the Backpack ~ Strange and Unexpected
when I post something from the archives, it involves bringing
back an essay or article or such that had appeared on the In My
Backpack web site and was removed during one of the updates or
computer issues over the years.
entry is a bit different though… in addition to appearing on the
site, it was part of the Travel
Trilogy project… or, more specifically, Strange
and Unexpected: Backpack on the Road – Volume Two: California.
that means a couple of versions exist… somewhat specific, almost
definitive versions if you will… the work that was on the site,
and the chapter that was edited and potentially revised from that
piece and used for the book.
material was originally posted on April 25, 2006. It was later
published in April 2013. Some minor proofreading edits and adjustments
may have been made while bringing the material back to the site
in this posting.
~ ~ ~
made an interesting discovery when I started going through my
notes. We didn’t do much on Saturday. For some strange reason,
when I was setting everything up to work on this daily journal,
a couple of things didn’t connect. For one… we flew overnight
on the way home, so we actually had ten days of travels. And another
of those things was that days eight, nine and ten would work just
fine as a single column. So I decided to reduce the number of
columns by one, even though this last entry is covering three
eight, Saturday, April 23, 2005
you asked Justin to design his absolutely perfect day, I can say
with no hesitation that the morning would involve one of two things.
Option number one – sleeping right through it and missing the
entire thing. Option number two – Denny’s.
eight begins with option number two… a Denny’s right down the
street, all of three minutes from the San Clemente Inn. We don’t
really have any plans for the day… so laundry and puttering around
the resort are the big ideas being kicked around.
we get back, Tigg decides to do some laundry before heading over
to the pool. The boys are already at the pool… mainly for the
hot tub. I flip through some books and notepads, grab a pen, and
eventually meander down to the pool as well.
and I decide to play some shuffleboard. When all four of us wind
up playing, things turn a bit more serious. The boys take a 2
game to none lead and start to feel pretty confident. For the
record… when all was said and done, Mom and Bob defeated the boys,
3 games to 2. The boys got whooped by Mom.
we decided to head out for dinner, but we really didn’t have much
of an idea where we wanted to go. We literally stumbled onto a
restaurant called the Elephant Bar… and it was fantastic. (I believe
we went to the one in Irvine, but I could easily be wrong about
that. When I say we stumbled across it, we got off at an exit
we thought had two or three dinner options, it turned out it didn’t
have any that we had seen and could agree on once we got off of
the highway, and there we were on the street staring at the sign
for the Elephant Bar.) As a recommendation… all of us were pleased
with our dinners and everything that went with it. If you can,
find this place. From the listing of locations, they sure seem
to be expanding.
came up with a brilliant idea while we were eating, and of course
I’m not going to share it here. Let’s just say I have high hopes
of modifying it slightly, finding a way to market it, and retiring.
dinner, we went back to the resort, where we played some tennis
and then watched Dodgeball in our room. And in exactly
the same way that Dodgeball was a great, no thought required,
fun movie that ended the day on a high note… our Saturday was
a low-key, unexpected pleasure that really put a nice finishing
touch on our last full day together.
Jay would be leaving earlier than Justin, Tigg and I. The trip
had been good… at times fantastic… overall though, good and fun,
but not great. Spending the time together today though… shuffleboard,
tennis, a good movie and a great meal… it was a perfect day.
nine, Sunday, April 24, 2005
we hit the last day in California, we are facing what is certain
to be an interesting day. Nothing special with detailed plans...
nothing amazing… but interesting.
California… specifically Los Angeles… has really thrown me for
a loop. Nine days after arriving, half of the stuff that I figured
we would just check off in a single afternoon I still have listed
on our places to see. The same way the Hollywood sign became an
adventure on the second day of the trip… Grauman’s Chinese Theater
and the Disney Music Center are two examples of adventures I simply
hadn’t been able to complete with our group.
on the final full day… with trips to the airport and a schedule
virtually open otherwise from beginning to end… I have decided
that I am not heading back to Connecticut without finding some
footprints preserved in cement.
check out of the San Clemente Inn, and overall I have nothing
but positive things to say. The room was a suite-style set-up
that presented some difficulties (with the Murphy beds down, one
of the doors to the master bedroom was essentially useless), but
none of these problems were too big. The location was good, the
amenities were nice, and overall the place is definitely worth
checking out if you are heading to southern California.
