Friday, May 30, 2008

Days 3 and 4: Fruit, Walmart and Mongolian Food

Greetings from San Jose! We arrived yesterday around 1:00 after driving through about 2oo miles of the San Joaquin Valley where about 25% of the nation's fruit, vegetables and other random plants are grown. We literally saw just about every type of produce I can think of, especially cherry trees full of little red cherries. The most memorable though were the artichokes and the town that smelled overwhemingly so of garlic. I got a huge craving for cherries from seeing all the cherry trees and pulled over to a fruit stand to buy some cherries. They were good.

After some trials and tribulations, I finally got a place to live in a big house near downtown San Jose, across the street from a hispanic grocery store. I'm really excited about that. I will have 3 roommates who are all students and San Jose State University and they all seem really nice. The bed I will be sleeping in is a full size bed and so I needed to go and find some sheets for it. We found a Wal-mart, and it was purple. Leave it to California to have a purple Wal-mart.

After shopping, my dad and I needed to go back to the hotel to get our jackets because the temperature had dropped down the the high 50's. That's right, its June and its cold here. Its awesome. =)

My dad and I walked around the market square near where our hotel was in search of a place for dinner. We stopped in front of a Mongolian grill, to watch the guy cook the food on the large round cooking surface with what looked like a wooden stick. I asked my dad if he liked Mongolian grill and if he'd had it before, and he said "Yeah". So we proceeded to go in. The hostess told us to go ahead and stand in line to get our food while she got our table ready. Strangely the meat was frozen, and I had noticed that my dad only got a few pieces of meat but didn't pay much attention, I was still baffled by the meat and I was planning out what vegetables I was going to put on my plate. When we got the vegetables, he said "I guess this is the salad". I was still confused by this, but I assumed he knew what he was doing because he said that he'd been to a mongolian grill before. Anyways, the time came to give the guy my food to cook, and I turned around to see what my dad had put on his plate. He had disappeared! So I got my food back, and set off to find my dad sitting at the table eating raw vegetables on top of a few pieces of raw frozen meat! I asked him what he was doing and then took up his bowl and took it to the guy to cook. I came back and laughed and he said "I guess I hadn't had Mongolian before". Fortunately we could go through the lines as many times as we wanted, so he went through again, this time having the guy cook the food before attempting to eat it. He really liked it, but I don't think I'll ever forget that experience.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 2: Tall things in the middle of the desert

Today began once again around 5:30am (this time mountain time) to the sound of my dad waking me up. And once I was up and had all my things gathered together and packed away into the car, I stumbled down to the lobby of the motel that we were staying in to eat some La Quinta signature continental breakfast consisting of a bagel with cream cheese and apple juice with a banana for the road. My dad, being so much of a morning person that its disgusting, talked all through breakfast and then when we were done eating and got in the car, were on the road again, and I thought maybe that he would stop talking and I could go to sleep, he continued to talk. Those that know the me of the wee hours of the morning know that I hate them for one, and that I don't really talk and under most circumstances would prefer not to be spoken to. So, my dad knows this, and yet when we got in the car and he continued to talk to me I attempted to sleep. Eventually he gave up conversation and I slept.

I awoke an hour later still nowhere near civilization. Southern New Mexico is a place of desert with an occasional mountain or plateau and not much of anything else. We entered Tucson around 11:30 where for the first time in 400 miles we had cell phone reception. So my dad and I called everybody that we saw necessary to call. We also stopped and traded drivers so that my dad could pretend like he was sleeping, but really he's just too nervous about anything to sleep in the car.

I drove from Tucson to Pheonix (~200 miles) where we stopped for lunch and then switched back again. During my drive where I was mostly alone, I drove through a forest (if that's what a bunch of them are called) of 20-foot tall saguaro cacti. It was kind of cool and I had this sudden urge to play an invigorating game of cowboys and indians, but then I realized that I was 22 and not played that game in 15 years and as there was no civilization to speak of, there simply were not enough people to play with. Once in Pheonix, I consumed my first In-N-Out burger. Apparently they're good; at least that's what Eric says, so I thought they'd be worth trying. It wasn't bad. Probably better if the fries weren't cold . But whatever, it was good.

After we left Pheonix, and were well out of the city, my dad decided that it would be a good idea to allow me to drive for a while again since he would insist on driving the second we hit civilation in California (which wouldn't be until we arrived in the suburbs of Los Angeles). So I drove through what was definitely the most boring part of the desert. There was nothing except small bushes, dust devils and I-10 infront of me. I drove across the California border to find myself with still with more nothing but strong winds, a slower speed limit and a distant mountain range that seemed to never get closer.

