Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bay area homecoming

We are parked on the street in an industrial neighborhood of Menlo Park, California (map). We are in front of a vacant office building, which is for lease and whose landlord is keeping the landscaping immaculate. This is actually a dead end, with the street rounding a corner and then terminating at the massive gates of the now forlorn and abandoned Diageo (nee Hublein) bottling plant. There are three functional businesses between us and those gates, but it has been very quiet here on the weekend.

We chose this spot because it was the closest thing we could find to the home of our friends here in Menlo Park, who invited us to celebrate the Passover Seder with them. And, by the way, Happy Easter and Chag Sameach Pesach to all our readers who celebrate those holidays. It was a very nice celebration, with five of our closest friends and their respective children, three of whom call us aunt and uncle. The eldest of the kids is preparing for college, and we spent the early part of the evening debriefing on her college search -- they just returned from a whirlwind trip to Houston and New Orleans to visit Rice and Tulane. It seems like not all that long ago that these young ladies were the adorable flower girls at our wedding.

We had a pleasant stay at the Monterey Elks Lodge (map) Thursday and Friday nights. We always enjoy visiting the Monterey area, where we amuse ourselves by watching the tourists shivering in shorts and tank tops while we head to dinner at restaurants generally patronized only by locals. We had nearly perfect weather and enjoyed a short visit with Louise's dad and stepmom.

As long as we were already in town, Louise's mom has invited us to the Easter brunch put together by her residence, so we'll head off in that direction shortly. Our friends here in Menlo Park have loaned us a car for the duration of our visit, so we have wheels with which to get around, although it complicates the ritual of moving the bus every three days or so. We're good in this spot until Tuesday, but I'd rather not remain here much past when the offices down the street fill up tomorrow morning.

First thing in the morning I need to call American Bus Repair over in Alameda. I actually called them Friday afternoon, but the foreman who schedules the work was out. This is the successor to Coach Specialties in the same location, who installed our upper front windshield a few years back. Long-time readers will know that the window is leaking around the glue line, and I am hoping they will be able to seal it back up for us.

Until I can talk to the foreman and nail down a time when they can take us in, we're holding off on making any other plans here in the bay area. Getting this windshield sealed is our highest priority, and we really do not want to proceed further up the coast into the "Pacific North-Wet" without addressing the problem. If ABR can not do the work, there are a few places in the Eugene, Oregon area that might be able to take care of it, and that would accelerate our departure from the bay area accordingly.

Once we get the schedule for the windshield set, I need to make some doctor appointments. I am seriously overdue for the dentist and somewhat less overdue for the eye doctor, both of whom are here in the area. Those items will generally dictate how we end up moving the bus around the area, and then we can schedule visits with our many friends here.

You may remember that we have been planning to attend Trawler Fest next month in Anacortes, Washington, arriving a few days early to first look at some boats in the region with our broker. Trawler Fest starts May 17, and we had figured to start slow-rolling toward Washington perhaps after the first of the month, giving us time for visits with friends in Oregon along the way. That would have given us nearly a full month here to take care of errands and get plenty of face time with friends we see once a year or less.

Recently, however, we learned that my cousin will be celebrating his First Holy Communion on May 6, a rite of passage that I myself remember fairly well. They are in upstate New York, and since we'd need to be back on the west coast the following week, it's impractical and expensive to take Odyssey. The detour to New York and back would run us $4,000 at today's fuel prices, and, at least on the return trip, we'd be under more time pressure than we normally like.

Instead we have decided to make a somewhat early arrival into the Seattle area, and fly east for the weekend. With an extra few days between the Communion and when our broker will be in town, we also decided to return to Seattle by rail, taking the Empire Builder from Chicago connecting from the Lakeshore Limited from Albany. Prior to moving aboard Odyssey, we did a number of the great cross-country train routes, with the Empire Building being the notable omission. This seemed like a great opportunity to fill in the gap, before these great rail journeys disappear from the landscape forever.

We are still working on booking the eastbound leg of the trip, by air. There is yet another example of the Dutch steel Lowland trawlers that interest us for sale in New Jersey, and if we can fly a day early to have a look at it, we'd like to. I'm hoping we'll have an answer on this from the broker tomorrow, and depending on the outcome, we'll fly either the 3rd or the 4th. Between getting the bus squared away and the cats kenneled, we'll need to be in the SeaTac region by May 1 or so, which means we'll leave here just over two weeks from now, around the 25th.

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