san fran, day one: the long, windy road

My day started off with hints of ickiness, but ended on a good note. We’ll dispense with the ickiness first. Sean dropped me off at the Phoenix airport with time to spare. Check-in was a breeze and I got through security easily. It was weird, though. I’m used to either departing through Terminal 3 or 4. Today, I departed through Terminal 2 and the security system is different. Strange. Anyway, I got to my gate and sat down, ready to wait a few more minutes before they would begin boarding the plane. The captain of our flight gets on a couple minutes later to inform us that the San Francisco air traffic control won’t let us depart Phoenix because they can’t land us in San Fran as a result of weather conditions. Great. An hour and a half later, we’re boarded and are finally given approval to take-off. The flight was uneventful. Typical flight. Landed in San Fran, got to wait awhile for my luggage and then take a train to the rental car center. Second icky part of the day, the more than an hour wait that I had to get my rental car. Thrifty, apparently, is a popular car rental company. I finally got my car (thankfully, no hassles there) and off to downtown San Francisco I went in my little red Dodge Neon.

Because of airport delays (plane and car rental), I wasn’t able to see everything that I wanted to see in San Fran, but I’ve still got a little time to make it up on Sunday, before my flight leaves. I headed straight for lunch when I got into town. I had seen a place on FoodTV that was said to have outstanding hot focaccia sandwiches. It was in the heart of North Beach. The place is called Mario’s Bohemian Cigars and Cafe. I don’t know about cigars, but the food was outstanding. I sat up at the bar and ordered the fresh mozarella and basil sandwich. It’s a panini made with focaccia bread, fresh mozarella, basil, pesto and fresh tomatoes. Yum. That kept me going as I peaked into various stores in North Beach and snapped many pictures along the way.

I then toodled down into Chinatown. There were a couple shops that I had noted before flying out here that I wanted to hunt down. Unfortunately, both shops were a bust, but I ran across an outstanding tea shop where I purchased a couple new teas from and a fantastic Chinese bakery that sells incredibly tasty Chinese doughnuts and mooncakes (among other things). The Chinese doughnut was my snack to tide me over until dinner.

Unfortunately, this is where my adventures in San Fran stop for the day. Fortunately, this is where my adventure down the Pacific Coast Highway begins. There are basically three options to get from San Fran to Palo Alto (where I’m staying for the wedding). I can take Hwy. 101 that will get me to Palo Alto directly. I can take I-280 that will get me close to Palo Alto and then I just have to cut across on another highway. The third option is to take the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy. 1) that runs down the other side of the peninsula, and then cut across on one of the several windy roads to connects the two sides of the peninsula. This might be a good time to mention to those who are unaware that the peninsula has mountains down the middle. Moving on. I took option 3. If you know me at all, you know that I love windy roads and pushing the limits of my car down them. Highway 1 is absolutely breathtaking. To your right, there are rocky beaches leading into the Pacific Ocean and surfers catching whatever wave they can. To your left are lush, green mountains covered in evergreens and clouds. I went about 20 miles down Highway 1 before finally choosing a road to cut across the peninsula on. It was the most out of the way cut-across road, but it was also the windiest and most fun looking one. It had my name written all over it. For future reference, State Highway 82 is a blast to drive. It curved constantly, first to the left, then to the right. That was one of the best hours in a car that I have every spent. Granted, I would much rather have preferred being seated in my Miata rather than the Neon, but the Neon held its own and got me safely through.

Several hours later, I’m now curled up in my hotel room, happily sated with seared tuna in my stomach. I love being near the coast. Tomorrow morning is manicure and pedicure time, followed by a bridesmaid’s lunch and then bachelorette party. Let the festivities begin.

Current photo count: 68

what a long strange trip

Tomorrow begins the progression of several trips over a couple (maybe three) months. Tomorrow morning and approximately 8am, I get on a plane to San Francisco. An incredibly good friend of mine is getting married on Saturday and I’m in the wedding. Thus begins several days of celebration, mad scrambling to finish preparations for the wedding and, hopefully, a few hours here and there of sight-seeing. My camera’s packed. My laptop is about to be packed (as soon as my iPod finishes charging). Oh yeah, and those pesky things like clothes, bridesmaid’s dress and shoes, etc. Those are packed, too. I’m really looking forward to this, because I’ll finally see a bit of San Francisco that isn’t directly around the Moscone Convention Center. Hopefully, I’ll also get to see Crutcher and Theresa while I’m in the area, since I’ll have all day Sunday to be lazy and chill with friends.

On Sunday night I will fly back from San Fran and spend the next five days scrambling to get more work done around the office (with a possible day trip to Denver) before the next leg of travelling begins. Saturday, the 27th, Sean and I embark on a flight to get us back to Huntsville, where we will spend several days with family and friends. Wednesday afternoon, we will drive over to Atlanta and stay with some friends before heading to downtown Atlanta for several days of working at Dragon*Con as part of the Technical Operations staff. Monday night, we will wearily drive up to Sean’s parents’ house and crash for several days spending time with his folks. Friday night, drive back to Huntsville and then Saturday afternoon, fly back to Phoenix. Sunday, we rest. Oh yeah, and do laundry.

The following week, I’ll spend preparing to spend the next 3 to 4 weeks up in Denver at our customer’s facility, performing testing. Thankfully, I can choose to fly back home on the weekends or spend it up there. We’ll see. I’ll most likely choose to fly back home just to get some normality in my life. This will last at least until the end of September, if not into October. Hopefully, come October, I’ll finally be finished and will be able to come back home to cats who will no longer recognize me and a house that I will miss very dearly while gone.

What a long, strange trip it’ll be.

wet arizona

Note to self: During monsoon season, if NOAA says it’s supposed to rain, bring a rain jacket. They’re not kidding. Really.

I had to spend a half-day at home yesterday, waiting on workmen to get to our house for some maintenance after our one-year home inspection. I get to the door of the office building and notice that it’s wet on the other side. grr… Damn those weathermen for being right this one time in a year. I got to sprint to the guard shack, rest for a minute and then sprint the rest of my way to my car on the other side of the parking lot. I wasn’t drenched, but I was close to it. The ride home was very humid, to say the least.

This morning, on my way out of the house, I was wise. I grabbed my rain jacket. This, of course, means that it won’t rain a drop today because I came prepared.