annie are you okay

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Take your memories I don't need'em, Take your space and take your reasons, But you'll think of me

I went to the beach…it wasn’t something I was planning on doing at all, but when the opportunity presented itself, I greeted it warmly and accepted. I was in the middle of doing my comprehensive exams and the week that I was going was week 3 out of 3 that I had to work on them, so I made sure that there was going to be internet access and that it wouldn’t be offensive if I stayed inside a lot of the time staring at my computer…that was going to be okay…and so I packed my bags (that would be my one bag of clothing and my 3 bags o’ books).

Saturday, go-time was 7am. Stinkin early, but not really any later than I usually wake, so no worries. I was told to be beach-ready, so, in my mind that meant bathing suit, jeans, tshirt…which may sound a little strange, but considering it would take a car ride to get down to the beach, and I do know myself a little, I thought that some sort of flimsy little cover-up or shorts would not work in my cold-natured-favor…so, jeans it was…and I was pleasant (in both temperature and spirit) on the ride down…

Basically the ride was uneventful (as it should be) but we did note a couple things. Well, maybe just one, namely the corn. It looked pretty unfortunate…I guess that didn’t so much matter to us, but it was noticed.

Then we started noticing false advertising ALL OVER THE PLACE.

First case: we were behind a truck with a sign in the back of it. It said “peaches.” We drove up next to that truck, ain’t a peach in sight. And we thought if we were selling drugs, we’d probably hide them in the back of a truck and label it “peaches.”
Second case: the traffic wasn’t horrible, but we were stopping at our fair share of red lights, and at one of those we saw this HOT chick on the back of a motorcycle…yeah, I can appreciate hotness. This chick was tan, great body, had on jeans and a little bikini top…well, when we pulled up beside that motorcycle…and we all look to our rightsies and our leftsies when we stop at stop signs, and traffic lights…and there she was…old lady, rolls of fat (I mean, if she had been standing up and 30 years younger, she would have been hot…but that was not the case)…more false advertising!

We stopped at subway, parked at the house, grabbed towels, the cooler, and chairs, and straight down to the beach…I
(1) stuck my toes in the water,

(2) ate my sandwich, (yes, i had already consumed my cookie in the car...and yes, by in the car, i mean, i started it before i even got out of the door of the subway and finished up the last crumb in the car)

(3) sunscreen suited-up,

(4) and pulled out my book on missing data,

precisely in that order. And there we sat for the next several hours…and it was nice! Turned on the radio, occasionally stood up to take a dip in the water…now after the first fish sighting, I only got up to mid-calf…I just don’t prefer the fish, unless I am eating them…and I certainly don’t want them to eat me! We were in peace, the occasional conversation, the constant radio in the background…and it lasted until the Griswold family showed up…and I mean those relatives who showed up for Christmas. They were loud…they were obnoxious…there were too many of them…and they set up camp WAY too close. The one thing that I neglected to prepare for was all the strange people we would see…I mean, my heart was mentally prepared (does that work? Brain was mentally prepared?...whatever), but I left my camera in the car. MISTAKE!

I think even if the Griswold’s were not too close, we would have found out a little about them because of the volume of their voices. They weren’t from the south. One was pretty sporty. One was not. The parents were there. The 18 kids were there. And will and cassie were there (see pictures below). It’s not that I tried to learn their names…I just did. Will was referred to as several things (by us [zeebs, brian fellow]…the family just called him will)…because of his choice in swimwear. Will had on the shorts (I never know what to call them) that boys go swimming in…the background was solid black. Then overlaying the black background was a zebra pattern. Now I know that animal print came in style several years ago (I mean, maybe it has always been in style…I just know that one year ALL the females were wearing some sort of animal print pattern in the church directory) and while we’re not really supposed to be a zebra on Monday, a tiger on Tuesday, a leopard on Wednesday, an alligator on Thursday, and a cheetah on Friday…we still can get away with some occasional classy animal print. Will’s swimmies were zebra in nature, but not a typical zebra (the black and white kind would be typical), his pattern was black with neon green and yellow…like the front of the right leg was neon green and black zebra, the front of the left leg was neon yellow and black zebra. And then switch-a-roo for the back. I know the picture I have painted is not so very clear and I was just devastated that I hadn’t brought my camera down to capture this on film.

BUT.....thankfully, dude was in his giddy-up each and every day and i had my camera on the ready to either take a picture or sprint down to the beach if i was alerted that any of the griswold family was out and about.

