Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Journal Entry Eight: Is this trip over yet?

I want to be home. At the end of vacations, I usually just want to board a beaming transporter that sends me right to my couch in good ol’ Brooklyn, New York. On this particular trip, I don’t even want to finish my last day. Sea World could collapse in an earthquake tonight leaving a plentiful bounty for local sushi restaurants, and I could get in my beaming machine and just be home, and I would be thrilled.

I am so thankful that I am able to take a California trip, and see the major parts of the State with my family. I’m just tired. California is large, and this trip has been long, and it has been a tourist trip, not a relaxing vacation. Nothing was vacated. My regular life is more of a vacation, and I can’t wait to get back to it. Being on vacation with a baby isn’t easy, and next time I do it, I think I just want to lie on a beach. I don’t even want to rent a car. Maybe I’ll just go to Coney Island.

Journal Entry Seven: I Hate Vacation

I’m getting tired of “vacation.” I’m actually looking forward to this upcoming weekend, as some relaxing time off. My next vacation is going to be either to Florida to sit on a beach, or some other beach locations where I plan nothing.

Yesterday was our first full day in San Diego. We went to the Zoo, which is Latin for “animal toilet.” The Zoo was nice, but I could have gone to the Bronx and been just as dazzled. I could have done without the birds. There are plenty of birds in NYC. Sure, they are pigeons mostly, but birds are birds. I feel the same about fish and dogs. I own one of each and don’t need to pay admission fee to see them. When I go to the Zoo I want to see animals that I don’t see every day, like giraffes, and elephants, and white trash tourists.

We did get to see some Mormons, which I mistakenly took for Amish until Nicole reminded me that it would take months for the Amish to get to San Diego via horse and buggy. I also found it interesting that the Zoo restaurants serve Cow, Pig and Chicken. This seems a bit hypocritical to me. I guess we have to wait for the farm animals to become endangered before we care enough about them to lock them up and let Asians snap photos.

Jackson had fun…I think.

Today is a nice relaxing beach day, in the 63 degree weather. I don’t mean to complain, but I was severely disillusioned when I booked this trip. I thought the climate of southern California was similar to the climate of southern Florida. Maybe it has been a weird week, but it feels like it has been cold from San Francisco to San Diego. Oh well, I’ll just keep reminding myself that it is colder in NY, until I get back home on Thursday morning and realize how good I had it in California. I hate vacation.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Journal Entry Six: The Beginning of The End

Goodbye LA, for now. Hello San Diego. The ride down was nothing compared to the trek from San Fran to LA. We took a detour to drive through Laguna Beach, and no matter how many times I look at the Pacific Ocean, it always amazes me. The views from Laguna are all from the mountain so the ocean looks huge.

Before we left LA, we met with Briana and her boyfriend, Josh. It was great to see her, and introduce Jackson, but too short of a visit. We arrived at the new hotel around 5:45pm, and headed out for dinner. The clocks were set forward today, so the sun set later and Jackson went to sleep at 8pm, instead of 7pm. We have to get him back on track over the next two days.

Tomorrow we are off to the San Diego Zoo. We will then take a nice relaxing beach day on Tuesday and Sea World on Sunday before we fly back to New York Sunday night at 9pm.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Journal Entry Five: Beach Bums

Today was beach day. We started at the Santa Monica Pier, where we walked right past Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives. We strolled down the beach for a bit, but Jackson was a crab so we went back to the car and drove down the coast from beach to beach. We made it about eight and a half miles south of Venice Beach to Redondo Beach. We walked on the pier, stopped for lunch (early dinner), and played with Jackson in the sand for the first time ever. If an image of Jackson eating sand jumps into your head, then you know my son. The ocean was cold, but magnificent as the waves crashed and the sun set. We got chilly and took a drive back and forth along Esperande, a road overlooking the beach, and parked for the last 5 minutes before the sun’s last dot of light passed below the horizon. Jackson slept as we drove back to the hotel for dinner, bath, bottle and bed. Tomorrow, we are off to San Diego. Before we get down there we hope to have lunch with our friend Briana, and take a stroll along Venice Beach.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Journal Entry Four: LA, Days 1 and 2

I am already at the end of my second day in LA, and I am just now writing, because the last 48 hours have been full and busy.

