Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Parents!

My folks were born two days apart. March 24 and 26, some, uhhh, several years ago.

We decided to take them to a nice dinner, at a wonderful restaurant, so I made reservations at Amber, which is really nice, and the food is good, and all of that. Very parents'-birthday appropriate. Except that there is absolutely nothing appropriate about Santana Row.

We should have had plenty of time, but it took like 20 minutes to get to the strip mall (yes, San Jose, that is still a strip mall!) from the freeway, which is only like 3 blocks. It occured to me that this is what car people experience as the norm? I have no idea how they have the patience for it.
Once in the faux-urban strip mall, we spent another 30 minutes going up, and then down the two or three levels of the parking garage, not even to the top because I declared it bullshit, and proclaimed that there wouldn't be parking there either. Then "let's just valet the damned thing!"
But the valet was full.
Thankfully, we went in the Prius, so we felt quite smug that as we sat through stop and go traffic, we weren't burning gas. Smugness trumps all!

And then gave up on Amber.
Santana Row can rot to hell, for all I care. What a dump. I declare it Disneyland's bad vision of a city. I live in a city, I know what it looks like. There's less traffic, for one thing.

And found ourselves, for our fancy occasion with our dearly-honored parents, at... the Elephant Bar! (well, at least it wasn't Denny's)
We did get candles in their desserts and sing to them. Does that make it better?

Sorry, parents, you deserve much better. I had no idea that shithole stripmall would be such an attraction to everyone else! It seemed like a good idea when I made the reservations?

Saturday my dad went off to a train party (raucous fun) and so my mother, my sister, my Hott Boyfriend, and I went to Alum Rock Park, where I spent many a day as a child. Alum Rock Park is the place where we had Day Camp and other events as Girl Scouts, visited the park and Youth Science Institute with our elementary schools, probably had a few birthday parties, etc. I spent a lot of time there since my mom was the organizer of several such events and as such, my entire family would be there. My grandfather got poison oak in his eye one year at Girl Scout camp, when he was the leader of the boy's unit. We would put watermelons in the creek to keep them cold for the afternoon. We would keep our old shoes with holes in them and go creekwalking, letting the algea and waterspiders squish around between our legs and toes. At the YSI, we'd visit owls and snakes, and if they had time, they'd gather the kids in a large circle and let a ferret out in the middle for us to see. I remember evacuating a few troops of girls out of the playground at the YSI area once when a mountain lion came down near the playground. And of course the many times we'd stick our heads into the mineral springs and baths to wrinkle our noses and imagine why in the heck some people thought it would be a good idea to drink it or soak in it.

It's a wonderful place, in short. And I hadn't been back as an adult.

We got sandwiches and had a little picnic with a red robin, some blue jays, several squirrels, and some sort of heron or crane. Then we went for a little hike, which turned into a somewhat decent hike when we decided to go up to the South Rim trail. I think it must have been about 3 miles, the first being a switchback ascent, followed by a beautiful view over the canyon and into the San Jose valley. There were many critters, including a lizard which had lost most of its tail, fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillars, a deer, and several birds of prey. The only downer to this trail was the outrageous amount of poison oak. I've never seen so much poison oak, with such healthy leaves. It had completely taken the trail, such that you had to wiggle under and around it to avoid it.

We felt quite pleased with our hike and finished Saturday night at the Rockbottom Brewery, where some waiter insulted me by describing a beer as being IPA-like (it wasn't, it was more like a Belgian) and taking five minutes to warn me how strong it was. What. Ever. Bring me the damn beer, bubba. At some point I started talking about elephants and Paul tried to take my beer away. Feh. Anyway, it was like a poor interpretation of a Belgian, and just really not all that.

We came home and found that my dad's train party had not landed him a night in the slammer, and shared some port and chocolate.

It is so nice to have my sister around now. Where she used to always scurry off after whatever planned activity had brought her, she now gets to hang out and do fun stuff with us, or boring stuff, as it sometimes may be. I really enjoy her company. I'm so happy for her!

Sunday morning we jump started Paul's bike off of mine and made it back to Berkeley just in time to meet up with Paul's mom for breakfast (breakfast #2 at this point) She had to hurry off to prepare for some great adventure. So we took advantage of the afternoon to hike down to "downtown" Berkeley. Fortunately, there is a restaurant called "Downtown" there so you know when you're "downtown." After some beer and Irish food (?) at Becketts, we finally saw Pan's Labrynth before heading home. Dark movie. I enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, Monday had to come, and ruin everything. Feh.

This coming weekend, we will probably go to the hillclimbs at Carnegie. Dusty Beers!

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