Getting Away Again
The work days of the week went by way too fast. I have way too much to do and far too little time to do it in, and part of the problem was that more work appeared as I went. I have to admit that I'm tired of the pressure already, which is really bad as the stuff isn't really due until the end of this month and I'm going to have to have to really cram to get it all in in that time. It's going to be a really difficult second half for this month.
I was very glad to get this coming weekend off and the days around it to do what it was that I needed to do to really get ready for the wedding itself. The best thing is that with Brad's foresight, we'd finished all the writing for the wedding long before this week, so I didn't have anything getting in the way of my work and nothing to worry about doing pre-wedding other than figuring out my clothes! That took a little trying on of stuff as my waistband is getting decisively bigger. John had breakfast ready for me this morning and while I finished off eating it he took Fezzik to the Goodell's, along with all his food and everything. We then took off for the airport, got there in plenty of time, parked in the open spots in the economy parking and, for the first time since we've come to the economy parking, we had to wait for a shuttle!
It was funny, for the first time since I've been pregnant I actually felt breathless as we wandered around the airport. I nearly can't imagine what this is all going to feel like in November. But we got everything checked in at the front desk, John and I had each packed our own Xilinx bags for the trip. It was nice to be able to fit everything into two fairly portable bags, and just not bother hauling them around. The backpack and the camera bag were very light and much nicer than hauling the bags around. John, being the explorer as usual, talked me into walking the walkway between the main entrance to the A concourse. It was a beautiful walk, most of it in big, glassed-in arches over the various plane parking areas. Much, much better than being at the mercy of the silly little trains. We arrived at the A concourse early enough and I was hungry enough that we stopped at a little Mexican food shop in our concourse and I ordered a pork burrito. It was very tasty, but I could eat about half, and John finished up the rest.
We ate it while watching the travelers wander by, and I really, truly relaxed. We were on vacation, for just a bit, but we were free for the moment. It was really cool to see a couple that was well in their sixties holding hands as they came strolling down the concourse. We knew that Frontier wouldn't have and 'real food' on the flight, though with airline food it's all relative anyway, so I was very glad to have gotten a real lunch in before we flew out at 12:30.
A relatively uneventful flight, but for the rollercoaster ride over the Rockies, as usual. And we arrived in San Francisco airport around 3. We then settled in the baggage claim. For most of the flight, I'd been reading Sean Stewart's Galveston, and so I settled myself with our stuff, and read while John waited for our bags. We waited and waited and John got one of the bags fairly early on, but then we waited and waited and waited until the last people from our plane were struggling to put together a powered wheelchair. Not a terribly good sign. John eventually went into the Frontier office to ask about his bag. I felt mildly guilty to be glad that it wasn't my bag that hadn't shown up, but it did have our bathroom stuff along with my handpainted blue silk jacket from Bumbershoot that I didn't really want to lose, along with my blue leather jacket, which is also fairly unique. Of course, John had some of his special Hawaiian shirts that couldn't be replaced, either, in his bag, so it was as sad to think about the possibility of losing it.
John came back to say that he'd left the address of our B&B and that they said that they'd courier the bag to that address. Since it was their fault, they were going to do their best to get it to us as quickly as possible. It was likely that the bag would be coming in on the later flight from Denver. With that, we had to be content, and we wandered out with just what we had.
That was just in time to catch a really crowded shuttle to the all-in-one rental car place that was a good few miles away from the airport proper. It was interesting getting back into the rush of traveling and feeling as safe as I usually do with John. It'd been a while since John and I had traveled together, with all the traveling I'd done to go see Geoff and the various gaming conventions. It was just so very nice to be with John and know that, between the two of us, we'd handle just about everything, one way or another. Worst case wasn't too bad, as we had most of the things we needed, and could always get John more clothing if we needed to. If I'd actually lost my bag, I had the only truly irreplaceable things in my backpack, which were my toothguard and my wallet.
We got our rental car, and to give John a break, I decided to drive. It was a little automatic that didn't have much power, but it had enough to not be too frustrating and good enough handling to not make me really mad at it. That was a very good thing as John directed me out to Half Moon Bay along 92 and we took the Pacific Coast Highway 1 down south to Santa Cruz. It was a really nice drive and sections of it were exactly the same drive that Carl and Gretchen took me on a few years ago when we were test driving the M3. I remembered the utter beauty of this route, with the mountains, the trees, and then the cliffs and beaches and ocean. John loved it this time through, too, and the two of us enjoyed, deeply and richly the thick forests, the moisture in the air, and the thickness of the oxygen.
It felt really good to be out of Colorado for a while, to have some relief from the harshness of the sun and the thinness of the air and to be where there were trees and lots and lots and lots of water.