Yesterday: We woke up, and needed desperately to go to Babies ‘r Us. The Garmin is an amazing GPS device…when it works. When it doesn’t work, I want to beat it like a possessed child. We finally found our haven of shit catchers and baby fuel, and headed off to TouristVille, U.S.A. – Hollywood Blvd.

Chinese Theatre, Walk of Fame, black dudes trying to sell me their rap CD…ah, ltake a deep breath of all that culture. After we took our obligatory pictures of the Hollywood sign, it was time to go look at the homes that we can’t afford. We could have taken a bus tour, but something about that made me want to puke. Next, it was off to the La Brea Tar Pits. Prehistoric animals trying with all their might to claw themselves out of tar makes me chuckle. After the museum, we went to tour the outside grounds. Jackson experienced sitting in grass for the first time. No big surprise that he likes to eat the grass and dirt. After a drive down Rodeo, and an early dinner in Beverly Hills we were pooped, as Nicole and I are now two old farts. We went back to the hotel and passed out.

Today: Up and out early to Disneyland. Jackson’s first Amusement Park, and therefore, first Disney Park experience. He had a ball. First ride: It’s a small world. Other Rides: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, Donald’s Boat, Mickey’s House, Mad Tea Party. The little guy’s newest thing on this trip is that he now waves “Hi.” This made for quite an adorable day on constant lines.

We are all shot, and looking forward to a good night of sleep before we head out to the beaches tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Journal Entry Three: Driving Mrs. Winchester

We arrived in Los Angeles last night at around 7:25pm after a day of driving down from San Francisco. We had left San Fran at around 10am, and took the inland route, opting to skip the scenic 10-hour costal journey for the shorter, baby friendly trek of 6 hours.

We made a detour in San Jose to go to a tourist trap that Nicole learned of on some “Haunted Places” television program on the Travel Channel. It’s called the Winchester Mystery House, and it was actually pretty cool. It’s a mansion, formerly owned by Sarah Winchester, the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune. She had lost her husband and child, both at young ages. So, she went to a psychic who told her that the spirits were angry with her and that she could only appease them by building a house forever, always building new additional. So that’s what she did. For over thirty years, she spent over 5 million dollars building this mansion. No doubt the psychic also happened to be related to the contractors that assisted in the construction. The weird part is that building the home wasn’t enough for her. She had to make the place twisted and nonsensical as hell to confuse the spirits. There are staircases that lead to the ceiling, and doors that open to two story drops. Oh yeah, bitches be crazy indeed!

The tour took a little over an hour, and since this whack job had tons of stairs we weren’t allowed to bring in Jackson’s stroller. Nicole and I traded off holding the little booger, until he fell asleep in my arms. Cute as can be, but heavy like a rock. We headed out, and the Garmin informed us that the remainder of our trip would still be about 6 hours. A hike, but better than the ten+ hours we would have wrestled with on the coast. Besides, the path we took, though not laden with oceanic views, was gorgeous just the same. Beautiful mountain ranges, bodies of water, and dancing rain in passing weather patterns gave us more than enough to look at during the drive. Best of all, Jackson slept almost the whole way.

The Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel is a steal. The combination of the off season, hotel renovations, shitty economy, and competition in the area equals $100 per night for what feels like a $400 per night suite. The room is probably 600-800 square feet. We have a full kitchen, full bathroom, distinct living room and bedroom, flat screen TV, and a desk with our own computer and fax machine. The hotel service is also very nice. We took it easy last night, and just watched some episodes of LOST and called it a day. Today we will venture out to see the sights of LA, and tomorrow we will be heading off to Disney Land.

Over the weekend we will hit the beaches, and any other attractions that we feel like seeing before we head off on Sunday to San Diego for the final leg of our California trip.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Journal Entry Two: The Rock, Tiburon and The Pacific

This morning, we headed out for an early breakfast, and then off to Alcatraz. The Rock, as they call it, was very much like I remembered from when I came to California with my father and brother. The boat ride was a quick 12 minutes. The tour was a standard issue audio self-tour. We learned about the prisoners, the escape attempts and that Jackson was not interested in Alcatraz. He was a little bitchy, until we covered his stroller with a blanket so that he couldn’t see. He fell right to sleep.

