Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home, Sweet San Antonio

In many ways, San Antonio will always be my home. I was reminded that much of my personality was cultivated there the moment I was driving down/up I-10. Though, sadly, the San Antonio landscaped has been raped by commercialism/strip malls, it still possesses places filled with memories. As Sarah and I drove into the city, I breathed in the hot, humid San Antonio air with nostalgia. After 7,000 miles around the United States, I knew I had to come home. When I first left San Antonio for Boston almost 10 years ago, I felt I was traveling between two existences- one of my past and one of my present/future. Over the years, I have reconciled that though I may leave Texas, Texas will never leave me. The thought of a bean and cheese taco from Las Palapas, the unique incense aroma of my mom's house, and the friendly faces that awaited propelled me forward during the long drive through the desert.

I love that I still have friends that I can call on a moment's notice and share great conversation and food; a tradition that hasn't changed in over 15 years of friendship. I look upon my friends as true kindred spirits that have also shaped who I have become and who I will always be. I sat with Shannon at Souper Salad laughing and recalling the first time we met almost 16 years ago in the Jackson bathroom across from the cafeteria. I drank wine with Jess and Moni (legally!) talking about sex, a topic once imagined, now realized. I ate sushi (delicious!) with Dusty amazed what a great mom she is (I always knew she would be a great mom), and how she is still able to be herself without compromise. Jeni and Todd (well mostly Todd) made me a great eggplant parm feast amongst their remodelled kitchen, and I thought to myself how right they are for one another. My friendships are very important to me, and I am blessed that I have wonderful people in San Antonio and beyond that keep me in check.

Seeing my mom and eating good ol' country food is also a tradition that I must do when I am home. Though, my mom and I do not see things the same way always (she hates all truck drivers- well maybe we aren't so different...) I know she will always support me in my decisions even if she grinds her teeth first.

I was sad that I had to leave my mom and San Antonio behind, but hopefully I'll be home again soon. Now off to Boston with Papa Gonzalez in tow and a few stop in between.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

She went all night long..

As much fun as San Diego was, we went onward to Phoenix to drop off Hol for the beginning of his adventure. (We were a mini-adventure for him) Not too much to report about the drive to Arizona, though lots of impromptu border patrol along I-8. Once Hol was out of the car, the real craziness ensued. Sarah and I had slept in and were prepared to make it to Las Cruces, New Mexico by midnight, so we could sleep/rest and wake up for the long trek to San Antonio. As we were driving, Sarah and I were talking about the trip home and I proposed continuing to drive to El Paso and beyond. After discussing it, we decided it was the best idea, so we (I mostly mean Sarah because she did the driving and I kept her company most of the night) drove all the way to San Antonio. We arrived at my father's doorstep around 10:45 AM just to show him that his daughters can do anything in order to prove him wrong :) We were very punch drunk from the drive, but were able to unload the car and shower before completely crashing. It was a night of good talks, breath-taking stars, and two stubborn Gonzalez sisters driving in the dark desert. I did get to see a desert sunrise, so it was well worth it.

Zoo, Pacific Sunset and Turtles

Monday was one of most memorable days on the trip. We left Anaheim behind and headed to San Diego. The main goals Sarah and I wanted to accomplish were to go to the zoo and see a sunset. After a brief outburst by Sarah/sisterly discussion about directions and driving, we went to the zoo and had a great afternoon looking at animals. The San Diego zoo is an obvious must see in Southern California, so I will not bore you with details, but it was fantastic. Afterward, we went to La Jolla beach and walked on the beach and watched the suffers. La Jolla was beautiful. We found an amazing microbrewery not too far on the beach that had a roof deck to watch the sunset. It was beautiful! It was a perfect moment of Pacific sunset, beer, and great mac n' cheese (almost as good as Publick House :) I made friends with our waitress because she was from Worcester, and she suggested a bar in the area that did turtle races on Monday night. Yes, TURTLE races. We were sold, and two hours later we were screaming and cheering on the racing turtles. A concept so simple, and yet I had to travel 5000 miles to find a bar that raced turtles for the pleasure of drunken idiots. If my teaching pursuits fail, I may open a bar that specializes in turtle racing, so stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lovin' LA

