So, on the last day of my vacation, I spent the day driving around with the top down in a rented convertible with a handy temperature gauge that said "It's a fiery 105 degrees out here, bitches," in what I imagine to be a sultry, husky, too-many-cigarettes voice.
Maria and I tasted many, many wines and swooned in the heat and bought ourselves lovely, floppy sun-hats. I was more happy than one should be about my sun hat. But it's made out of ribbons! And it is so very oversized and SPF 50!
This was key, as we refused to put the top up on our convertible. Because, bitches, we had a convertible!
Okay, anyhow, I started this entry with the fetching photograph above, wherein AnneVan is enjoying the dinner show at the crazy restaurant we pilgrimaged to in the middle of the Redwoods.
Those crazy kids up there are doing a barely-choreographed dance to "Take it to tha House" . It involved a lot of fake-slapping-your-own-butt moves and looks of concentration as they counted one-two-three-four moving their lips and twirling about. It was super loud.
AnneVan showed up after work in my hotel room, me fresh from the shower washing off the grime from a day of being buffeted by the hot winds of Sonoma, sipping my eightieth glass of wine. I've noticed that when you drink wine steadily for many many hours, you stop being drunk and start being something else. More Italian, maybe. Expansive in gesture and generous in spirit.
Anne said, "Let's take a drive, go get some food at this yummy place in the Redwoods."
We got in the car, put the top down, and got on the highway, blasting music and barely talking. Anne marveled at the fact that it's so open! And exposed! And Ohmigod!
The wind worked its way around our shoulders and necks, it tousled our hair with invisible fingers and batted us around the head with a pleasing, soft violence.
We felt ourselves leaving the cool cocoon of San Francisco, out into the warmer, dry air of the mountains. We smelled lavender, sweet hay, crisp green scent of pines. We sang pop songs and consulted maps.
Eventually, we found ourselves winding through massive redwood trunks, ears popping from a long, slow climb into the mountains. I leaned forward and gripped the wheel, squinting and accelerating into tight curves. Anne sat up straighter next to me, leaning into each turn as if she could help me steer.
She said, "We're entering Ben Lomand, it's a town with only one stoplight."
I said, "Ben Lomand, that sounds like the name of a kid maybe you went to grade school with. Remember Ben Lomand? Skinny, pale kid? Mop of blonde hair in a bowl cut? Did he have braces? Anyway, he used to shoot rubberbands at me during math class. Jerk."
We passed the single stoplight in Ben Lomand and we ended up here. She hadn't warned me we'd be going to an amusement park/restaurant in the midst of absolutely nowhere, but I should have known. This is Annevan we're talking about. My partner in spontaneous absurdity.
I said, "Anne, there's a powerpuff girl on the roof! point to her and I'll take a picture!"
She's so accommodating.
We were entertained by the entertainment, and later, serenaded in a striking karaoke rendition of "Ring of Fire" by our twenty-nothing hipster/surf boy waiter.
We drank wine and ate pasta and finished with cappuccinos.
Then we got back in the car and wound our way down to Santa Cruz, where we hit the boardwalk. I felt like I had just stepped onto the set of the Lost Boys. Suddenly, everyone around us seemed as if they had been hairsprayed back into the late eighties, dressed in bright colors, slightly seedy and possibly hiding knives under their windbreakers.
I made Annevan ride this rollercoaster, even though she doesn't like roller coasters. Luckily, she bends to peer pressure, and we stood in line with all the teeny boppers and whispered, "we're the oldest ones here," to each other.
Riding roller coasters is best at night, when any menace seems more pronounced, even the ones we inflict on ourselves for fun. We thrilled ourselves, laughing and screaming at the same time.
We wanted to ride the pirate ship, but by then it was midnight, and the boardwalk was shutting down as we walked its length. Lights shut themselves off behind us, taffy stands and hot dog vendors rattled their cages shut, locked for a few more hours before they would sell sugar and sulfites under the sun the next day.
We returned to the car, fighting sleepiness, and drove through the night back to the city. Anne sat with her head on the headrest, staring up at the huge canopy of stars while we blasted Sleater Kinney, screaming along to the IMAGE OF CORIN!! Cause we gotta rock!
And I went back to my cozy hotel bed to sleep a few hours before my long flight and bleary airport day.