Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"Let's Get the Hell Out of Reno"

...And other early-morning adventures in auto travel.

After leaving Aspen, we made a mid-day side trip to Arches National Park in southeast Utah, which was beautiful. (Pictures will arrive on the photo gallery at some point, I promise.) Unfortunately, it was hot--being a midsummer's afternoon in the desert and all--and mom isn't much of a hiker, like, even less of one than me, so after eating lunch and taking a looksee at a few easy-to-reach arches and one distant viewpoint of the famed Delicate Arch, we got back on the road.

There were lots of Sunday drivers. And boy, do we hate Sunday drivers. By the time we got to Salt Lake City, we were so full of malaise about the whole state that instead of keeping with original plans to stay the night in SLC, we kept driving west on I-80. This enabled us to have some amazing views of the salt flats in the late afternoon, which was a pretty surreal sight to behold. We ended up staying just across the border in West Wendover, Nevada, where the rooms were dirt cheap and the amenities remarkably good.

Monday morning was an easy drive: clear across Nevada (passing three "no hitchhiking--they could be prison escapees" signs) to Reno. Reno was confusing and sketchy, but we did find some good all-you-can-eat sushi lunch special near the mall/airport. We ended up staying at the Best Western near the airport, which looked good at first but ended up being stupid. They advertise all over that they offer wifi in all the rooms, but they mention nowhere that there is an exorbitant charge for this service. It was a bit of a fiasco that made us write an angry complaint letter. Also, the walls were paper fucking thin, and apparently my nose whistles and sounds like a baby crying.

Mom wanted to go to a casino and get rid of the pile of nickels she'd won at the border casino the night before, so I went along. We went to the Peppermill, which isn't in downtown, because we were afraid of downtown, and had dinner at the insanely flashy new Oceano. But the food was good. Then we spent way too long upstairs while mom kept winning nickels and I pissed away a $5 bill just so I wouldn't bug her to leave as often. And I lost constantly.

I learned that I really don't enjoy gambling that way. Maybe if I knew how to play the table games, it would be more enjoyable, but slots as they are now lack even the most elementary sensory stimulation to seem exciting. They're just surrounded by flash and insanity that I think could give me a seizure, and all you're doing is pressing buttons. It was worse than playing video games and bowling combined, two things I find intolerable, frustrating, and unbelievably dull. (Note: I do, however, like watching other people play some video games. I have no explanation for this. I just hate playing them myself.)

Also, the trashy old ladies who hover over nickel slots like that's how they're going to make their fortune are very sad.

When we woke up at 6:30, the room was pitch black. When we realized we were both awake and not disturbing one another's slumber, mom said: "Let's get the hell out of Reno, then." And we did.

It was a 3-hour drive to Tioga Pass on the east end of Yosemite, but another two hours across the park and back in to see the Valley. It was gorgeous, but hot and full of people. We realized it was probably out of our means to stay in the park, and mom didn't want to have to drive all the way back in the morning. So we decided we'd seen enough for this trip--I'd love to come back--did our business with scattering the ashes, and headed west.

Originally we planned to stop somewhere short of the Bay Area, a place at a junction in the road with a Comfort Inn, but when we got there, we decided not to and just kept driving. We made it to Oakland before sunset.

Mom wants to avoid driving and parking in San Francisco, so we're skipping that for now. We'll do it on our way back north. So today we're just going to some giant suburban mall and getting Margot to take the BART to Fremont and we'll pick her up. We'll head to Santa Cruz from there, a day early.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I Belong at Sea Level

My mom and I are in Aspen until tomorrow morning, when we're leaving for Salt Lake City. I don't like Aspen much: though surrounded by picturesque mountains and all manner of babbling brooks, greenery, and chirping aviary, the altitude isn't good for my head. Neither are the price tags and people that pay them.

I have, however, seen many a prairie dog, and for that I am grateful. Or something.

I even saw one popping its head out of a hole!

It totally reminded me of this game I had (which was promptly taken away due to its violent content) where you shot prairie dogs. No, not Oregon Trail. That was hunting, for life-or-death purposes, not just shooting helpless but potentially diseased rodents for pleasure. And in the end you still got dysentery and died in your caulked wagon while your family hocked three sets of clothes to pay for your funeral on the side of the dusty road.

So, anyway, Aspen is not my kind of place. There's no...what's the word...poor people? That probably sounds bad, but I realized that the thing I like about big cities that do have all this fru-fru shopping and gourmet restauranteuring is not that it only has those things, but that those things contrast with the amazing range of diversity of people, culture, socioeconomic status, and, of course, food. I don't know what to think of $9 falafel. It's just unheard of.

(Okay, so actually I had the $9 falafel in Boise, and it was really tasty, but I wouldn't put it past these Aspen culinary snobs.)

