Saturday, January 29, 2011

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley

(Sorry this is a little long but it is covering a whole weekend with pictures :D)

What an amazing adventure Kyle and I had! I’m sure that you don’t want to hear about the cement wall that was almost hit, the non-existent road lines in California and as such driving down the middle of the road, or the car that almost hit us so I will focus on the good and happy parts of the trip instead.

Let’s just say that I was a little more than excited- it was my first real road trip. (yes, I did plenty of driving and trips growing up but this was my first time without the parents and we were driving to California no less!)

Things I learned about California:

Driving is crazy!

There may be speed limits posted but they are more like a guideline or minimum.

There are way too many roads.

Having one half of a fork split into another fork immediately is so not cool, especially when there is another road joining the fork and you need to be on the other side of the road.

There are a lot of people in California and just as many towns.

The North and South is sometimes rather confusing to figure out with all the different highways.

They have as many cultures available as they do in the world- all it takes is going “around the corner.”

Everything can seem really close but really far away at the same time.

The plan was that we were going to leave early Friday morning, but as most plans go they did not pan out the way we wanted them to, we ended up leaving about noon, with every nick and cranny of the car full. Luckily because of growing up and going on lots of car trips we are both used to being squished and not having much room in the car. We waved good-bye to Ben, Sonia, and Mom as we drove north to I-15 and began a new chapter in Kyle’s adventure which we call life. It was a fairly uneventful drive, we had been worried about snow and having ice on the road but we never encountered any.

After a couple of stops for gas, food, and leg stretching we finally made it to East Palo Alto, CA and wouldn’t you know it Kyle’s phone would die---leaving us with no GPS or directions of how to get to his new home. Luckily for us Kyle had been to the house once and he had been looking at the maps of the area earlier and with some guesses we were able to make it there. I was afraid no one would be home/awake and we would end up sleeping in the car (which I was very opposed to as I had been driving most of the day and wanted more than a seat sitting straight up to sleep on), but luckily a couple of people were awake and let us in. Just in the few minutes of chatter they seemed like nice enough guys and it seemed like Kyle was going to get a long great (there was even one guy who had heard of Kyle before and gone to one of his presentations last spring…crazy! What was especially nice was that he offered to let us use his car for the weekend while I was there---after having met him 10 minutes prior ).
Kyle and I quickly went to bed as we were more than a little exhausted, I quickly fell asleep and it seemed like too soon my alarm was going off, we hurriedly moved all of Kyle’s stuff from the car to the living room and drove off in the “sunset,” ok not really but we went to fill the car up with gas, we tried Costco but we failed to calculate that it was a little early for Costco to be open and that the Costco we went to didn’t have gas. We returned the car by 8 and priced several other car rentals to figure out which one would be the cheapest (it was cheaper to have one UT-CA and then another for just a couple of days locally than it was to keep the same car for the whole weekend.)
We lucked out and had a really nice guy to work with in getting our rental, he was really honest with us and just down to earth—Kyle and I both felt that some places are all about getting the money from you where this place was more about giving you the best deal and treating you well (so to bring back business). Example: One place it was going to cost us $162 to keep the car Sat-Mon, but because we wanted to keep it till Tuesday it jumped up to $362 (plus tax and other fees), whereas where we got it, it was under $300 for the whole thing, including me being the renter (under 26) and all the other fees. So in the future if you are ever looking at renting a car I would really check out FOX, they had great customer service and they even let us pick out which car we wanted to use (we went for the best gas mileage…a Toyota Prius Hybrid, awesome car and we discovered that it is a very popular car).
I don’t know if I can say enough about this car, it was so cool…if you were stopped you couldn’t hear anything because the engine wasn’t running, it was kind of trippy sometimes. You didn’t have to have a “key,” all we had was the door opener and it just had to be within the car to start it. And at some points we were getting 75-100 miles per gallon!
The original plan had been that we were going to go to San Francisco for the after Saturday but after discussing it we decided that we were a little too tired and that we wanted to have more energy to enjoy going there so instead we unpacked some of Kyle’s clothes and started to make his room feel more like a room. We both showered and then headed off for some sightseeing.
We were going to go straight to Santa Cruz but we had been talking to Kyle’s roommate and found out that there was a section of town that was like a mini-Taiwan and they had a shopping center of Taiwan shops, when I heard that there was no way I was going to pass it up. I find myself being “homesick” for Taiwan at least once a month wishing that I could return and visit, there is just something about it that draws me and makes me feel like I’m in a little cocoon (ok maybe a little exaggerated but I still love it there). The part that made me most excited was that there was supposed to be a bakery there, whenever I go to different countries I love going to the bakeries and trying the breads that they have to offer and that was definitely one of my favorite parts of Taiwan was their bakeries. This bakery didn’t disappoint either! Kyle got to try moon cake which they didn’t have this last time that I went because it wasn’t moon festival and he got to try many other delicious things. I loved being able to share some of the things that were part of my year in Taiwan with Kyle, it’s always fun to talk with him because we kind of compare and contrast Taiwan with the Philippines. For some reason I was like a little kid in there, so super excited, kind of bouncing off the walls a little :D
Yummy bread! Even the layout looks so much like Taiwan bakeries

After the store we also discovered a juice shop, it was good but definitely not the same as Donald’s juice or quite as cheap but I loved seeing the lid machines again!

Next stop after “Taiwan-Land” was Santa Cruz, probably about 40 minutes from East Palo Alto, it was a beautiful windy road with green hills, trees, the sun setting, and water here and there to be seen. We commented often how it made us feel like we were driving towards Lincoln City or past Waldport.