Saturday night we went out to eat…you know you always seem to run into someone you know at target or God-forbid at walmart….and at the beach going out to eat. And that we did. And then onto the flora-bama (where everyone does not know your name, but where the person checking ids will call you by your first name). It’s a lot to take in, I’ll say that much. We were all pretty tired and on our last legs, so we called it an early night and took it to the house.

Sunday we planned a menu for the week, went to the beach target (it always seems more fun to go to target, etc., when you’re not in your hometown) and grocery shopping, and then the days sorta start flowing together…which is exactly what is supposed to happen at the beach. I only got slightly sunburned (that 50 spf sunscreen is pretty remarkable), did get a lot of work done on my comps, watched the Original Kings of Comedy (FANTASTIC!), among other shows and specials and movies, caught up on my Oxygen and Bravo network shows that I typically only see when I’m in Birmingham…(Dance Your Ass Off, Top Chef Masters, Fashion Show, America’s Next Top Model Marathons)…watched Snapped for the first time (it comes on one of those channels) and I would like to invite all the people who ever thought I had caught the crazy to watch that show…because I’m absolutely sane…learned a great recipe for potato salad (sour cream instead of mayo, add a ranch packet, add some bacon and dill, and ding!)…and learned some great lessons and/or made some great observations.

1. Go see movies that you are unsure about in places where you probably won’t run into people you’ll see. (we went and saw Bruno…which, now I realize negates the part about people knowing you went to the movie…but at least I didn’t run into anyone I knew when I was coming out of the theater…it would have been an awkward conversation)

2. Pick your bathing suit wisely. And maybe you should have two to switch between…Will wore the same swimmie EACH and EVERY day…which was good for me because I ended up being able to snap a photo of him even though I forgot my camera the first day out there…will, come on, dude!! Especially when your choice of bathing suit is something so trendy, you might want to have one in a solid color to alternate with (between?)

3. Tattoos. I really do love ‘em…some of ‘em. And I know that many of them are very personal and have stories behind them…some are of animals, people, symbols, patterns. There are some that even when I got up to stand next to the person, I was unclear of what I was viewing. And I’m just not sure that the “sun around the belly” tat is a good look for anyone—that’s boys and girls. Moral of the story may be that people are curious!! And second moral of the story…if you’re going to go with naked people (as seen above to the left)…maybe not on a part of the body that is easily seen. Also, if you think you will forget your name…tattoos are perfect! Like this dude to the left...and right...he's got his initials AND his name on his body. Now, i didn't ask him if the name was his own...but when you look at him...surely...?

4. Birds fascinate me! Partly because I fear them. I just do not want a bird deciding to get tired right above me (bird flu!!). Their legs…well, I just don’t get ‘em. But, I do like taking pictures of them!

5. When you have…share. I mean, we certainly did share our music with those close enough around us to hear it! Example 1: Mr. Bucket Hat, Example 2: Pirates of not the Carribean
a. Okay—Mr. Bucket Hat…he had more than one hat and more than one swimmie and wore them on multiple days. He and his crew were ohio st. fans…he had a shark kite that he shared with us by putting it directly in our path and almost decapitating us (well, really just Margaret ila). He shared his chairs, tents, beers, and tailgating game with the crew “next door”…though didn’t offer us any of those amenities...Mr. Bucket hat did not "party" alone. Nor did he keep on wearing his bucket hat...thusly, i'm not for certain which is which...but these two definitely came together.

b. There was this group of folks who had a boat of some sort (I don’t even know if you call it a boat? But I think you do. It had a sail. It had a place or two to sit…is that what a boat equals?) they would take this boat out and get lost at sea…but not for too long because they’d return…but they didn’t offer us a ride…I mean, we sat next to these folks for the entire week, and we weren’t reckless folks…we just sat there nicely and we would have made great passengers…we also watched pirates of the Caribbean and thought about just commandeering the boat…but, it sat untouched by us

6. Hairstyles and outfits…I think the saying is at the beach anything goes…and then “whatever happens at that (in) ______ stays at the (in) ______”….but as long as you’re not in solitary confinement…that’s just not the case. So, pick your swimmies wisely…pick your outfits wisely….wear a bra….and pig tails are just not always a good idea…

7. And people! Ipods on the beach!?! I mean, I know I don’t own one and I can’t keep a cell phone out of a beverage…but isn’t it risky!?

