Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's more about the CONTENT than the MILESTONE

My favorite photo of the trip. 
Sooooo TODAY is my 20th Wedding Anniversary and I feel nothing.  I see that as a testament to my marriage, actually.  I don't feel a sense of accomplishment, or sentimental, or terrified or any of the other typical feelings that wedding anniversaries conjure up.  Is that BAD?  I think it's GOOD.  You know why?  Because I have been married for 20 years, that's why.

I mean, are you supposed to CONGRATULATE yourself?  Congratulate your partner for putting up with you?  Should you view it as crossing a finish line, only to keep running?  I don't understand.

Don't get me wrong, I have TOTALLY begun researching the restaurant I want to go to tonight and looked at the menus on Open Table.  Now THAT is something I can really get behind.  I just feel, well, SILLY about celebrating this milestone anniversary and I can't for the LIFE of me figure out WHY.  So, I will just use this post to analyze my feelings, rather then pay a therapist or take meds.  Your welcome. But, do not misunderstand me, I anticipate using my new 20 year marital status for the next year, and ALREADY have used it, to get a better room or table or sympathy, or whatever I can get out of it, because believe me, Brad will.

Now, my Mom would be ALL OVER THIS.  She literally watched our wedding video more times than I am willing to admit, and hosted more viewing parties than I will even allow myself to THINK about.  I imagine that my Dad is celebrating the fact that I never moved back in with him in the last 20 years, or that he had to pay for maybe two MORE weddings in that time.

I think if we were getting on a jet plane to some exotic island tonight, instead of getting in the back of a smelly Uber cab on it's way to the Short North, I would be a little more inclined to be excited, but then I would really just be excited about the VACATION and the possible upgrade, more than the milestone, itself, you know?

It feels like we are celebrating Sweetest Day or something.  It feels forced and abbreviated.  You see, Brad and I took a vacation along Hwy 1 last summer that I considered our anniversary trip because I just KNEW that we would not be able to get away right now and I wanted to use my imaginary upgrade powers.

But, NOW we have booked a trip for the end of January to celebrate our anniversary, and quite frankly, it feels the way it feels when I buy myself a Christmas present early, while I am supposed to be shopping for others, and I end up wearing it or using it because I need it BEFORE Christmas and then I ask for something entirely different for Christmas, as if my holiday indiscretion never happened.

I just LOVE that feeling.  I just find that special cocktail of guilt mixed with anticipation so intoxicating.

So, if I am rationalizing, is today just a technicality... until January, or should we reminisce about California?

I chose the former.  Why look back?  Even if I DID get an upgrade.  I mean, what if the Upgrade Gods do not shine down upon me in January?  That is a very REAL scenario and one that I shall use to justify my assholery.

You know what?  I chose BOTH.  I say we wax nostalgic about Hwy 1 today, and then anticipate the future tonight, so we have something other to look forward to than our three daughters and I cycling (menstrual not Pelatonia) together one day. That is the answer.  There we go.  Therefore, we should NOT go to a fancy restaurant, and just get appetizers at like Applebee's or something, and then I don't have to wash my hair.  Done.

I'm just fucking with you.  You know me better than that, Brad.  Cool Girl vanished when you put a ring on it - the original GONE GIRL, if you will.

Alright, let's talk about Hwy 1 and how much fun it was.  The older I get, the more I like to DO things on vacation, rather than just CHECK OUT, like I used to, when the kids were little.  I think that goes hand in hand with cross body bags and wearing "dress" flip flops instead of heels to dinner.  It's a slippery slope to fanny packs and orthotics.

ANNYYYWAY, Brad and I drove from L.A. to San Francisco, and it was my favorite vacation the two of us have taken to date.  We have always vacationed well together because as Brad says I "become a COMPLETELY different person".  I guess I should take offense to that, and I would, if I hadn't been married to him for 20 years.  Gone Girl also possessed sensitivity, which has since been replaced with a hardened cynicism lens I view everything though, including myself. At least I'm still laughing, I guess.

