Friday, June 21, 2013

The Trip so far...

My mother (housesitter, catsitter) arrived with her vicious Rottweiler Paul Tuesday afternoon. I was still at work, and finished up a couple of stories (including a last minute interview) before taking off for home. That night was spent re-introducing Paul and Inkwell the cat while Mom set up her sewing machine and helped Eric to prepare his costume.

About 7 a.m. the next morning Eric and I got on the road, with me driving the first leg. I got us into Oregon easily. We started with a little less than half a tank of gas, but I thought it would last us a bit longer than it did. We saw a sign that said "Next grocery, 67 miles" and Eric asked if we could make it. I thought we could. And, besides, there was another town between us and the grocery. Surely we'd be able to get to THAT town and get some gas there.

Well... I was half right. We got to Shaniko, but when we pulled up to the old-fashioned pump we soon discovered that the gas station was out of business and probably had been for some years. Disgusted and worried, we drove to the "general store" and asked where we could get gasoline in town. She told us the nearest gas station was 26 miles away.

Eric had the answer, of course. He called AAA for help. The general store owner said we could expect to wait a hour for them, so we both pulled out books and tried to not stress too much. At some point I decided to start eating an apple, thinking that if I got right in the middle of the apple the guy would come because I would have to finish the apple quickly to be able to drive the next leg. Sure enough, as soon as I was halfway into the apple, the AAA guy arrived. We got enough of a fill up to get us to the next town and were on our way.

Amusingly, after we pulled out of the gas station in Madras, the song playing on my FM transmitter was "Red Rubber Ball" with the lyrics, "Yeah, the worst is over now..." which Eric found very amusing.

The rest of the drive was partly uneventful. We stopped at a nice rest stop somewhere that had some awesome bridges. Then I started to get annoyed and frustrated as we approached Weed. I took over the driving in Weed and felt better, particularly once we were on I-5 and not blocked by slow drivers who apparently think going 50 and refusing to pull over even when there are good opportunities to do so... ahem. Sorry.

We had packed a light lunch, so we were delighted to reach Willows and go to the Black Bear Diner for dinner after checking in at the hotel.

The next morning we opted to hit the road before breakfast and found a Denny's in Williams to stop at. Then it was down I-5 for a bit. The directions said we needed to take the exit to CA33 south. Unfortunately, we got on 33 WAY too early. And ended up behind a couple of tractors and a couple of cars that were driving incredibly slowly down the road with their emergency blinkers on for no apparent reason. Then we lost 33 entirely in Patterson and found a nice park where we used the restrooms and decided on the next move. I took over driving and found our way back to I-5. We headed south, and eventually found the correct exit. Eric commented that my car was like the TARDIS. It didn't take us where we wanted to go, but it got us where we needed to go.

We reached the Monterey area in good time, about noon I think. We located the hotel, then went to lunch because the rooms weren't ready yet. We hit a local Subway and found an excellent little donut shop (Monterey Donuts) for dessert. Then back to the hotel, checked in, and over to a craft store we'd noticed to get some last-minute necessities for Eric's costume.

Then it was over to Asilomar so Eric could attend the board meeting of the International Wizard of Oz Club. While he was boarded, I wandered a bit to see the improvements that Aramark has made at Asilomar since taking over, then read my book for a bit until a bunch of old Oz friends started to filter in. I'll note that I felt like I was coming home when we got to Pacific Grove. I haven't been to every Winkie Convention at Asilomar like Eric has, but I've been to enough and always felt welcome here, so it was a delight to return.

Anyway, after Eric got out of the board meeting for dinner recess, we located some friends and went to dinner and McD's. There were some stressful moments getting the car loaded since Eric was antsy to get back in time for the rest of the board meeting. We made it. After the meeting let out we all went down to the BBQ pit and had s'mores and hot cocoa. Our two international members were taught how to make s'mores, which was fun. Sam, from Australia, actually videotaped Susan Hall making a s'more.

Eric and I had to leave a little early as we weren't certain how to find our hotel. On the way to Asilomar earlier in the day we'd gotten incredibly lost (trying to get out of Monterey). So we stopped as registration for help, and they gave us pretty good directions. Back at the hotel I wrote up a prelim for the Friday Winkie Convention report for the newsletter, then promptly fell asleep.

It's about 9 a.m. on Friday now, and I've had breakfast and everything. We're going to head off to Asilomar again soon, hopefully with better results than last time, and probably hang out there until the convention opens and we can get our rooms. We also have a trip on the boardwalk and possibly down to the beach planned. This may be the Oz convention's last time at Asilomar: I intend to enjoy it as much as humanly possible. I love Asilomar, but Aramark is driving the prices through the roof and killing the smaller groups like ours.

Anyway, I think the cleaning staff wants us gone and I'm anxious to get back, so I'll sign off now and hopefully write an update later this evening or even tomorrow morning...