Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Trip That Almost Wasn't

I almost didn't go. I almost said "no" to No. Cali. After all, I'd finally started enjoying myself in LA, having moved into a rhythm working with my dad on the film festival. We worked side by side for almost 4 days, 10-12 hours a day.

I cried when I landed in Sacramento. Stepping outside onto the curb to wait for my pickup, I cried for having to leave my dad with his thrumppping heart murmur and endearing Hebrew-to-English Mier-isms. I cried for having to leave my first little brother ever, for not being able to kiss his toes or sing itsy-bitsy spider or hear his bubbly baby laugh for months now.
He is the kind of adorable that makes Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal seem not so unreasonable; why human nature makes us want to consume something unbearably cute I don't understand, but I can't deny the urge to nibble certain babies' noses and toeses. And I've been vegetarian for nearly my entire life! It's bizarre. Also, no one ever says "Ahh, that sunset is beautiful enough to eat" or "Wow, the Eiffel tower is impressive enough to eat". Why does the perception "adorable" alone give adult humans the munchies?

So there I was, getting choked up in Sacramento, feeling as though I'd left my heart in...Los Angeles. I even entertained wild thoughts of catching the next plane right back to LA...

Fortunately, It didn't take too long to get over the emotional jetlag. Tuesday morning, the day my dad turned 55, Shelley and I got up and got out, setting our sights southward towards Yosemite. Yosemite! The drive there was chock full of roadtrip-worthy Americana--the Gouda factory (sign out front said "Have a Gouda Day!"), the Cowboy Museum, the big factory for making cattle feed...but my most favorite stop was at the farmer's market for California ripe almonds and pomelo grapefruits. Buying fresh fruits and nuts off a roadside stand in the middle of December = awesome.

Ah, Yosemite. The Mighty 'Mite. Mid-to-late-December is an ideal time to visit the park--the bears are all hibernating, the big chill and snow hasn't hit yet, the hiking is envigorating and bugless, the tourists are all shopping in cities, and the scenery is gorgeous and snowcapped. The redwoods were not available for hugging, so I wrapped my arms around a few of the smaller, more manageable trees. Not quite the same, but adequate.

The next day, Dorothy and I turned our as-yet-undermined plan for hanging out into a veritable adventure in fun! We drove up to Napa, then swerved off the winery path to head to a small town called Fairfield, wherein lies the one, the only....Jelly Belly Factory! It was very Willa Wonka-esque: big portraits on the wall of Ronald Reagan and Governor Arnold done completely in jelly bean, the "sample bar" where you could taste new flavors like roasted garlic and buttered toast (put them
together and it tastes *exactly* like garlic bread!), and a guided tour--though admittedly our tour guide was a bored black guy with gold teeth who looked more Fifty Cent than Johnny Depp..luckily, he didn't detract too much from the thrill of learning about the three (yes, three!) stages involved in the making of every jelly belly bean.

Throughout the Jelly Belly experience, I couldn't help but say to Dorothy (about every 10 minutes): you know what fun is? This. *This* is fun. This *is* fun. This is *fun*! Funny how fun is--what it is, anyhow? What does it mean to "have fun"? Well, philosophizing aside, No Cali was, no kidding, a ton of fun.