Coming to you live from the high desert of the great American southwest, this is...

05 September 2007

...not Art Bell.

It's me, the Doctor, checking in after an entire weekend on the road. At this moment I've found lodgings in a quaint little hotel about forty miles into the high desert of California, which is about a two hour drive from LAX when you factor in traffic. As my cow-orker T- says, "I love LA. There are ten-lane highways and everyone's still doing fifteen miles per hour." I'm running on about four hours of sleep right now, so I'm going to try to hit the high points before I fall over unconscious.

Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday were spent with Lyssa in the state of Pennsylvania visiting our families for Labor Day weekend. We left home around 1700 EST5EDT headed in the general direction of Pittsburgh and arrived around 2230 EST5EDT that night. I don't remember a whole lot after that because I passed out and slept clear until 1000 the next morning. The afternoon was spent running errands with Lyssa's mother and wishing that I still had my Sam's Club membership card so that I could restock the supplies back home. We spent Sunday at my parents' place visiting the homefront and catching up on old times because we've all been out of touch lately. My mother and grandfather are doing quite well these days; one whole room of the house is fixed up now, leaving only my old lab.

I don't have the heart to suggest to them that maybe high explosives are the most expedient way of fixing all the damage I did to the foundation.

I helped my mother go through more of my old stuff, of which we threw out two garbage bags worth of cruft. She's keeping about half a storage box of stuff and I loaded a file box of miscellaneous knick-knacks and potential tools into the TARDIS to transport back home, under the condition that I go through my junk at the apartment and find more things to either throw out or donate to Goodwill. I can live with that.

The trip home was fairly uneventful, save that we stopped off to pick up a couple of gallons of cider from the roadside stand that we'd discovered during one of our shortcut-generated adventures a while ago. Unfortunately, it's under new management so some of the brands have changed, but I feel fairly confident that the cherry, peach, and other ciders are going to be pretty good. Unfortunately, spending so much time in the car driving wears me out like nobody's business so between the long drive back to DC and having to run a couple of errands after we got home, I was ready to fall over and consequently in a rather bad mood. Sad to say, anything that gets between me and my REM sleep tends to take a lot of flack that it really doesn't deserve. Not that I got a whole lot of REM sleep on Monday night because I was jolted out of bed at 0200 EST5EDT by my alarm clock to start getting ready to hit the pavement in the general direction of Dulles International Airport to catch my flight to the west coast.

Laurelinde was far too kind in driving me to the airport at 0300 EST5EDT. The DC Beltway and route 66 were all but deserted at that time of day, which meant that our trip was a short and uneventful one. I'd only packed a suitcase of clothes and my field kit (the Backpack of Doom, which one day I will get around to posting an inventory of, I promise) and made it by 0400. Much to my chagrin, the checkout counters at Dulles are closed until 0445 EST5EDT every morning, and my flight left at 0600. T- caught me in the terminal and introduced my somnambulent self to the courtesy baggage checks at the edge of the terminal. For a measely $2us, I was able to get my suitcase tagged and taken care of, so that we could then brave the gauntlet of airport security and eventually make it to our fight.

Remember when I said that I'd had less than four hours of sleep? That became a major hinderance when it came time to empty my pockets. I somehow managed to forget that the spring clips of cellphone holsters and belt buckles contained ferrous materials, which meant that I kept setting off the metal detector. What a morning.

T- and I found our gate with relatively little trouble, and then took turns watching each other's gear while the other ran off to the local Starbuck's for breakfast and coffee to charge up for a long, long day. Ordinarily I avoid the green mermaid like copies of Windows ME but at the airport, beggars certainly can't be choosers. Our six hour flight out west took off more or less on time, during which I plowed through two books in record time,vis a vis the Doctor Strange: Beginnings and Endings trade paperback (which I highly recommend if you're a fan of Doctor Strange) and Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko by the time we'd touched down at LAX.

Much to my chagrin and fear, we did in fact run face-first into a bit of security theatre at LAX, as I'd written about a few days ago. However, it was nowhere as intense as what Xeni Jardin had encountered when she flew in. The pointless security measure we encountered consisted of twenty dazed and sleep deprived deplaned passengers from my flight (T- and I among them) wondering why there was a guy with cornrows in a security uniform (sans gun) standing there with his arms stretched out. All of us stood there for about one wallclock minute wondering what the hell was going on, but then the guy put his arms down and walked away. All of us then did the same thing. That was it.

A bit surreal, that.

T- and I then found our way to the right place to meet up with the rest of our team, who'd arrived an hour earlier on another flight, rented a few cars, and then proceeded to drive into the high desert of California.

Ye flipping gods, what a beautiful place.

Maybe I'm just crazy, but driving through the desert made me long for home. I've always loved the desert for some odd reason that I never could pin down. I love watching the scrub brush slide past on the sides of the roads. The contours of the mountains (and there are beautiful mountains out this way, let me be clear) fascinate me. I love staring at all the rock strata accumulated over millions of years, trying to figure out what everything is. Across the flats, I even got to see a mirage - the classic "the heat shimmer way out there looks just like a lake" mirage made famous unto cliche'dom in American Culture. It made me wish that I had my drover's coat and hat with me because I really, really wanted to go hiking.

I snapped quite a few photographs while I was out there. I'll post them when I get a chance.

That about catches me up for the past couple of days. I'm going to pass out now.