Now, this began as a "Work Trip" so we attended the National Swim Championships in Irvine.  Guuurrrll, it was outdoors and was the "perfect" venue for that event.  Currently obsessed with Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin.  Check them out.  Fun Fact:  it is an unspoken courtesy that the officials wait for Michael Phelps to do his "butterfly arm slapping ritual" before they begin any race he is in.

Ok, so we began in L.A. and ate lunch at The Ivy on a Friday.  Of course, we were early, because we are OLD, and all of the starlets don't eat lunch until like 2pm, so all WE witnessed were smarmy Eurotrash, big haired Texans in their latest Louis Vuitton finery, and lonely Cougars bubbling over at the Mimosa Bar.  I was in HEAVEN.

Oh, and the whole time we are sitting there, we played, "Who would you want to see here?" and then Brad kept breaking in with preposterous sightings of antiquated "B" celebrities.  "Oh my Gawd, I just saw Tom Selleck walk out of the bathroom!" or "You just missed it, Cindy Lauper just left in a limo!"
Raspberry Rhubarb cocktail.  Soooo yummy.  And reasonable.  That is, if you think blowing your wad on one drink is sensible.  No.  No thank you.  No lunch.  Just more bread.  Thanks.  We're from the Midwest.

Next, we stayed at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.  It is by far the nicest hotel that I have EVER stayed at.  Loved EVERY minute.  At check in we were behind a very posh, but harried, emaciated mother, who asked very loudly, "Ummm, where's the nearest liquor store and pharmacy?"

We stayed at 6 hotels total in a 7 day period. I repeated that line at EVERY check-in. 

Anyway, we received an upgrade to their corner suite as a surprised Brad looked on as I announced our 20th anniversary stay.

Ummmm. where's the nearest absinthe grotto and hash dispensary?

The following day we had the longest leg of our trip from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara along Hwy 1.  We had a long stretch of highway in which I was not allowed to urinate or eat, and although it was scenic and I took a lot of pictures, I was convinced the entire time that I was just marinating in a urinary tract infection. I mean, instead of water boarding, the US government should just make a suspected terrorist informant go on a road trip with my husband.  I would have SUUNNNGGG like a canary, I was so physically uncomfortable in that car. I would tell anyone my deepest darkest secrets.  Hell, I would make shit up, like this blog.

Oh my Gawd, I've got to pee.

That whale sighting makes me want to pee.  Must have been the blow hole.

My eyesight is starting to go, I think I'm losing consciousness I have to pee so bad.

Finally, we found THIS Oasis along the coastline, and truly it was one of my favorite memories of the trip. It is called Ragged Point and it served us up some 805 Beer (a San Francisco area code) and grilled chicken, and oh, wait for authentic hippy couple that plays the Sitar or some shit while singing off key, as if they were Peter, Paul and Mary, minus one of the dudes, natch.  Enjoy.

I just LOVES me some bonafied hippies.  I admire how they just COMMIT to the sound and the clothes and the hairstyles.  I wonder at what point in my life I will just decide to stop time, and never buy another new piece of clothing again or cut my hair in a new way.  And what is the precipitating factor in that scenario?  Do I just get SO uncomfortable with progress that I have to hit the Pause button, never to Resume Play again.  In that case, I need to actively participate and analyze what ERA that will be so that it is a conscious decision and not a surrender, you know?  Like, CHOOSE what time period I was happiest and start dressing, speaking, acting and styling my hair accordingly.

Heeerrree we go.  And I know JUST the person who will be willing to give up the Good Fight, right along with me.

Ok, next on to Santa Barbara.  I loved The Square.  We stayed at a boutique hotel called The Canary Hotel. The decor was right out of Anthropologie.  Here is a sample.  I think if I had to do it over, I would have stayed in Big Sur one night, instead, and hiked, but you just have to make choices on a vacation like this and take notes, you know? Your welcome, hookers.
This is about the only space that wasn't hijacked by the wedding party there, at the risk of sounding like a Trip Advisor Troll. Cute hotel, though, and great rooftop pool. Santa Barbara is too interesting to spend all day at the hotel, though.