already time to head up to LAX and drop off Jay. I’ve heard horror
story after horror story about the airport… and on the night of
our arrival, I was ready to believe all of them. But after a few
sweeps through the city during daylight and with decent directions
in mind for our approach, things go very smoothly for us when
we drop Jay off and leave the airport.
head over to Hollywood Boulevard and I finally manage to get us
to Mann’s Chinese Theater. Yes… Mann’s. (Hey… here’s a tip. Just
a quick little thought. If you are planning to change the name
of a place, and it is apparent that you will forever have to include
the word “formerly” in the title, you might want to think again
about deciding to change it. Yup… Mann’s (formerly Grauman’s)
first thing we notice, even driving by, is the people dressed
in costumes. They are all over the place. Also… when we get there
we see the line of people in Star Wars mode. While it
has been announced that the third episode, Revenge of the
Sith, will be opening elsewhere, there are people that don’t
believe it. Since the previous installments have opened at Grauman’s,
some people are just not willing to believe the final film will
premiere down the road at a different theater.
few of the stars I was impressed to find represented: The Marx
Brothers, Shirley Temple, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello… heck… the
list just goes on of amazing names. Beyond finding feet and hands
and autographs, many of the celebrities added personal touches.
there we decide to get lunch, and we return to In-N-Out. Of all
the things in California, I think In-N-Out burgers may be what
Tigg misses the most.
drove past the Disney Music Center… actually the Walt Disney Concert
Hall… which is a beautiful building.
there our tour of the city is done, and we still have a few hours
before returning the car and heading over to the airport for our
connecting flights home. I start driving a bit aimlessly, and
wind up spotting a movie theater complex in Norwalk. A Cold Stone
Creamery is in the next building. So… ice cream and Sahara
at AMC. Works out pretty well for a nice, relaxing afternoon.
still have some time after the movie, so we wind up at a local
shopping center. Stops at Barnes & Noble and Pac Sun complete
our wandering, and we’re off to return the car.
the airport we register the final sales of the evening for a California
Pizza Kitchen ASAP location, and settle in to wait for our flight.
Little did we know as we ate our pizzas… there was still one last
show scheduled for us to enjoy during our trip. This one was slated
for our gate, a little under an hour before departure.
and gentlemen… the drunk luggage tosser.
all started out innocently enough. We had arrived early. Justin
wanted a spot near an electrical outlet so he could recharge his
iPod. I meandered through a store, found a copy of Angels
and Demons for Tigg, and settled in to do some reading of
area near our gate began to fill up… we had been the first to
arrive. A couple sat down about three rows and several seats away
from us. A man showed up that at first appeared to be talking
to the couple. He pointed at the empty seat next to them, sat
down, and continued talking.
it became evident that he was talking to himself. Judging by the
looks on everyone’s face, that same idea apparently occurred to
all of us at the same time, which was roughly three seconds before
he began yelling at himself.
you ever have one of those moments where you knew you didn’t have
to do something at that very second, but knew there was a chance
you were going to be called upon to do something (and it wouldn’t
be long before it happened)?
that’s how most of us felt. Several of us were watching the situation
carefully. And you could tell we weren’t at all sure what to do.
A few of us began exchanging glances. As one of the first ones
there, our group of three was a bit pinned in to an alcove that
led to the gate and we weren’t really near the guy or the main
walkway. The guy really hadn’t done anything other than raise
a few eyebrows to that point. When he started his own, personal
argument, several people got up, including me. Two walked out
to the hall in the direction of the security counter.
arrived just after he kicked his carry-on bag… just as he picked
it up and threw it at the wall. He was escorted away when he couldn’t
produce a ticket for the flight… leaving all of us wondering about
how he could have passed through the security checkpoint without
ten, Monday, April 25, 2005
snowing in Detroit.
a great reminder that we aren’t in southern California any more.
sure… it’s almost May… and there are no worries about three feet
of snow or an extended cold spell waiting for us in New England.
The weather is starting to warm up, as it always does. And that’s
as the sun rises, and we prepare to change planes for the final
leg of our long cross-country trip home… well… snow is not a welcome
sight. (And yet, it seems wonderfully appropriate.)