Location: Pitchers, Rancho Penasquitos, CA (map)
Miles: 8756.8

Turned the dogs back over to Triska and family (“Has it been two days already?”). Just down the hill from their house is a bar called Pitchers, which they had mentioned before. This is my first time here.

It is a sports bar, but when I arrived for a late lunch all the TV’s (except the lotto monitor) were turned off. I settled in to my chair and studied the menu. I knew it would be a disaster, but when I saw sloppy joes on the menu I knew what I had to do. When I saw the Stone Pale Ale tap I the rest of the equation fell into place. e=mc2, baby. The young woman who took my order was also strikingly attractive, even if she did walk like she was in high heels while wearing sneakers. (“Stick up the ass”, we used to call that.) Quibbling aside, she’s awfully good for looking at, and is friendly and attentive as well. (If you’re in the area and looking for a new place to become a regular, also be aware that she just came in to town from Utah and doesn’t know very many people here yet. It wouldn’t be too hard to stand out over the regulars here. Come to think of it, it’s pretty easy to stand out over the regulars at any bar. I’ll try to get her name for you before I leave.)

But I digress. They were out of sloppy joe goop, So I had a BLT instead. It was pretty good, but not exceptional. I hear the pizzas are pretty good here, and the waitress said the subs are good if you’re hungry (I wasn’t). The TVs are on now, showing pool and poker and Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Which leads me to ask: Is Omaha the new Texas Hold ’em?

Just went on a bathroom run (don’t worry—I washed my hands) and on the way I saw that Grolsch is currently two bucks a pint. Not bad. In the mirror I looked at my clean-shaven-long-haired-pale-lower-faced self and all I thought was “glam”. Maybe it’s time for a haircut. On the way back to my table I learned that my server’s name is Jewell. “Oh, like the singer,” I said. Crap. Can there be anything stupider I could possibly have said? Damn I’m an idiot sometimes. She has a firm handshake. I like that in a girl.

Fresh Prince had given way to that Tim Allen sitcom with the tools, and pool has given way to fishing. One of the other TVs has something that may be “wrestling”, but from over here it’s hard to tell. If MTV still had videos, that’s what I would have guessed. Some guy just caught a wee fish. Damn, that’s some good TV. Much better to watch Jewell. I like the way she holds her fork.

Holed up in an undisclosed location

Triska had her second kid a couple a days ago, so things are pretty crazy over at her house. I thought I would give her a break by finding a dog-friendly place to bring the Spike and Lefty (aka Chico). We got here yesterday evening, and we’ve been holed up here ever since, having a quiet time of it, sharing a bed while all my crap is piled on the other one.

What a large amount of crap it is, too, and how poorly organized. Packing to travel and packing to relocate are very different, and I did a poor job at both. As the tour has gone on, things have deteriorated further. At the start, for instance, I had a suitcase that contained (among other things) the entire contents of my bathroom. When you’re moving it makes sense to pack all that stuff together, but when you’re touring you wind up with a bunch of crap you don’t need. Honestly, almost four months later, I still have no idea what’s in that suitcase. I’m just glad it didn’t cause trouble in customs when I cam back in from Canada. I seem to recall making sure that I didn’t pack any old prescriptions, but I was in a hurry.

I was hoping while here in San Diego to shed Winnebaggo. It’s a pain in the butt. Alas, I’m taking too much electronic hardware across the Atlantic to do without its cavernous proportions. (I assume it is the maximum allowed on an airplane, since all the huge bags are the same size.) I will instead attempt to shed at least one of the lesser bags. I can’t tell you how many shirts I have with me. Dozens, easily. When I thought the tour was going to be shorter and I was going to be shipping a couple of boxes over, I didn’t worry so much about the mix of items I packed. Two pair of long pants, three pairs of shorts, and dozens of shirts, and my whole bathroom. Friggin’ brilliant. I didn’t even use the bathroom stuff when I had a bathroom. (I look at the bottle of cologne – Grey Flannel. Someone told me once she thought I smelled really good while I was wearing that. Most of the bottle is still there, my antifactorysmellintarianism rearing its ugly head.) There was a giant bottle of vitamin tablets in there, and this morning when I dug out the beard trimmer I discovered the lid had come off. I now have 1000 multivitamins bouncing around in my bag.

