First 6 hours of driving from Huntington Beach to Half Moon Bay - easy cruising. Last 7 miles into the camp ground - mega-traffic. Thanks random pumpkin patch. Thankfully a kindly Gray whale and calf were there to meet us, performing hi-jinks only 50 feet from shore. A long (really long) walk on the beach and top the evening off with some pumpkin-spiced ale and phosphorescent waves under the stars. This is the recipe for a wonderful day. We departed on a 5-day camping trip with 48 junior high kids to Pinecrest, just north of the Yosemite Valley. There were many very entertaining events including a hail storm on a ridge line above 9000 feet and a 'hunger games' event where we got to be the tracker jackers and spent the best part of an hour chasing kids though the wilderness. Friday we wrapped up the camp, did a quick head count and returned the kids to San Fransisco before departing on an 8-hour drive to Bend Oregon.
August and September in a nutshell
Dropped the Aussies off at LAX then drove 2000 miles over 2 days to get back to Chicago. In the next 2 week Bek gave her dissertation public talk, and we took in the airshow, a Cubs game, and a free comedy night at IO while packing up our worldly belongings into a 16 foot truck. Then the four of us (Dale, Bek, Chippa, and Twiggy) took a leisurely 4 days to drive another 2000 miles back to California. Driving cross country in a moving truck with 2 cats is quite an adventure to say the least - and we had the scratches to prove it! Things slowed down a bit once we made it back to Cali. September kicked off with Mark's wedding - yay to a new sister in the family. Then we spent the month visiting with friends and family. While visiting Mark in San Diego for his birthday we all went to Oktoberfest in El Cajon, Mark's birthday gift to himself, lederhosen, Bek's birthday gift to Mark, a 1.5 Liter Bier Stein that she won in a sauerkraut eating competition in which she was named the Mistress of Sauerkraut. We also took in the USC-Cal game at the Colessium and a night of screams and laughs at Knottsberry Farm Halloween (Knottscary). Add a lot of donuts, swims, and surf sessions later and call that September. Bek chopped off 12 inches of hair - a symbolic goodbye to graduate school life and then it was time for more traveling and adventures.
Tickets Booked, Montevideo here we come (in December)
As I sat on the couch booking our tickets to Montevideo I had a distinct sense of déjà vu, I could have sworn that I had already filled out the passenger information form on the AA website. And then I recalled that I already had, two days ago when Dale and I thought we were ready to book our tickets. We had spent quite a bit of time debating where to fly to start our South American Adventure, Buenos Aires or Santiago, either one would do since our general plan is to head south for the South American summer and then journey north as winter works its way up the continent. But then there was also the option to fly into Buenos Aires and out of Quito, but what about Brazil, if we wanted to go to Brazil maybe we should book a round trip flight out of Buenos Aires. Or to keep it simple maybe we save ourselves a headache and just book one-way ticket – well that idea was quickly discarded when we realized it cost $200 more to book a one-way ticket than it did to book a round-trip. Finally, tired of all the what ifs and maybes we settled on a round-trip ticket to Buenos Aires come what may. Of course once we decided that, we had to figure out if it would be cheaper to use frequent flyer miles to get us to Miami and only pay out of pocket for the international trip – again amazingly it was more expensive to book a round-trip from Miami than it was to fly from LAX to Miami and on to Buenos Aires. Done, settled, moving on we were going to book the tickets and that was that, we would make our lives work around this plan. So that is what I was doing two days ago, until I got to the bottom of the passenger information form and saw the space to enter a promotion code. . . .
Ever the cheapskate, I could not bear the thought that there may be a promotion code out there that could give me a discount on our flights, especially since every dollar we save here is another dollar we can spend having fun in South America. So down the rabbit hole I went again, searching for promo codes and deals and rethinking our entire plan. One thing led to another and we saw there was a promotion for tickets to Paraguay which led us to consider alternate locations to start our trip. Finally we decided on Montevideo, Uruguay a short bus or ferry ride from Buenos Aires and $1000 cheaper than flying into Buenos Aires. No changing our minds now, the tickets are booked - we just have to hope that American Airlines are still able to take us in December now that there is all this talk of pilot strikes.