look, up in the sky

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I was about to hop on a conference call yesterday afternoon (yay) when I heard a plane circling nearby. I assumed another tourist fell off the edge of Pacific Grove and the Coast Guard was looking for them. Still, I went outside to look up–and saw this message to Ada.

The sweetness of the message coupled with the old schoolness of the delivery was just a delight. I posted a shot of the banner on Instagram, wondering what Ada said, and was happy to get a comment from her this morning. She said yes!

Romance is alive in Pacific Grove.

going home

Most things about this move have been wonderful. The one major black fly in my chardonnay is being so far away from my peeps. So a week ago, I went home to visit my family. James stayed here and held down the fort (that being the dogs, since we’re incapable of putting them in a GD kennel for a few days). I didn’t make it to Houston on this trip, but I still managed to eat queso four times (not kidding).

I flew from San Francisco to Austin. If we’d managed to work in a layover in Portland, it would have been the most hipster flight ever. My plane was diverted to San Antonio because the Austin airport was closed due to bad weather, and we didn’t have enough gas to circle waiting for it to reopen. Didn’t get upset because a) what can you do and b) my parents, brother and Tex-Mex were waiting for me once I actually made it to Austin, only 1.5 hours late.

We spent our visit talking, laughing, eating, drinking and chilling on the back porch watching it rain. It was perfect.

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An adorable two year old was seated two rows in front of me. He was incredibly well-behaved, entertaining those of us in the back of the bus the whole flight. He didn’t fuss when we unexpectedly landed in San Antonio or when we took off (again) for Austin. As we began our descent into Austin, for real this time, he Exorcist-puked–all over himself, his father, his father’s backpack, the aisle–and started wailing. Since we were back in the baby section (yay), the parents of the 15 other crying babies started passing the father wet wipes and towels. Interesting fact for us non-parents: the smell of baby puke is fairly indistinguishable from the smell of a fat hairy biker’s puke on 10-cent wing night. Once we landed, a flight attendant came out in a face shield and hazmat suit to clean things up. It was all very dramatic, but since I was traveling alone there was no one to receive my eye rolls. Unacknowledged eye rolls are the saddest eye rolls.
We took evening rides on my parents' mule (not to be confused with the animals two shots above) and were treated to deer, rabbits, raccoons, raptors and lightning bugs.
Each evening, we took a Mule ride (the four-wheeler, not the four-legged conveyance) on the back roads and were treated to deer, rabbits, raccoons, raptors and lightning bugs. Lightning bugs! I hadn’t seen those since I was a kid and thought they had gone the way of the dodo.
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It took me maybe 100 shots, but I managed to capture an image of one in my parents’ back 40. See center of picture.
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The front of my parents’ house at night. It’s not blurry in reality. Ends up, I don’t make a very good tripod.
Mom downstairs at the job site. Dad and Tohner (Artisan Builders) are building a 10,000 square foot house.
We checked out a couple of Dad and Tohner’s (Artisan Builders) projects. This house is the biggest mofo house I’ve ever seen. Literally 12 of the house I live in could fit inside.
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A close-up of one of Tohner’s art pieces. Who knew Martinelli’s apple juice bottles would make for such cool light fixtures? This piece has four. At night, the ridges on the bottom of the bottles make cool designs on the wall.
While Rowan just wanted to drive.
Rowan, ready to drive. We talked about Star Wars. He asked how old I was when the first movie came out (a year older than he is now). He hasn’t seen the first one yet–when he does, I want to know how the scene in the bar holds up for today’s six or seven year old. It was always my favorite part.
But it was still a good idea to check for cars in the rearview mirror. Molly was mostly checking out how awesome she looks in sunglasses.
Molly was supposed to use the mirror to check for cars, but she mostly used it to check out how awesome she looks in sunglasses.
Folks in Brenham are astir about the Blue Bell ice cream shut down.
To say Blue Bell Creameries is a major employer in Brenham would be an understatement. These signs are in practically every fourth or fifth yard.
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I turn to her and say: Texas. She says: What?
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I said: Texas. She says: What.
They've got big long roads out there.
They’ve got big long roads out there.
And donkeys.
And donkeys. Or maybe burros.
And wee rabbits.
And wee rabbits.
Last meal in Texas. Surprisingly decent queso at Bergstrom Airport's fancy Earl Campbell's Sports Bar.
Oh, and queso. Liquid gold. Texas cheese. This fine specimen came from Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar in the Austin airport. The chips were straight out of a Tostitos bag, but the queso was surprisingly good. Or maybe it’s just that there’s no more legit queso until the next trip home. Some day I shall crack the code of restaurant queso (the special ingredient is plastic!), and the West Coast will be mine.