The drive was really nice, and I was very glad we took the long way as there were long rolling vistas of beach with crashing rollers, stretches of shade amid redwoods and evergreens, and beautiful twisty roads up and down mountains. Santa Cruz really was the first big city that we encountered, and it was a long enough drive to have really felt like we'd traveled but not so long that we were exhausted by the ride. John navigated and, at the last moment said, "Turn right!" right off 1 on the edge of town and I swung the right hard, and we were going down this really steep hill on a one-way street named Green street in the midst of a very quiet little neighborhood. Halfway down the street, was a white mailbox with the address of the B&B painted on it with an arrow to the right. We took a narrow little lane off the street, up and past two houses nestled behind there, and into the small, gravel parking lot of the Adobe B&B.
A solid, greying man and a very fat, greying dog came out to greet us as we stepped out of the car. Introductions all around, and he showed us into a very nice little room with its own bathroom with a full jetted bathtub, a beautifully hand-tiled shower, and plenty of drinking water. The bed was a big four-poster with plenty of pillows, and there was a small gas fireplace for heat in the corner. It was connected to a small room with chocolate chip cookies, plenty of tea, and that all connected to a hallway down to the dining room and a nice, huge kitchen. All cozy and warm and quiet. There was a little road noise in our bathroom, but with the bathroom door closed, I didn't notice much noise at all. Very nice. This would be our base for the next few days, just a block away from the 1, which lead to the 17, which were the only two freeways we'd need for the next few days. It turned out we were a bare four blocks from Gretchen's house as well, and that would prove very useful indeed.
I unpacked, as when one brings formal clothing it's necessary to unpack neatly, while John told the proprietor that we'd be expecting his bag sometime tonight or even tomorrow morning. Then the two of us drove into town to find the visitor's center. We found a neat little parking spot right next to town hall, but the hall was already closed as it was just past 5, and there was a Greek Festival setting up across the street. Since we had half an hour, John led the way to the visitor's center that he'd also seen on the little tourist map that the B&B had given him. We walked six blocks through the shopping district that Carl and Gretchen had taken me through years ago, and all the colorful things were very enticing, but we had a mission and only a few quarters of time. So we went about as fast as I could go, which wasn't all that quickly.
But we got to the visitor's center easily enough, got a few very detailed and useful maps, and then walked back just far enough to go into the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters. I got a very thick hazelnut shake and John got a no-whip mocha and very much more contented, we strolled back through the spicy smelling Greek food booths to the car. The time ran out when we were getting into the car. I called Carl on the celphone and we decided to just meet him at his hotel, as he'd taken a room in the hotel right next to the garden that would hold the wedding on Sunday and it wouldn't hurt to see the place before the rehearsal and the wedding itself.
It turned out to be ridiculously easy to get there. We managed to find the entrance to the 17, and the very first exit was Pasatiempo, so we took it as instructed, crossed the freeway and there it was. Carl's car was exquisitely easy to spot and we found him in his room with a clipboard with all the arrival times of everyone and when he had to get folks where. Earl was arriving tonight as well, and we had to get him his tux before we could go to dinner. But Earl wasn't due for a while, yet, so Carl took us on a little tour of the area.
It turns out the garden really is part of the hotel complex, and it's a beautiful little garden with a tiny gazebo and lots of shade and places for people out of the sun. They had room for chairs, and a nice little walkway down from the top of the garden that wasn't too steep. I was still very glad of my flats, though. At the top of the walkway was the restaurant that was going to host the reception, so it was all within easy walking distance. Carl had even planned rooms for the wedding day itself that would overlook the garden so that the people taking care of the kids (playing them cool videos) would be able to overlook the ceremony while it went on and see what was going on. There was a pool to the back of the garden and a supposed changing cabin somewhere in the woods, but we never really found it, so we planned on just having all the men use Carl's room if they needed to change on site. There were two bridesmen, three groomsmen and just one maid of honor so the bulk of the herding of men would be Carl's job.
Earl arrived soon thereafter, and Carl was very sweet and offered his 540i for me to drive to the tux shop. I loved it, dearly. That sweet, big car has all the acceleration and response of all its BMW cousins, if not more, and we got to the shop safely and quickly. Yum. Once there, Earl tried out his garb, Carl got Bryant's modified clothing with some difficulty. At one point the shop man had taken things out of the bundle in an effort to determine if it had been altered properly. Carl found the vest of the outfit hanging on a completely separate rack afterwards, since it was labeled 'Bryant' we were fairly confident on adding it to Bryant's bundle of clothing. There was some snafu with paying for stuff, and I found a chair to settle in by the door.
