Sunday, May 20, 2007

Welcome to California (or questions I have about a question mark)

As you might have gandered, the whole blog-as-you-go vacation plan didn’t work out. There was this great moment of truth when I got to Mike Daines’s house in Pasadena, and there on the table was the box from Nick with the cable in it. We took out the cable, gave it a look over—all was in line! This was going to be a successful venture… but then… tragedy stuck. The male connection was just too small—it didn’t fit. And there was much lamenting in the OC.

So, here I am, with my first chance to post. It’s Sunday afternoon; we successfully made it to my sister’s house in Idaho Falls on Friday night. And while we have had many happy reunions with my siblings and parents, leaving California behind was harder than I expected. We had a wonderful time there, and will not soon forget the experience—but before I get ahead of myself, let’s back up a bit.

Day 1 (Prius count: 7)

We left our house around 9:30 and we only had to go back once (I forgot the Ipod). Luckily, we weren’t off Polytechnic campus yet. We strategically left so that I could drop my student teaching paperwork off at ASU on our way out of town. It was on campus that I realized that this may be my last time on main campus for a while. And while I feel a stronger connection with the campus where we live (and where I work), I got nostalgic just for a second. ASU has been the place of my redirection in life. I’m glad I went there and feel proud that it is my new alumnus. I got school spirit, how ‘bout you?

We were off to California at about 11:00 and the trip officially began. Tina and I have seemed to become car friends. We use to not be car friends—or at least it seems that in the past car trips had more tension than they have in the last year. Our secret, oh weary travelers? Good somethins to listen to that stimulate the ol’ intellect.. Last year we listened to Potok’s The Chosen. Then at Thanksgiving, we listened to Life of Pi. This year, I made about 16 CDs, each with an episode of Ira Glass’s Chicago radio program This American Life. The website has a “greatest hits” of sorts for this Saturday running NPR program. Since it finally became available as a podcast, I have become a fan. Tina, I think, has become a fan as well and we listened to at least two of them on the way out to LA.

The kids were great (and have been really good on 90% of the now 2000 mile trip—it will break 3000 by the time we get home). The movie in the car thing is the only way to go—so if the kids don’t get much mention on the actual in-car part of this report, don’t fret. They’re watching Cars.

The best story of the day occurred when we crossed the Colorado River into Blythe. At the entrance to any town—but especially those with mid-size/smaller populations, there is a “Welcome to…” sign (in this case “Welcome to Beautiful Blythe”) with smaller signs underneath alerting travelers to the amenities to be found within the town: Food, Camping, etc.—each with little pictures to go along with the words (perhaps for the less literate traveler?). Underneath the Blythe sign were these familiar sub-signs along with one that stuck Tina and I funny (though I admit that, having explained this story to my family since arriving here, they were politely responsive but not knocked down by the funniness of it. I guess Tina and me are weird). The sign was very simple: it was a simple question mark: ? For whatever reason, we thought that it was hilarious. Of course, we understand the meaning of the sign: travelers interested in information gathering, or with questions that need answering are sure to be able to find answers in town—probably provided by a visitor’s center of some sort. But to us, grouped with the gas and food signs, it just looked like “?—we don’t know what the crap else you’ll find here. It’s a mystery to us as well.” Or: “?—it’s a surprise!).

We laughed about that for a while. The Colorado was surprising to us as well (maybe it was the answer to the ?—surprise!). It was very pretty. Especially after that bleak western Arizona drive. Very oasis-like. And it proved to be a subtle preview to the beauty that would slowly build over the next week.

Almost immediately upon entering California, we saw two identical, interesting cars within seconds of each other. A minute or so later we saw another—Toyota’s hybrid Prius. I had heard about the Prius boom on the radio. Apparently, they sold out of the 2006 model because they were so popular. I hadn’t really seen many in Arizona to speak of, but we decided after seeing so many in a row that we would make it a game while on our trip. Thus, Prius hunting commenced.

We arrived in LA without much further incident and ate cheap Costco food for dinner. Disneyland beckoned, and we would loudly answer the call for the next two days.

Stay tuned for the full report…

1 comment:

  1. Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

    Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

    Biby Cletus