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A BED BY ANY OTHER SHAPE
26 October 2006
Happiness is high speed internet for free.
We are staying at a Holiday Inn Express in Paso Robles, so close to Santa Barbara you can smell it, but Nora didn't think I should be driving after dark, and we have found this lovely hotel which has free computer access in the lobby. At this hour, I'm the only idiot who wants to use it, so lucky me! It's all mine and no waiting line. I have convinced Nora and Kathy to go to sleep and just leave a little light in the bathroom for me and I'll be fine. We'll see if that works or not.
The morning started with breakfast with my mother and then we bid our farewells and got on the road for San Francisco. Traffic was pleasantly light, except for the expected back-up through San Rafael, which you can't seem to avoid ever. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and then drove along the Marina and out to Fisherman's Wharf. Nora remembered years ago when Walt's brother Norm took her for coffee on Pier 39, overlooking San Francisco Bay and she wanted to do that "one more time."
We parked in the sinfully expensive Pier 39 garage and meandered through the shops. Nora and Kathy both left sizeable sums in various places...
...and we ended up out on the end of the Pier, overlooking an extremely choppy Bay--more choppy than I remember it. That's when I discovered that Kathy is so seasick she can't even LOOK at rough water, so she went off to look thru more shops and I gave up trying to find a cafe for Nora to have her coffee and watch the water.
Nora, however, was just delighted to be there. She is so delighted with everything and so pleased about everything, and since she is seeing all of this for a second time, it's like "old home week" for her much of the time.
We left Pier 39 with a $12 parking tag and then drove in to Downtown San Francisco. A new huge shopping center has just opened, the centerpiece of which is Bloomingdale's. It is a gorgeous department store and Kathy was hoping to find some sort of shawl to go with her dress for Alice Nan's wedding. There were so many I felt that if she was going to find it, it would be here. I didn't want to go along for the shopping experience, though, not being a recreational shopper myself, so I found a Visitor's Lounge and showed Nora where I would be, and then sat with my book and read until they found me.
Unfortunately, Nora had not really understood my description of where I would be, and she had not really seen the TV set I had pointed out to her, so they had spent most of their time trying to find me, while I, totally oblivious, sat there enjoying the latest Patricia Cornwell.
After some lunch, we decided to head south and left San Francisco. Again, we were so lucky. Virtually no traffic, even through heavily congested San Jose and we drove until Gilroy, where we came to an outlet store we had spied on the way north the day before. I was going to get off the freeway, but Nora had put down her sun visor and lowered the mirror to check to make sure she looked OK to go shopping, and it blocked my view of the rear view mirror so that by the time I got her to raise it, there was a car next to me and I couldn't move over a lane to exit the freeway.
But I drove to the next offramp and turned around and we did find the outlet stores, but unfortunately Kathy didn't find what she was looking for and we finally gave up.
50 miles out of King City, I realized we were very low on gas. Nora was, by now, wanting a spot of tea to "whet her whistle" and I decided I had enough gas to make it to King City, where I knew there was a nice little cafe where we could make a pit stop. However, 50 miles was a lot longer than I thought and before we go there, I was already on fumes, so I stopped at some out of the middle of nowhere gas station to fill up and we skipped the whistle whetting.
It was dusk when we pulled into Paso Robles and started looking for somewhere to stay. I checked this Holiday Inn and it seemed perfect: 2 queen sized beds, so Kathy and Nora could each have their own bed, and a "settee" for me. Only the "settee" is really two chairs that I will push together to make a quasi recliner. Nora is so solicitous and so worried about me that she wanted me to take one of the beds. I had to practically get rude with her to make her understand that bed=uncomfortable; chair=comfortable and that I will really be OK.
I pointed out to Kathy at one point that this will be the fourth night we have slept on the road and that the previous three I'm the only one who has actually slept, while the two of them are trying to take pills or do whatever they can to get a decent night's sleep!
The clan is gradually gathering in Santa Barbara. Tom arrived back from a business trip to Chicago today, Walt flew in from Sacramento, and Jeri & Phil flew in to Long Beach and are with Phil's mother and will drive up tomorrow. Ned and Marta will arrive tomorrow or Friday. I found all of the family at Tom's house when I called him to ask for a restaurant recommendation in Paso Robles.
Tom directed me to McClintock's, which is kind of a pub decorated in Western decor, serving a steak and potato kind of fare. Kathy and Nora got directions from the hotel clerk and, as with the directions I got the night before in Monterey, there was a bit of the puzzle lost and we ended up driving around a lot, but we finally did find it and had a fabulous steak and potato dinner and our now nightly bottle of wine. I wonder if I'll go back to being a teetotaler after this trip. The women, who say that Ireland's only United States wine is Gallo, and who therefore think that American wine is terrible, are being continually surprised at the nice wines they are tasting here.
I'm hoping that when I post this and go back to the room, I won't be faced with a barrage of offers to let me share a bed or have my own. And you can be damn sure that if, for some reason, this little makeshift "bed" I'm fixing up for myself doesn't work, I won't say a word to the others about it!!!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
The nightly "toast" photo is
starting to get old!
This is entry #2401