First off, let me apologies for the lack of family photos. Honestly I did take 200+ pictures while down there, but I do not have permission to post anyone's pictures and I do not want to invade their privacy. Not everyone wants to be on my blog. (I don't know why I am such fun LOL)
My father had just happened to mention in passing that he was going to CA to his sister's 80th birthday party in Santa Rosa, CA.
He was sold as a baby and his life story got separated from his large Italian family. He found them in 1965, and in 1972, we traveled down and met them. I was 7 years old and have vivid memories of the large warm family that looked like me. Of a whole society of people who laughed and love with a passion that I don't see very often.
Not working gave me the chance to jump at the chance and ask if me and Hansolo could hitchhike down with him.
Turns out he was riding with one of my brothers. Who graciously agreed to pick up two hitchhikers. Hansolo and I grabbed out towels and the current Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and we took off on an adventure.
She didn't want to go. She moped and grumbled for days before. I told her. "listen, when the V____'s go on road trips, they are filled with laughter and adventure, you WILL have a good time, trust me!"
"I'm not a V____, I am Russell." she adamantly declared.
This made me laugh inside. "Oh trust me little one, you will find your inner V_____. Beside you are a writer, writers need adventures to fuel their minds."
Par fro the course after a few hours of driving and laughing we got to our motel. Which looked like it has withstood a few zombie invasions. There was a large group of men with a make shift distillery a few rooms down. My dad was hesitant to leave us there. But I loved it. You can take me to all the fancy motels you want....they bore me. I am a writer...I want to stay in the places where the doors have light showing through the cracks when they are closed. The ones where the neighbors will feed my imagination. This place fit the bill! We had to have maintenance come fix the TV, he was a character looking for some writer to scoop him up and put him in their novel.
We started off that evening taking Hansolo to a bar. Chili's to be exact. The wait to sit in the restaurant was long so we sat in the bar. The food was WONDERFUL and Hansolo was instantly addicted. That's how my brother rolls...hooks us on restaurant that are no where close to our hometown.
Near 9pm the neighbor began cat calling from his window to the units opposite of us.
"HEY, HEY I CAN SEE YOU IN THERE IN YOUR UNDERWEAR! LOOKING GOOD MAMA!!"
Hansolo: is he talking to us mama?
Hansolo: how do you know?
me: cause I'm not wearing underwear
Brother and Daddy had told us the night before they would pick us up at 8:30. So naturally they arrived at 7:30.
OMG, I have gone a road trip with morning people...what have I gotten myself into?
Breakfast at IHOP was good, until I went into the bathroom and found this.
What the hell? California has built in anal-probing devices? Did I accidently order the poo-poo platter? Guess I shouldn't have lied at the bug station when I said I had no fruit or vegetables with me, I didn't know I would have to submit to a rectal exam.
Off we go to the Winchester mystery house. I highly recommend this place, it was FANTANSTIC!! I have no pictures of the inside because movie company is going to be filming in there shortly and has the copyright to all the photographs.
BWAHahaha! you didn't think I was going to follow the rules did you? the above is the down staircase to go up. I snapped the picture and Hansolo starts going..."THEY SAID NO PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE, YOUR NOT SUPPOSE TO TAKE PITURES!"
sss-shush up little tattle tale. I'm not taking a picture of the house, I'm taking a picture of the GHOAST there on the steps.
Not being able to take pictures of the fantastical crystal stain glass inside, we had to resort to posing in the bathrooms in those windows.
Sara Winchester has a thing about the number 13. There are examples of it all though her house. 13 panels, 13 bathrooms, 13 crystals in the windows, 13...13...13....
So when we came to the do the outbuilding/basement tour, our guide counted heads and came up with 13. He shook his head in disbelief and chuckled, "of course its 13"
So are you chaps there going to hike to the center of the golden gate bridge and toss that pole off to try and sink the boats in the bay?
Rainbow tunnel. Didn't know it was going to take us to a magical place...shortly after that we hit bumper traffic and we slowed to a crawl. The Sat-map cheerfully informed us:
"A shorter route is available. turn right in 500 feet."
Sure why not.
3 seconds later....
We are off the main road taking the Craigslist killer's detour.
I was waiting for Sat-map to say, "in 400 feet , dig your own grave." but she routed us back onto the highway.
We had just enough time to check Brother and Daddy into the motel before we headed to the party.
There were trolls in his bed when got there.
(insert 123 party pictures)
When we walked in it was an unending hug. 42 years slipped away and it felt like I had come back home.
It was fantastic. Family, food, fun and photos.
It didn't take Hansolo but a heart beat to get intouch with her V___ genes.
(insert 67 pictures of her playing with her family.)
"Mama I like these wild people! I am so glad I came to California!"
"Thought you were a Russell." I kid her.
She ponders this for a second. "Maybe I am a V____-Russell."
"See I told you would find your inner V____-ness!"
As the party wound down we departed with my cousin A.
Now I say cousin, because its waaaay to confusing to figure out what the actual label would be. We don't waste time with labels. The V____ line is long.
Walking into her house was like stepping back into time and finding myself at the farm again. Yes. for the second time that day it was like coming home.
We stayed up talking and way after midnight we all crashed.
3:30 we were awoken by the three story apartment building shaking the shit out of us. My mind snapped awake OH YES!!! JACKPOT! THE FULL MONTY OF A CALIFORNIA TRIP - EARTHQUAKE!!
I leap up to go wake up Hansolo so she wouldn't miss it.
She was still awake and we sat there rocking and rolling. Then watched the dry lightening in the distance for a bit before we all returned to bed.
We got up at the ungodly hour of 9:00 am.
Reluctantly said our goodbyes and hit the road to home.
We were 20 miles from the epicenter of the quake. Sat-map had just had its brain scrambled and shifted. Avoiding the damaged roads would add another hour on to our drive.
Which gave us time to squeeze in some more adventures.
The family called to check on us when we were underway.
"Where are you R_____?" my cousin asked.
Stifling laughter my brother responded "Heading into Napa (quake epicenter)"
Laughter on the phone, "figures!"
Life is an adventure little one, grab its hand and let it take you..
To the point that as an adult you will leap and do it all again.
Sat-map: GPS connection lost.
We have no map...the roads have been taken out by a quake. This is a FREAKIN AWESUME TRIP!!! WHOOHOOO!!
and we arrived home to find the menfolk turning themselves into jerky with no open windows in the house or a/c going.
I couldn't wait to hear Hansolo's rendition of the quake to her Dad, so I prompted her. "tell Dad about last night."
"I got to sleep with a dog named Thor. It was fun."
bwahahahah! not one mention of the quake. Way to sum up a wild weekend there kid!
I don't think it will be another 42 years before I go down again.