Prius count 150 (they are EVERYWHERE in Berkeley. Go figure.)
I suppose I should get on with it. Though it is starting to feel a bit ludicrous. Any blogging of our trip at this point promise to be nostalgic ramblings at most--yet I proceed.
Before I get on with our visit with Tina's aunt, I should mention one other thing from the night in San Francisco. After we returned from Jeff and Millan's house, the kids went down, but we had by then nearly a week's worth of dirty laundry to do. I was commissioned with the task to go out and find a place to do it and so I ventured out.
I knew it wouldn't be difficult to find a laundromat. Doing one's laundry outside of the home is fairly common in San Francisco, as you might imagine. So I went out and found one. I bring it up tonight because of all of the moments in San Francisco, this one felt most like my memories. I was not, for that moment, just a visiting tourist. I was a part of the landscape again, a resident. I had a nice conversation with the Filipino man who ran the place. I wondered if I had arrived too late to be able to finish drying my loads. He assured me that he always stays until the last load is done, even if it is posted that the place closes at ten. He was very friendly and added to the feeling of home. I enjoyed that night and my clothes weren't stinky anymore as a result of it.
So, Berkeley. We arrived in the early evening, around 5. Tricia was due to be off at work around then, so in order to give her some time to get home and situated, I was able to talk Tina into letting me quickly peruse the Amoeba records that I knew to be near the University. With some over-the-phone directions from Tricia, we quickly found it and I ran up the street to get to it while Tina nursed Jonas and the kids watched Peter Pan for the 9th time. I
It's likely that you, the reader, have never been to Amoeba and so for your sake, I will briefly try to describe it to you. Imagine the biggest, coolest used record store you have ever been in. Maybe you are picturing Zia records in Tucson or perhaps some other similar radical used record store in your city. Now imagine the record store you have in your mind's mother. Amoeba is the mother of all record stores. It is what a used record store might, in it's wildest dreams hope to be like someday. I don't mean to be unclear here. What makes Amoeba so awesome, isn't actually it's size. It is quite large--but not as large as some Tower records I have been in. What makes Amoeba records so awesome, no matter which of its three locations you are in (San Francisco, Berkeley, Hollywood) is the dueling power of its selection and prices. It has everything you could ever want and then several things you never knew existed that when you see them you want them too. It also has amazing prices. For example: While walking past the Vs I happened to see Veruca Salt--an old favorite. Tina has become quite a fan of Nina Gordon, one of the founding members of VS. I glanced over and noticed that Nina had released a second solo album that I was unaware of. How much might that go for, I asked myself. $6.99. Done deal. Amoeba has a whole section of discs that are $2.99 and under. Do I really need that old Stone Temple Pilots album that has all their hits on it? Not really. Can I pass it up for $1.99? Nope. Needless to say, I went a little wild. I left the store with no less than 7 new/used discs. While waiting in line, I noticed a sign that said that students get a 10% discount. Can this place give any more love? 7 discs, a mere $40.
After a minor scolding for being gone longer than expected (time flies...) we were off to Aunt Tricia's house. Her house, that she shares with boyfriend Jordan, is just amazing. Its like one of those houses that you see from the outside and think, "gosh, can this be as beautiful inside as it is on the outside?" It is. And on a clear day, you can see both bridges, the City, Alcatraz, Treasure Island--basically the whole Bay Area, from their large living room windows. And not only was the atmosphere unbeatable, the company of Tricia and Jordan was exquisite. They are such great people and were so nice and accommodating of our horde. Tricia seemed to have endless patience with our kids and had dozens of books and toys for them to play with. Jordan helped me solve a complex tech problem I was having and didn't seem to mind too much when I thanked him for being a smarty-pants.
The next day (Prius count 175), this hospitality was extended when Tricia spent two hours (plus) in her cute cup-cakery with the kids. Letting them decorate, and help bake cupcakes for the store (all while I waited to have a screw in my tire repaired in downtown Berkeley--i should also mention that it was downtown that I found the cable I needed for my laptop and bought it. Finally.). We parted ways at last and were off for one final hurrah in San Francisco. After stopping briefly at a toy store, we cruised across the Bay bridge one last time and into the heart of the city. We stopped in China Town and looked around for cheap t-shirts but only found roasted geese hanging in the window and a wide assortment of dried fish in cardboard boxes. We then drove out to the Mission district (one of my old haunts) and stopped at my favorite taqueria at 24th and Mission st. for an amazing burrito (but not before Tina scored some shoes at the Sketchers outlet, and we also found the kids their t-shirts and me an awesome, four dollar cap). While eating said burrito and thinking to ourselves "this is the only burrito that I have ever eaten that bests the conveyor-belt happiness that is Chipotle", we cruised through the city, sad to be leaving so soon, towards the Golden Gate.
We crossed the Bridge, and drove through beautiful Marin towards Sonoma county and Petaluma where we had a dinner date with John and Kim Kai and co. The drive was somber and golden. I had forgotten how quickly luxurious bustle gives way to cow and field. They were a welcomed sight. We met up with John and Kim--our first visit with them for seven years--and got reacquainted with them and their now quite large and grown up family. John, a man I met tracting on my mission, is currently his ward's Elder's Quorum President. Nothing much sweeter than that, I must say. They took us out for dinner and our kids played and we visited and reminisced. I wish we could see them every month.
We didn't make it to the KOA north of Petaluma until around 10pm. We quickly set up the tent and get settled. Only downer of the whole day: I paid for electricity at the campsite and all we got was a hook-up for RV electricity. This is a picture I took in the morning.
I was tempted to quit there for the night, and you must certainly be tired of reading by now. But, there is only one more California day to go and it is a short day, so let's be done with it, shall we?
The last day of our California trip was spent down in Sausalito taking a few touristy pictures of the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge and then in Mill Valley for lunch. These were both areas that I served in for nearly 6 months (though I was there during the gloomy winter months and not during the bright and beautiful summer). We had a lot of miles to cover that day, so we got moving toward Idaho falls. We stopped in Sonoma for cheese and potty. And then we drove and drove and drove.
Final Prius count: well over 200. We didn't see many in Idaho or Utah and saw less in Phoenix. I have actually started noticing them in Tucson quite often-at least one every time I venture out.
I don't mean to sell short our visit with my family. Hopefully our time with them has been sufficiently blogged about by Michelle and Nick. We had a wonderful wonderful time with my parents. We always do. We love them so much and this, the "trellis" trip will live in legend. It's nice to get along so well with my parents, siblings and with Brandon, Michelle's husband. We always have something exciting, important, or thought provoking to talk about. Let's be friends forever, ok guys?
Our final stop on the trip was the Grand Canyon. I had never been there before and we took the detour off the beaten path to see it. It added an additional 3 hours to our already 12 hour day, but I was glad we did it. There was something symbolic about standing before that great, beautiful void with my family. We are, ourselves, about to venture into an unknown void of sorts--though it also promises to be... beautiful.