August 07, 2005

. . . Or Bust

For those of you who somehow missed the fact . . . Well, alright, I guess I didn't exactly blog anything about it. I meant to shortly before departure, but the opportunity eluded me. Anyway, I am in California right now (and have been since Friday night), visiting the Bamboo Giant Nursery (and surrounding area) until the 15th. If a visit to Bamboo Giant seems excessively random to you, you probably weren't aware that Rachel lives here. I have come to meet her family, see where she lives, and get a taste of California (having never traveled farther west than Colorado before).

My flight from Dallas was set to leave at 7:35 Friday evening, and Anna and Scholl were good enough to drive me to the airport. It was a pleasant enough journey, save for one thing: Scholl, in his infinite wisdom, had consumed sandwiches made of garlic-flavored bologna for lunch, and had sent a carbonated beverage chasing after them. Thus, our trip to Dallas was punctuated by repeated blasts of foul-smelling (in addition to the usual foul-sounding) emissions from his oral orifice. Guh.

I should have realized that this was an ill omen, but even if I had it wouldn't have done me a great deal of good. Upon arrival in Dallas I learned that bad weather in Denver would be delaying my flight by a full hour, thus causing me to miss my connection to San Jose, thus making life suck for me. My options were:

-Return to Longview and then come back to Dallas for a 6:45 am flight (ha! . . . not an option).

-Stay in Dallas and take the 6:45 am flight.

-Fly to Denver as planned and spend the night in the Denver airport, leaving at 8:30 the next morning.

None of these was particularly appealing, and the airline was no help whatsoever. Some asinine company policy stated that if the flight were cancelled they could find me accomodations with another airline or somewhere to stay the night, but if I miss a flight due to bad weather then I am simply considered "late for the flight" and thus get nothing. Because I control the weather, you see.

Well, I wandered over to the pay phones and sent calls flying in all directions. I called the Scholls, my friend Andy in Colorado Springs, and Rachel. After a good deal of negotiating, it was decided that I would spend the night in the Denver airport and arrive in California at the earliest possible moment. The ticket lady only checked my bag to Denver and said I would have to claim it there and re-check it in the morning. I snatched my ticket and stalked through security to wait for the plane to arrive.

To make a long story short, as I listened to announcements and kept a careful eye on my watch, I began to suspect that "late" was a fairly relative term in this case. In the end, we arrived in Denver precisely five minutes later than we were originally scheduled to arrive. Furthermore, I walked out of the arrival gate and heard "Now boarding all rows for San Jose" almost directly in my right ear. I turned, and lo and behold, there were people boarding the San Jose plane not 10 feet from where I stood.

I walked over to the airline dude behind the counter, explained myself, and requested permission to board. This permission was granted, with the condition that my luggage would have to follow me the next day. Well, duh . . . I didn't even have time to find a phone and inform Rachel of the change in plans. I certainly didn't have time to trot myself down to the Baggage Claim, claim my baggage, check it back on, re-clear security, and return to the gate in time to make the plane. Leaving the luggage just seemed like an excellent move all around, so I trotted aboard and took my seat in the very last row.

I asked a stewardess if there were any telephone facilities aboard (thinking of the kind which I used to see so often in the backs of seats), but I was informed that there were not. Frontier Airlines has replaced communication with entertainment (every seat had a small television). Happily, the guy across the aisle offered me the use of his cell phone, and I called ahead and arranged to be picked up on schedule. I gratefully returned the cell phone, settled back in my seat with a sigh, and decided that I would not be at all upset if this were the most exciting thing that happened to me for the next 10 days.

Rachel and her sister Julie were waiting to pick me up in San Jose and we returned to home base and went directly to sleep upon arrival. The next morning, Rachel decided it would amusing to bring the dog (Chudley) along to wake me up at 8:14. Hahaha. And then I had a couple of minutes in which to prepare myself to meet everyone else at breakfast. Rachel has nine siblings, but David, the eldest, no longer lives at home, and Rebecca (between Daniel and Jonathan/Julie, who are twins) had already left for work. Jonathan I know from school, and Julie I had met the night before.

Anyway, I guess I'd better stop tossing around the boring details . . . it's too complicated. I met Rachel's parents. I met her five youngest siblings (ages 5 to 15, names Andrew, Robert, Anna Racquel, Roger, and Daniel). After breakfast I met her grandma, her grandma's good friend (commonly known as "Aunt El"), and her co-workers. After a brief look around the nursery, we left to pick up Rachel's friend Jen, who is leaving for China for a year on Friday (at least I think it's Friday). Then we drove down to Santa Cruz and walked around on the boardwalk and out to the end of the wharf.

All of this was fairly entertaining. Sea lions like to jump up onto the supports of the wharf at high tide and sleep and we saw dozens of them resting under there. A few were fighting over various spots and making a great deal of noise doing it. After wandering about here for awhile and eating lunch, we returned home to get ready for church. The Gullmans go to Santa Cruz Bible Church, which meets on Saturday nights.

After church we went to a Chinese restaurant, were I was told that I would be eating with chopsticks. I've never eaten with chopsticks before in my life. Rachel swiped my fork on her dad's orders and then three or four different people gave me tutorials while we waited for the food. In the end, I did get enough to eat, and eventually I did alright with the chopsticks, I suppose.

At first, I was doing so badly that the waitress slipped me a fork, which Rachel promptly confiscated. MoM Gullman (sitting to my left) took pity on me at one point and also surreptitiously slipped me a fork. I was feeling stubborn at this point and I left it where Rachel couldn't see it and kept practicing with the chopsticks. Finally, Rachel herself quietly passed me a fork, and when the chunks on my plate where down to the size of a single grain of rice, I went with the fork.

Jen spent the night and we watched a few movies before going to bed. This morning (Sunday) we drove up to La Honda, about an hour to the north, to visit (in no particular order): David, the redwoods, Rachel's old house, Rachel's old church, etc. We stopped at a lighthouse on the way, and that was pretty cool to see. All things considered, we had rather a good time, but I need to get to bed now. We watched another movie tonight, and tomorrow morning, bright and early, Jen will go one way and everyone else will go another. The RV will be loaded up and we will all troop down to The Lake, which, I am told, is about four or five hours south of here. We'll be there until Wednesday . . . perhaps you will hear from me again then.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Jared at August 7, 2005 11:59 PM | TrackBack