Chronicles of Traveling

Hello from downtown Riverside, California. We arrived Saturday afternoon for a week-long sojourn in Southern California. Laura has a work related conference from Sun- Thurs and we tacked on a few days for some fun. I’ve never been to California before and I’ve never had a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean either, so this is quite an adventure.

Getting ready for a trip is a FT job. We are fortunate to have in-home pet care services with Your Critter Sitters so other than some simple cleaning and laying in of supplies, we don’t have to deal with kennels or concerns about the critters missing us. And we have lots of added perks such as a housesitter, mail collector, keeper of eyes on the cars, etc. She’s already sent us a dozen photos of the animals looking perfectly content without us which is exactly as it should be.

The FT part is getting myself through the pre-trip anxiety. We make a little plan of things to do to address everything from what to pack to where we’ll eventually eat. So staying on track helps, but I still feel very uneasy. I’m not afraid of actually flying. I’m afraid of all the things that could go wrong and make me anxious – things like not having enough water on the flights or getting lost in a transfer airport or running out of money for overly expensive food. I worry about being a nuisance to others when I struggle to get my bag into the overhead compartment and I worry about others being a nuisance to me just when I get properly zoned out mid-flight. I just worry.

So it was a relief to wake up at 4 AM on Saturday and realize that my worrying was over. We used zTrip to book a cab and ended up with a giant black SUV that was the most spacious thing we’d travel in all day. No issues at the airport. Our flights were all on time, if super crowded. Go United! Flying low-rent economy is a cruddy, but efficient way to travel. Thankfully, we brought some snacks and bought beverages because there wasn’t an ounce of luxury in this airline. Even the magazines were tattered. We had a brief moment of confusion when we changed flights at the San Francisco airport, but it worked out fine. We disembarked in Ontario, California to be greeted by bright sunny skies, mountains and palm trees.

Laura had to do a work assignment on Sunday, so we rented a car for one day and careened our way down the seven lane interstate to Riverside. That was fun. The car felt like a tire had gone soft, but the agent told us it was the way all cars of that model felt. Nice.  It as a Sonic. Don’t buy that.

The time lag hit us after we checked into the hotel. We ended up at a Marriott that’s upscale enough to feel nice, but charges an arm and a leg for every single little thing. But it is close to the conference and the little downtown area of Riverside. We strolled around the Mission district and enjoyed a late lunch (technically, dinner by Pgh time) at a sandwich joint called “The Upper Crust” which was affordable and hospitable. We hung out a bit, then went to dinner at a locally owned Mexican restaurant for some basic, simple familiar to us burritos. The food was copious, but we have no way to keep leftovers so that’s terrible – we are not fans of wasting food (or money.)

So by 6:30 local time, we were back in our hotel but ready for bed having been physically on the go for nearly 18 hours. We sprawled on the king sized bed without any cats or chihuahuas and flicked through the cheapish cable channels available in a hotel. We both fell asleep by 7:30.

But I was no longer anxious. I had photographic evidence that my pets and home were in good order. I had survived and even persevered a bit under less than lovely travel circumstances. I had found affordable places to eat. I even saw the Pacific Ocean from an airplane.

I did forget to pack socks. Last week, it was over 100 every single day. Today (Sunday), it was 60 and rainy. So I’ll be heading up the street tomorrow to purchase some inexpensive white socks to tide me over. Ah well …

I also got some work done today as I made myself go hang in the lobby for a few hours while Laura worked (versus sitting in isolation in the hotel room without even a cat for company.) Then I took a walk around our few blocks which is a HUGE thing for me. I am usually not comfortable walking by myself. But I did it almost without thinking because I wanted to take some photographs.

All last week, I kept asking myself “Why did I agree to this? Why did I think this was a good idea?” Now, I suspect I have some perspective – I needed to prove to myself that I could do this even thought it was hard and required a lot of work on my part.

Riverside is pretty in a slightly shabby chic sort of way. It is very wide-open and reminds me a bit of Baton Rouge where I lived for three years. There’s more shuttered storefronts than I expected and the conference center looks REALLY big for a town this size. The people we’ve met have been very nice and helpful. The weather is a bit odd – everyone talks about the heat, but its been chilly and damp so far. I also noticed that the forecast veers wildly so there must be a pattern of chaos.

Some photos so far:

Palm trees are tall.
Palm trees are tall.
Even with just backpacks as carryon, there's luggage drama.
Even with just backpacks as carryon, there’s luggage drama.
Public art outside of the hotel - all the world is an orange?
Public art outside of the hotel – all the world is an orange?
Of course we found the closest Starbucks and enjoyed a frap on the lovely porch.
Of course we found the closest Starbucks and enjoyed a frap on the lovely porch.
Ledcat found a new-to-us root beer: Sparky's made right here in California.
Ledcat found a new-to-us root beer: Sparky’s made right here in California.
If we miss the dogs too much, this guy is still enough for us to pet.
If we miss the dogs too much, this guy is still enough for us to pet.
The first official glimpse of California outside of the airport.
The first official glimpse of California outside of the airport.


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