Road to the Roadshow: Planning
So, for the past week I've either had a dose of food poisoning or a case of brain fevering or a spell of menopausing. Those are the three finalists I selected from several good candidates in the All-Amateur WebMD lineup, and I have to tell you, I'm rooting for the menopause. Mike keeps saying, "You're only forty!" to which I snarl back, "I'll be forty-ONE in two months!" - an improbable exchange under normal circumstances.

Somebody has to be at the low end of that "occurs between the ages of 40 to 60" statistic. If I'm not going to be the "somebody" in the "somebody has to win the lottery," then please pick me for this. Please.

I also may have hurt my back. Well, I definitely hurt my back, but was it a symptom of one of the above, or was it because we were sensibly doing a TV workout off the DVR every day? Who knows, but we're back to couch-jockeying now, with extra pillows.

And? And? AND my eye swelled shut for 48 hours. I think that was just because of this rogue eyelash that I found sticking out of my eye like an arrow - totally perpendicular to the eyeball. Still was unpleasant, though.

And last night? When Mike and I were relaxing on the sofa, licking lime popsicles, feeling like life was getting normal again? I looked down and said, "Hey, my lime bar has red swirls." Like sometimes they just throw in some cherry flavour to keep you on your toes, right? In what may have been literary stigmata - I was reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel at the same time - the swirls ended up being blood. Tasty!

My mouth is kind of sensitive to acidic things, such as unspeakably yummy lime popsicles from Whole Foods. Now it's swollen up, just like whenever I try to use tooth-whitening toothpaste for more than a few days.

Forgive me for the Dooce caps, but...


Plus my carrots withered in Farmville yesterday because I was busy sleeping for 11 hours. Sigh. But I'm feeling much better now, woohoo and knock pixels!, so shall we take a break from the cruise report to gab about Big Bear Lake?

In April we found out we'd won tickets to Antiques Roadshow. The Roadshow works on a lottery system; you can't just buy tickets, at least not legally. Instead, you sign up on the PBS website for which AR you wish to attend, then you hope for a few months, then you find out.

Before this year, we had a vague knowledge of Antiques Roadshow, if only from Grandma's Boy, but we didn't really get into it until recently. Such noobs, I know. When I saw that the show would be starting its summer tour in San Diego, I thought, hey, what a great excuse to go back to San Diego. We've been twice (not including my uneventful overnight stay 20 years ago), but both times it was barely for an evening before going on a cruise. This time we could see the zoo, maybe Sea World, who knows?

I planned and planned. I love to plan. And as much as I love to plan, I hate to drive across I-15, across California. Hate it.

So, it was critical that my plan introduce fresh, new activities that not lead to me gripping the steering wheel and chanting, "I hate this drive. I hate this drive." for the entire trip. (For some reason, Mike prefers that I not bellow in rage and despair and stuff.) In fact, I wanted to stay overnight somewhere along the way, so the drive wasn't a hypnotizing grind.

We were going to my parents' in Texas for a few days first, right after school let out for summer, then we had four days before the Roadshow event. Over an early dinner one night at CPK in Town Square, I revealed the plan:

  • Make a leisurely drive to L.A. on Thursday afternoon.
  • Go to the Farmers' Market.
  • Visit a Hollywood cemetery or perhaps La Brea Tar Pits.
  • Relax at the hotel for a bit, grab a bite.
  • Visit the Griffith Observatory, take in a planetarium show, admire the Hollywood sign at night.

  • Friday: get up, spend the morning at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. (Tickets are free, but you have to get them in advance online. I did.)
  • Tool around Malibu or Santa Monica if time permits.
  • Attend a late afternoon taping of Betty White's new sitcom. (Again, tickets are free, but you have to get them in advance. I did.)

Then, on Saturday we would drive up in the morning, do the Roadshow in the afternoon, check into the hotel, and take another day, maybe two, to enjoy San Diego before driving home.