8. Always realize that a camera might be snapping a picture of you...or video...and this dude...well, i just couldn't resist! Plus, with pictures, it's always strange what you will capture that you don't even realize that you have captured until later...much later. First example of that would be on my tat tour where i got the half a naked woman...didn't realize i had snapped that one until 4 days after we returned to Tuscaloosa. Also the picture to the right of the feet...don't fear, this man did come up for air...but it sure looks like perhaps he was either done for, or had been swallered and the two feet were all that was left...(and of course wanted to keep each other company)
when beach time had come to a close, we did pretty much eat everything that we had purchased to eat...which, well, may make us fat...or just snakers...but it also makes us quite economical...and we closed up shop and headed back to where we done came from. on the way back...OH! OH! one thing, i was notified on like monday that sonic pickle o's are back!!!! so, while the intention was to stop at a sonic on the way back, we failed...but, i did get some the following week, and they were deeeeeeelish! anywho, on the way back we basically came up with an alternate career (just in case)....selling.........watermelons!!! and not just the people sitting in the back of the truck stand...oh no, this one will be suped up, modern, contemporary, with a hint of victorian feel (or something like that) and it will be awesome!
my only regret was not hearing that fantastic chumbawumba "on the beach" song EVER!

Monday, October 08, 2007

If you see me in the streets...

The route: Tuscaloosa to Atlanta to Savannah to Jacksonville to Savannah to Tuscaloosa

It was another weekend of fun travelling to places I had never been before. And you know the punishment of being so normal is to have encounters with those who are lacking in that category.

Evening One: Tuscaloosa to Atlanta.

We begin our journey after the work day, and at about 6:00 we are on the road to Atlanta. It was a rather uneventful trip, except for the house we saw burning from the interstate. I mean, fully ablaze. The emergency folks were on scene. We also started watching Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on the laptop. Always bring a laptop on long car rides, if one can be safe.

We arrived in Atlanta, well, Buford, at probably 11-ish. Margaret Ila and I were in Thomas’s room; Jo and Whitney were in Matthew/guest room. There’s something to be said about staying in a teenage boy’s room. I don’t do it often, and when the occasion comes, I try to take note. One of the first things I noticed were all the posters on the wall. Now, I went through that stage in my life, however, I had wall to wall posters. Thomas is much more selective with his choices. Well, he’s cooler than I was too as a youngster. I had Zoo Babies posters all over my walls, he has a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory poster on his (the new one, not the old one). The second thing I noticed, and nearly had to lie down because of, was the spider on his floor. It was a big one…and it’s the type you typically find in cupcakes. However, because it is not Halloween yet, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. I saw it, stepped on it, and then realized it’s plastic nature. Whew.

Day 2: Atlanta to Savannah

It was about a four hour drive from Atlanta to Savannah. I am reminded of the line from Gone with the Wind. “Savannah’d be better for you. You’d just get in trouble in Atlanta.” I think there’s a hmmmph in there somewhere too, I’m just not sure of its exact location. Well, we followed Mammies advice and did not stay long in Atlanta at all. Savannah, Tally Ho.

We arrived in Savannah and immediately went to the Gray Line office to book our trolley tours for the afternoon and evening. One $10 dollar trolley tour and one evening haunted ghost trolley tour please.

Then we went to the hotel to check in. The Westin. It’s a great place and I’d recommend it to anyone travelling to the area. There was even Starbucks coffee for us in the room. Nothing I like better than some single-serving Starbucks coffee things! (I mean, I liked it so much, I took a picture of it).

Then it was time to drive back to the Gray Line office and off we go. Rachel was our host for the trip, she was from Rhode Island, and brought the fact up at every chance she got. We traveled around the seemingly millions of squares in Savannah, went by City Market, River Street, some churches, found out where the famous people lived (Flannery O'Conner). Saw the many SCAD buildings, and, of course, heard many a reference to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We also saw many references to the War of Northern Aggression (the headquarters of the Union Army).

At the end of our trolley tour, we decided to get off at River Street and take a look-see around. We walked up and down the street, stopping in various shops. We saw a statue, or so we thought. The best “stop and take a picture of me painted up, but also pay me a dollar” person I have ever seen lives and works in Savannah and it is worth the trip alone just to see her (I think).

We went in Paula Deen’s gift shop, where we did not see her at all, but did see a relative. We also saw the available tshirts. You may read what is on them. I’m not quite sure I agree with all of them, or think they’re cute. We stopped at City Market for supper at the Café at City Market. And then it was time to Tally Ho on to the Visitor’s Center where we would be picked up for our Haunted Trolley Tour.

Rebecca was our tour guide for the evening, and quite knowledgeable about Savannah’s apparitions. She, however, did not quite know what to do with herself when we saw a house with an Alabama flag flying proudly and of course gave it a big Roll Tide of approval.

It seems that almost all of Savannah’s buildings are haunted in some way or another (the Kehoe House, for example), and we learned all about it…from the safety of our very own trolley (there were many a'folk on haunted walking tours).

