Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Don't play Punch Buggy in California; Trip report part I

Don't you just hate when people go on and on and on about their vacations? They gab and jaw about what they did and where they went on their trip. And if you're really unlucky you have to look at a bunch of photos (or worse- home video tape) of themselves in front of landmarks, people they met, restaurants they ate at and the places where they took a dump.

Well guess what?

It's my turn to be that annoying person. Except I'll blog about my trip over a series of posts over the next week and I doubt I'll post any pics of our trip. Honestly, do you really need to see my fat ass hugging a redwood tree? (altho, that really does give some perspective as to how big the trees really are) So, sit down and get some sunglasses so you can pretend to be paying attention while you're really asleep...

Some pertinent background before I start- My wife and I like to play a game in the car called "Punch Buggy". It's a simple game and it's fairly common among children everywhere in the United States. Basically, if you see a Volkswagon Beetle, you hit the person next to you twice and wipe away the hit (as if to say that you didn't really mean it?) and shout, "punch buggy". Needless to say, it pays to be alert if you pass a WV dealership or else you'll end up bruised pretty badly. My wife and have added a variant where we get to give an extra set of punches if we espy a classic Beetle made prior to the newer style introduced in the 90's. Those are obviously only spotted once in a blue moon. We don't really hit each other all that hard. We do love each other, after all, and despite my wife's sadist tendencies to want to get smacked on the ass, we don't want to inflict bodily harm on each other. I think our competitive egos are bruised more than our bodies.

The night before the trip we had to sleep downstairs on a couch and easy chair as my in-laws were sleeping over as they had to watch the kids the next morning and we had to leave at 4:20AM for a 6:05AM flight. The adrenaline of knowing we were going on an exciting trip made it even harder to fall asleep and at 3AM I was awoken by 2 huge charlie horses in my thighs due to the weird sleeping position. My painful dance around the room stirred my wife to wake as well. Thus we arrived in San Jose after 7 1/2 hours flight time including the transfer in Chicago really, really tired.

We stumbled thru the airport and after getting our luggage we lumbered about looking for the rental car shuttles as we moaned, "Brains!! More Brains!!"

Okay, so maybe we weren't really zombies but we felt like them.

We decided to get the GPS system at the rental place for the extra money so we could just plug in the addresses and have the system tell us where to drive. Having only printed Google maps of our hotels, my reliance on the GPS quickly became apparent to me to be a mistake. The system at first was telling us we were north of San Francisco! San Jose is clearly about an hour south of the city, so I had to blindly go north as Lynn fiddled with the unit. Eventually we just turned off the GPS and started it up again and it started to work fine. (why is this the solution to fix almost everything these days?) We arrived at our hotel in San Fran in the Union Square area shortly around 1PM Pacific time. It felt like 9PM to us.

The car ride to San Fran made it clear that Californians really love VW Beetles. Our game of Punch Buggy was turned up a few intense notches as there were Bugs everywhere. Their ubiquitous nature made me hover my fist over Lynn's thigh as I drove or else I'd get beaten from the multitude of bulbous cars. Not only were there a ton of new Beetles, but I was simply amazed as to how many classic Beetles we stumbled across during our stay. I think we are lucky to spot a classic Beetle about once a month or 2 months during our regular game. At the end of our trip I counted that we came across 16 classic Beetles.

After our check in, we decided to walk around a little bit and found a place to eat in a small cafe in the area. We also stopped in some art galleries and had a look see. We went back to our hotel to have a little nap. That little snooze turned into a 4 hour coma. We woke around 7PM and composed ourselves and took a stroll towards Chinatown.

After a small missed turn we found ourselves at the famous gate to Chinatown of San Francisco. It was a majestic gate and it welcomed us as we walked up the hill. The rest of Chinatown was a huge disappointment. It was gift shop after gift shop. Most of the stuff was cheap as well. Of course that didn't stop us from making a few purchases. I did find a stone with a Chinese character of the word, "luck" written on it for a poker card cap. (to hold my cards in place so the dealer doesn't accidentally muck them when I'm in a hand) My wife also purchased an iron tea kettle and cups that was comely. I was surprised to find that there weren't very many restaurants at all. The first restaurant we came to immediately we avoided because I figured the first one you come upon had to have been bad or too expensive. After a few blocks of walking we realized that there weren't any more restaurants around until we finally found one on a steep hill at the end of Chinatown. Almost ravenous at that point we sat down and ordered up some of our favorites.

I can honestly say it was close to being some of the worst Chinese food I've had.

It seemed to be Americanized Chinese food. I guess they didn't get the memo that most of us nowadays prefer the authentic cuisine and not the overcooked, salty, and bland food that our parents liked. After our disappointing meal we grabbed a cab and had a rollercoater like ride back to our hotel. The hotel had a hip restaurant next door and we stopped in for a few drinks and then went to bed. The next day we were going to the Wharf and Alcatraz island.

to be continued...

1 comment:

Major Otis said...

Okay, but have you seen this? I'm making an "O" with my thumb and finger. I owe you a punch.

Have you seen this?

That's my blog!