Monday/Tuesday July 3 & 4
Monday morning and we had been “in country” for nearly a week. We woke up early (no jet lag excuse, just normally get up early) and got everything packed and ready to go. We had to “check out” of our Air B&B by 11am so the house was a flurry of activity as everyone grabbed all the stuff which had migrated everywhere and corralled it back into suitcases and backpacks.
Interestingly, the three families represented all had people to go and visit before heading back to Vegas, so we all said good-bye and headed out.
For us, our first stop was to see my friend Seth, whom I hadn’t seen in person in several years, really not since he was doing the magic thing back in Vegas. Now, he was living in SD, married with two kids and had pretty much given up magic in exchange for being a music teacher. And a video gamer.
This is important to mention because one of the first things he’ll show you at his place is the spaceship cockpit he’s building in the garage, specifically for gaming purposes. It’s stunning. I won’t even try to explain it, but when it’s finished, you will truly feel like you’re sitting in a command chair of a functioning starship.
After oohing and ahhing for a bit, our two families headed out to their local Broken Yolk for breakfast and kibitzing. Honestly, a lovely morning. But soon enough, we had to get back on the road. There was one more stop we had to make and we were hoping avoid the highest heat of the desert. That stop? The Baked Bear in Temecula.
Since we had missed the ice cream treats the night before, we figured that since there was another branch on our way, we’d stop in and see what all the fuss was about. We found the place, no problem, and I ran in to order while the girls waited in the car. While I was inside, I discovered that this location had just opened the week before! Lucky us, indeed!
And yes, totally worth it. The whole premise is they offer a choice of home made ice cream and then a choice of “wrappers” in which the ice cream can rest to make the sandwich. I had s’mores cookies around cookie dough ice cream while Rasa had a brownie and chocolate chip cookie surrounding her ice cream. Both were amazing! And thank god we were driving through the hot desert where I could sweat out the calories from this decadent dessert.
Before we made it all the way home, though, we had a hungry baby to deal with (no ice cream for her… well, not a lot at least). A stop at the IHOP in Barstow took care of that, and introduced Monki to a new taste sensation: Chicken and waffles. She loved it and it became a staple of the rest of our US visit! My only complaint was that while Monki’s dish was from the children’s menu and cost $6.99, when I asked for fresh strawberries as the side fruit, instead of the ones in syrup, we got them, but were charged $5.99. Maybe I’ve been living out of the US too long, but 6 bucks for a small bowl of strawberries seems a bit outrageous.
We got back on the road and headed towards Vegas. Monki was great, enjoying the desert scenery and sleeping, in succession, until just about the time we started passing the big hotels on the Strip. Now I don’t know if it was simple tiredness or she was making a serious point about the economy, but that was when she started screaming. There was just no consoling her until we pulled up in front of the folks’ place and took her inside to the nice, cool air conditioning and the waiting arms of Bubby and Pa.
Tuesday July 4
My sister Faye has a tradition. She has several, actually, but only one is applicable here. The 4th of July tradition is this: Everyone gets Old Navy American Flag shirts then on the 4th, everyone goes to a department store photographer and family portraits are had. Rasa and I had participated when we were in the States back in ’15 and were all set to participate now.
There was a large group there – not only the three of us and mom and dad, but also Faye with her three kids, her boyfriend Matt with his three kids, Uncle Brian (mom’s brother who is staying with them) and Echo, Faye’s dog. We managed to get one or two whole family shots before Monki got very tired of sitting still. So eventually, she was out, but we adults took a couple more.
Then it was off to breakfast. Of course by the time we got there, Monki was asleep in the car and after her screaming/crying jag at the photo session, we figured it best not to wake her. So we grabbed a quick drive thru bite and then, as she was waking up, went shopping. We hit Babies R Us, where I looked for “airplane approved” carseats and out of the several dozen there, only found two which specifically said anything about it and neither had the plane illustration the agents at CdG were looking for. Then it was up the street to Old Navy.
Old Navy was always part of the plan. I knew I needed new clothes (especially since Rasa cleaned out and got rid of 2/3 of my closet as “too big”) and since they’re cheaper in the US, this was always part of the plan. So in we go, and I go to the dressing room to try on some shirts while Rasa is looking for jeans for me. She brings some over and I look at the size: 30×30 (30in waist and 30in inseam). This is too small. I had been wearing 33×30, which, admittedly, were too big now that I had lost about 8.5 kilos, but the last time I wore a 30in waist was some time ago.
“Just try them on,” she insisted.
And they fit! Granted, that particular pair were “skinny jeans” so no, I wasn’t going to get them, but 30×30 in straight leg were just fine. Holy crap! I was absolutely astounded! We got a couple pairs of jeans, a pair of shorts (my old ones went ‘bye-bye’ during the trip) and some shirts. If anything convinced me I had lost weight, that was it.
Seriously, for me this was a pretty big deal (well, smaller deal, but you get the idea).
After that was just hanging out at home for a bit. And here I should mention The Bear.
When Monki was born, or maybe a few months later, dad bought her a stuffed teddy bear. Not just any teddy bear, mind you, but a 53in (1.35m) high bear. We had only seen it via Skype/FaceTime — until we walked into the house in San Diego. Yup, they had brought it with them for Monki to play with. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite take it there (probably a combination of new place, tired from travel, and a lot of people in the house). When we got back to Vegas, though, and the bear was left in the living room by itself… well that was a different story. There, Monki loved it. She played with it, kissed its nose and lay down on the big fluffy arms. That bear was her new best friend!
Later in the afternoon, the folks went off to Faye’s for a July 4th BBQ and we went off to hang out and have dinner with my friends Matt and Diana. It was so nice to just chill, talk about movies and writing and comic books (and Monki got to play with their cat, which she enjoyed much more than the cat did!)
Driving home, we got to see all the fireworks of the city – a beautiful display!