Barnson California Vacation: Day 3

matthew's picture

For the first time in many, many years, my wife and I are taking a road trip right now. The kids are staying with grandparents for a week and a half, and we decided we wanted to take this time to enjoy one another and take a vacation. We swung through Las Vegas to Bakersfield, and now Santa Cruz. We had a few objectives on this trip: spend as much time together without our kids as we could, and make a memorable trip as cheaply as possible.

To that end, we are driving my Honda Insight. I discovered that -- at 80-90MPH with two people instead of one and a trunk-full of baggage -- my car's usual 50-55MPG plummets to around 32-39MPG. It ramps back up if I'm willing to drive 55 instead of 83, but what's the fun in that?

Las Vegas this time of year can best be described as "hellish". With temperatures regularly above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, people in town rapidly flee from car to air-conditioned casino like they are escaping a downpour. On the positive side, however, I tossed three dollars into the "Megabucks" slot machine, and received six dollars as a winning. That's pretty much the extent of my gambling efforts. Statistically speaking, your chances of winning a one-in-several-million reward aren't much different if you play once or a hundred times.

Our stop in Bakersfield to visit Nash & Timi was uneventful and full of reminiscing and hanging out. Timi, unfortunately, just had an ovary removed a few days ago, so our plans to go out together were squashed due to her recovery. Christy & I finally saw a movie we've planned to see for the last decade or so -- "The American President" -- and had some wonderful Chinese food while marveling at how much our friends' children have grown. I received a few compliments on the changes to my physique as a result of my bodybuilding and diet efforts. I'm still nowhere near where I want to be, but it's a huge ego-boost to have friends you haven't seen for years compliment you on your progress. Nash is into paintball, so we checked out a paintball store and a couple of hobby stores while in town. In truth, Bakersfield is smaller than Salt Lake City, so the experience of little tiny mom-and-pop stores is just about the same as back home.

Then we went five hours north to the mountains of Santa Cruz to visit an online friend named Mario. Mario and Christy met several months ago and quickly formed a friendship based upon their mutual efforts at higher education and vast dissimilarity otherwise. Neither of them seemed to fully believe the lifestyle the other described! But here we are, and despite our cultural differences, we're enjoying our time together. Mario loaned us his RV for three days so that we can day-trip on the cheap to various places around the Santa Cruz/San Jose/San Francisco area. We haven't made any firm plans so far, but at this point hanging out eating freshly-laid chicken eggs and enjoying the fresh mountain air has been great.

I know it's a bit of a travelogue, but I wanted to catch you up on where we are and what we're doing!