Pete's Log: Meg and Pete go on vacation

Entry #1302, (Travel)
(posted when I was 24 years old.)

Monday, August 5, 2002 -- La Junta, Colorado
The train stops briefly for servicing and to change crews. Some cultures, I think, encourage a certain respect for ones ancestral lands. Perhaps there is reason for this. I don't know. I felt a strange feeling of being at home, though. Mom grew up here. I left the train and enjoyed the sensation of dry heat. No yucky humidity, just dry Colorado air trying to suck the moisture out of me. My silly brain was also comforted to see CO plates on most the cars. I felt like I belonged. I knew where I was. I saw the Picketwire Emporium and remembered the Picketwire, the Purgatory River. Frenchies had named the river, I think, and over time the French pronunciation of Purgatoire was bastardized to Picketwire. I love it. The strong sense of belonging was tempting a certain part of me to just let the train leave me behind. But then as I wandered the length of the train, experiencing the excited milling about of people, hearing the sounds trains tend to make at trains stations, I was overwhelmed by the romantic notion of train travel, I yearned to be moving again. And, of course, Meg was on the train and would probably have been pissed if I'd stayed behind in the land of my ancestors.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002 -- San Diego, California
I'm having a bad glasses day. It's 8:40 in the morning, Pacific time, and I've misplaced them somewhere outside the San Diego Civic Theater. (sorry. Theatre. It's spelled the British way on the building) I couldn't find them this morning either. Meg woke me at 6:20 so we could come to the theater and get in line for rush tickets to Rent. Unable to find my glasses and in a hurry to get in line, I wandered around San Diego blind, trusting Meg to find our way for us. She did. There's maybe six people ahead of us in line. Our spot secure, I head back to the hostel, hoping to find my glasses. I do, and while there I grab sleeping bags and books. Back to the theatre. I find a drug store along the way and pick up this notebook -- it's time to journal the old-skool way.

Sunday morning, August the fourth, Rich was kind enough to drop Meg, me, and a bunch of baggage off at the South Bend Amtrak station. Our baggage checked in, wondering if we'll ever see it again, we settle down for a three hour wait. Amtrak, we are discovering, is not so good at being on time. Lucky for us, we have a long layover in Chicago, so there's no worry of missing our next train -- the Southwest Chief. Again, we leave late -- two hours this time, and this time it's due to mechanical troubles with the lounge car. The delay on the South Bend - Chicago line -- the Lake Shore Limited -- was apparently because of freight trains. The freight companies own most of the tracks, so Amtrak has to yield to them.

The Southwest Chief took us, over the span of some 46 hours, from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. Overall, it was a neat way to travel. It's very relaxed, and even in Coach they give you plenty of leg room. Meals in the dining room were pleasant, though rarely on time. The cafe/bar in the lounge car seemed out of stock of just about everything on the menu -- except hard alcohol.

We had plenty to do, though. We had books to read, scenery to watch, and a rented laptop so we could play computer games. I am now addicted to Rollercoaster Tycoon.

When we finally get into LA, we've missed our connection to San Diego, the Pacific Surfliner. All is well, though, because this train runs every two hours. The Surfliner was the first train we took that left on time. It was also the first train we were on that wasn't full. With all the financial woes Amtrak is having, we had visions of empty trains, but it really doesn't seem Amtrak is lacking in customers.

So I'm playing Rollercoaster Tycoon again when Meg brings the view to my attention: the train has found its way to the ocean and the tracks go right along the beach. Beautiful! We arrive in San Diego, and are pleasantly surprised to find that our luggage has too! A quick cab ride later and we're at the downtown San Diego youth hostel. We check into a private room and take anxiously awaited showers. We then head to a Tapas place in the Gaslamp District that -- we were excited to see an ad for this in the hostel -- was giving free salsa lessons. So we dance a while. It's a rotating partner sort of deal, so I get to frustrate several women as I refuse to figure out the move they try to teach us. At least this way Meg gets a chance to dance with people who get it. Then Tapas for dinner before passing out in the hostel for a deep sleep that is far too short.