Jackson’s Index

Number of hours spent in the minivan we rented
to drive home for Christmas : 70

Miles driven : 4,309

Least paid for regular unleaded gas : $1.99/gallon (in Texas)

Most paid : $2.99/gallon (in California, near the airport)

Weather conditions driven through : snow, fog, rain

Most fun, yet undocumented, coincidence :
passing mile 420 on I-10 in Texas at 4:20PM

Best combination of items sold at gas station along the way : fireworks,
moccasins, ceramic dogs, dream catchers, ‘Murica t-shirts,
Dairy Queen (Butterfield Station in New Mexico)

Most bothersome vanity plate : ienvyme
(in Houston, California plates)

Number of rainbows witnessed : three, all in California

Most dramatic highway event (tie) : overturned 18-wheeler, huge fire late at night

Terrain driven through : mountains, desert, prairie, swampland

Most unexpected thing I said : “That’s a fucking camel!”
as we passed a truck hauling a trailer…with a camel inside

Most awkward conversation : hearing about polar shifts
from the guy working the night shift at the hotel

Want to see some pictures?

with one or two exceptions, we stuck to Pilot/Flying J truck stops - clean bathrooms inside and usually a place for the dogs to use the bathroom outside - here, our minivan takes a breather
minivans may not look like much, but this B was a great road cruiser (side note: with one or two exceptions, we stuck to Pilot/Flying J truck stops – consistently clean bathrooms inside and a place for the dogs to do their business outside)
the first sign the weather might not be agreeable
we left before dawn – as the sun came up, so did the fog (not unusual where we live) – the skies cleared for a bit, but then we started to see signs the weather might not be agreeable ahead
(for my theater friends) so this is where the title came from?
so this is where that play’s title came from – we also passed Woman Hollering Creek (book by Sandra Cisneros) on I-10 near San Antonio – maybe I’ll name my next play “Have you seen THE THING?”
nuclear
Palo Verde nuclear generating station – no, that doesn’t look menacing at all
something about these things really makes me uncomfortable
something about these things makes me uncomfortable – like the blades are going to spin free and chop my head off (I like to worry about stuff)
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there were variations on DWI messaging by state – this was in Arizona – Texas had “Buzzed driving is drunk driving” and “Drive sober or get pulled over”
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Arizona doesn’t fuck around when it comes to rain
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a lot of our drive looked like this
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and this
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this chick's bumper sticker should have said, "
this chick’s bumper sticker should have said, “CAUTION: Driver texting while propelling vehicle 80 MPH down highway” – it was disturbing the number of drivers who were buried in their hand computers instead of the important task of driving
transparent semi
transparent semi
I'm going to guess that the middle sign used to say "MOTEL"
I’m going to guess that the middle sign used to say “MOTEL”
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we’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah – and we’re still willing
oh, Texas, don't ever change
oh, Texas, don’t ever change
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there was one reason for this trip back home – to see the people we love – my niece and nephew both grew up in the 9 months since we moved – Rowan is a whiz at building things
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and Molly is a tough girly-girl who loves to play, whether with marshmallow guns, Barbie dolls, a musical instrument, an iPad or a Hello Kitty used as a ball
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on the way back, we stayed at Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn – they aren’t kidding when they say it’s the sister to El Paisano in Marfa – they’re practically identical twins
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our last Texas meal was this chicken fried steak with jalapeño gravy and roasted asparagus (from the restaurant at El Capitan) – had to get it to go because our dogs need constant love and attention and won’t let us go have dinner for five minutes without them
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leaving Van Horn, we were surprised to find it was snowing – my driving-in-snow experience is limited to once (in Houston), so it was a trip to drive through some fairly heavy snow on the interstate for about an hour
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later that day, blue skies and sunshine in Arizona at Texas Canyon (shortly after taking this picture, I slid down the hill on my ass, unintentionally – only like 15 or 20 people saw it happen, so no biggie) (when you’re clumsy and take a tumble here and there, you learn/earn the ability to dust yourself off and hop up rather quickly, even though you scraped some skin off your palm and have a sore ass) (so, yay?)
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if you ever find yourself driving through the California desert and stop for expensive gas or a trip through the General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco Summit, check to see if my sticker is still there
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there’s something very exciting in this picture – no, not the Sizzler billboard, look behind it – DINOSAURS – what’s funny is in a conversation with my mother, we were talking about road trips where you just drive to get there as quickly as possible versus those where you take detours along the way – I said that one day I want to go on a road trip where I can stop at a dinosaur museum if I ever run across one
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fast forward a couple of days later, and we’re driving through southern California around lunch time – we were going to get a Fatburger (since it played a part in Ice Cube’s special day, we thought we’d give it a try) (though I consider a breakfast with no hog to be missing something) – my hand computer claimed there was one about 40 miles ahead – as we exited the highway, I saw these fellows – so we made a slight detour – sadly, there was only time for pictures and no tour – you can climb inside this brontosaurus and look through little round windows
this was my favorite
the t-rex was my favorite
hhmmmm...yeah...I think this might be a trap for those of us who really like dinosaurs
robotic dinosaur museum cave – looks legit
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don’t tell me what to do
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I’ll spare you the sentimentality, but it was great seeing our people – well worth the thousands of miles and close quarters with one dog that farts and another who has breath that can peel paint off the walls – maybe next time we’ll fly