Nicole and I finished the tour, which worked out perfectly with the weather. It rained while we were indoors. We did a little shopping at the gift shop, and purchased a sign for Jackson’s bedroom that reads: “Regulation #5: You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else that you get is a privilege.” We missed the boat back, but caught the next, and headed off to Tiburon, a city just north of San Francisco.

Tiburon was a beautiful city with an amazing view of San Francisco. To get there, we travelled over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is an awesome sight up close. The city of Tiburon was suggested by one of Nicole’s co-workers, specifically for a certain restaurant called Guaymas. It was a Spanish style restaurant that was worth the drive. The view of SF was breathtaking. While we ate, a hail storm passed over head pinging little balls of ice all over the SF facing deck. Jackson was a pleasure, which we noticed as an interesting little fact when considering the sharp contrast to his first few months of life. Now he enjoys eating with us, playing with his food, and flirting with the wait staff and other patrons.

We left Tiburon and headed back over the Golden Gate. I was very pleased to find out that the $6 toll is waved for carpools of over three people, and tiny people count as a person. There wasn’t much time to do anything else before we had to come back and put Jackson to bed, so we took a drive down the Great Highway that runs along the Pacific Coast of SF. The Pacific Ocean is beautiful. It seems so much more majestic and grand when compared to the Atlantic. The waves were huge, and we saw a few gents kite surfing. The sport is both intriguing and incredibly frightening.

On our last night in San Francisco, I really feel like our little family had its fill. I’m sure there are a few more nooks we could have uncovered, but this is a California trip, and not a San Francisco trip. With that, we will get a great night of sleep tonight, and head out nice and early tomorrow where we will venture down to Los Angeles for the next four days.

Journal Entry One: California Here We Come

Although I can’t upload the pictures, Nicole and I have escaped the frozen tundra that is New York, and have made it safe and sound to the rainy monsoon that is San Francisco. Many parents would think we are crazy to travel through time with a child. (It’s actually “time zones”, but “travel through time” sounds so much cooler). However, Sunday’s flight was Jackson’s fifth, and we are well aware that “it’s not a good time” can be an excuse we use for the rest of our lives. Instead, we did what we always do, and threw caution to the wind.

Today is March 3rd, and we left on March 1st. The snow was predicted to begin falling sometime around 7pm, so when the flight was delayed from a 6:02pm departure to 6:45pm, I was pretty much sure we were screwed. When we got to San Francisco, I knew we had just made it by the skin of our teeth, as the car rental woman took one look at my driver’s license and said “I thought all flights from New York were cancelled.”

The flight was bumpy, but not the worst I’ve experienced. Jackson was grumpy, but, again, not the worst I’ve experienced. His first four flights were at two and a half month’s old going to and coming from Austin, Texas, and at three month’s old going to and coming from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Both of those trips, he was breast feeding, and slept like an angel in the breastfeeding position. Since these trips were over half a lifetime ago, many things have changed. For one, Jackson’s all grown up now and doesn’t suckle the booby anymore. This makes it difficult to time out a bottle properly, especially when he’s hungry and the plane has been delayed. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about his ears popping on the take off. The second extremely inconvenient change is that he now sleeps on his belly, and is incredibly uncomfortable on his back. Finding a position on the plane with me and Nicole and Jackson in just two seats was a challenge, but it ultimately worked. Uncomfortable, yes. Would I travel 24 hours with him to Australia or China, No. But, at least we know that we can travel pretty much anywhere in the continental United States, and most of Europe, a favorite stomping ground of ours.

We arrived in San Francisco late, but happy to be on the ground in warmer weather. The car rental place gave us a PT Cruiser, which is like driving a Hearse for midgets. I would rather them give me an actual Hearse, as my luggage would have fit better, and I wouldn’t look like a Geek Squad dork on his way to fix an old lady’s laptop that isn’t really broken, but just has too many applications open because her stupid family doesn’t want to accept the fact that she is 85 and would be better off writing with a quill.

