June 15th, 2007. My last day of work. Because I am a teacher’s assistant, I have summer vacation, just like the kids. No work until September. That’s almost 2 1/2 months off for play time!
But I had a quandary: because my position was a temporary contract with no guarantee of renewal, I applied for another position. After giving one presentation and having 4 phone interviews, I thought I was a lock to get the job. Which would have started on July 2nd. Which would have put my road trip to Alaska on definite hiatus.
So, I had to decide….summer play the whole summer, or just summer play for 2 weeks and then get back to work? Pros and cons, the good and bad, I had a very tough decision to make. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make it. They did. They wanted the other guy. Yippeeee! A huge weight lifted from my shoulders. My summer adventure was back on track!
June 15th, 2007. My last day of work. And exactly my first day of summer vacation. And what better way to celebrate one’s last day of work than with a trip down to Vegas with friends?!!! Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
John, Jonas, Scott and Mike after our $21 Champagne buffet
Air Hockey supremacy goes to Mike and yours truly, though Jonas and Rene put up a good fight.
Fremont Street Experience
All in all I lost all my gambling money, which was only about $150. I did play one poker tournament, lost more at the stupid slot machines, lost $65 on one hand of no limit cash poker, and some more on Craps. I still had a great time. The following Monday Jonas, Scott, Mike and Rene headed back home to Portland. John and I stayed an extra day and watched the Beavers baseball win that took them to the World Series (and eventually back to back champs!). John and I stayed at the Stratosphere, which allowed us free admission up the observation deck to view the city below us and to see the extreme ride X-Scream, as shown in the photo below.
I borrowed Ezra’s bicycle and spent Wednesday bicycling the Alameda Creek Regional Trail…
Which took me to the very windy and very bumpy Bay Trail. By the time I arrived to Ezra’s apartment, I was completely spent and had nothing left. Those headwinds were just killers.
Thursday was fun park day. I rode the BART and bus to Great America and rode 16 rides in 2 hours, got really really sick, and then spent the afternoon at the water park on the lazy river ride and the giant wave pool. Incidentally, I rode the Drop Zone Tower 3 times in a row; that same day, the exact same ride in Cedar Park malfunctioned and a poor girl’s ankles were cut off. (story)
Friday night was my friend’s wedding reception. I dressed as “Burindi” and played my Irish tin whistle (which I have no idea how to play) while wearing my Moroccan robe, Fez and oversized sunglasses. Tim’s idea, of course!
Kickin it up on the dance floor–Seana grooves while Alex continues his superb Robot.
The clan, post-dance party: Tim (congrats groom!), Caren, Scott, Chloe, me, Matt, Ezra and Dan. Not pictured are Kat, Alex and Seana.
Sunday I tried to hitchhike back up to Portland. I lasted nary 90 minutes before the heat and the lack of any car showing any interest of picking me up resulted in my totally giving up. The picture below is only a re-enactment of my hitchhiking skills. I started out near a gas station, then moved to an off ramp, and finally moved direct to the freeway where I thought I would #1 get run over or #2 get cited by a cop.
Late Sunday night however, I did manage to hook up a ride up to Portland via the Craigslist Rideshare category. And thus from 9:30pm-8pm I rode in the car with this total free spirit, self described hippie and gypsy. The experience was mind blowing, as I was exposed to a totally alternate reality that I just had to remember some highlights:
1. Her passion was gamelan javanese shadow puppeterring, and apparently the Bali government offers scholarships, room and board for Westerners who are interested in living there for one year to learn this art form.
2. She saw herself as a ‘pirate’ versus a ‘ninja.’
3. She is an ‘opportunivore.’ (look it up, for real). The passenger we picked up near Chico considers herself a ‘freegan.’
4. She described her tribe, as well as attending dream clubs and about the power to control one’s own dreams by taking time each day to ask “Am I dreaming?” and to observe oneself.
5. I also learned about ‘breathatarians,’ and to look for dead owls on the road so that she could use their feet as THE final touch for her art piece.
All I can say is, “Wow.” I slept no more than 20 minutes the entire trip up from Oakland to Portland. And still haven’t slept. So this is a good time to end here. I have less than a week to get my things in gear for part 2 of my summer of adventure: road tripping up to Alaska with Lisa in our $600 Pontiac Grand Am. More to follow!