started on Friday, March 10th with a 6-hour drive to Boise. I always plan to leave fairly early for these long drives, and I always manage to leave in the early afternoon, if I’m lucky. I just can’t seem to really kick into the packing mode until deadlines are looming. Actually, that pretty much describes the way I do most things, and I’m starting to worry that at my “advanced” age, it may be too late to change. I marvel at people like my son, Jim, who often complete school projects several weeks before they are actually due, and would question his parentage, if I had not actually been there for his conception and birth, but I digress. As I was finally leaving, it was snowing pretty hard, but I soon drove out of it, and had clear, dry-road sailing the vast majority of the trip. I had recently purchased a new “book on CD” entitled “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, Slightly Irregular”, and spent much of the trip filling my head with useless, but interesting knowledge. I quote,” A dog has a 10 minute memory, but a cat: 16 hours.” How do they know this? How is it measured? Are there control groups, such as ferrets? A double blind? Gotta admit, am more than a bit skeptical, esp considering the canine phenom known familiarly as “Murphy.”
I arrived at Panther’s house around 9 pm, having lost an hour somewhere along the way, and found her and college freshman son, Michael busily packing. Jim, my college junior son, arrived about an hour later, having driven from Moscow that afternoon. I know, it seems that coming clear from Russia would take longer than an afternoon drive, but Jim is an incredible driver, and besides, he cheated by only driving from Moscow, Idaho. We had a little pizza, spent the requisite amount of time admiring Fatz, the huge part-Siamese feline who has become Johnny’s raison d’être, and hit the sack. At least I hit the sack; I have a sneaking suspision that Johnny and Jim spent a few hours in the TV room watching reruns of Futurama.
I had packed in a last-minute fury the day before, and spent about an hour going through everything in my suitcase to decide what I could leave behind. I had packed WAY too many clothes. In the end, I was able to leave a pair of pants and a couple of shirts. You just never know about the weather, or what you will look cute in on any particular day. Looking cute was a high priority since I would be spending time with siblings I hadn’t seen in a while, and with my son and nephew that I never see often enough. My suitcase weighed in just a few pounds under the 50 lbs-to-avoid-paying-additional-charges limit. But of course I had my pillow in there too.
In the Boise Airport, as we and our belongings were being screened for weapons or other dangerous contraband, we “ran into” Nicki, Chad (niece & husband)& Roz, (former sister-in-law and current good friend.) They were on their way to Portland, OR for a weekend of fun. Sara, Nicki’s sister was already there, and it was Sara’s birthday they would be celebrating. Nicki and Sara both work for Frontier Airlines, and airline tickets are a nice perk of the job. We hadn’t seen Nicki and Chad since their wedding last June, and they enthused for a bit about their recent late-honeymoon trip to Costa Rica. “EVERYONE should go there,” Nicki declared. We were heading to Portland, also, for a layover on our journey to Sacramento, but unfortunately were flying on a different airline, so all-too-soon we had to say farewell. Next, as we sat in the waiting area, I spotted some other people I knew: Paul & Christopher Aikele. Jim & Chris were good friends in high-school, and both Chris & his brother Paul currently attend Jim’s college. It was their mom, Peggy that I drove with last year for Mom’s weekend at the college, as you may remember from that classic post: “Greetings, Comrade: Fun in Moscow.” The brothers were headed to Mexico for Spring Break.
Finally we were on the plane, and had a pleasant and uneventful flight to Portland, where we found our connecting flight to Sacramento delayed. We had plenty of time for an excellent meal, and for a bit of airport shopping. Panther located some, rather disgusting, small, rubber chickens. When you squeezed them, an “egg” popped out of you-know-where. She was enchanted, and bought their entire remaining stock, that is: three. “There are a couple of special patients who have been in the hospital for a while,” she explained (Panther is a cardiac care RN). “This will be a fun way for them to strengthen their hand grip.” A woman behind us in the plane-boarding line greatly admired the chickens. “My great grandson would love one. Where did you buy it?”
“I bought them all,” Panther told her, and then presented the woman with one of her prized chickens as a gift, a generous move, but one that, perhaps, she later came to regret. Stay tuned for more on the chickens in a later post.
Dave & Jane (brother & wife) picked us up at the Sacramento Airport, luckily, in their large, roomy van. We had dinner in a fun Chinese Restaurant that featured sushi and stir-fry made to order. Soon, we were all happily stuffed to capacity and settled for the night in Dave & Jane’s comfy home, ready to arise early the next morning for the next leg of our journey: an Amtrak train ride down the California coast to San Luis Obispo where we would spend the remainder of the week.
But, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men don’t always get the cheese, or something like that…..........anyway, many more exciting surprises and adventures await our intrepid travelers, so stay tuned.