We saw the Pirate's House, also haunted with the ghosts, not only of pirates, but of the young men they intoxicated and then stole.

We might have also seen a couple of ghosts. For example, the two young (old) ladies attempting to get in the door of this house...They did not look like they belonged there.

We also drove by Club One, the home of Lady Chablis’ show. We did not go into the venue.

When we arrived back at the hotel, Margaret Ila, Whitney, and I decided to go down to the hotel’s evening eating establishment. We thought they might have dessert. We were wrong. So, we just sat there, and came up with our Ghost Remix for Halloween.

Day 3: Savannah to Jacksonville to Savannah

We got up and drove down to Jacksonville for the day. Alabama was playing Florida State, and we all had tickets…not only tickets, but tickets in the Bud Zone. We got to Jacksonville and hung out at the landing, where they had Starbucks and Nine West shoes for us. We walked along the water for a couple minutes and then headed towards the stadium, stopping by the fair grounds for a little Bama Bash prior to kickoff.

Again, I remind you. When you are normal as we are, there is bound to be some crazy folk that come into the picture.

We had the mullet. I always hesitate to take and publish pictures of mullets. Because, of course, they have friends too. I'm not making fun. I just don't have that hair style, and feel compelled to take photos when I see one. I do know that this young lady might be, or might be related to someone who will read this blog.

We had the illegal weapon and gun show duo. I also realize that it is indeed hot at football games. That prompts some people to just take off their shirts. Others, not wanting to tempt the masses, just decide to cut the sleeves out of their shirts, like this fine men.

We had the bear. This gentleman was of coach status. He told us that had it been ten years ago, different words would have been coming out of his mouth, however, the same enthusiasm was present for this game. He was hollering and I would say devoting his full attention to the game, but, as you can see, he was on his cell phone at this moment. No doubt getting some insider information.

We had preppy high school, blue jean shorts, tapered jeans, ribbon bow, and more white shorts than the law should ever allow after labor day.

We had some gangsters in training in their tank tops...these two had not quite yet made it to "illegal weapon" status, but they were indeed trying to show off.

We had two young bucks sitting on "University of Alabama, College of Nursing" seat cushions. When asked what year they were, they gave a big "huh?" accompanied by a greatly confused look. But, good try Whitney!

Story about blue jean shorts and family. So, mom is getting rowdy and is playfully (I think) arguing with lone-Bama-man in front of her. She pushes him, he knocks her hand off of him, which sends Dad into Mr. Obnoxious Pissy Pants mode. He tells Lone Bama not to ever touch his wife again. Goes and gets the cops. Kids are crying. And the troops are rallying behind Lone Bama, who has traveled all the way from Wisconsin to see some Alabama football.

Long story short, Ms. Blue Jean Shorts has to admit to the cops to pushing Lone Bama first, kids are now scared of Dad, Dad’s a jerk for the rest of the game, and Ms. Blue Jean Shorts sits down for the rest of the game, because she knows she is a trouble-starter.

We make it back to Savannah after the loss and make it inside our room just in time to see yet another Alabama defeat in the form of an Auburn victory. Booooooo.

Day 3: Savannah to Tuscaloosa

We get up and drive downtown where we meet Jo, who has made us reservations at Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s gig. And it was good. And, it does indeed appear that she uses butter as a condiment. We waddled out of the place and walked around Savannah, stepping into the map at every other block. I didn’t major in direction and I didn’t major in maps, leave me be!

We went to several more squares, including Chippewa Square, where the bench that Forest, Forest Gump sat used to sit. It, unfortunately, has been replaced by some flowers and a sign. Ohhhh, well. We also saw the top of the steeple that is seen in the movie. We walked by and through the cemetery, and the Mercer House gift shop. One lamp later (I hope it’s not haunted) and we’re back at the car and ready to Tally to Tuscaloosa.

It was a long drive, but pretty uneventful, which is what one strives for on the way back from trips.

Savannah, check plus.
Jacksonville, check.
Alabama football, check minus.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

If you're going to San Fran Cheesey

That's not how the song goes...but what if it was...

Road Trip Diary: San Francisco

Now, after my counts from the D.C. Trip, one might think Margaret Ila and me to be dirty and uninterested and unfunny people. But, I remind you that we were dealing with a totally different situation here. First of all, the temperature was about 30 degrees (not an exaggeration) cooler on the West Coast, therefore, the CONSTANT need for a shower was not there. We had some issues with electronics and thus could not have taken as many pictures as we each would have wanted. And finally, umm…yeah, the jokes from May, well, my friends, they are STILL FUNNY!

Day 1…really Evening 1: BHM to SFO.

