Sunday, October 29, 2006

Local Fruits and Nuts
Day 7...the drive home.
All I can say is "Thank Goodness for Daylight Savings Time". Ok, I can say a little more than that. I was very grateful for the opportunity to get an extra hour of slumber in today. I needed it. It didn't help that the rooms all around mine had a wedding today and they were all out in the hall yelling for each other to be ready and to get going. Whoever it was that was getting married, I truly wish them the best and hope they have a wonderful life together...far away from me.
Lyndsey and I loaded up the Gutless Wonder and took off for Orange County. We had just under 400 miles to go, and all the excitement of a wet paper bag to motivate us. But it was a good trip. I have to give Kudos to Lyndsey for putting up with me for a week. She was a real trooper and actually laughed at my stories. It was a lot of fun to get to know her more.
We made two pit stops for bathroom breaks, but other than that, it was a straight shot from the Bay area to Orange County. We talked about how beautiful the landscape would have been without all the smog. I have to say that California has some pretty diverse terrain.
One of the more entertaining moments of the day came as we were driving through part of the HUGE agricultural belt of the Sunshine State, when we saw a very large billboard that said, "Local Fruits and Nuts". Had this billboard been posted in any other state, it could have been taken the wrong way. Fortunately for us, I was able to still take it the wrong way, and fully agree that there are a bunch of weird people around that sell things like dates, apricots, nectarines, cashews, pistachios, etc.
All in all, we logged over 1200 miles in 7 days. We met a lot of very entertaining people. Ate a lot of good food, and I would have to say, built up some memories, (and very calloused behinds, thus pushing us to the ever difficult status of Callipygian), and had a wonderful time.
So until my next trip...remember to never poke a lion in the eye.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

3-D: It’s like it is coming at me!
Day 6- We woke up this fine Saturday morning and decided to try our way into the Bay area. We had been told that the traffic was horrific going into and coming out of San Francisco. However, we were able to get to the Bay Bridge in just under 40 minutes. We crossed over in to Trolley town and drove around (inadvertently because I accidentally got off the freeway) downtown. I love the hills there. It was awesome to see the buildings and Bay and Alcatraz. If any of you have not seen the new commercial for Bravada Television by Sony with the Bouncy Balls in San Francisco, then I HIGHLY recommend that you download it and check it out. VERY cool.
After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and then turning around to head back, we got to talking about engineering feats of man. We wondered what it would be like to be in on the conversation where the engineer, after drawing out his plans for one of those huge freeways that crisscross over each other, or one of the suspension bridges, looks up at everyone and says, “Trust me…it’ll hold.”
After that, we went to lunch at the Macaroni Grill. I really need to try something new there. But I just love the grilled chicken and artichokes in the Scaloppini. We then decided to watch the new release of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 3-D. IT was AWESOME!!! Some 3-D movies aren’t that good. But this one was very cool.
We then concluded the night with the best Fast Start Camp I have ever seen. We had over 50 people there, and every single one was excited and on fire to make a difference.
Tomorrow…we drive home!
Day 5
Welcome to Livermore. Sadly, today’s report is not going to be very exciting at all. We woke up this morning and the most significant thing, besides my television not working, was a major hankering for some hot chocolate. So Lyndsey and I went back to the Country Waffle for breakfast and I ordered my hot chocolate. It was great. Pretty much the majority of the day from that point on was Lyndsey and I driving north to Livermore. We did have the opportunity to see a lot of almond, olive, and pistachio fields. I have to say, California has a lot of agricultural benefits that it offers to the rest of the world.
We got to our hotel and pretty much sat around for an hour or so until we had to get ready for our meeting. We went down to the room, and Mike had already set up all his equipment and had it all ready. All we had to do was introduce him. This was by far one of the greatest opportunity meetings I have ever witnessed. Great meeting. After that, I got some Chili’s Take Out and enjoyed the wonders of Basic Cable while graduates from the AAA Child Safety Course partied the evening away with watered down liquor and random people walking through the lobby. Long Live the AAA.

Friday, October 27, 2006

To Tree or Not To Tree…that is the question.

Day 4. I forgot to put down one of the coolest parts of what happened yesterday. For those of us who are TN-ites, you will be familiar with a guy named Louis who won a brand new BMW last March. Well he was at our meeting last night, and after the meeting, he let Lyndsey drive it. We went for a good long ride. It was VERY cool.
Today’s adventure didn’t really have any of the cuisine capers that we have experienced thus far. Waking up with a hankering for real breakfast food, we sought throughout the entire village of Visalia for a good breakfast nook. We found it at a place called Country Waffles. The food was pretty decent; however, they struggled with the concept of Over Medium eggs.
After breakfast we took a drive up the canyon to go to Sequoia National Park. However, at the door of the gateway to some of the largest trees in the world, we were told that with the construction going on, it would take several hours to see anything worthwhile. So we decided not to tree. We headed back into town and went to the movie “The Departed”.
I am in agreement with my brother-in-law that this is a great movie, but the original was better. For those who may be unaware of obscure Japanese movies, “The Departed” is actually a remake of a Japanese film. The story lines are very similar with only a few small changes. If ever you have the chance to watch the original, by all means, do it.
Our meeting tonight was excellent. The group of IPCs we are working with here in Visalia had a fire in their eyes that I have not seen in a very long time. I am excited to see what happens here in this the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Day 3
Well Split My Peas!

