I have still not caught up on my sleep ... I could doze at any minute so if this ends suddenly, you'll know why.
It was quite the looong weekend we had, which began with a, yes, you'll be reading it right, a 5:45 AM flight to Atlanta, followed by another flight to LAX, a final flight to Sacramento, and, lastly, a forty-five minute drive to the foothills where my sister lives.
The high points of the flight? The ATL-LAX leg was on a plane not quite half-full, so I had an entire row to myself, as did Carlos. And, his row being up two from mine, and across the aisle, we kept making eye-contact; I'd motion for him to com e it by me and he'd shake his head, and then he'd motion for me to come sit by him and I'd shake my head. This went on forever because we're children, until finally I either won, or Carlos decided to stop being childish, and he came back to sit with me.
The high point I mentioned was the man sitting behind Carlos who apparently didn’t know we were travelling together and thought we were just doing a 36,000 feet high hook-up/ He could not stop watching us and had it been a night flight I might have given him more of a story to tell.
The second high point was ding at Skewers at LAX, where I had oyakadon served up by the most beautiful man ...stunning ... gorgeous. I kept wondering, WTF is he doing serving airport food? He should be on Bravo, like in Hot Oyakodon Man, or something. Breath.Taking. I wish I'd been able to slyly take his picture but I'm not that sly and the food was delicious.
After arriving in Sacramento, dog-tired and still hungry--by this time we'd been up and at 'em for roughly 8 hours--we went into the downtown area and ate lunch at a place where we'd had one of our first dates when Carlos flew out to Sacramento to see me back in 2000: Tapa The World.
I was happy to see that it was still there, after thirteen years, and even happier that the food was still spectacular. Carlos dined on Paella while I had a Tuna Nicoise Salad and we both had big glasses of Sangria. Add to that we sat outside on a breezy beautiful day and it was the perfect way to start the trip.
Of course that ended and we headed up the freeway to my sister's house. On top of being diagnosed with cancer, she and her husband have just moved, too, and now live in a house neighbored by emus and geese, wild turkeys and deer; not a zoo, but awfully close.
It was great to see her again and even better to see her doing so well, and in great spirits. She has just finished her last round of chemo--her tumor has shrunk by 70% but she has small cell cancer, which means it doesn't often show up in tests--and now she wants to see about doing trial programs, not so much to help her, because that's not really an option, but maybe because her results can help someone else down the road who is battling cancer. We talked and laughed and ate a light dinner--it was ten o'clock our time--before driving a few miles to our hotel and fell asleep at once; and for about ten hours. Oy.
The next day we drove back down to Sacramento and just walked around Old Sacramento, the Capital, and the downtown area. It was where I lived when Carlos and I met, and where he'd come to see me, so we looked at some old haunts and wondered what happened to some and laughed that others were still there. One of the town's oldest gay bars, Faces, is still there, and has had a massive renovation and addition to it, and is now surrounded by another gay bar, The Depot, as well as many LGBT friendly restaurants and shops; it's nice to see that area growing.
Naturally, since we're all about the food, we headed to Ernesto’s for Mexican food. We'd planned on eating light because my father was arriving later in the day and my sister planned a dinner and a belated birthday celebration at her house. Unfortunately, light didn't happen after seeing the menu; ceviche appetizer, two full lunches, and churros for dessert, along with beer and the most amazing Pomegranate Margarita I Have ever had; hea-ven, I tell you, hea-ven.
After that it was back to my sister’s house for my Dad’s requested meal of taco's and lemon cake for dessert. More laughs--especially at my Dad who had shaved his head in support of my sister. She liked it so much she even removed her scarf so we could get pictures of the two, almost chrome, domes.
Then it was back to sleep; followed by the next day day-trip to Placerville, AKA Hangtown. With all the firs in California, the air was quite smoky, but Placerville was, is, a cute town, with a Farmer's Market happening and lots of very cool stores. While shopping, I got a call from one of my greatest friends, Laura, and we made plans to meet her for drinks later in the day, so we took that time to stop in at my sister’s and talk with the family and laugh some more before heading off to Fats in Folsom.
Frank Fat was a big deal in Sacramento, emigrating from Asia, and built several restaurants in the downtown area--Frank Fats and Fat City--before expanding out to the 'burbs. Fats in Folsom is a beautiful place with thirty foot palm trees growing up through the floors and great food. We met Laura and drank and ate--I'm sensing another reason for this trip: grub and liquor--and laughed. I met Laura some eighteen years ago--I was but a child--and we became fast friends almost at once. I think of all the people I could have seen, and wanted to see, while in California, and Laura topped both lists. So, we had a good time chatting and Dim Sum-ing and sipping some really great chardonnay.
Of course, that was followed by a retrun trip to my sister's house for leftover pizza and a rundown of the next day. Her second oldest daughter, Brigitte, eloped July 31st, and she and her husband were having a wedding reception at their home the next day; a family affair, to say the least.
It was my Dad, my sister and her husband, Carlos and me, my brother and his wife, their daughter, my sister's four daughters, and my Dad's two great-grandsons, along with friends of the happy couple.
More food, more drinks. My niece decided she wasn't the champagne toast kinda girl, so their toast was done with tequila, making it quite clear that she and I are related. I have never met a tequila I didn't like! Or a tamale or spring role, or roasted vegetable, or cake. Oy. The food. The drink. The drink and the food.
As much as I love going out of town, generally by the second or third day I am ready to come home. I miss my house and yard and I miss my kids, so after the reception I was ready to head back to the hotel and prepare to head home. We said our goodbyes, and there was one final picture with my dad, his kids, their spouses, their kids, and their kid's kids. Not everyone wants to be on the blog so that little picture will have to do, but that’s the Family.
High point? Other than seeing my sister and seeing how good she's doing? Other than seeing my family and friends? Other than food and drink and more food and drink? The look of joy on Carlos' face every time one of my nieces called him Uncle Carlos and introduced him as their Uncle Carlos, their Uncle Bobby's husband. It's a little thing really, but it meant a lot.
The flight home? Oy. Sacramento to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to ATL, ATL to Columbia; we left at 7AM California time, and arrived at home at 11 PM Smallville time. Long day.
High point? We ate--I know, more food and drink--at a place called Mimosa at the Minneapolis airport where you order and pay by iPad, and then play with the iPad while waiting for your food. It could have been impersonal, but the bartender was nice and we chatted and then we laughed at Carlos trying to work the iPad.
He will not be getting an iPad.
Now we're home and it's back to abnormal. Lawns, pets, laundry, shopping, work. But it was a lovely trip, nice to see the whole family together again; it's been a number of years since we have all been in the same pace at the same time. And best of all, it was great to see my sister and find her doing so well, and enjoying life so much, and just being ....
And the kids were just thrilled to have us home?