Go time was 2:30 in the afternoon and we arrived in Birmingham approximately an hour later. We checked in with no problems and had no problems getting through security, thanks to Margaret Ila’s through research on the 3-1-1 rule, that’s 3 ounce bottles in one clear and sealable bag per one person. I was not called bulky and life was good. And we took our seats at the departure gate. And we waited. And we saw our 5:00 departure time come and go while still sitting in the Birmingham airport. Rain, my friends, rain. And who wants to fly in the rain? Not me!

It was a rather pleasant flight, we carried most of our luggage on so didn’t really have Lost Luggage Fear Syndrome, although because we carried on, we had to hoist our bags into the overhead compartment. Charlie (my suitcase) nearly took out the guy we were seated with. But, the hoisting was successful in the end.

It was 45 minutes later and we were taking off for Atlanta. And we arrived approximately 28 minutes later. Next departure time was 9:40. We’ve got a while folks. Okay, so what does one want when in Atlanta? A coca-cola and a chick-fil-a ANYTHING! And what do we find? Not a nugget in the joint. But, there is a slice of pizza at the Sabarro. Not only is there a slice of pizza but there is the world’s SLOWEST individual.

Okay, so this lady—if I hadn’t have had my hands full with my one slice and my luggage, I would have taken a picture of her—she had a problem with the bottled cola that was handed to her.

Mind you, the line for the pizza (or big meatball, your choice) has tripled (a little bit of an exaggeration, but really, the line was growing). She prefers the fountain drink. Well, honey, who doesn’t? But, we’re in an airport; planes are taking off right and left, people are fainting from hunger because their Delta Snack Pack © isn’t satisfying enough, take the drink and MOVE ON!

She does no such thing. She requests the fountain drink and then all but counts the number of ice cubes that are put in her cup. After playing Goldie Locks and complaining about their being too much and then too little ice, this chick has it to her liking. Then she takes about 4 minutes to pay. Okay, folks. Airport Fast Food Etiquette says that you pay in cash and you have it ready to hand to the gentleman or lady behind the counter. It should go down in almost Soup Nazi (Seinfeld, guys) fashion.

Finally, we have paid for our slices of pizza and make our way to the $1.75 vending machines to purchase Atlanta’s finest cola. Then we make it to our gate and park it. Okay, so strange thing we start to notice is an obnoxious amount of orange. Now, most of you know that I love Kevin Bacon and I love the color orange. But, really guys, too much is definitely too much, and we were seeing too much. What is going on here? Tennessee’s opener is at Berkeley is what’s going on.

We mentally prepare ourselves that all this orange might board the plane with us at 9:40. While doing so, we notice a man sitting across from us. He’s wearing white pants and a white shirt (it wasn’t Labor Day at the time, so it was acceptable), and the man looks just like Robin Williams.

We’ve got to figure out how to take a picture of this man without really being obvious. We fail a good couple of times, but finally manage a picture of the guy. You decide. I think Robin Williams might like to travel to West Palm Beach.

We also see an Atlanta Hawks player. Margaret Ila RUNS down the hall as if she is late for a flight to get a picture of this gent. Success.

Celebrity Count: 2. Who needs LA when you’ve got the Atlanta Airport!?

Then over the intercom comes a voice. "Sorry folks, we’ve had a collision of aircraft. The gate for the West Palm Beach departure is likely to be changed. I don’t have any more information, but as soon as I do, I will let you know."

Now, when you hear "Aircraft collision," there tends to be a little bit of a panic. I mean, I know that aircraft tend to just fly through clouds, but if pilots are running into things, I don’t take it as a good sign. I don’t know quite what happened, but their plane was deplaned and then folks left the gate.

Soon we experienced some slight déjà vu when we saw our 9:40 departure time come and go while sitting on the seats in the Atlanta airport, not on the plane. And, we saw 10:40 go by.

Don’t worry. By 11:45, we were on the plane and heading towards San Francisco (with no flowers in our hair).

We sit down. Seats A, B, and C. I sit by the window. Margaret Ila gets the middle, and Brian Fellow gets the aisle. We also have Einstein’s cousin in front of us.

Celebrity Count: 4 (still haven’t made it to San Francisco).

Okay, so, Einstein. This man has long-ish white hair, looks like he could be a little smart…and crazy.

Brian Fellow. You all know the SNL skits, right? I couldn’t find a youtube link, but hopefully you are aware (it’s REALLY funny). In our case, Brian Fellow is an elderly lady with a safari jacket on. I’m talking about not only Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my!), but also elephants, cougars, jaguars, hippos (okay, I’m not positive about that), etc. This woman also seemed to have a bit of a staring problem. LADY, EYES FORWARD; it’s 11:45 your time, 10:45 my time, and 8:45 in Craig’s time.

