Three words: Heirloom Dishwashing Liquid. This fine specimen of liquified soap, with which one might cleanse the scum and villainy off of one's dishes – indeed, both fine china AND...
I have been on VACATION!
Doc and I flew to San Jose, where we stayed with Arushi and Shyamal for a few days at their place in Mountain View. The fires in Big Sur were still burning and there was a lot of smoke in the air. It hung like a pink-brown cloud over everything, and made our eyes sting. We visited the redwood forest in Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, went into San Francisco one afternoon, swam in her pool, did a little shopping, and went out to Napa County and ate at a fantastic place called Greystone Restaurant, run by the Culinary Institute of America, where i had the best piece of fish I have ever eaten in my entire life. It was halibut, pan-fried in olive oil with just a bit of salt and pepper, and probably caught mere hours prior. It was the most amazingly perfect texture all the way through, and served on a bed of morel mushrooms and tiny baby squash, sauteed in butter.
The weather in northern California is fantastic in the summer. I’m afraid that I underpacked for this trip, bringing along mostly tank tops and capri pants, when what I apparently really needed was long pants and sweatshirts!
We hopped aboard an Amtrak train, the “Coast Starlight,” to head up north to Seattle. Train travel is quite enjoyable. It takes longer to get to your destination, but is cheaper and much more scenic, relaxed, roomy, and social than flying. Doc and I rented a small sleeper cabin instead of coach seats, and it was a huge improvement over our last train trip ten years ago, when Doc had a severe case of the flu in coach. The room was tiny, barely wider than the width of a seat, but we could shut the doors and fold down two beds and the privacy was worth every penny. Plus, all meals are included in the price of the room, and although the food was not awful (certainly better than you might expect on a train), the a la carte meal prices were quite inflated. We would have easily spent more than the cost of the room upgrade on meals alone, had we traveled in coach!
The route along the coast is very scenic and beautiful, especially through Oregon. The train huffs and puffs its way along the side of mountains through all this gorgeous countryside. You really can’t beat morning sunlight sparkling down on a glittering mountain stream hundreds of yards below, and rocky rapids surrounded by tall fir trees.
The train was three hours late getting into the station in Seattle (11:30 at night!) because, sadly, someone had a heart attack on board the night before and the train had to stop in the middle of nowhere in California to wait for the Careflight helicopters to arrive. We also had numerous electrical problems onboard that resulted in the lights going out every now and again — this is especially inconvenient when you are using the tiny airplane-style bathroom, which has no windows.
A late train wouldn’t normally be that big of a problem, except that my mom and dad had arranged to pick us up at the station and drive us back to their house… two and a half hours away. By the time we got to their place it was nearly 2 a.m. I was so tired from having barely slept on the train the night before, I just fell right into bed and don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.
I’m really tired now, in fact… I’m going to post some photos and then write more about the vacation later!