My favorite place on the trip, hands down, was Carmel.  We stayed two nights and my favorite night was at Clint Eastwood's place, Mission Ranch.  It is little more than a renovated Motel, just outside of town that overlooks a sheep ranch with a tiny inlet in the background.  The restaurant is exquisite and boasts an extensive wine list (it's California, peeps) and several unpretentious candlelit fireplaces on it's veranda, while hosting an equally unaffected karaoke session comprised of local retirees and a live piano accompanist, after sunset.  Of course I participated in both.  One of the best nights I have ever had, hands down, because it was completely fresh and unexpected. I mean, who could predict that they would be singing Elvis to a crowd of elated seventy-year-olds when they are getting dressed for the evening?  Not me.  And not Brad, I assure you.  Or maybe he did.  After all, we HAVE been married 20 years.
Karaoke.  They took it seriously, y'all.  You betta bring your A game, if the music is live.

One of the outdoor fireplaces.  Subtle and beautiful.

Also, I came across this little gem on the patio, which is clearly the inspiration for Garth on Wayne's World.  He was dining with his elderly mother, and would repeatedly become exasperated with her when she would feign self consciousness while taking photos of the sheep herd.  "Be yourself, Mother!  Christ!  Who CARES what other people think!"  Word. He's a little time capsule unto himself, now, isn't he?
Mother can be so irritating. 

While in Carmel, we hung out at the beach, ate and drank and shopped a little.  I just fell in LOVE.  I GET the hype about California now because of my experience there.  Mission Ranch is not to be missed and it is reasonably priced compared to everything else in the area with just a fraction of the ambiance.

I cannot end this trip without showing you this INSANE video that we encountered on the leg from Carmel to San Francisco.  We got off Hwy 1 and went 101, so that we could make better time.  And then THIS happened.

This cop came out of NOWWHERE and began swerving wildly in mild traffic for like TEN minutes, across four lanes.  When I googled "Why is a cop swerving across all lanes of traffic", because Brad and I assumed that it was some "freaky deaky Cali thing", and this was the first entry on Google, and I am NOT paraphrasing.

Answer:  "Common practice. Usually indicates a situation ahead.  Sometimes it means the cop is high, but not usually."


Well, the swerving officer just exited the highway with zero fanfare, nor explanation.  My money is on midday bong hits.

Finally, we arrived in San Francisco.  We stayed at another boutique hotel there called The Mystic.  The room was typical and really unexceptional, but the bar was amazing.  The bartenders are "mixologists" and the atmosphere is pure San Francisco = COOL.
I don't always drink Bourbon as a night cap, but when I do, it's usually something REALLY expensive and prepared by a mixologist.

The Highway 1 trip was a trip of a lifetime.  I hate to use the term "Bucket List" because that is morbid and implies that I will never do it again.  In truth, there are so many VERSIONS a person can do of this trip.  One could do low budge and stay at motels along the coast or even camp in some spots.  OR you could do an extremely HIGH END version where you begin your trek at the Chateau Marmot, then Shutters on the Beach (Casa Del Mar's sister hotel), La Playa in Carmel, Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur and finish up at the St. Regis San Francisco.  This is not even touching on Silicon Valley, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Malibu and the like.

My recommendation is just to DO IT and do it with your Bae, because any vacation with kids is just a completely different experience no matter WHERE you go.  This trip, like marriage, is just living moment to moment and appreciating the unexpected vignettes you string together as you look forward to the future.  As much as I loved the Casa del Mar corner suite, I think I was happiest finally relieving myself at The Ragged Point and then drinking a cold beer whilst ingesting half a roast chicken.

As a side note, I recently realized this is my 200th post.  In my mind, this is met with the same ambivalence as my anniversary, for it is not the milestone that should be celebrated, but the content. The jury is still out on that one, as far as I'm concerned.

This picture makes me have to pee.
He just LOVES it when I think I am taking a picture and it's a video.

This your first time at The Ivy?  I come here every Friday for the mimosa bar.  You look like a Pisces, no?

Happy Anniversary, Brad.  I think tonight's dinner will be EPIC because I'm gonna be married to you tomorrow, and the day after that.  Thank you for the content.  It's not perfect.  We're not always on vacation when it happens, but it's OURS and we built it and I'm proud of that.

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