We’ve got 5 hours on this plane and have no time for you! We need for the movie to come on (we think it’s gonna be Fracture, and we’ll take it) and for you to leave us be!

Flight attendant comes over the speaker, "We’ve tested the electronic equipment and it appears as though we will not be able to show the film, but please be encouraged by the fact that we are even getting this flight in the air, we almost had to cancel it."

You, Ms. Flight attendant. I don’t think you quite understand. We have been delayed twice. Einstein to the front, Brian Fellow to the right, and WAY TOO MANY VOLUNTEERS on this flight, in the paraphrased words of one of those history guys, "GIVE ME RYAN GOSLING AND ANTHONY HOPKINS or GIVE ME DEATH!" And, ma’am, what do you mean the electronic equipment isn’t quite working right? Does that mean that other plane equipment isn’t working right? Are we doomed?

The plane takes off without incident and while there is much disappointment over the lack of entertainment, we are all surviving. And then there are some screams from a baby. Can’t you drive across the country? Gah! Well, at some point during the five hour flight, Margaret Ila and I get the giggles. And someone SHHHHH’s us! Come on honey? You’re gonna let a kid scream and wake everyone up but you’re gonna SHH some slightly grown up folks for telling some GREAT jokes!?

Then Brian Fellow looks over and starts telling us that we are disturbing people. Oh, I got your disturbance, lady. Don’t test me.

We land in San Francisco at 1:45 their time, 2:45 Eastern, and 1:45 Central time and are greeted by Elvis, the luggage attendent. And we are TIRED. Our checked bags are there! Such a different story from the New York trip. Craig, where are you?
He arrives and we pile into his truck and head down the road to Mountain View. Get me on the futon, it’s time to sleep.

Day 2: Downtown San Francisco.

Wake-up time is approximately 7 or so hours after head-hitting-the-pillow time. We’ve got a plan. We are going to hop on the Cal-Train, when you say it, it sounds like Cow-Train…MOOOO, and then ride down to San Francisco, where we will hop in a cab to be dropped off at Union Square. And all that is a success.

We eat lunch around Union Square, do a little shopping, and we’re ready to hop on the Cable Car up the hill. It’s a hill and a half. And it’s an even great experience (in some capacity) when you are staring at a Volunteer’s behind (That’s what she said).

At the top of the hill we come to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a pleasant place. First stop, GRAYLINE office! We walk around a little bit trying to find it, but find it we do. Or so we thought. We stepped right up, ready to ask some questions, and asked the right questions to the wrong person. This lady wanted us to sign up for a time-share informational meeting. It would just cost us 90 minutes of our time, no obligation to purchase, we’d even get lunch. Ma’am, (a) we’ve already eaten, (b) we are on vacation, we do not have time for 90 minutes with your people.

She said that she would buy our tour tickets if we would go hear the talk. While that does sound like an interesting proposition, we really don’t want to waste that time. Margaret Ila and I are trying our best to come up with a way to let her down easy.

Well, she doesn’t acknowledge that we need time to think up a way to get out of this, she’s already onto the sign-up form. All we have to do to qualify is be American citizens (done), have valid driver’s licenses (done), and make 60 grand a year. At that last statement, we looked at her and started laughing. Ma’am, thank you for thinking that we look like we make that kind of money, but ma’am, I’m a student, she’s a social worker, together we don’t make 60 thousand dollars a year.

But, thank goodness, because we didn’t have to waste 90 minutes hanging out hearing about a time-share that we couldn’t afford.

We go inside and purchase our tickets for a Bay Cruise for Friday night and Tours Galore on Saturday. And we make our way to the cannery for a Hop-On, Hop-Off double decker bus tour.

Those are the best! We totally owned the one we took in DC, and we expected a similar experience on this one. We hop on, quite proudly, take our seats, and get our cameras ready to take pictures of the sights of the city.

What we got was a tour guide named Jack…or Philip, who now goes by Jack Philip Jackelynn. He introduced himself as Philip. But, him mom (yes, his MOM was on the bus) called him Jack. In true Scrubs fashion, he quickly became Jackelynn. He told us a little about a very few things.
(a) about some folks who were gunned down by some cops, maybe. Or maybe it was some cops who were gunned down by some folks?...nevertheless, while I may forget, he repeated over and over: "We will not forget"

(b) the Tenderloin district

(c) the Tender Knob district

Jackelynn...I bet you know.