The last time I was in Los Angeles I was three years old (except if you count the time Amy and I hanging out in LAX on our way to SF). My memories are somewhat blurred by my childhood obsession with Disneyland. I remember wanting to ride the tea cups at Disneyland and being very disappointed that my father and brothers were able to go on more rides than I was. (Alas, Sarah was just an embryo growing at the time). Twenty-five years later I am amazed by LA's beauty and energy.

We arrived in LA a little before lunch and had time to tour the Kodak Theater and Sid's Theater (Chinese theater) before meeting Sarah's film friends, Garrett and Brett for lunch. We had a fabulous lunch at Jerry's Deli and then proceeded to the Hollywood Hills for some great views of LA and overpriced real estate. Afterward, we went to the Santa Monica Pier for some old fashioned fun. Walking the beach was great and relaxing. We ate ice cream and walked for awhile enjoying the scene. I really wanted to see the sunset over the water, so Garrett and Brett suggested going to Griffith Park and seeing the sunset from the observatory. Everyone agreed and off we went. Now, our flawless plan hit traffic on the highway, so we didn't actually see the sunset, but the night view over the city was beautiful nonetheless. The Griffith Observatory would be my ultimate spot in LA if I ever decide to live here, but due to the traffic and real estate restrictions, I doubt that will ever happen. (though, never say never). I was in heaven the whole day. I hope San Diego does not disappoint.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My heart is still in San Francisco

My second journey to San Francisco reminded me how much I love San Fran. Oakland was great, but the moment Sarah and I took the BART over the water, I was happy. San Francisco was great. Sarah and I wandered around the city and saw some of the sites (gosh I hate those hills!) and had sushi in Chinatown. Later, we met Hol and some of Sarah's/Hol's friends in the Mission and had some burritos and beer. Hol drove us around for two hours to "show" us around the bay area.

Hol joined Sarah and I on our road trip adventure. He is catching a ride with us to Phoenix. I feel like the adult when I am around the two of them. Sarah gets very frustrated with Hol, and Hol knows how to push Sarah's buttons. I am looking forward to seeing and spending some time in Southern Cali.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

California Border question and addendum

Does anyone know why when you cross into California, they check for produce and plants coming into the state? When we were driving into California from Oregon we had to pull over to an inspection station. The State Trooper asked us if we had any fruits, vegetables, and/or plants in the car. (We did not) Sarah and I have no idea why California does this. (The travel guides don't know either).

Also, addendum to my State Trooper theory: State Troopers in California love their job. They love pulling people over for speeding. I have seen more State Troopers in Northern California than in my entire time on the road. I have also seen a great number of people pulled over for speeding. Driving through Arcata and Eureka last night Sarah and I counted 8!

Napa on my mind

"For when the wine is in, the wit is out,"-Thomas Becan

My stomach is full and I drank way too much wine, but I have no regrets. I will sleep soundly tonight with thoughts of grapes on my mind. I am so excited that we decided to stay another night, so we can drink more tomorrow. Napa is fantastic place where everyone is friendly and happy to engage in conversation. I was a little nervous that Napa was going to be too pretentious for Sarah and me, but luckily, I was proven wrong (which never happens :) The local deli boy was very eager to help Sarah with her order, and all the sommeliers and fellow tasters were very informative and shared exclusive wines with us (aka we got free tastings for being cute!). The wine and the food is delicious!

Getting here was very nerve wracking. I drove through VERY winding and narrow roads, and almost lost it. Thankfully, Sarah was patient with me and we made it to the winery without crashing into a tree or another car or flying off a hillside. Life lesson: I do not do well with driving curvy roads. Though, I did learn my lesson about reserving hotels. Once Sarah and I decided to stay in Napa, I found a hotel (well the nearest Motel 6) and reserved it.