Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 13:22:32 -0700
Well, I guess since everyone is telling about their vacation, it's my turn. (Other people have more fun!) We started out on Friday, June 30 in two cars... Leonardr and Susie drove to San Francisco in Leonard's brand new Saturn and my friend Mark and I left much later, hauling a load of Leonard's stuff in in my pickup. I had been running around all day getting stuff arranged for my new job, and Mark worked a full day, so we were both pretty beat but at least missed the worst of the heat driving up I-5.
We debated having prime rib at Harris Ranch, but figured we would completely pass out if we did that, so we had supper at Pea Soup Anderson's, where we ate far too much and disagreed that our waiter, Javier, deserved a big tip. Mark thought Javier's service [poor] and attentiveness [lack thereof] didn't warrant one, while I was thinking of possible ragged little mini-Javiers at home who might need the money anyhow. I had the chicken pasta salad, which was not near as good as I can get at the Country Rose Tearoom right here in Bakersfield, and I decided that on future trips I'll just stick with the sourdough bowl of split pea soup, a great bargain for the money and quite delicious. Mark was getting ready to buy a bag of split peas at the gift shop because the recipe was printed on the back of the bag, but I told him to save his money because I bought the same bag with the same recipe on the way home from my niece Shannon's wedding last year. I just haven't made it yet.
Leonardr is going to be living with my brother Leonardw for a while while he gets settled into his new job in SF. In the morning, Mark left for Baketown in my pickup and Susanna, both Leonards, and I left for points northerly in Leonardr's new car. Some interesting experiences riding with Leonardr as he negotiated SF traffic since he doesn't live in this universe. Folks who complain about the traffic in Los Angeles ought to try the Bay Area on for size! We barely got to Pinole before Susie threw up all over the brand new car. We stopped at a Longs and bought trashbags, Dramamine, stain remover, air freshener, saltines, 7-up, towels, paper towels, wipes, etc., etc. Spent a while cleaning up while she changed her clothes at Mickey D's and then on our way again with S. collapsed all over the back seat, which was damp and covered with an uncomfortable towel. Boy was I glad when it was my turn to drive!
I-5 through the northern part of the Central Valley is pretty deadly, I think. I haven't yet analyzed why I hate it so much more than the southern stretch, which you would think I would hold in more contempt as it is more familiar. I was glad when we started getting up toward Weed, Yreka, and the Oregon border. The weather was lovely and Oregon just seems prettier every time I see it. (Not pretty enough that I would want to live there, though, because I know all that green landscape indicates Lack of Sunshine!)
Our goal was Ashland Oregon. We ate at an AWFUL Mexican restaurant. The wall murals were nice though, indicating more of an artistic than culinary talent among the members of the [ostensible] Mexican clan who own the restaurant. I took a picture of my reluctant family in the booth against the mural of Yucatan jungle. I don't know if their disgusted expressions in the final print indicate a weariness with my photography, a disdain for the chips and salsa, or a more generalized Weltschmertz. Originally we were going to try to see a show that night, but all advance tickets were sold out on the Shakespeare Festival website. We were going to try to get some last minute seats, but with S. sick we just checked into our motel. I went to a passing laundromat and had to do four loads of laundry. Her blanket alone took up a big commercial washer, plus I had to wash all her clothes and all mine (because I'd been sitting in the back seat with her). I was mad because I hadn't planned on doing laundry and here I was spending 50 cents per tiny box on stain remover, fabric bleach, detergent, softener, and so forth. The laundromat lady was nice and friendly though. If I'd had a brain I would have bought laundry materials when we bought the other stuff at the Longs in Pinole. I don't know what the boys did meantime. I spent the time the clothes were washing making sure every last speck of emesis was out of the car. Ugh. It took forever, naturally, to get everything dry, feeding the greedy laundromat dryer on quarters. I got back to the motel pretty late but with everything finally fluffed and folded. I tucked Susie's nice clean fresh blanket around her as she lay huddled in her motel bed, and she kind of purred at me in appreciation but didn't completely wake up.
Next day, off to Aunt Jeuney's house. S. and I discovered we had both come without shoes and socks. This is an easy thing to do when you are leaving weeks of 100+ degrees. Our feet were starting to feel chilly, so we went to the KMart in Portland and bought tennies and socks. This experience was much like going to a KMart anywhere else. (Something I do only in the direst of emergencies, but we couldn't find a Tarjiay.) I was mightily disappointed to find that KMart doesn't carry Reeboks, which is the only brand of walking/running shoes I wear, but I bought a pair of Kathy Ireland aerobic shoes which seemed adequate, although later in the trip (in Canada) I was unhappy with the feeling of their support structure. I may wear them for gardening for a while and then chuck them, and next time I go on vacation, make a LIST!
We stopped at a Native American Casino on Highway 101 to go potty. We could hardly find a place at all in the parking lot, it was so full of campers and big RVs with plates from every state. I was just amazed at the huge crowd of folks sitting in there smoking and playing Bingo. What a way to spend your vacation when the whole Great Outdoors is beckoning!
Aunty lives up in Sequim, on the Strait across from British Columbia and has the most marvelous view [on a clear day]. There are deer and elk wandering through her neighborhood and she has a lot of wildlife on her acreage, but I didn't take a lot of pictures since I didn't see anything I hadn't taken pictures of on previous trips. Arrived at Aunt Jeuney's that evening, Susanna still sick. Aunt Jeuney had made cioppino which Leonardw and I really appreciated and which my kids declined. Cioppino is kind of a Whitney family tradition for gatherings, but somehow the inlaws and outlaws don't seem enjoy it as much as we do. I guess you have to be from the Bay Area to really appreciate the Fisherman's Wharf flavor of it; I don't know. If anyone wants the recipe, let me know.