We rode around the downtown loop and hopped off at Pier 39, my new favorite place. It’s touristy and clean, cute little stores, coffee, and the barking seals (or otters or sea lions or whatever they are). I mean, watch that clip too. These guys are fascinating. I really do think I could have stood there and watched them for about four hours. But, that couldn’t be the case.

Then came the Bay Cruise, not with Captain Jack Sparrow, but let me tell you, this guy to the left was a close second. He did smoke on the ship that allowed No Smoking, but whatever, he's the captain. Let me tell you, it was COLD…but other than that, it was FABULOUS! We saw some international characters. We held onto the rails. We snapped pictures. Went under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Went by Alcatraz (did you know there was an inmate there named Bird Man!?). Saw the sailboats, the skyline, the umbrella (like Rhianna)-balloon surfer people. It was COOL!

Craig came and met us down at Pier 39 and we grabbed dinner…at the Sea Otter Café, no doubt, because, of course, we hadn’t gotten enough of the cool barking animals. Well, we sat and ate it, and then back to Mountain View it was for us.

Day 3: The somewhat Greater San Francisco Area.

We had to get up at the crack of dawn because we had an hour train ride to take before hopping in a cab to be taken to the place where we would meet our tour bus which departed at 9:15. Oh golly, that meant leaving at 7:00 to catch the 7:19 Cal (not Cow) Train. We made it. Also heard about some illegal activity by a strange-looking drug-user (we know this because he was talking about how his girlfriend gave him a gram for his birthday—now, I know, this is San Francisco, home of Gheridelli, so he could have been talking about a gram of chocolate, but somehow I think not. I also wasn’t going to tell him that we should participate in hugs not drugs, because I sure wasn’t getting close enough to him to hug him).

Made it down to San Francisco okay, got in the cab okay, and then we were stopped by a parade. Folks! We are in San Francisco for a limited time, while yesterday’s tour guide was sub-par, we cannot miss the tour! We talk rather loudly about the tour that we fear we will miss and

Mr. Taxi steps on it and we are off.

Mr. Taxi, man, he’s Mr. Taxi operator of the year, because he got us to Fisherman’s Wharf with like 25 minutes to spare. We stood in line and waited our turn to hop on this enclosed double-decker bus.

Up-top we go, behind and across from some Germans. In front off three Australian’s (2 ladies and 1 man, and one of them was the third wheel) and caddy-corner from Wyoming’s Welcome Wagon.

And we saw some great things, back to the Golden Gate Bridge for more photos, the Golden Gate Bridge National Park, the Presidio, like 49 miles of Scenes. At the Golden Gate Bridge stop, we ran into Ms. San Fran Cheesey. This lady, well, she was decked out in all-things-San Fran-gear and when we took our picture with her (because, why wouldn’t you?) she said, "say SAN FRAN CHEESEY." Well, I didn’t say that, but I did note that phrase for later usage.

Ray, our tour guide of the morning, unlike Jack Philip Jackelynn told us about all the celebrities in San Fran, like Robin Williams—we drove by his high school. We drove by OJ’s high school (Juice). We drove by the House of Nanking, the Lady and Sons (Paula Deen’s) of Chinese Food. Ray was pleasant and he would tickle himself (just a phrase). He couldn’t pronounce Tuscaloosa, but he did find the name amusing. If there were an award for Gray Line Tour Guide of the year, it would go to Ray. I need to send a letter.

After our morning tour, we had an hour or so to bum around before we got on the Muir Woods, Sausalito Afternoon tour. So, we went to In and Out, of course. Where Happy Cows, who live in Happy California go to die and be eaten…but, they were good hamburgers, so good job CA.
As we stood in line for the afternoon tour, we wondered who our tour guide for the afternoon would be. And, I’ll be darned, if it wasn’t Ray again! It was going to be a good afternoon, I was positive.

Now, we went to Muir Woods, but were a little afeared that we might not make it to Sausolito because of time issues stemming from the closing of the Bay Bridge for the weekend. Don’t worry, we made it both places.

Muir Woods. We didn’t take too much time there, but it was nice. Not only do they have Happy Cows in California, they also have extremely tall and wide trees.

Back on the bus to Sausalito, America’s best city, I think. They had ice cream, sail boats, and art galleries, all for the viewing (and the ice cream for the tasting). Man, it was a pretty place. Touristy enough to be fun, but not enough to be obnoxious or dirty.

We came back from that tour and were dropped off at Pier 39 with only one goal in mind. Find somewhere to watch the Tennessee Cal-Berkeley game. Destination: Wipe-Out. So, this place was a little slow, but that was okay, we had football to watch. We sat outside in the awesome weather that got progressively a little chilly…don’t worry, they had outside heaters. And the result? Roll Tide. As Jonathan King says, "Any Tennessee loss is an Alabama victory," which means that Alabama won twice in one weekend, amen?!