For today’s adventure, I have to give Kudos out to Adrienne and her advice to check out two small towns on the coast, Solvang the Danish Capital of America and Buellton, home of Split Pea Anderson’s.
Our first sojourn of cuisine was in the small town of Solvang. If EVER you are just north of Los Angeles and you are driving the 101 up the coast, (a beautiful drive by the way), you simply must take the time to go see this little part of Europe in America. The entire downtown has been structured and built to mimic towns found across Holland and other European countries. I searched high and low for some Viking helmets with horns and everything, but sadly I had to settle for an apple Danish.
After getting dessert, we went for the main course at Split Pea Andersons. This was a very entertaining little eating establishment, whose main moniker is a cartoon sketch (done, we later learned, by a real, true life Disney Trained Cartoonist), of two chefs, Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee. Hap-Pea is a robust and jolly man holding a very large mallet poised to strike. Pea-Wee is a much smaller chum who is timidly grasping a large chisel over the top of a very miniscule pea. Lyndsey and I went for broke and got the “Traveler’s Meal”. This is all-you-can-eat Split Pea soup, with a shake. We got chocolate. The pea soup was excellent, but got even better when I added their special seasoning. (One of the main ingredients was Red Pepper, how could it go wrong? Oh yeah and lactose.) Two thick and hearty thumbs up.
The rest of the day was pretty much a long sit-down. We were on the road for a good five hours today. However, we found a place, just over the horizon, that I really hope none of you ever have to cross. If desolation hath a place in this world, it would be the valley beyond the 101. A drier landscape I have never seen. It was so destitute that “creepy” could be used to describe the atmosphere.
Parting thoughts: not much humor, but good soup.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Yo Mamma Eats Sushi!

Day two of the Road Trip. Lyndsey decided to make the most of those wee hours of the morning between sunup and noon to go check out the Outlet mall in the area. Apparently it is quite the urban sprawl. She came back most pleased. I, on the other hand, made full use of the “Do Not Disturb” tag and hung it on the door for several hours this morning while I read and watched random game shows. Thank goodness for cable! We had some free time today, so we went to a new movie called “The Prestige”. For those of you who wish to see it, skip to the next paragraph…plot spoiler coming up: It sucks. Ok, maybe that is a bit harsh, and for those of you who know my ambiguous taste on all things media, pretty much hailing anything from The Plain White T’s to Neil Diamond as the greatest thing since The Oneders, you will be happy to know that I actually drew an opinion on this two hour drivel of cinemographic waste. The celluloid that was used to create this plotless tale of revenge, (whose only redeeming factor was the random, but lame, ILLUSIONS), should be put to a far more useful purpose, such as covering for a toilet paper roll for future investments. It was a sad story of two men who fight a constant battle of revenge, only succeeding in the death of not one…but several.
This evening we had one of the greatest Fast Start Camps I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. One IPC in particular, we shall call her Lisa, (Simpsons are on right now), is very excited about the product and the health benefits that she will be able to share with her friends and family.
The climax of this Tuesday in October came from our final meal of the day which was sushi at this fine new establishment called, (and I am not making this up) “Yomamma Sushi”. The food was spectacular as far as sushi goes. It was no Happy Sumo, but then again…that isn’t exactly the benchmark of superior sushi. However, they had one particular roll that was titled, “The Spiderman”. I ordered that just because it was named after a super hero. Overall, I would give this delve into oceanic and Asian cuisine a hearty one raw thumb up. Peace out and check back tomorrow for my review of what is purported to be the greatest Split Pea Soup in the world.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Holy Crap that was a good burger!

So I decided that with all the traveling that I am going to be doing for my company, I am going to keep a blog of all the wiles and adventures that I get to enjoy on the company dime. This first entry comes as Lyndsey and I initiate what could be the first of many Road Trips through the Pacific Region. Our ultimate goal for today is Camarillo, California.
Today I experienced something that can only be described as “Hamburger Nirvana”. Throughout several years of exchanging information about random things found on the Internet, things such as an eBay auction for GOB’s Segway and t-shirts deemed unworthy for infants, (but still made in their sizes), my Brother-in-law Erik sent me what can only be described as the Holy Grail of Beef Cuisine: The Counter.
This quaint little shop on the corner has invoked a whole new revolution in what was once deemed, the common burger. With a myriad of not only toppings, but also types and sizes of burgers and buns, you can create literally thousands of combinations. Wanting to experience the full gambit of what is possible with this cornucopia of options, I chose the following toppings: Horseradish Cheddar, Italian Bleu Cheese, Black Olives, Tomatoes, Fried Onion Strings, Hard Boiled Eggs, Dried Cranberries, Peppercorn Sauce, all on a 2/3rd pound beef patty that was cooked to perfection. Ambrosia is a word used to describe food from Heaven. This was Ambrosia on a Bun. If you are ever in the Santa Monica area, try this place out. I give it two meaty thumbs up.
After leaving Santa Monica, we headed on up to the quaint little villa of Camarillo. This is a tiny little town that is nestled in a valley just north of LA. Beautiful community. However, there was one thing that sent my mind racing. There is a section of town that has a sign that says, “Drive Carefully, Children and Horses at play”. Upon reading this, my mind immediately raced through every feasible scenario in which a child and a horse may interact. It was quite disturbing.
In the end though, in our trusty Mitsubishi SUV which I have dubbed “The Gutless Wonder”, we arrived at our hotel and had our first of three opportunity meetings. It went very well. But again…the burger…that was what it was all about.