There is no doubt in my mind that people have been murdered in our hotel. I think they are still cleaning up the blood stains on the floor above us. If my first instinct is wrong, then I would strongly suggest that the dead start haunting this place, because it is ripe for ghosts. Creepy door men, super old torn carpets, and dust on everything are just a few of the hot spots of our new temporary residence. I should have seen the writing on the walls, and I don’t mean that figuratively. When I opened the bathroom and turned on the light that hums like a vacuum cleaner, I noticed there is actually creepy writing on the walls in the decades of accumulated dust. It doesn’t say anything like “Go Away” or “Evil.” It just says “Germany,” but who knows, the dust is so thick, it could have been written by holocaust ghosts.

We woke up on our first day and went for some breakfast. The homeless and derelicts that were crowded around our street upon our arrival seemed to disappear in the morning like vampires. After breakfast we thought we would do Alcatraz, as it was a bit rainy, but luckily the rain pulled back for a bit, so we choose to take an exploratory walk. We walked from Geary and Mason to Fisherman’s Wharf. If you are familiar with San Francisco, you can pop your eyes back into your skull now. If you are not, then the whole “eyes back in skull” reference might not make sense just yet. Hang on. I’m getting there.

They say San Francisco is hilly. A better way to describe it is packed with FUCKING MOUNTAINS. I feel I should change the font of “mountains” to at least 14 or 16 to put further emphasis on the size of the “hills” in San Francisco. I swear that some of these hills were 45 degrees, and the vast majority was 30 degrees. When we told one of our waitresses that we walked it, she was not only blown away, but Nicole actually heard her telling one of the other waiters what we had accomplished. Look, cable cars are nice and cute, but I think Nicole and I would both feel like pansies if we didn’t actually walk the hills ourselves at least once. That’s why we did it twice, to and from Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Wharf was cool. We ate at a crab shack, took the baby to an old school arcade, and found a very sacred piece of land known as Ghiradelli Square. Ghiradelli, the good people who make the Ghiradelli chocolate have their own square, and it is chock full of choc. This was the one time so far that the clouds parted and the full sun came through. After we loaded up on Chocolate we found an old chocolate making machine that gave me a deeper understanding of the plight of Augustus Gloop. I wanted in.

After the morning was done, and Nicole had bent two pennies, one at the Cable Car Museum and one at the old arcade, we found ourselves back at the hotel, gearing up for the second half of our day. We ventured out again, this time by car, to the infamous corner of Haight/Ashbury. It was both interested and disappointing at the same time. I was at the center of the heartbeat of where the greatest hippy love fest of all time took place, and like most wonderful locations on this planet, it had turned into a tourist extravaganza. At first glance you might not have noticed, but when you look around you realize that everything is tourist shops and bad pizza parlors. The old Victorian houses are awesome, and there are head shops galore, but when you look a little deeper you notice the fallout of a great movement.

The streets are now filled with drug addicts, and homeless. The majority of them are young, and the older are mentally gone. It’s troublesome. If the enlightened of the free love generation had just put their heads together, it might have been a different outcome. Smoke all the grass and gobble up all the LSD you want, but ultimately keep your head together, off the hard drugs, and use the insight you gain from the drugs to create a better world. Instead, it’s clear that these people choose heroin, and wasted a good thing. Oh, well. Screw ‘em. I got my postcard and a piece of shitty pineapple and ham pizza. Off to the hotel for dinner and bed.

We got back to the hotel where we put the little guy down for bed after his supper time. Then Nicole and I read and watched a little TV. It was only 7pm, but for us this was like 10pm and our bodies were exhausted from hiking around SF all day. We fought to stay awake, but ultimately crashed. Jackson, still on NY time, woke up at 4am, but them went back to sleep until 7am. I gave him a bottle and here I am now, typing away. Today, after a nice warm shower in the haunted “Germany” bathroom we are going to do Alcatraz, and possibly some of the outer parts of SF with the help of our trusty midget Hearse.