Just, I don't know. Anywhere that doesn't have at least one part of town devoted to thrift, eating on the cheap, and people who don't own $3 million summer homes isn't my kind of place.

It's reverse snobbery, but whatever.

Boise was surprisingly nice. We had a bad experience at the Pizza Hut getting my brother some takeout dinner, but what do you expect from teenagers in the middle of Idaho? The cities in Utah sort of frighten me, but the scenery is lovely. Not as lovely as Colorado, but lovely like Arizona but without the totally insane heat. Just unpleasant heat. The town we stayed in, Green River, is a glorified truck stop in the middle of nowhere, the junction of SR-6 and I-70.

I'm thinking that when I get back, I need to make a mix CD (or just a playlist) of songs detailing the road trip. Yes, John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" will make an appearance, if only because my mom loved John Denver and had to play it soon after entering Colorado, in part as retribution for all the raunchy comedy CDs my brother and I played. But so will Built to Spill's "Twin Falls," because every time the signs said Twin Falls I started getting that song stuck in my head:
My mom's good, she got me out of Twin Falls, Idaho...

There will be more.

Anyway, as I said, tomorrow we're headed for SLC once more. I'm hoping to have a gander at Arches National Park, having read a book about it once and finding it interesting, although we'd be doing just the thing the author of the book found so stupid: driving right through. The next day, we're off to Reno, because... well, it's on the way. Then, we're planning to go to Yosemite, which neither of us have seen, and scatter some of dad's ashes, because he wanted us to. Then it's to San Francisco to collect Margot, and we're off to a few days in Santa Cruz, which I am definitely looking forward to. Movies, hippie towns with good food, a record store I actually like, gorgeous ocean views, the beach--ahhhh.

I think we're going to explore a little more of Aspen's downtown today, have dinner with my brother, and try not to spend a third day in a row watching cable in the condo we're renting. Because that just isn't right.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Road Trip Readiness

I still have to pack, and I'm leaving tomorrow as soon as I get up. Which will have to be early, because I want to avoid some traffic. I probably won't, though. I'm not capable of getting up at 5 and 6 is too late. Oh, well.

Even morning people have limits.

Here's the basic rundown of where we're going, how, and why:

Day 1: I drive to Olympia, then mom and I pack the van and pick up Paul from Sarah's and head to Boise via Portland. One night is promised in this scenic city.

Day 2: We make a long drive from Boise to Green River, Utah, where we stay one night. I would've preferred making it to Moab, but that's way out of the way.

Day 3 through Day 6: Drive to Aspen and stay four nights outside of town, in Snowmass. Make sure Paul is comfortably settled and aware of how to use laundry facilities.

Day 7: Begin trek to San Francisco by driving to Salt Lake City and staying one night. May stop to see ghost towns on the way; mom is big into ghost towns.

Day 8: Continue trek (and ghost town stops, perhaps) into Reno for the night.

Days 9 and 10: Make the 3+-hour drive to San Francisco. Crash one night with Margot. Or two, actually, if all goes according to plan.

Day 11 through Day 13: Drive to Santa Cruz and stay three nights in a house near Pleasure Point. We plan to kidnap Margot for this. I also hope to take my mom down to Monterey for at least one day.

Day 14...: Head back up the coast. May stop longer in SF; may not. Meander up to Seaside, where we check on the house's progress. Then home.

I will probably be very ready for home at this point. And still desperately seeking employment. Sigh.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Peekatures from Graduation

Are here.

Speaking of pictures, I'm thinking of getting a new digital camera with grad present money (but not spending all of it). My Olympus is very...tired and sad. So I'm looking at prices and comparing details on and thinking maybe I should do something more productive with the cash than pretend I want to take pictures of something other than overgrown onions on my counter at night.

Well. Eventually, I'll be able to travel again, and then I'll want to spend my money on traveling expenses and need to already have a camera that doesn't suck. So it's sort of an investment in that respect.

We're getting ready for the road trip. We leave on Monday as soon as my brother finishes his early finals and head straight for Boise. The second night we're aiming for Green River, Utah, and by the middle of the third day, we plan to be in Aspen. We've got four nights in a studio in Snowmass, which is cheaper than actually staying in Aspen, plus we'll have a kitchen of sorts and don't have to pay the exorbitant costs of eating out all the time in Aspen, either.

Did you know they make coffee machines you can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car? Is that a bad idea? I am leaning towards it being good, because instant soup or red beans and rice on the road sounds like a better lunch to me than McDonald's, which sounds like death. Plus, you know, coffee that isn't ass.

After surviving a few days in a fancy-ass resort town, we leave my brother and head for San Francisco to see my sister. This looks like a two-day drive, with a stop at the Utah-Nevada border. The hope is to get a few days away from it all in Monterey or somesuch before heading home. I might also be able to score an interview or two with places I've applied and never heard back from (insert sad face).