I've found my glasses again. Eight hours until tickets go on sale.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002 -- San Diego, California
Yay! We got tickets! Front row, too! After being in line all day, we've returned to the hostel for a quick shower before the show. Here we've discovered that our room was invaded by dozens of little flying bugs. Best solution I found was to close the window and fan them into the hallway with my towel. Always carry a towel.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002 -- San Diego, California
Rent was awesome! I picked up much more this time than last, which was cool. Meg's friend James met us for the show and we hit a restaurant on Fifth afterwards which featured live Jazz. City life is fun!

Thursday, August 8, 2002 -- San Diego, California
We've got a car! We rented a red Chevy Cavalier from National this morning. We'll have it for a week. Meanwhile, Key Bank is proving very incompetent. It seems I didn't submit my change of address to them on time, so a statement got returned in the mail. So they put a hold on my credit card. I called them Friday and they said they'd fix it and I could use my card by monday. No go. So I called again on Wednesday. Again they tell me the hold is because of my address, again they tell me it will be taken care of. At the car rental place, the card is again declined. Gah! So I call again and complain a bunch and am told my previous calls don't show up on their records. Grrrrr. But I think maybe this time it is actually sorted out. We'll see.

Friday, August 9, 2002 -- San Clemente, California
I was an exhausted Pete last night. Passed out immediately upon getting into bed. After getting the car yesterday, we checked out of the hostel, then shopped a little. We then took the trolley to the border and walked across to Tijuana. It was the first time in Mexico for both of us. We wandered around some, being harassed by children selling cheap candy and other things. They were really persistent, but none of them looked like they were starving. We walked much more than was probably necessary, before finally picking a restaurant to have dinner at. The place had a two-for-one margarita deal, so we ordered a margarita each, expecting they'd charge us for one. Instead, they brought us two each. After the margaritas, I had a Dos Equis, but shortly after ordering it, our waiter visited me with a bottle of tequilla. He tilts my head back and starts pouring it into my mouth. He then decides it's not flowing fast enough, so he takes off the fancy pouring lid and starts pouring more into my mouth. After about two shots worth I stop him, since he seemed to have no intention of slowing down. He then pours some of my beer into my mouth wipes off my face, and raises my hand in victory. Viva Mexico!

Entering Mexico, we had not been required to show any ID or anything. Returning to the US was slightly more complicated. We had to stand in line quite a while, go through a metal detector, show ID, and declare our imports (I had some tequilla in my tummy, Meg had a bag with chips and salsa).

After a final trip to the mall, we leave San Diego. We stopped at a couple state beaches, looking for a campsite, but everything was full. So we found a hotel and passed out in a hurry.

Sunday, August 11, 2002 -- Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
Dolphins are cool. We took a ferry this morning from Oxnard to Anacapa Island. A pod of dolphins decided to take a break from feeding and surfed in the wake of our boat. It was neat. I'm now sitting on some rock overlooking the cove where the boat docked. I just saw a seal swimming around.

Friday we ended up in Santa Monica, where we spent some time on the beach before doing some shopping. We were supposed to stay with Meg's friend James, but couldn't contact him. So finally it got late enough that we just decided to drive to Santa Barbara and sleep at Chateau Rink.

Saturday we wake up around 10. Chris fixes pancakes for breakfast. We meet his girlfriend Sarah. George is also there. He had independently made plans to be in Santa Barbara at the same time. He brought his girlfriend Julia so we also met her.

After breakfast we head to a verizon store. We discovered Friday night that we'd left our cell phone charger in the hostel in San Diego. The verizon store doesn't have what we need, but Radio Shack does.

Meg spends the afternoon napping, reading, and going to the gym. I go with Perk, Chris, Sarah, George and Julia on a tour of UCSB followed by a trip to a neat spot in the mountains with a great view of the Santa Barbara area. We then watch Amelie, which was a lot of fun.

There's a barbecue at Chateau Rink for dinner. After that, we all go to the beach where we make a fire and have s'mores. Perk, George, Julia, and I also decide to jump into the cold night-time Pacific. Perk and I, who have a tradition of sorts with cold bodies of water, make several return visits, the last of which we dedicated lovingly to "LAKE!"

