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Thanksgiving travel

Started: 2006-11-30 20:47:36

Submitted: 2006-11-30 21:37:43

Visibility: World-readable

On Saturday of the epic Logan Family Reunion (following the events documented here), I convinced my immediate family to sit down and watch the boring slide show from London, which I completed on the plane Thursday afternoon. (Someday soon I will post the slide show, in some sexy web-accessible format. This will, of course, involve one more database table with a foreign key into my photo table, and a little front-end CGI script to display it.) I plugged Darnassus into a handy TV/VCR/DVD, thanks to the little RF modulator we acquired in Steamboat eighteen months ago and brought along for the occasion. Apparently my slide show wasn't quite as long or boring as I keep asserting; everyone seemed to remain alert through the endless parade of photos.

Kiesa and I headed out to locate a nearby geocache, which apparently has been in place for five years (making this one of the oldest geocaches I've found), including the last time I visited Leoni Meadows for a family reunion. This occupied us through the morning religious ceremonies; we got back to camp just in time for lunch. After lunch, we watched another version of Willy's slide show for his European Adventure this summer; he managed to co-opt the main auditorium's projector for a large-screen experience. After the slide show, I wandered around camp one last time, ending up on some trails I managed to avoid in the ten years I've been attending family reunions almost every other year.

The evening's entertainment was the traditional talent show, which featured a variety of disturbing acts plus Willy reciting Ulysses. I brought Darnassus and logged into the local wireless network and amused myself by catching up with the rest of the world. The post-show family business meeting was less explosive than it could have been, even my father's declaration than we won't be coming to the next one. (This was the compromise we worked out after graduation, since my mother wants to host gatherings at her home.) The somewhat bizarre part is that the next family reunion we're planning on attending is in four years, in 2010, when our five-year-plan dictates Kiesa and I may have children. Which is a rather scary thought.

I somehow managed to stuff everything into my suitcase for the trip home, including ten pounds of Clementine oranges from my grandparents. (Every fall they buy a large unit and distribute them to their children and grandchildren; this is the first year I've gotten my very own box. Kiesa doesn't like oranges, so they're all mine.</gollum>) We left early Sunday morning to drive into Sacramento so Bethany and Josh could catch their flights back to the east coast; Josh had a direct Delta flight to Atlanta, and Bethany had an America West flight via Phoenix to Boston. We left a bit later than we intended; the domestic minivan we were driving had a somewhat disturbing side-to-side oscillation as we drove down US 50 at 75 miles per hour. The wobble got worse when my mother tried to take off her jacket and tried to get my father to help her drive, without slowing down.

We dropped Bethany and Josh off and had five hours to kill before we returned to the airport for Kiesa's and my flight out. We wandered into historic old town Sacramento under an overcast sky, parked, and wandered around a bit before entering the California State Railroad Museum. I remember visiting the museum years ago, back in the trackless mists of time, but I haven't visited recently. It was fascinating, tracing California railroad history with special emphasis on the western section of the first trans-continental railroad. The biggest engine was one of the last steam engines to serve in California, fired by oil with two independent sets of drive wheels.

Back at the airport, we gave ourselves a bit over the suggested two hours, assuming that passenger traffic would be dense on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There was no one in the United check-in queue and no one in the security queue, which actually messed me up because I'm used to having people in front of me so I can work with the pipeline. The TSA rent-a-cops didn't think oranges were a security risk (even though I could squeeze them and come up with orange juice -- an obvious liquid), so we made it through without incident and entered an almost-empty concourse with two hours before our flight.

Kiesa called her mother and I found an outlet to camp out next to. Rumors of wireless proved under-implemented; I could associate, but I didn't get any responses to my DHCP requests. So I amused myself watching sixth-season The Simpsons episodes and snacking until our plane left at 1714. Kiesa and I ended up across the aisle from each other at the very end of a packed 737. We didn't really encounter any crowds until trying to claim bags at Denver. (My newest brilliant idea: The baggage system should automatically text-message me when my luggage comes onto the baggage claim carousel, so I don't have to camp, fighting everyone else for floor space, waiting for bags that may take another twenty minutes to appear. Either that, or a big yellow line on the floor a meter and a half from the edge of the carousel with tazer-armed guards enforcing the "pick-up zone only" rule. Few things frustrate me more than everyone standing at the edge of the baggage carousel waiting for their bags.) That was nothing compared to the circus we encountered trying to get a shuttle back to the Kansas lot (otherwise known as Mount Elbert shuttle parking); the shuttle lot pickup was mobbed and someone mumbled something about a shift change. After half an hour, four shuttles appeared at once and we finally got a ride home. Our cats seemed somewhat indifferent about our return.

(While typing this entry, I felt the burning desire to say "an <a href=" instead of the actually-correct "a <a href=". This just means I'm spending too much time looking at html.)