The next day, the boys went hiking while Susanna and I mostly slept. We began a futile attempt to get ahold of my cousin Whit so we could go see him at his place down by Mt. Rainier. The kids wanted to go ride his horses and I wanted to take pictures of them and Whit's kid and the scenery, but they had gone off camping for the Independence Day weekend and we never did get to visit with them. Darn it all, we'd have loved to go with them!
The following day was Independence Day, which we celebrated by going on the ferry over to Victoria, Canada, first making sure S. was full of Dramamine for the ride. We booked ourselves on a Gray Line tour that included the Butterfly Gardens and Buchart Gardens. We did a litttle shopping in Victoria before the bus left. Guess what I bought? Scrapbooking paper! Leonardr was showing off the prowess of his new digital camera and I followed him around obnoxiously reproducing his shots in 35mm. He was quite irritated with me as the day progressed, and I got one really funny picture of him being irritated. I do think one of the perks of parenthood is the privilege of annoying your kids. (My butterfly pictures turned out better than his.)A little girl at the butterfly gardens had coaxed a butterfly onto her finger, and I took a really beautiful portrait of her. I wish I had gotten her name and address so I could send her a copy. At Buchart we walked around the gardens and had a nice lunch. Susanna had this salad which contained the most gigantic bean sprouts we had ever seen. They looked like young zinnias. She plucked one out and held it up and Leonardw said "Did you PICK that!?!?" We had a laugh at the because we were earlier somewhat irate with the Japanese tourists helping themselves to the flowers, which is strictly against the rules. I got a good shot of S. being overwhelmed by her bean sprout. We agreed that Mrs. Buchart was quite the bored housewife, taking on a project like planting those gardens in a limestone quarry. Coming back, we had to really run to catch our ferry. They had already loaded all the cars when we arrived at the dock. We accidentally went charging right past La Migra, who were somewhat miffed at us and therefore questioned us rather closely about natal origins, our family relationships, and why we were in such a hurry to get into the USA. That evening we broiled steaks with Aunt Jeuney and everyone turned in early.
The next day we went around to thrift stores in Sequim and antique stores in Port Townsend. Leonardr and I both found books in used bookstores. I got some [overpriced]1940's reading books, but didn't find any of the Alice and Jerry readers that I collect, although one lady said she used to have some. I got a small book of elementary school airplane stories, published in 1951, for Mark. The reading level was about 2.5 or 3, with funny 50's illustrations, but the stories were very high interest, real page turners, and I really wish someone would write more of that kind of stuff for today's remedial high school kids. Trouble is, today's remedial high school kids don't have the cultural literacy to even appreciate an antique book like this one. All of us agreed we ate the worst pizza we'd ever had for lunch, with the probable exception of Cici's in San Antonio.
After that, home! We made it to Ashland, where we had tickets to "Henry V." We tried a different Mexican restaurant this time; it was better, but the sopapipillas were a disappointment. I would have supposed that anyone who hadn't grown up in the Southwest and lived in New Mexico would have enjoyed them anyhow, but I'm afraid my pickiness has rubbed off on my California children. Sopapaipillas are supposed to be huge, hot, tender, puffy, and dripping with honey, not little lukewarm wimpy crispy cornered triangles fried in stale soybean oil.
We parked downtown and window shopped our way over to the Festival grounds, where we enjoyed the outdoor pre-show. The costumes were so colorful, and it always amazes me when actors are able to dance energetically while still hitting the notes right on. One of the songs they did was "It Takes a Woman" from "Hello, Dolly!", one of my favorite Broadway musical numbers, and the choreography was just great. I was a little unhappy with the T-shirt selection in the gift shop because I was hoping to get a Shakespeare shirt I could wear to work on casual Fridays. All the T-shirt designs were really heavy on the earth tones. I don't wear earth tones, but on the other hand I don't know what else I could really expect out of Oregon. Somehow a 1970s Northwest Woods T-shirt look just seems to not go with Shakespeare's drama, especially the history plays. They even had a "Hamlet" shirt in browns on a beige background. Now c'mon! I bought a cheap 2000 season poster for my classroom and a plain white T-shirt that said simply "Oregon Shakespeare Festival" for Rachel. "Henry V" was spectacular. The only complaint Leonardw and I had was the King let the St. Crispins Day speech drag a little. The theatre was completely full and you'd have though the actor could have derived a little more energy from such an audience. All in all, however, it was a wonderful play and the French characters were particularly good. Susanna and Leonardr, who speak French, particularly enjoyed the dialogue, but the staging was such that you didn't really need to know French to understand everything that was going on.
We slept in the next morning and wended our way south to San Francisco, stopping in Vacaville for the largest hamburger, containing the thickest onion slices, I've ever eaten. (I ate it though.) The next morning Mark came for me and Susanna and we came home without incident, except for a minor quarrel with Javier [again!] at Pea Soup Andersons. He brought the sourdough bowls for me and Susanna and completely neglected to bring Mark's sandwich, earning himself an enemy for life, I'm sure, since Mark was starving and had to sit there looking at our fresh sourdough bread. We complained about Javier to the headwaiter and the sandwich miraculously appeared,somewhat dried out.
By the time we got home I was feeling somewhat like I had caught Susanna's illness, so I didn't go to church the next day, but just stayed in bed and slept and drank fluids.