The beach house is about two months away from completion. It's going to be awesome.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

I Am A 1950s Housewife

Oh my gosh, you guys, I've been having the most fun time evar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

Well, except not really. But it's all right.

I cleaned my house.

I am DONE with motherfucking UNDERGRAD. This feat is very anticlimactic.

I'm gonna start missing it soon. Any day now. Yep.

No, really, there's a lot to miss about college. This isn't like finishing high school, you know. Besides, I now (well, whenever they mail it months from now) hold a piece of paper that says maybe I'm qualified to work somewhere more prestigious than, say, Wal-Mart. More prestigious, just as overworked and underpaid. But I probably don't have to wear a uniform. I hope.

...Oh, hell.

To celebrate the astonishingly dull presentation of our award, Marilee and I went out to Ivar's Thursday night for some much-needed grub. The next day, only Kim joined us for some Thai lunch to say good-bye and whatnot. The rest of the group is seemingly done with us, I guess. Well, bye, then.

Friday night I made Indian food with Kevin, which we both totally forgot to put onions in, so it wasn't quite right.

Most of the weekend I am spending doing relaxing chores around the house. Yep, very relaxing indeed. Cleaned the entire top floor of the house, including my room which has needed sweeping since January. Did an insane amount of dishes. Made the vegan roasted potato salad again--recipe forthcoming--and when the late-night munchies hit, made the low-fat vegan chocolate chocolate walnut cookies that are awesome. Seriously, they are awesome even if you don't know about the vegan and low-fat parts. The funny part is the vegan boyfriend doesn't like them unless, as he found out last night, they are still warm and melty.

Today I await the awakening of Kevin so we can go to Uwajimaya and get stuff to make a ridiculous amount of Thai red curry tomorrow. I'm going to make one typical tofu and veggie, one pumpkin (maybe mussuman), and one mussuman fish curry with tilapia. Mmmm.

I am on a bit of a tilapia kick after making up a yummy dish of them at mom's house last Sunday. I just threw them in a dish with soy sauce, fresh-squeezed lime, sherry, and a dash of chili-garlic sauce a few hours before dinner and let them marinate, then cooked them in the pan with the juices for maybe 10 minutes total. Delish. I am especially fond of tilapia upon learning that they are a sustainable food, able to be farmed nearly anywhere in the world with little environmental damage and eat vegetarian food. Neat. (I would provide a link, but my source appears to be down. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program if you are curious.)

It seems like a good sign that I'm obsessed with food again. I was too dizzy and busy for a few weeks there to even think about it. Whew.

Another thing I am able to do again that I've missed for the sake of the project is renting DVDs. I picked up the next disc of Queer as Folk I hadn't watched and the first disc of Chappelle's Show since everyone is talking about it. I am amused by the latter, but increasingly frustrated with the former. It's predictably trashy, and not in a good way. Oh well.

Before I stop babbling, here's the potato salad:

-Probably about a pound of red potatoes
-Some cloves of garlic, the tips trimmed off

Wash and chop potatoes into bite-sized portions, but do not peel unless you are lame and don't like red potato skins. Leave garlic in the skin. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender. (I've been doing about 18 min. in the toaster oven on broil.)

Chop the following:
-About 8 gently rinsed marinated artichoke hearts
-A skewer of fresh rosemary
-2-3 stems of fresh basil
-Small handful of pinenuts

Mix with a spoonful of olive oil, a dash of basalmic vinegar, and salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are roasted, pick out the garlic and remove skins. Crush or chop as necessary. Put potatoes and garlic in the bowl with uncooked, chopped ingredients and mix. This is best if allowed to sit and mellow for a few hours at room temp, but can also be eaten immediately or refrigerated.

Th-th-th-that's all, folks.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

All's Well That Ends Well. Well, Well...

The past few days have been From Hell, and not like the ill-advised Johnny Depp movie.

Since Monday, I've been clamoring to finish up every last pesky detail of our project, which you can currently find living here until we find a more permanent home. There are a lot of pesky details, indeed. Some of them have gone uncorrected in this version because of some last-minute fuckups. But there it is, graceful as she goes.

That's the behemoth that's turned me into the weird-dreaming, tired-in-every-conceivable-way, hating-to-help-people-with-software-ever-again monster that greets you tonight.

Except I just found out we learned the class prize for best project. Pot was $400, so each of us gets $80. We have to attend some wonky award ceremony--I sure hope it's not during my work shift, but I won't find out until tomorrow--and make a poster and stuff, but hell. $80.

And on Friday we find out if we won the big $1000 library prize. That would be rad, but I'm not holding out too much hope.

In job news, I'm looking at Amazon and a bunch of Bay Area places still. I think this weekend will be another mad cover letter-writing session, sigh.

And I'm basically done with college. Hell yeah.