Amurrika, funk yar!

I am getting too close to abandoning this blog to the dust, so I am going to sit here with a pack of chips and a 3 flavored wheel of hummus, and tell you about my trip back to the states.    The yellow hummus tastes like cinnamon.  Not really in a good way.

Our layovers this time were in Philadelphia, where my exuberance at speaking the local language led me to try and talk to airport staff.  I am not sure if they just didn’t hear me, weren’t expecting conversation, or whether smug jokes from a Giants fan about the Phillies were not a good idea.  (The prospect of the second one makes me sad…where people talk to each other amiably so infrequently that they stop even listening for the possibility.)  The airport is pretty normal, but they do have cool rocking chairs lining the hallways.  Here’s Katrien relaxing.

The early part of the trip was fantastiliscious.  Friends and food and family and fun.  (This part of the trip is brought to you by the letter F.  I’m trying to remember if there was any flamboyant fabric…)

The old hometown of Santa Cruz was oddly offputting at first, perhaps because I couldn’t remember how to be there or what to do.  Enjoyed it though, a few precious old friends, a cookie factory, wandering around the downtown drag (did I really just use that expression?), and eating the nostalgic food; Santa Cruz is arguably the best place in the world for breakfast.
People-watched at the farmer’s market until the stomach flopped then got the hell out of town
Road trip to Santa Barbara to visit Grandma, who was never actually called Grandma.  She is an interesting woman who I feel I never really met before my grandfather died, their conjoined personality focusing on each other so much that outside dealings were diffused between the two, aquaintanceship the barrier.
She is still mostly sharp, and taking her to the dining hall the first night was enjoyable, though a busybody pain in the tookus bureaucrat lady impinged on it a bit, and I was not sure how much rascally disparagement of this was appropriate with Granny.
Leaving the peculiar silvered world of the retirement community, with its blazing exhortation to enjoy life while it’s flexible, we headed down to Santa Barbara’s (in)famous State Street, which I remember as a promenade of SoCal mass-produced and unimaginative “beauty.”  This time however it was pretty darn cold, and Sunday night to boot, so there was nay a swollen and precarious ego or carefully copied image to be seen, just some steadfast hippies with their nag champa.
We retreated to the hotel room, which was ill equipped for the chill, with enthusiastically noisy but ineffectual heater and one thin blanket.  It was like Malibu’s version of a gulag.
The next morning we headed back to take Grandma to lunch, but she was heavily depleted by a fever the night before and kept falling asleep.  Instead of heading to the main dining room, we tried the smaller one in the “Health Center” (the more intensive care facility…i.e. Hell-th Center).  Bureaucracy had an even tighter grip there though, so when we sat down and filled out the little menu on the table it threw an arthritic wrench in their machine and we were kicked out, but not before the man who normally sits at that table peered at his filled out menu and yelled “who the hell is Virginia Tendick?”
Relegated to the “TV room” in the hallway, Grandma fell asleep, I read the paper, and the flatscreen plasma played endless classic Hollywood movies with their clipped speech, folksyness, and static close-mouthed kisses.  I did enjoy listening with half an ear to their quaintly out of date discussions of ridiculous morality.  The Australian woman swimmer (with a light British accent) went on the beach with her legs showing!  Gasp!
A denizen from across the hall painfully wheeled herself closer, inch by inch, conversation generally inaudible but relentless, though we did pick out occasional moments such as when she was jabbing a gnarled finger at Katrien and demanding “Does she speak?  Can this one speak?  Why doesn’t this one speak?”  Then nightmarishly pointing at the back of my grandma’s head and saying “We don’t like it when they come out like that one.”  We tried valiantly to interact politely and keep from condescending, but I was inundated with gratitude when one of the staff came and wheeled her away.
After saying goodbye to Grandma, with all the morbid overtones of finality that that always entails, we headed up to San Luis Obispo, where we enjoyed the recommendations of my brother, particularly with regards to the sashimi.  I normally go with sushi rolls over sashimi, enjoying the combination of flavours, but he strenuously recommended the albacore tataki, and dear lordie in the great big blue sky above, was he ever right.
So if you are ever in San Luis, go to Goshi, at the corner of Higuera and Nipomo.  My God.  Okay, I can’t think about it anymore or I’ll go crazy.  Then I won’t be able to speak, and we hate it when they come out like that.
We were staying in a greasy little hotel just off the highway and were woken up at 3:00 AM by the fire trucks and ambulances as the Ramada across the street burned.  We couldn’t see actual flames from our perpendicular window, but the world stank of smoke.  Greasy getting greasier.
Then back up the coast to Capitola, where we watched the sun set from the pier and listened to the exuberant crunches of a sea otter next to us cheerily eating his dinner.  Those animals are way cuter than necessary, thank goodness.
A quick burrito with another good friend, then up the coast to the Pigeon Point lighthouse.  I dunno if you’ve ever driven Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, but if you have, this is the lighthouse halfway between them where you should have stopped.  There is a hostel run out of the four little white cottages, though you can no longer go in the actual lighthouse, which is rusting away in solemn nobility.
Recommendation number two (you didn’t forget the sashimi already, did you?): stay at this hostel.  They have a hot tub.  It’s right on the edge of the cliff over the godly waves of the Pacific Ocean.  You sign up for a half hour slot, and that half hour encompassed a fair portion of my soul.  The night was clear, calm, and cold.  (This Face of the Divine moment is brought to you by the letter C.)  The stars were riotous and reckless, despite San Francisco and the Bay Area lurking just beyond the hills, with the Milky Way in sacred full frontal overhead.
My two favorite places in the world right now are Chefchaouen, Morocco, and the Pigeon Point Lighthouse just south of Pescadero, California.

(My beloved Highway 1 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.)
One more night in San Francisco, Indian food, a bar with a peculiar female denizen brazenly asking a friend for sex (awwwkward), and caught a morning flight back across the Atlantic.  Homes sweet homes.