The pups are oblivious to all this. They just want to chase things and sleep safe and warm under the covers. (The thermostat in this room is, astonishingly, in C. While I applaud this bold move wholeheartedly, it has taken me a while to arrive at a comfortable temperature.) Occasionally we venture out of the room so that the two of us not toilet-trained can urinate in public.

WARNING: The following paragraph falls under the category “I really didn’t need to know that”. If you don’t want to know what you really didn’t need to know, then skip it. You won’t be sorry.

Spike is constipated. The little guy goes into his poop arch for agonizing minutes, staggering around, only dropping a couple of rock-hard nuggets smaller than rabbit pellets for his effort. At least they’re easy to pick up. I think they metamorphosed in his butt.

So you skipped that, right? Believe me, you didn’t miss anything, unless you’re a geologist.

I have repacked now, devoting my backpack to dirty laundry and in the process discovering two more clean socks, which means I don’t have to clean the laundry until tomorrow. Sweet.

New Poll!

Hunt it down and kill it! In the last two days the beard demise lobby pulled off an upset victory after trailing for the entire poll. Therefore, I will be going to Las Vegas clean-shaven. Just when I was starting to like it, too. Maybe I’ll grow it again in Prague.

The new poll reflects the loss of momentum I’ve had on The Monster Within. I know there are several people looking forward to reading it, and hopefully feedback from you guys will give me the boost I need to finish the thing. On the other hand, it will be a much more enjoyable read (i hope) after I fix some obvious problems. (There are whole chapters that have to go. They have their good points but overall don’t add to the story, and in one case there is a major continuity problem.)

So anyway, for those of you out there interested in giving an unfinished work a read, which would you prefer?

All I want to do is write

I’m sitting at the library right now. I came in here hoping there would be wireless Internet access, but there isn’t any at this branch. Down in the Pacific Beach branch they do have it, apparently.

I spent a little while deleting some of the pictures I took on the trip; I’m trying to winnow them down so an online album won’t be too tedious.

What I should be doing is taking care of insurance, repacking my crap, dealing with taxes, and a host of other details. What I will be doing is writing. I did a lot of writing yesterday, and while I suspect that what I did toward the end of the day is iffy at best, it still was a good day. I holed up in a hotel room last night–I wasn’t feeling too social–I just wanted to be alone and write some more. I imagined that there in my little hotel room, writing and presiding over my media empire was a lot like my life in Prague will be. That was an encouraging thought, and should motivate me to get off my ass so I can get moving again, but so far it has just made me want to write more.

Anybody want to take care of a bunch of crap for me?

My Pants

If you’ve ever seen me, you’ve probably seen me in these pants. I’ve been everywhere in them: bars and restaurants, Europe and North America, the beach and jail. I think they’re called cargo pants (at least, that’s what the arresting officer wrote down). They are fairly long for shorts, but fit loosely and work well with boxers. They are covered with pockets, and most of the pockets button shut. They have a drawstring that has allowed the pants to expand even as I have.

Triska bought them for me years ago at a thrift store in Pacific Beach. Two bucks, or something like that. (She’ll remember the exact price she paid for them, even after all these years. She never forgets a bargain.) Sometimes I would be annoyed when she would buy me clothes I didn’t need (my definition of need and hers were very different), but these I took to right away. You can do anything in these pants, from fishing to dancing.

