At San José airport, I waited for the first free VTA bus. If you're not familiar with SJC, there's a free bus that either goes east to the light rail stop, or west to the Santa Clara Caltrain stop. As luck would have it, I got to go west to Caltrain. It was a beautiful summer evening in San José; nice and cool outside. When I got off the bus, I saw a train waiting... so I jumped on board and asked the conductor if it was heading south. It was; after the doors closed, he asked me if I had a ticket. Now, I'm a California native, so obviously I didn't - you just buy them from the conductor, right?
Wrong. Apparently that changed late last year; you have to buy them before you board or face a $250 fine. Thankfully, however, I managed to convince the conductors that I was truly repentant and would buy a ticket at the San José station [which I actually did, for $1.50]. This being California public transit, the train was filled with the usual mix of the indigent, the mentally ill, and affluent commuters. At one end of the carriage, Silicon Valley types were checking their corporate E-mail on expensive mobile devices; at the other end, a black woman was screaming at no one in particular that the conductors were racist assholes for making her take her feet off the seats. I thought she was just being ridiculous, but then another black woman - who appeared frightened by the other one - tried to get the conductor's attention. She failed; he just ignored her and waited for the next (and final) stop. Hm. Yet another unpleasant California situation.
Got off the train and tried to find a bus that went by sinnabor's house. No dice. There was only one bus, and its driver was lying down across a couple of seats in the back. Strange. None of the bus stops had maps along with their schedules, or even lists of where the buses went - talk about unhelpful. There was also no phone for a taxi, or even a taxi stand - lovely. So, I whipped out my Samsung i600 phone and Googled for the number of a local taxi company, which worked. Just then, a taxi pulled up and a family who'd been waiting for the shuttle to the Hilton offered it up to me. Sweet. "Take me to the Croatian Catholic Church," I said. Of course, who the fuck knows where that is? "OK... how about heading down Bird towards Willow?" That worked fine; I got him to pull over at the church. Brian's house is just down the block.
Thankfully, our buddy Jason was in the house, swapping VHS tapes [he was recording the Tour de France]. That was way easier than hunting for the key. We chatted a bit, and then I tried to go to sleep... which wasn't easy, given the heat of the night and the attentions of Brian's kitties, one of which absolutely loves to drool in your beard. Yuck. I did, however, fall asleep by 2.
The next morning, I drove Brian's Mini to the Wine Club in Santa Clara, where I got that great $8 Annie's Lane riesling I blogged about previously. [I also snagged a bottle of Cullen Mangan, which I'd been looking for ever since I visited the winery in WA.] Finished up there and headed for Michael Shulman's office in Mountain View. Michael's an old friend who's worked for Microsoft longer than almost anyone I know [bikerbearmark holds the record]. He's now working for MSN as well, so we had coffee and compared devices - my Pocket MSN smartphone vs. the new MSN TV box he's working on]. Cool!
From there, I headed up the 101 to San Francisco. Now, at this point, I was having severe music withdrawal. Even though I'd raided Brian's CD collection the night before, I soon realized that I'd made all the wrong choices. Sure, it was fun listening to Yello's greatest hits for a while, but by Burlingame I was getting bored. So... could I remember where Aquarius Records was? Turns out I still know how to get there, taking Army St, turning right on Valencia, and then watching for the shop. They didn't have the new Venetian Snares CD, but they did have the new Wagon Christ, which was just fine by me.
Armed with better/newer music, I sped up to Japantown. Every time I cross Market St at Van Ness, I always think of Michael Dukakis; his campaign headquarters used to be just up from there. Anyhow, at Japantown, I parked the car in the garage and headed for Sapporo-Ya for some miso ramen. Stupidly, though, I decided at the last minute that maybe a mostly liquid lunch would be a bad idea, so I went for okonomiyaki instead. The okonomiyaki wasn't particularly good, but I did have a fun postmodern experience: a young Japanese-American girl was sitting next to me, and I was able to give her a brief overview of what I was eating exactly and what its cultural significance might be. Yeah, I probably got it wrong, but there's nothing like exploding the notions of cultural knowledge being biologically linked to certain races, is there?
Feeling like I'd better get to Guerneville and get it over with, I started north. Stopped by The Jug Shop on the way - disappointing shop, that - to get the Te Mata Woodthorpe shiraz viognier - also disappointing, frankly - and sped over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin. The drive from there was pretty uneventful, save for insanely bad traffic. It was so bad that I got off the 101 long before River Road and drove through Sebastopol instead.
By the time I got to Sebastopol, I really had to take a whiz, so I ran for the Foster Freeze... where I saw my first bears of the weekend. Being generally uncomfortable around people I don't know giving me those "yer hawt" looks, I ran in and out of the bathroom as fast as I could, and made the mistake of thinking the Mini was a fast car. I know it's not nice to talk smack about other people's cars, especially if they graciously loaned them to you for the weekend, but jeez. That Mini cost more than my Passat V6, and I swear its acceleration isn't even as good as the old Saturn SL I used to drive. There's something about its first gear... at low RPMs, it barely gets going at all. You really need to redline it to get any oomph out of it. Still, it is a pretty car, even if it took me >100 miles to figure out where the side mirror controls were [they're hidden under the parking brake].
In Guerneville itself, the first bear sighting was of a couple walking down the street, shirts off, with huge tribal tattoos and straw hats. Bear trash, ahoy! Still, it's nice to know there's a small town where you can walk around like that and not get hassled by the cops. Anyhow, Dan was fortuitously waiting at the side of the road up by Fife's; he suggested I park in the park and ride lot, and yup, there was one Mini-sized space left there.
Over the next forty-eight hours, nothing much interesting happened. Had some wine, talked a lot, hung out with friends, met an interesting guy from San Diego, blah blah blah. Went to a disco, which didn't quite work for me; went to a party where I couldn't actually see anything due to low lighting, had a bunch of Safeway sandwiches. That's all. I don't really have anything good or bad to say about the weekend. Sure, there were a bunch of those somewhat creepy Palm Springs purple-necked Charles Atlas manqué types, but there were also some old school Bears there as well. It seemed largely OK, but definitely insanely overpriced. I remember back when I was in college - Mark and I could afford to camp at Fife's. Now, though, they want some astronomical amount per camper - not even per campsite. Ugh. No fun.
So, some other stuff happened on the way back home - Mod Lang, Intermezzo, Amoeba - but again, nothing special. Had some atrocious Chinese food with Brian, who drove me to the airport at 5 AM - thanks again! - took the bus back to the office, and got a mild sunburn on part of my left arm. That's all.