Going to California was such an odd experience for me. On one hand, it was great to get out there and get a feel for what it is like to live there. OTOH, I was hit by a very subtle form of culture shock. As long as I could maintain my “suspension of disbelief”, everything was normal and life in CA was the same as in NJ or NY. But every once in awhile I would realize that things were rather bizarre out there.
I left Rochester for San Francisco, by way of Cleveland, on Thursday around 1pm. We had a prop-driven puddle-jumper to take us to Cleveland, which was actually kinda cool. Those planes have some acceleration.. :) We arrived in Cleveland early, but had to wait for another plane to vacate our gate. We ended up actually walking in the terminal door 10 minutes behind schedule, which was rather frustrating. I had to run to another terminal to get on the plane, but I had enough time to grab a bad bagel. We got on the 737 and sat on the tarmac while the mechanics checked out some failure on the plane. It turned out to be a bad sensor, and we were in the air an hour late.
When I arrived in San Francisco, I was greeted by Chris, who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. It was definately great to see her again, especially since things have been so weird between us since she has moved away. She told me that since we were in San Francisco, that she wanted to take me to see the Golden Gate bridge and some of the city too, since traffic would probably be terrible during the rest of the holiday weekend.
The bridge was beautiful, even if it was a bit foggy that night. As night came, seeing the lights on the bridge through the fog was unbelievable. The pictures simply don’t describe it whatsoever. San Francisco was beautiful too; Walking and Driving through it, I got the feeling that if it were not for the hills, SF would turn into another overgrown city, but the hills act as a limiting factor, which is nice. We realized it was getting late, so we cruised by Fisherman’s Wharf (the most/last tourist-y thing we did) for a bite to eat. Afterwards we headed back to her condo, which is nice, but not what I expected (I imagined it being newer than it was).
Friday morning, Chris took me to Enterprise to pick up my rental, and she pointed me towards Oakland on her way to work. Meeting up with Scot exceeded my expectations all around. We ate breakfast at Mama’s Royal Cafe, a wonderful restaurant that Scot praised (and rightfully so). Scot then took me over to Telegraph in Berkeley, and we walked down that street, passing all the famous shops and landmarks. Scot’s nefarious intentions became clear when he introduced me to Amoeba Music, the greatest record shop I have ever set foot in. They had works from every artist I could dream up, and the prices were definately right. They had an amazing used collection, and they even had videos and DVD’s to boot. Needless to say, I am quite glad that this store is currently 3000 miles away from me, as I would be spending quite a bit of time there. :)
Walking with Scot through the aisles of Amoeba was great, and I really feel (to use his words) like I have found a kindred spirit in the Be world. It was cool meeting up with him for the first time and finding how much we had in common. I thought that meeting up with him might be awkward, but it was a great time.
After leaving Scot, I headed over the Bay Bridge (the other side of Route 80) towards Be’s Headquarters. I met up with Dave Bort there, which was a great time. He showed me around the offices, what they were working on, and introduced me to some people. I also ran into Joe Onorato and Jeff Hamilton, two people who I know through Cristina and BUGGER, who are interning at Be. Perhaps I will go and work there after graduation. :P
I left Be, and headed to see Chris’ work. Cisco is a huge company with a huge campus, and to see it in all its glory was rather impressive. They have 40-sum buildings throughout San Jose (and they are in close proximity to the Correctional Facility!) The buildings they have are well-engineered and attractive (even if they did kinda look like Barnes and Noble stores), and they seem to be designed to keep their employees happy, complete with lunch balconies looking over the valley. They also had this wicked fountain that had columns of water forming the Cisco logo, which was great. :P
That night we cruised over to Chili’s for drinks and dinner (in that order, of course). I was supposed to meet up with Kate that day, but I called and flaked on her (i really under-estimated the amount of time meeting up with everyone would take). I told her we would definately get together on Sunday.
Saturday was filled with general ‘living in San Jose’ type stuff, which was the kind of stuff I was looking to see. Chris and I went shopping for furniture, ran errands, grabbed lunch, and other ‘day-to-day’ stuff. The popular supermarket chain there, Safeway, was OK, but it definately wasn’t Wegmans. :) It amazes me how that area is so populated, both with people and businesses. Chris made me some great Meatloaf, which was the first time she attempted the dish. She even ate it (and liked it) herself, and I always am excited when I introduce people to new things.
Sunday we did more of the same, and we also met up with Kate. While we were waiting to meet Kate at the Oakridge Mall, we decided to check this Jamba Juice place out. Jamba Juice is one of the “California Anomalies” I was describing earlier…. It is a store that sells fresh-made smoothies and juices, and it is something that could only exist in the confines of California. The smoothies there were great, and we ended going back there 3-4 times before I left. Chris suggested that they put crack in the smoothies, which is something I agree with now that I am having widthdrawal symptoms since returning. :)
Meeting up with Kate was wonderful, she looks very healthy (probably related to her resumption of eating meat… :P), and it was great to see her again. We met at one mall, and headed over to the Great Mall in Milpitas. This mall was pretty large, but it was really strange (arranged in a big loop, so you couldn’t cut across to the stores on the back side of the mall. On our way out, we noticed the “Vans Skatepark”, which according to Chris wasn’t open a week ago. This place was amazing, a gigantic skatepark with many halfpipes, pools, ramps, and other things to keep a skateboarder occupied. If I do end up out there, it is definately something I am going to go to often.
Sunday night I made Chili, and Chris and I watched Fight Club (me for the (n+1)th time, and her for the 1.2th time). She was uncertain about the movie, but I think it is something she just has to see again. That movie is definately not one to be understood fully during the first viewing, and i hope she revisits the movie in the near future. I was impressed that she actually made it past the first 15 minutes of the movie without falling asleep. :) The Chili I made was finished towards the end of the movie. It was odd chili for me, because Chris is just getting used to this idea of beans, so I had to go easy on it… I think after eating the Chili, she realized that beans aren’t as bad as she thought… She also made me stop putting peppers and spices into the Chili for fear of its wrath. After tasting it, she complained it wasn’t spicy enough. :) The peppers they have out there are wonderful, though, and even Habaneros were readily available
Monday was “Cat-Maintenance” day, which was interesting. Chris adopted two full-grown cats about a week ago. Their names are Layla and Cisco (Cisco was originally named Meow, but it didn’t respond to it, and on top of that, Meow is a stupid-ass name, so she changed it). Layla was sneezing and breathing funny, and Chris suspected a upper-respratory infection. The vet confirmed her suspicions, and gave Layla some antibiotics to fight it off. I have to say that, while I am not a cat-person, her cats are pretty cool. I kinda grew attached to Layla, but mostly because she is a mutant.
We didn’t have much time to do anything fun on Tuesday, as my flight was at 1pm. As you can imagine, it was hard to go, for multiple reasons. I really like things out there, and I could see myself living out there, but it is a really tough decision for me. On one hand, many of the companies I would like to work for are on the West Coast. But moving out there puts me so far away from my family and many of my friends. I am going to have to think long and hard about that….