Monday, October 10, 2005

Cupertino Flea Weekend

I didn't get up until 11:45 this morning, after seriously considering just skipping my noon class (the first of the day). But I got up (as an example to others, of course), got ready for class, and was on my bike and on my way by 11:55 or so. (Note, you non–Cal Polyians, that classes start at ten minutes after the hour, not on the hour exactly. So my "noon" class actually begins at 12:10.) I rode pretty fast, getting up to the Agrish/Engliculture building on time. I was just locking up my bike when a guy sitting on a bench across from me got my attention. He was from my noon class, and he told me class had been cancelled. Prof was sick or somesuch. So I could have slept in. Very sad... But since I'm up, I might as well blog about this weekend. :)

This weekend was the last electronic flea market of the season. Forrest really wanted to go, so The Gang packed up its camping gear, cleaned out Forrest's car, and off we went Friday for Cupertino. We stayed at Henry Cowell "Redwoods" State Park (so named despite the lack of redwoods in the campgrounds), which is where Shawn, Patrick, and I stayed one weekend back in high school.

In the infinite wisdom of the state park officials and the government contractor in charge of their online campsite reservation system, you have to register a campsite at least two days in advance but the rangers cannot download the registration information until the day of. This means that walk-ins can only register for one night at a time, even though the data exists to tell the rangers whether anyone has reserved the campsite for up to two days into the future. The upshot of this is that we were told we would have to completely break camp the next day and re-register for a campsite, because they "didn't know" whether someone had reserved the site for tomorrow — even though the database knew if the site was reserved or not. Grrr. Government.

We had no space in the car for the propane tank, so we tied it to the roof rack. Then, at the campsite, we were too tired to take the tank down, so we just put the lantern on top of it as is.

Now, the Flea starts very early in the morning. Last year, we woke up at 4 in the morning. We decided to "sleep in" until 6 this time, which I think worked out for the best, even if some of the very earliest/best deals escaped. All the tables and tarps are set up in rows, and we check out all the junk gunshow-wise — that is, by systematically going up and down each row, so as to assure no places are missed. I'm not sure why I like going to the Flea, since I don't have any hardware projects that I need cheap parts for. But they have some neat stuff to look at and it's a fun adventure to do with The Gang. As for me, I ended up with a glass globe of the Earth and a $10 computer.

Actually, we each got a $10 computer just as the vendors were all packing up to leave. He threw in a fifth computer free. What we're going to do with them, we're not quite sure, but at $10 a pop, we really couldn't say no. We have since named them after the crew of Firefly: I have Zoë, Forrest has Kaylee, Jerry has Wash, Aaron has Jayne, and the extra one is Mal. Realizing that some key crew members were missing, we then extended this naming scheme to the access points we have: Inara, Book, Simon, and River.

The only problem with these new purchases (plus the other things people bought, like three $5 access points and a Model M keyboard) is that we didn't really have too much room in the car to begin with...

Leaving the Flea with our new purchases, we had even less room in the car.

So after the Flea, we had lunch at In-n-Out. The rest of The Gang then went to SVGL while I decided I was tired enough to nap in the car in the parking lot. Half an hour later, the heat in the car woke me up and I went inside. I didn't feel much like playing at the arcade, though, so I ended up chatting with my mom for another half hour before The Gang had had its fill of the arcade.

After some more fooling around in the Sunnyvale area, we headed back to camp. Forrest's mom was nice enough to reserve a site for us while we were at the Flea, and it was a good thing she did, 'cause the campground was completely full when we returned. We didn't get the site we had the previous night, but it's not like we were strongly attached to it or anything. While we still had light, we went about unpacking the car and setting up camp.

Aaron had only been camping a few times, and Jerry never. While I was busy with Forrest's tent and Forrest was busy with the stove, Aaron and Jerry started putting up the tent they had rented from Poly Escapes. I was only half paying attention to them, so when they declared that their tent was seriously weird and had no bottom, I just agreed that that was very strange without really thinking about just how weird that would be. I didn't think to question their tent-upputting abilities. Silly me.

The "weird tent" that had no bottom turned out to be the rain fly.

After Forrest and I recovered from our almost painful bout of laughing at Aaron and Jerry's attempt to turn the rain fly into the tent proper, they then set to getting the tent poles into the actual tent...

Their second attempt at least used the correct part of the tent, but something went wrong and their tent was horribly deformed.

We laughed some more, took more incriminating photos about their lack of l337 t3nt0r 5k1llz. They eventually got the tent into a usable state, although it still remained funky. I think some of the poles actually were bent in their own right, so it wasn't only their tent-incompetence. ;)

Even after doing everything seemingly correctly, the tent still looked weird, but they declared it good enough.

In contrast, Forrest and I managed to put up our tent on the first try. There's something to be said for camping experience, I suppose.

And here is Forrest's tent, looking pretty and camoflagued and not malformed. ;)

Then we went back into the city of Santa Cruz. Forrest had been telling me about this crazy brick building, so we finally went out to take a look at it. And he was indeed correct; this is one strange-looking building.

The strange brick-and-abalone building was built by two brothers back in the 60's or so. It's in a normal neighborhood, so it is exceptionally out of place.

We walked further down the street, until it dead-ended at the bay. It was getting near to sunset, and the wind was cold and picking up strength, so we didn't stay very long.

We walked out to the cliffs overlooking the beach. A lot of surfers were taking of the waves before the sun set.

Then it was back to camp. That night, we had hot buttered rum (using a batter mix, not from scratch). It was decent, although I think I would have preferred it with brandy, rather than rum. The campground had "alcoholic beverages prohibited" signs posted everywhere, so we kept the rum in the car and went to the backseat occasionally to refill our mugs. What's hanging out around a campfire without some drinks, eh? (I have this one cousin [technically speaking, my first cousin once removed] who cleaned my family out of all the camp's liquor one night. Our liquor bill that year was at least double what it normally was.)

In the morning, we packed up, returned the borrowed equipment, and went out to lunch. Forrest and his mom spent some quality time together at Zachary's Restaurant, while Aaron, Jerry, and I went to the China Szechwan Restaurant a couple of blocks away. Then we killed time at Borders until Forrest showed up.

We headed out of town along the backroads, rather than the highway, through Watsonville. We decided to take Highway 1 along the coast home and to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Unfortunately, we hadn't expected it to cost $18 plus tax each, so we ended up not going. We wandered around the tourist traps for a bit; I bought a cute stuffed sea otter (very soft!) and we wasted some more time being confused and frightened by some sparkly expensive clothing.

By this point, we were hungry, but we didn't want to spend the money that Bubba Gump Shrimp would charge us, so we drove off in search of other food. We ended up at a McDonald's, where we played on the play structure and did our best not to squish the little kids that were also there. :P I'd forgotten how much fun those tubes were to crawl around in. The rest of The Gang, being all over six feet tall, didn't fit quite as well as I did; woohoo for being short! They should so make play structures intended for adults...

It was pretty late by this point, so we scratched the plan to take the coastal highway back. As a consolation, we took the Carmel Valley Road to connect to 101. While I can see why this would be a motorcyclist's dream, I was not so happy with being on it at night, wondering whether some drunk rancher's kid would come zooming around a blind turn or something less drastic but still bad might happen. I really don't like windy roads, especially at night, especially not when we drove past one point where tire marks went off a turn and into the grass down a sharp dropoff. But we survived — even stopped to check out the stars (which were very clear, out there in the Carmel Valley).

We got home around midnight, and that was my weekend. Overall, good times. :)

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