So much for keeping up with BEDA this year, April ended up being much busier than I ever imagined it could be with the start of new projects, new adventures and a few other curveballs thrown in for good taste.
This past weekend I headed off to northern California for a fly-and-drive holiday, which until the Wednesday before I left, was a cluster of unfinalized plans. Originally planned from Thursday till Monday, the final trip ended up being a much abbreviated version only lasting from Friday to Sunday. However, the trip was not abbreviated in the fact that in those mere 53 hours I managed to cover 715 miles and survive on 9 hours of sleep.
It all started on Thursday evening, heading out for a night on the town following Boulder Beta (tech meetup) knowing well that I already had set my alarm from 5:30am the next morning. Crawling under the covers a just past 1am, I already knew it was going to be a long and eventful weekend. On Friday morning, after hitting snooze one too many times due to me only getting three hours sleep, I ended up missing the airport bus and had to drive to the airport. I managed to make it through the little bit of rush hour traffic that was forming at that early hour without much issue thankfully. Then at security I made friends with the group in front of me, entirely because of the obnoxiously bright stripped socks that I chose to wear that day, forgetting the fact that you have to partially strip whenever you decide to fly somewhere. I thankfully made it there early enough to grab a coffee before I boarded the flight where I spent more of the time sketching out some ideas and occasionally resting my eyes on the short flight to Sacramento.
Upon landing I realized that I had never actually flown into Sacramento before, even tho I have driven through the city at least a few hundred times in my life. Finding the rental car shuttle I got to enjoy one of the many perks I have received for all of my travels, elite status with a rental car company. Having decided to make this trip as cheap as possible I got the cheapest and therefore smallest rental car that I could find. Nonetheless, as I walked down the row finding my name on the digital board placed above a parking spot, I was happily surprised to see that I was actually given a little Toyota sports car. Not only had I gotten a nicer car, but it happened that I also got a car with satellite navigation installed, allowing me to pass at least some of the miles pressing lots of buttons and making the car talk (I ended up calling her Sally).
It was then finally time to get on the road, so I headed out north towards Marysville to see my friend Christine. After my last road trip where no segment was under 300 miles, it was nice to only drive about 70 miles before I was able to get out of the car and do some activity. It was fun seeing Christine and we ended up talking about lots of random things before I headed back northbound to Redding after a quick two hour.
Once again it was a nice short hop up to Redding where I met up with Sarah as she was leaving classes on Friday afternoon. After hug attacking each other in the parking lot we dropped off my things at her apartment before heading out on an adventure to see what Redding had to offer. Meandering the town, I realized that I am lucky to live somewhere that has a life after 6pm as most of the shops in Redding, minus a few places, were already shuttered. We ended up talking over me eating a salad from a random vegan cafe off the main street until they closed at 9pm. At that point we headed over to the Sundial Bridge, which happened to be one of the busier places in town and took some pictures and frolicked around some more. Finally, exhausted we headed back to her house where I was so tired that I could not sleep and ended up watching bits of Mr and Mrs Smith over and over, getting only a few hours at best in the end.
The next morning I dragged myself out of bed and bid adieu to Sarah before starting to head westbound towards the coast. The drive from Redding to Arcata is one of the curviest and longest drives I had ever driven on, going almost 200 miles up multiple river gorges and over various passes as it cuts its way over the Coastal Range. While it’s beautiful, the continuous focus, concentration and trying not to get sick took its toll already on my weary self. The drive was made a bit more fun this time because I was in a little sports car. Sadly, it was automatic transmission so I could not go all out in the really curvy sections (and I did not get any insurance for it). However, just before 1pm the coast came into view and it was only a few more minutes till I arrived at my brother’s house.
It was steadily drizzling in Arcata, like it does for more than half the year, while I parked my car and met up with my brother. I always wondered how he put up with all the rain after moving away from Colorado, I don’t think I could do it myself. While we had plans for the evening, the afternoon was open and we decided to head up the Pacific Coast Hwy (which I drove 400 miles of last month), to the next small town called Trinidad. Up there we watched surfers and walked on the beach in the rain, before wandering over to the marine biology lab my brother will be working at next year. We then headed back down towards Arcata and went frisbee golfing in the rain, with me beating my little brother by one stroke and ending up soaking wet.
Back at his house I met his fraternity brother and housemates and talked with them for a few hours while they played various video games, drank and watched Top Gear. Then it was time to head out to the party that I was informed about when I called my brother the night before asking if I needed to bring anything special. While he said there was a dress-up party, I brought along a simple button up shirt while they all donned suits and/or ties. Nonetheless, we headed over to what I would later find out was a birthday party for a girl named Katie which was themed Mulon Rouge. What it actually meant was that all the guys were properly dressed while all the girls were wearing lingerie. It was quite the party as I tried to meet as many people as possible, always having to make sure I said ‘actual’ brother, so they did not think I was in the frat. I ended up staying pretty sober, knowing well that bright and early the next morning I had to be back on the road again. Finally getting a ride home I rolled out my sleeping bag again on my brother’s bed curled up in it just past 3am, the yelling of taunts on Halo and Warcraft filtering in from the living room still.
Startled by my alarm just past 8:30am, I wandered my way to the bathroom to start getting ready. Surveying the damage, it was quite the sight to see. At some point my brother had made it onto the other half of the bed, there was someone else sleeping in his chair, a half-naked girl was on the sofa in the living room and some other person was sitting on the chair in the middle of the bathroom. I managed to get myself together and arouse my brother enough to give him a proper goodbye, and then headed back out into the morning mist for the drive back.
Once again the winding road seemed to drag on for hours, between turning corners, accelerating past slow drivers and passing through small towns who’s populations are smaller than the elevation at which they sit. Then it was on the interstate for the second half of the drive, at which point I was well ahead of schedule and thankfully would have no problem making my flight. Detouring for a bite to eat at In-n-Out and a wander around Ikea, I finally made it to the airport right on-time and jumped back on my flight to Denver. Landing just before 10pm, I managed to make it home about an hour later and collapsed in exhaustion, realizing that work started all over again in just eight short hours.
And with that, 95 days in to 2011, I completed my fifth trip of the year.