That’s kind of where the similarities end though, as we pulled up to the beach we found a boardwalk that actually went the length of the beach, with carnival rides that seemed to be there year-round and go year-round (as there were those on the roller coaster---in the middle of January!), the sun was shining, sailboats were in the water, the lighthouse was just around the corner of rock, and there were more people on the beach than I had ever seen on the nicest day in Oregon (the only time I had ever seen that many people on the beach was when there was a cross country race going on). We took a nice walk along the water edge drinking in the beauty and how it was WARM in the middle of January.

We discovered that we were hungry and started to look on Kyle’s phone for a good place to eat, we discovered that there was a burrito restaurant (Planet Fresh) nearby that was supposed to have really good burritos and that they used all fresh ingredients, the pictures and descriptions of the food completely hooked us and we drove over. They most certainly did not disappoint, the food was delicious!

When we got back to Kyle’s it wasn’t extremely late but I was very tired, Kyle got invited to go to a couple of parties with one of him roommates and I declined feeling very much like going to bed. After they left I took a shower (I figured it would be easier to do while no one was in the house than trying to figure out how to do it Sunday morning with everyone else getting ready) and then laid down on the couch, while I slept the much needed sleep Kyle was partying it up and went to two different parties meeting many people in his new ward.
Sunday was an interesting experience with Sunday School being a “New Arrival” class, apparently they have enough turnover that they have a separate class with the Relief Society president, Elders Quorum president, and a couple other important people to get to know you and tell you a little bit about the ward. For Relief Society I went by myself, when I told someone that I was Kyle’s sister she said “oh he’s really nice” and later when I was introducing myself the same girl announced to the whole group, “her brother’s name is Kyle and he is really cool,” hopefully that will be a good start for him in the ward. Sunday night Kyle got invited to another party I again declined, I wasn’t really feeling in the mood for a party (for those that don’t know me very well I’m not really a huge fan of socializing, I would much rather stay at home playing games, reading a book, or watching movies) and didn’t really see the point of introducing myself to a bunch of people that I was never going to meet again. So while Kyle was at the licorice party (apparently someone works for a candy company and got a huge pallet of different kinds of licorice) I started watching Fiddler on the Roof, before I was done I had three of Kyle’s roommates watching it with me and Kyle (another one wanted to but he had to go to bed to get up for work). Kind of funny I guess that one of the roommates had said on facebook that he wanted to watch a musical that weekend and I didn’t know that and picked it out.
Monday we started off semi-early and went to San Francisco for the day!
Our first stop was to the Mission District, we thought it would be fun to walk around and we had heard about a great burrito place to try out (supposedly they sold the first “original” mission style burrito—not sure exactly what the mission style burrito is but it was supposed to be good and BIG), we started walking towards where it was supposed to be, very quickly we saw a couple of Peruvian restaurants and took some pictures to send Libbey and Erick.
We were only a couple of blocks from where the burrito place was supposed to be when Kyle looked up and saw that we were at a Filipino restaurant, he asked if we could go in there instead, of course I was game because he had been so patient during my super crazy excitement at the Taiwan grocery store. He was excited; he got to use some of his Tagalog talking to the lady (she was from a different area than where he had been). He told me more than once that this food was “legit” and was really good. Afterwards he said that because she was from different part of the Philippines it tasted a little different than he was used to but it was still very good.

We went to the apple store (HUGE!), they had probably 12 of each item that they sell on tables so that people could play with them. I about laughed when this lady came in and said “I want an ipod, it’s about this big (and made a square with her hands),” the guy said “ok how much space do you want on it?” She responded, “I don’t know, it’s just about this size (again making the square with her hands).” I found it crazy that someone could know almost nothing about an ipod and she was probably in her 20’s or 30’s so the age of when they have been most popular. We also visited a Ross, probably the biggest Ross that I have ever been to in my life, it had 4 (at least) floors and each floor was probably only a little smaller than a normal store front.
Finally it was time to ride the trolley, I was so excited! When Kyle first told me that we were going to San Francisco all I could think about was Herbie and how they rode the trolley when the brake broke it went rushing down the hill really fast. So of course I wanted to go on the trolley!

We rode it to Chinatown where it felt very familiar but at the same time very different because there was a lot more English on the signs than I was used to. We went to another bakery where I used a little bit of my Chinese, the lady was quite impressed and then responded in more than I knew (:D). It was interesting to look around and I’m glad that now I can say that I have been to Chinatown but I think that I was more excited to have gone to the Taiwanese shopping center.

After Chinatown we rode the trolley back to catch the subway and then the subway back to where we had parked the car (we were lucky, parking was normally only a $1-which is still really good, but because it was a holiday we got it for free!) and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so foggy that I couldn’t even tell until we were halfway over it that we were even on a bridge, we stopped to take some pictures and then headed back towards East Palo Alto.

We were going to go to dinner at a Taiwanese restaurant (I was excited for Kyle to try stinky tofu :D) but we discovered that they were closed on Monday’s so instead we tried a burrito place instead (so we still got our mission style burrito), it was delicious and then we went home.
We went to Safeway where we stocked up on food (we figured that it would be good to get all his canned stuff before we returned the car and he had to walk home with canned foods) and then went to bed.
Tuesday morning we finished unpacking Kyle’s stuff and made his room a little less messy (as I’m sure his roommates appreciated) and then went to the airport, because of many wrong turns and getting on the wrong roads a couple of times the trip that should have only taken us 15 minutes (plus getting gas time) took over an hour, luckily we had planned and left early enough that we were still ok. At the airport I had my first “body scan” experience, the whole time I was wondering what it must be like to have the job of watching all the scans---you probably would see some pretty interesting things. My flights were rather uninteresting but I was very glad to be home and to be able to sleep in my own bed.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! That was really fun reading that Beth reliving our adventures. I'm so glad you got to come.