Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 1: New Year's Trip: The Leavinging

I'm calling this the New Year's Trip, since that is the culmination of our vacation.  It is the 3rd day of Christmas, the 27th of December and we are en route to our ultimate destination: Reno and a small mini extra belated Christmas with my family and to celebrate New Years.  We will first spend some time in Monterey and then some time in Napa before arriving in the Biggest Little City (Sin City's whorish younger sister).

We have with us Beth Fisher and David Sobolov, the four of us traveling in a rental car, a silver Chevy Malibu.  Gregory did the driving for this first leg of our journey and was lamenting the non-use of his far superior car (the Ford Fusion), though happy he avoided the wear and tear of a long driving trip.

There is not too much to report this first day as it was primarily driving with few stops.  The first was lunch, as we got on the road out from Los Angeles around 2PM and were starving, we stopped in Camarillo at Brendan's Irish Pub.  This place seems like a chain at first glance, but only because all the decor has such cohesion.  The food is really good and they have so many little extras, special events, bands and a whiskey club, that I seriously am sad there isn't a location nearer to where we live.  A Burbank location would be perfect.

We stopped to pee at the Madonna Inn.  If you haven't been to this place, you need to stop here.  It is crazy, and at Xmas time, I would say this is doubly so.  I don't know if I can begin to describe this beyond David's remark, "it looks like the 60's threw up all over."  But I may venture further to help you draw this picture: Haunted Mansion at Valentine's.  There's something malevolent about that retro decor. It's so aggressively cheery.  Lights, xmas scenes, big gaudy ornaments on garlands topped with batting to substitute for snow.  (Sidebar: Christmas is strange, let's bring trees and a fabric approximation of snow inside of our house!)  They have a bathroom with a urinal latrine that is made of rock and has a big waterfall.  I don't know what to say about this place, only that I imagine everything here costs a lot.  I'm surprised they didn't have a bathroom attendant.  Don't get me wrong, they could have used one (since people seem to like to pee on the floor and all over the toilets in public restrooms (why is this? you do know that you don't own it after, right?)).

We continued our drive listening to a book on tape, and stopped again at a Mediterranean restaurant called Jaffa Cafe, in a residential neighborhood in some town.  It had undeserved four stars on Yelp, but we walked in anyway.  The food was good, but not four-stars-good, however the staff was four-stars nice, and the serving girl had four-stars boobies.  I just had a couple of appetizers, falafel and stuffed grape leaves.  They had a strange system of filling out a card, as in check the box of what you want, we make it, you eat it, then you pay for whatever you had.  It was strange, but unique and different.

We arrived in Monterey to the wonderful site of Mira and Glen and their lovely home, where were plied into friendly conversation with drinks and a cat (two things against which I am helpless).  I surrendered gratefully and we chatted and laughed about various things and fun stories, none of which I intend to share, since they wouldn't make any sense now out of context.  Beth is staying with them, and Gregory, David and I have a hotel a couple of miles away.  Tomorrow we meet for breakfast.

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