I loved this plan. With all of our trips to Orange County, we were overdue for some touristy action up the road in Los Angeles. An observatory! A TV taping! The Villa! Fresh California produce!

Problem was... I couldn't find a hotel to match the occasion. Well, that was the start of the problem.

As soon as I saw that Priceline doesn't even let you bid for a room in Malibu, I knew I'd set my expectations a little high. So I checked out Santa Monica. Still a little too pricey. Priceline does the poorer section of Beverly Hills (there's a poorer section?), but those properties are valet-only.

Um. Yeahhh... I have a fear of valet parking. Maybe it's because of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, maybe it's all the hotel reviews on Trip Advisor where people complain about thievery or scratches, or maybe it's because then I'd feel compelled to clean the backseat, but being forced to use valet made me skittish. Not a dealbreaker, not for the right property at the right price, but so far that wasn't materializing.

This is how we ended up with plans to stay at a Hilton in Glendale. But it didn't feel right. I kept looking. Where's the joie de vivre of staying in Glendale? Plus, Google Maps kept scaring me with phrases like "MAY TAKE ONE HOUR AND 30 MINUTES IN TRAFFIC" when giving directions for 20-mile stretches. I well remember the one night we left Anaheim and, and hour later, were still in Anaheim. Unless Steve Martin's character from L.A. Story could ride shotgun with a few shortcuts, I'd rather tack more time onto the freeways than was necessary. We don't do this often; why not do it right?

But you know what's cheap? Staying at the airport. Like, fifty bucks on Priceline for four-star joints, plus they have parking garages. Hell, forget boutique hotels and beachfronts. Let's stay there. It's just a room, right?

Okay, but... you know how I just said valet parking makes me nervous? And Los Angeles freeways make me uneasy? (By the end of this trip, I upgraded that to "all California freeways west of Victorville.") And being late because of traffic makes me grouchy?

Well, I soon discovered that staying south of I-10, near suburbs Wikipedia identifies as "gang infested," makes me throw my hands up in the air and say, "This is not the time."

I am such a little old white lady. I know. (Will admitting this make the menopause fairy come sooner? Pleeeease?)

As much as I wanted to do these fabuuuulous things, I knew I wasn't happy with any of the hotel options. Okay, to a lot of people that's just silly, but I love getting a good deal on a neat-o hotel. It's not just a room. Now I was stressing over paying too much for too little in Los Angeles (yes, I am naive), and the fun was leaking out everywhere, and this was supposed to be about San Diego - argh! Mission Los Angeles: Terminate!

Over and over I played with AAA's TripTik planner, trying to find a way other than I-15 to get us to San Diego that wouldn't take twice as long and leave us spending the night in the middle of nowhere. How could we break up this stupid drive?

I already had a tentative plan for the way back, when our schedules would be open. Drive through Palm Springs, ride the Tramway, and stop in Amboy so Mike could get that out of his system. (I want to go, sure, but the thought of getting stranded with car trouble in 100+ heat kills what little road-tripping spirit I have left.) Odds are we would just want to get home, but we had options if we wanted to take our time coming back. But what about the journey there?

I decided to suck it up. Down Arizona then across the bottom of California it would be. I pulled up maps at RoadsideAmerica,com, looking for goofy tourist traps we could hit along the way. Yes, it would take bloody ages, and we'd have to kill a night in a little city not geared toward tourists, but why not? It's new! It's summer! (I used the exclamation marks to persuade myself that this would be a grand adventure, and the car would never make weird noises, and no way could we possibly get a flat or worse on a deserted state highway.)

As I was looking at the map, considering the merits of miniature villages and world's largest soda cups, I saw something.

Time Bandits

I love this movie.

I love the soundtrack.

It's a silly film, but I saw it at the right time (11 years old), in the right place (first video rental), and I'll be fond of it for the rest of my days.

So, see the ship on the cover of the DVD? See it?

That ship, that very vessel, now lives at Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Lake! Why hadn't I thought of it before?

Big Bear Lake...

05 July 2010 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)