Monday, August 12, 2002 -- Anacapa Island
I'm convinced that Anacapa is a native word for birdcrap. The birds control this island, and it is only their generosity that has left us alive. The Park Service claims Anacapa is a Chumash word for mirage, but I think they're just trying to make it sound nicer for tourists. Birdcrap Island is what it will be in my mind.

So while I was enjoying the waves on our trip to the island, it turns out that they made Meg very seasick. So we took our first few hours on the island very easy. The island was full of daytrippers at the time, so it was probably better that way. We then found our campsite (one of only six sites on the island -- it's very solitary here at night) and pitched our tent. It was still very warm, so we napped a few hours until it got cool. Then we explored the island for real. It's only about a square mile in size, but it is home to several interesting species of plants that don't exist anywhere else. There's also lizards, disease-ridden mice, and lots of birds. We found a bench near the Western end of the island that didn't have too much crap on it and watched the sun set over the Pacific. Very nice.

Sunday, August 18, 2002 -- on board the California Zephyr
Our trip is coming to and end, and I'm actually looking forward to it. All I want right now is a good rest in a comfy bed.

After a little more hiking (I also got harassed by a seagull) we left Anacapa about noon on Monday. Once back on the mainland, we took our leave of Chateau Rink and drove north on 101 to San Francisco. We arrived at about midnight and found Em's place, where she was kindly allowing us to stay.

Tuesday morning I discovered our second parking ticket of the trip. We got our first in Santa Monica for letting the meter expire (by about a minute). This one was for parking while they were trying to clean the street. Doh.

We spent most of Tuesday in Berkeley, checking out the campus and wandering around Telegraph. When we returned to Em's place, we realized her cat Moses was missing. We decided the only thing he could possibly have done was jump out the window. Luckily, there was no way for him to escape the courtyard beneath the window, so after a bunch of searching, Em and I finally found him hiding under some bushes.

Moses safe back in the apartment (with window sill privileges revoked), we went to dinner with Em and Keith at an Ethiopian place. I've been craving Ethiopian food for some time now. After dinner we stopped by a mellow gay bar, because, I guess, that's what one does in San Francisco. It was a fun evening.

Wednesday we loaded the car, had some issues with our car and downtown San Francisco, and hit the road at about 12:30. We then proceeded to drive about 1300 miles in 19.5 hours. Meg and I are a good driving team, I think. We dropped the car off at the Colorado Springs airport on Thursday morning, where Mom picked us up. We drove to Crested Butte via Cottonwood Pass. Meg and I spent most of the ride asleep.

It was fun being in Crested Butte again. We had dinner at the Avalance on Thursday. Friday we checked out the town some. At some point Mamie's new dog, Juno, jumped off the balcony at the condo. I suspect Meg and I have some strange effect on animals that causes them to jump out of buildings. It's a good thing for Janis and Penny that we live on the ground floor. Friday night Matt and the Rozmans came over for dinner.

Saturday morning Mamie, Annie, and Diana drove us to Grand Junction where we caught the California Zephyr. It arrived three hours late. We're wising up to Amtrak and so we'd called ahead. So we knew not to bother showing up at the train station on time. We took Kebler pass to get to Grand Junction, so Meg came into and left Crested Butte on dirt roads. We did let her know, though, that there is one paved highway that leads into CB.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002 -- South Bend, Indiana
The trip is over. Our train from Chicago to South Bend was also a couple hours late. Branden picked us up at the train station. My suitcase hadn't made it, but the rest of our checked luggage had. Monday evening we drove to Wisconsin to pick up Janis and Penny. I must admit I missed them. Meg, I suspect, would have gone crazy if it'd been any longer before she saw them again. This trip has been the longest Meg has ever spent away from Janis since she got her. But now we're all back at home, and all is well. My suitcase was dropped off this morning.

The trip was a lot of fun. It was also very tiring, since it feels like we spent more time traveling than at our destinations. I think we spent just enough time at all our stops to know we wanted to spend more time there. Neither of us wanted to kill the other by the time the trip was over, which is a good thing. We had some good conversations, and I feel our relationship is in good shape. So I'm quite happy with life. Now I got to get ready to start teaching in a week.