John, in the meantime, was trying to call the Frontier baggage office, and the number he was given was giving him a constant busy signal. We tried it through a completely different connection sequence and it was still busy, so he was pacing outside with my celphone, trying and trying the number to see if there was any status on where the bag was. We never did get through, and that didn't really help his confidence much.
By the time we got out of there, it was getting dark. Earl wanted to check into his hotel, and I wanted to go back to my B&B so that I could get a coat. The coastal weather was nothing like Boulder's. It was much cooler and when it got dark, with the humidity, the cold got very much colder indeed, and quickly. So we stopped at the B&B so I could get my coat and drop off my sunglasses, and the boys all found a phone book that had Earl's hotel listed in it with an address. I put my new sunglasses carefully away and we then went to Earl's hotel to let him check in and make sure he had a room.
From there we parked in a public parking garage in downtown and started wandering our way through the night in the general direction of about three different restaurants. As usual, we weren't deciding too well on where to eat, but Earl finally took the lead and took us to Gabrielle's, a very nice little Italian place with all three courses and plenty of seafood and interesting dishes. It is a tiny place and it took quite a while for a table for four to empty out. We stood out on the sidewalk and watched the Santa Cruz night life wander by, colorful and beach-cute. There is a lot more diversity here than in Boulder, but there is some of the same laid-back outdoors attitude.
We finally got seated, with a flourish from the matra de. I settled on the mussel appetizer for my dinner, along with a warm spinach salad that wasn't actually dressed all that well. It was actually fairly nice to not have to eat it all, as I didn't have enough appetite to do all the salad and my dinner. The mussels were steamed open in a deeply rich saffron and white wine sauce, and the sauce was redolent with the seafood, garlic, the unique depths of saffron, the juice from the shellfish, and butter. Excellent for dipping ones bread in and just eating like that. We all shared a bread and spread appetizer that had a tomato and garlic spread, lots of roasted garlic, and a pesto based spread. I liked just smashing the roasted garlic onto the bread. Yum.
The conversation was a lot of fun. Starting with a bunch of gaming stuff between Earl and Carl. I mostly just listened in and did very little contributing, and Carl suddenly changed the subject to programming, projects and really good books on how to create good working conditions for people. John joined in with that happily, and we had quite the selection of interesting and really useful group building books between the four of us. Part of what Earl and Carl had been curious about was my brief foray into Extreme Programming, and while I had really enjoyed the books we, as a company or even as a group, hadn't really done a lot of techniques, yet. We had done a few of them during the post code-freeze time, but that was about it.
Happiness is a full stomach. We wandered back, pausing at a candy shop filled with lovely things, but we were all so full we didn't buy anything, and eventually made it back to the car. Carl drove us back to his room and instead of being sane and heading back to our rooms, Rosty, Earl and I picked D&D 3 characters from the starter's kit that Carl had bought and we played until a little past midnight.
I had a dwarf fighter (*grunt*). Rosty picked the human paladin, and Earl had the elven mage. It was very interesting to have all three of us just about one blow away from death before the little beginning adventure was over; but the introduction did warn us that we should have had four instead of three. Basically, the three of us were sent into a goblin den to rescue a unicorn and since we didn't have a rogue/thief, I tried bashing the door down and failed miserably. So we just backed up and waited for the goblins to come out. And they did. Problem was that I didn't block them all off from the mage particularly well, so the elf got nearly killed before I could get back to do any rescuing after beheading a couple of the gnomes. Also all three of us were rolling abysmally, so got quite a lot more wounded than we might normally have gotten.
Still we did manage to dispatch the goblins. We then found the unicorn drugged and tied down. So we untied it, tried to wake it up by poking it gently with fingers. Then I just took a good armful of it and tried dragging it out of the cave. When I grabbed it, hard, it woke up, frantic; but on seeing that we weren't goblins, and on finding that it was free, it healed all of us and went back to the village with us.
The funny thing is that we were so wounded and worried about more fights, that we didn't open the back door, which we later found out was where all the treasure was. That was pretty funny. I really don't think in D&D terms of treasure, EP, and the like anymore, and it's funny having such a fundamental flaw in how we played it because we really weren't thinking in D&D terms so much as 'characters that have gotten badly hurt' terms. I kinda liked that.
John was very good and got me back to the B&B before 1. His stuff still hadn't shown up, but he was cheerful about it and he'd managed to convince me, simply by his attitude, that it was very likely that Frontier's normal courier service just wasn't going to be doing things at night, so we'd get the bag in the morning. We got ready for sleep and tucked ourselves into the nice, firm bed in the nice, quiet neighborhood and fell deep asleep.