Flar brought back a lovely gem of an infection from his latest trip to Brazil, and it's been playing its course through Critter's and my bodies. My throat would be fine now, if it weren't for the coughing -- thus the Nyquil. But along about Monday I discovered that my right ear (the one with the ordinarily unperforated tympanic membrane, not to be confused with the one through which I can occasionally whistle, depending on congestion level) was draining. I think the perforation has already healed, but I'm dealing with total weirdness in that ear right now.
Over the years, I've discovered that when my ears start to shut down, making the rest of the world sound like it's been covered in cotton, my own internal voice is magnified, amplified, jacked up to the max in my head. It tends to make me talk very quietly (but that has the advantage of getting my companions close enough for me to hear them). In fact, if I speak at a regular volume, I start to hear buzzing distortion of my own voice, like I cranked the power past the capacity of the speaker. This is the first time, however, that I can recall outside sounds being split into (1) soft, cottony, but otherwise normal rendition and (2) slight offset, only the high frequency bits echo. It's very disconcerting.
Honestly, if I got this kind of sound out of an AV system, I'd be having a talking with customer service.
But enough whinging, this was to be a post about our trip.
We set off on Monday morning. I had an 11am salon appt., before which Critter picked up maps at AAA, and after which we ate lunch at Dagwood's. Critter did all the driving, because I'd stayed up the night before, paying bills. We flew out of Louisville on Southwest, with an entertaining steward on our first plane, followed by a serviceable, but not as imaginative crew on the second plane. The entertaining steward did things like pretend to find a wallet at the front of the plane, to get everyone to actually look up, then, actually saying "Made you look!" he went into the required spiel.
The travel day was long, but of no particular interest. We picked up an Avenger at Dollar, which is easy to drive, and has pleasantly designed controls. It also has a line-in for the AV system, which is nice for playing the iPod.
We drove down to Cinder and Surlyone's, and settled into a nifty guestroom. Cinder has a queen bed atop a storage-filled structure that includes trundle bed. There is just enough room on one side of the structure my trundle bed (what, me climbed all the way up there?), and I've a desk with three empty drawers, clear desktop, high intensity light and empty power strip. Combine that with the high speed wifi network, this is deluxe digs for me. I love sleeping in enclosed spaces, and this has the added bonus of darkness during the day.
We stayed up rather late on Monday night after we got in, so we slept in on Tuesday, and didn't do any sightseeing, so much as shopping. We hit Storables, Barnes and Noble and Fry's. I've started my Christmas shopping, and picked up some fun odds and ends as well. Cinder and I were both worn out from the expedition, so napping occurred. In the sense that I slept, and Cinder rested with intent. We went out to Safeway for a grocery run, and bought foodstuffs for the stay. Some of which we've completely consumed; some of which we're leaving behind.
Wednesday was the day that Critter had a campus tour scheduled at Stanford, and he decided to use public transportation and let me stay home and rest. So I slept (in between coughing) until 6pm. Wow. DId I mention the guest room stays nice and dark during the day?
Critter's impression of Stanford is that it is smaller than Cornell, but more spread out. He says the bicycle traffic on campus is quite heavy. He also perceived less of an emphasis on engineering than he would prefer. I think he is happy continuing to call Rice his first choice and Caltech his second.
As I was stepping out of the shower in the evening, I heard Critter talking to someone in the front room. It didn't sound like Surlyone, but the voice was familiar... And then it clicked - Cycleryder was here. He had car trouble and had walked here for a place to stay and to borrow wheels for the morning. It was an unplanned nuisance from Raynaarwyn's POV, but a pleasant surprise for me.
Thursday, we set out in the car, because I decided I wouldn't be up to public transporation. Our destination was SF, and since we set off in the car, we could meander our way there and back.
Our first stop was Apple. We did not have a tour arranged ahead of time (Surlyone pointed out that he could have set something up for us if we'd mentioned before we were coming), but we did get to shop in the company store. I'll post pictures later. Critter got a shirt and a space pen, I bought a pen and some small mesh bags.
Then we drove north. We drove by my old high school, Notre Dame Belmont, then the houses I'd lived in, in Foster City. First the townhouse on Magellan Lane, then the house on Foresail Ct.
After quick drive-bys, we set off for The City. We were originally going to follow Cinder's directions directly to Borderlands, but Critter wanted to see Golden Gate Park, and it turns out we were near enough, so we went ahead and drove down Lombard Street. That put us close to Fisherman's Wharf, and I was ready to stretch my legs, so we parked by Fishermen's Grotto #9 and ate lunch there. Then we strolled over to Pier 39, window shopped, trinket shopped, and then looked at the Sea Lions.
We walked from Pier 39 to the Mason-Powell Cable Car and rode it up the hill to the cable car museum. After we gawked and shopped, we walked over to the Powell-Hyde line to get back down to the wharf. We got to ride on the outside - passing side - of the cable car on the trip down, which was quite fun.
Once we got back to the car, we then drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito to the Richmond Bridge, on to the Bay Bridge and back to the city, to hook up with 280 and take Highway 1 back down to Half Moon Bay, where crossed back over to 280 via 92.
It was a fun day of driving through old haunts with Christopher, and doing silly touristy things. We missed the pacific sunset on our drive down highway 1, but it was still a pretty impressive drive. I think Christopher got lots of fun scenery watching. He seemed to really like crossing all the bridges.
Even though we did a lot of the driving during rush hour, we ran into a lot of heavy, flowing traffic, but not much slow-moving congestion. All in all, a fun day.
Friday, we drove down to Monterey, to visit the Aquarium. The drive down was beautiful. Lot of great scenery, and amazing cloud displays. I've forgotten how mesmerizing it can be to just stare out into the California beaches, with the line of kelp and other vegetation in the mid-ground, the shallow waves lapping in the foreground, and the rollers in the background. We took a bunch of shots. The aquarium was fun, and there were otters. We went to the other part of the aquarium before we saw the otters, so we just caught the tail end of a feeding lecture. It was fun to see the otters play in the fish buckets while she was cleaning them, however. She dumped a bunch of water in one of the empty buckets, and one of the otters just hopped right in. "I hz a bukkit". Critter took some pictures; we see if we got any cuties.
We ate at a restaurant called "Sly McFly's" and then drove back to San Jose. The evening included vegging, bbq and packing.
Packing done. Best switch to paper and ink to bring on sleep now.
travel on the morn.