After about 100 miles of driving we eventually reached that distant mountain range and along with it came civilization. So of course my dad wanted to return to the driver's seat, but that left me to observe with all my attention the massive wind farm that was powering the area. I had never seen windmills in any form other than the small rusty ones that pump water from a well in farm land. But we drove through a whole field of these giant wind turbines. Quite possibly one of the biggest things ever, and I guess I'd never seen any bit of civilization using an alternative energy source. Either way, they were neat.

After driving 100 miles more through many of the different suburbs of Los Angeles we finally said "goodbye" to I-10 to pull into Glendale, CA (a suburb of L.A.). After driving up and down the street we were to stay on, and arguing some about the where abouts of our hotel we finally found it. As we stepped out of the car to find that our knees legs can be straightened and standing is much better than sitting and that L.A. is quite cold in the summer, we checked in and then walked across the street to a quaint Italian restaurant. It was delicious.

I came back to the room to check my email, and found that I received 2 emails from girls from craigslist replying to my inquiries. I am supposed to go visit one tomorrow, I hope the outcome will be most desirable as many of the apartments in the area are asking for rent beyond what I can afford for the summer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 1: Leaving Houston, a day of using the bathroom

Today began with a phone call at 5:30am from my dad waking me up to begin our Journey to San Jose, California. I sleepily dragged myself out from under the covers of my sisters bed and dragged myself downstairs to brush my teeth, use the bathroom, and scavenge for some form of breakfast. We were on our way by 5:45 setting out on the familiar drive into downtown Houston at the worst time to go anywhere in Houston--rushhour. It took us an hour to get out of town, my dad was driving, I was attempting to sleep, but failing miserably due to the sound of my dad's sports radio show that he insists on listening to every morning.

I finally gave up on sleeping somewhere along I-10 after we were well out of the mainstream traffic of Houston. And thus began the continuous stream of boredom that comes with riding along in a car in the middle of nowhere, so I read Harry Potter, the 6th book.

Our first big stop was just before we arrived in San Antonio; my dad insisted that go to Bukky's truck stop. I guess it held some sort of nostalgia or something. Anyways, so pulled in and began walking towards the convenience store when we heard a familiar voice greeting us. My dad's cousin, Rexine. Funny, how that works out. Anyways we made some idle chat before heading off to use the toilet facilities. Coming out of the bathroom I was bombarded by an abundance of teenagers that were not there when I first entered the building, and was somewhat confused. Nonetheless, I did not let it get me down. I was on a mission to find something sweet. I hit the jack pot and found that this convenience store was also a bakery and I got myself 2 jelly-filled kolaches for the road. I was quite satisfied. I found my dad and we left to return to I-10.

Our next big stop was not so exciting. We stopped at a DQ in Kerrville, TX, again used the toilet facilities and ordered ice cream cones for the road. (I got a dipped cone. yum!) And I was enscripted to drive.

Two and a half hours later, I am now driving along in quite literally the middle of nowhere. So much that it is the middle of nowhere that the speed limit has been increased to 80mph. I also have to use the bathroom again (unfortunately that was my main source of entertainment the entire day). So I see a sign for a town called Bakersfield. Bakersfield is a single gas station that is so small and so nasty that the bushes were looking like a better place to relieve myself, so I decided to wait 30 miles to Ft. Stockton. We fortunately found a gas station, clean bathrooms and lunch. My dad took over driving, and we were off yet again with 300 miles to our final destination of the day: El Paso, TX.

Our last and final bathroom break of the day was in another small town that only consisted of a gas station that fortunately was not small and disgusting looking at first glance. We pulled in at first asking ourselves if it was deserted, but then I saw cars parked at the gas station, so we decided it was fine. We pulled up to a gas pump that looked like it came straight out of the early 80's and had $0.00 listed as the prices for gas. We decided to not trust the gas pump, but then proceeded to the convenience store to once again relieve ourselves of all the water we had been drinking since that morning. We walked in and there was a single clerk mopping the floor, which I thought was suspicious at first I then proceeded to the toilet where all the seats were lifted so it seemed that either they had just been cleaned at 3:00 in the afternonn or men had been using the women's restroom....every single toilet. I walked out to find my dad ready to leave. He too found the place had an eery feel to it, so we hurried out. On our way out we again noticed all the cars--empty cars sitting in the parking lot and at gas stations. At least 15 empty cars were just casually sitting around this gas station, but the place was practically deserted of people. And so we decided to high tail it out of there before we got attacked by zombies or something.

Two hours later we arrived safe and sound in El Paso, where I then began attempting to call half of San Jose, trying to find a somewhat affordable apartment.