Craig came and met us down there and we hopped in his truck for Mission Cream-Puffs. We failed, just to go ahead an alleviate your suspense. We could not find the Cream-Puff store (what in the world is a cream puff?) We might have found it eventually, but it was definitely closed. And Craig almost took out a innocent pedestrian in the process. CRAIG!

On the way back to Mountain View, we decided to stop in Palo Alto to see if they made Cream Puffs. They do not, just in case you were thinking about making that trip. Back to Mountain View.

Day 4: San Jose, Palo Alto, Sonoma, Berkeley, Oakland, and Santa Cruz

We stopped first at a San Jose Starbucks were I added a Starbucks City cup to my collection.

Next stop, Palo Alto by day to get a glimpse of Stanford’s campus. We stopped at an open-air mall to purchase our Stanford gear because the bookstore was not open on Sunday. I tell you what, open-air malls, fantastic! And this was an excellent one!

We traveled next, down to Sonoma Valley. Cool place. They had a lot of grapes there. It was HOT!, but a different kind of hot, as you would imagine. Tolerable. We wondered around. Saw some defeated Tennesseeians drinking off their moral and game defeat from the previous night.

Next came Berkeley by day. Well, this is what I’ll say about Berkeley, they got one great Library with some great bathroom facilities, and a statue of Einstein sitting on a bench welcoming you to the library. Good job Berkeley. We also saw a man who looked so stressed out and fatigued that he might jump off the library landing. Funny that classes weren’t in session yet, but maybe he had a stressful semester coming up? Who knows.

We drove through Oakland (not Michigan) by dusk, and it was nice. Didn’t really stop to do anything, just saw it from the car, but I can’t complain about it. It treated me just fine.
And then on to Santa Cruz. Took wayyyy too long to get there, and the Bad Ass Coffee Co. was closed by the time we got there. Shame too, because if we had known that upon our return the Bad Ass Tuscaloosa branch would have changed its name, we would have insisted they let us in to purchase Bad Ass gear. Oh well. We went to Pizza My Heart. We walked around. It was pretty cool…and way to busy. We stepped out onto the beach. Didn’t make it to the water. It was cold outside.
Done with Santa Cruz, back to Mountain View we go. We need that precious 4 hours of sleep on the futon before we have to get up and go to the airport.

Day 5: SFO to ATL to BHM

It was a 3:45 awake time and a 4:00 departure time from Mountain View. Charlie was thrown into the back of the truck and away we went. After our drop-off at the airport, we hung around our gate until take-off-time. So, you know what? No celebrity sightings in the airport (real or fake), but we did see some interesting things. I was quite worried about some glass bottles shattering due to employee handling or pressure or whatever thousands of feet in the air will do to glass. Well, don’t fret, the bottles made it. But, what I was really concerned about was the gerbil on board. Yes, this woman brought her pet gerbil on the plane with her. Now, I know that dogs and cats have been known to travel on planes, and survive. But, gerbils are little. I was worried whether it would it explode. I haven’t seen snakes on a plane. But, I just thought that Exploding Gerbil on Plane would make a horrific real-life Life Time movie. Plus, the woman carrying this gerbil, man, it appeared as if the gerbil was her life. If that gerbil had lost its life, I don’t know what we would have done, but it would be bad news.

Fortunately, there were no screams, and while I did not see a breathing gerbil exit the plane in Atlanta, I imagine that there was a happy ending. Not positive, of course. On the flight from SFO to ATL, we did have a movie and two seats on our row. No Brian Fellow and Fantastic Four. Great combination. Of course, I had Mr. Tennessee who couldn’t understand that it is impolite to use the seat-back function when NO ONE ELSE ON THE PLANE IS AT 6:00 in the morning! RUDE! Well, I made my annoyance quite apparent by talking loudly about etiquette and digging my knee as far and as hard as I could into the back of his seat. I am not 5 feet plus 2 inches, folks, these legs need room, and I needed it from Mr. Tennessee at that moment. And I was denied.

Thankfully, when we landed in Atlanta, we were done with our weekend of Tennessee orange. And I LOVE the color orange. I was just ready for it and its people to leave me be! They went in another direction. We sat down. I went and got some Ben and Jerry’s and was ready for my 26 minute flight back to Birmingham. It was unproductive, except for I swear I saw a cloud that looked like Garfield.

And when we arrived and went down to the baggage claim, there Charlie the Tuna Suitcase was just a waiting on me.