The fact that I have done so much in these pants is also a testament to their durability. Scrambling over rocks, mucking through mud, hauling a halyard on the open sea, or just kicking back on the sofa, these pants have come through with glory. By now a lesser pair would have holes in the pockets where my keys have been driven through the fabric. Other pants would have worn through the seat. Lesser trousers would have lost buttons, but not these. These are the Iron Man of pants, endurance gear harkening back to an era when men were real men, women were real women, and pants were real pants.

Alas, durable and eternal are as different as the Earth and the Universe, and soon it will be time to put these pants out to pasture. The drawstring is frayed; if I’m not careful about how I tie and untie the knot I could find myself having to cut my way out. I’ve already had some pretty close calls in the men’s room. The fabric is getting thin in places and the cuffs are starting to look ragged. While we (my pants and I) were in Catalina things really started to let go. They are still merely scruffy rather than indecent, but it’s only a matter of time now. Hopefully Old Navy still makes this model, and makes them as well as they used to. I like them so much, I’d even buy them new.

Call me Gilligan: The Final Chapter

I awoke to a quiet Two Harbors morning, trying to judge as I looked out the window directly over my head whether the sky was gray with early dawn or gray with clouds. From the rectangle of sky I could see, squinting through myopia, I could not tell. The rectangle was a uniform color that I could imagine turning to blue, but certainly had not yet. There was no direct light falling on the mast where it punctured the rectangle, soaring over my head. None of the other boats had started their diesels to recharge their batteries, so I knew it was before seven. I closed my eyes again and dozed off.

The next time I opened them the sky had not changed. How much time had passed? It might have been five minutes, it might have been an hour. The sky was unchanged. Overcast, then, most likely. I sat up and prarie-dogged, popping my head up out of the window/hatch to look out over the harbor. The sky was a uniform gray; the air was heavy with moisture. I crawled around and made myself presentable above-decks and made my way aft. On the way I stowed the dishes I had washed the previous evening to make room in the galley for the making of tea, then went topside to turn on the propane.

The deck was wet with dew beneath my bare feet, the water smooth, broken only by the wakes of dinghies ferrying the early risers to shore and to showers. Our dinghy joined the morning rush hour with Carol Anne and Pat aboard, leaving me to enjoy the peace of the morning.

My dish-stowing had awakened Gerald despite my best efforts to keep things quiet. There’s just no stacking plates quietly enough to avoid disturbing someone sleeping in the same room. We each secured tea and bagel and went back up topside to sip and munch and not say much, steam from the tea hovering in a cloud over the rim of my mug, while my pants absorbed the condensation on the seat cushion.

Eventually the harbor patrol (all of whom were very friendly and polite) came by and asked when we were heading out; the mooring was reserved for the next night and the boat could show up any time. Our reverie broken, Gerald and I moved about, stowing things, pulling out the safety equipment, and generally getting ready to sail. The the others returned and it wasn’t long before we were under way.

The trip back across was uneventful; in fact I took a nap for some of the trip. There was some nervousness about docking as that was where Pat had broken his wrist—same boat and same slip. After a bit of trouble at the fuel dock (tidal current and other boats made things tricky), Carol Anne piloted the 38 foot Beneteau into the slip like she had been doing it all her life. A sigh of relief, a nice late lunch, and I was back in the car again, stopping in San Pedro to leave Pat and collect the rest of my luggage from their behemoth and then away, east and south down the coast highway, back to San Diego and the adventure of finding a hotel room, as already documented.

On the way I made a couple of wrong turns, one of which led to a photo op. I used the new camera, which has a slightly less streamlined process for getting the pictures into format for posting here. I’ll try to take care of that this evening, and add pics to the entire Gilligan series.

Programming note

I’ll be putting up a new poll as soon as I think of one. Last chance to stuff the ballot box! I’m going to a party later today and the hosts have no idea about my beard. Some of them I know are going to hate it. Somehow that makes me happy.

Any suggestions for the new poll? Yeah, I know, it’s Saturday and nobody goes online over the weekend. I’ll try to come up with something.