Staying Local

Thursday, May 23rd

So our guest house accommodation is wonderful. Big, airy, comfortable two bedroom, two bath modern home with all the amenities. I opened my windows last night and had a nice cool cross draft to sleep in. Wonderful.

Last night, Emma cooked a delicious dinner at her apartment and, as we ate on the late side, Nic was able to join us too after he got off work. Then roommate Rene showed up (great guy, really funny) and the kids coaxed me out with them for a nightcap at their favorite local bar where we met more lovely friends, had many laughs and I managed to poison myself. So today’s masterpiece was the first hangover of the trip and it was a beauty. What with the classic cotton mouth, the pounding headache, the amusing hint of periodic nausea and the cool cross breeze mentioned above, I stayed in bed pretty late. Then got up and made a horrible pot of coffee which I was too strung out to rectify, gagged some of that down and waited for Bill to wake up. Bad start. Bad.

Around ten, Nic showed up on a break from work with Emma in tow and delivered homemade biscuits and gravy which I was in no condition to try right then – rain check, please. And then our perky hosts promptly dragged us off to the gym which is their regular morning routine. I don’t know how many of you out there have worked out at the apex of a class three hangover but it’s not a good idea. I did a few calisthenics and spent a miserable half hour on the eliptical before somebody mercifully called time and we got to go home and shower. Holy hell.

But after that I was feeling significantly better. And it then it was time for lunch and my appetite had mostly returned. Lots of great, authentic Mexican food in this neck of the woods and we had some. Then Nic headed back to work and Emma and Bill went off shoe shopping (for Bill) while I puttered around, did some unnecessary laundry and, finally, cleaned the rental. I found a cheap car wash (six bucks, very nice guys), then wiped down the inside a little and vacuumed. Lots of peanut shells, sunflower seeds, Dorito residue and red Grand Canyon dirt, if I had to fill out the damage report. Looks pretty serviceable now though. You’re welcome, Enterprise.

Eventually Bill turned up again. We freshened up and then picked up Emma and headed down to Mill Valley for our dinner date with the Wagner / Lazzarini family. What a treat that was. Picture a big oval dinner table, racks of ribs which had been cooking all day, potato salad, Kale salad with pine nuts and goat cheese, wine, and a large, extended, happy, warm, hilarious family sharing all of it with us. A great walk after dinner, then dessert, then a little Kings / Sharks playoff hockey – doesn’t get any better than that. What a great clan. And exactly the warm family fix we needed after seventeen days on the road. Also, they have great dogs.

Random notes from today: This part of California is amazing. Weather is perfect, landscape is gorgeous, the people we’ve met, especially Emma and Nic’s friends, are wonderful and…wine tasting. Seriously, it’d be hard to invent a nicer place to live. Or visit. I’m a pretty confirmed northeasterner and I could move here. Even with the cost of living, earthquakes, wild fires, mud slides and mountain lions. All of that. The only problem? Drivers. Sorry, California, but yours are the flat out worst. Anywhere. This has to be the tailgating, flash your high-beams and cut-you-off capital of the world. Worse than France. Really. Just hostile. How people this nice can go all Mr. Hyde on you as soon as they buckle their seat belts is a real mystery. Further study required.

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