----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Weekend Getaway

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Weekend Getaway

On Monday, I returned from a long weekend at the shore. It sounds so romantic, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it wasn't--at least, not for me and my husband. We went to attend a friend's wedding, which was extremely beautiful and romantic. For us, though, the weekend turned into a comedy of errors--one that wasn't all that funny at the time.

Things started inauspiciously when I had to get up early on Saturday morning to set out on my journey. (I love sleeping late, and weekends are my only time to indulge.) But I was driving up with two friends, so I thought we'd all have a good time. We did...until we came to the windy mountain road that would lead us west. My backseat passenger started feeling carsick, and even fresh air and beautiful scenery didn't help. Luckily, we made it to our destination unscathed, and no one threw up.

We were supposed to be meeting up with the bride and several other ladies for a bit of hot-tubbing before the big day. We were mostly on time, but then we couldn't find the spa anywhere! Finally, we asked for directions (we're not men, after all...we know when we're lost) and we found the place, but no one was around but a snooty receptionist who claimed she knew nothing of our party and told us the spa wouldn't even open for another hour. Finally, she pointed us toward the back of the property and told us to have a look for ourselves. And there, we found everyone soaking in a big old redwood hot tub...the spa had opened an hour early just for us. They were all taking advantage of the "clothing optional" policy, so we did, as well. The bride was looking radiant and relaxed, which was good to see. We had a nice, relaxing soak, but once the clock hit 12, we were back in the locker room. The spa was coed, you see, and we weren't feeling open-minded enough to share our clothing optional state with perfect strangers...men strangers, that is.

Then we set off for a hike and a picnic, all of which was lovely. Well, except for the picnic part. All the sandwiches had mayonnaise AND cheese...my worst nightmare! (I have an aversion to most white foods...cheese, mayonnaise and eggs in particular.) I managed to take a sandwich apart and nibble at some of it, but by the time we returned to our motel by the sea, I was famished.

Our male counterparts had driven up separately and checked into the motel just before we returned from our hike. Our room was fine. It had a king-sized bed, as promised, and a view of the ocean, as promised, but that was about it in the way of amenities. But what can you expect for $109 a night? We were on a budget! Anyway, at about 4:00 in the afternoon, we set off in search of food. We were attending a beach bonfire that evening, but I couldn't wait for sustenance.

We were staying in Fort Bragg, which is north of Mendocino. I hadn't been to the area since I was a very young child, and my main memory was of it being windy. It was still windy. What I didn't remember was that Mendocino was very charming and quaint and welcoming, while Fort Bragg...well, Fort Bragg is sort of like the ugly redheaded blue-collar stepchild and Mendocino is like the beautiful and accomplished favorite daughter. One of the main problems with Fort Bragg is that all of its eateries have extremely limited hours during which they serve food, and 4:00 in the afternoon is not one of those times. We ended up at Denny's.

The best thing about our excursion was that we went to Starbucks first and I got to try the decadent new chocolate drink, the Chantico. It is served in a little six-ounce cup, which looks like a shot glass compared to some of the grande venti or whatever they're called drinks. And I think it's made from cacao butter and heavy cream. There are probably a thousand calories and 60 fat grams in one little cup. (Okay, I just looked it up on the Web site...it's 390 calories and 21 grams of fat, so it's not quite as bad as I feared.) It was deliciously rich, but I could only finish half of it. If you like chocolate and you have an addictive personality, I would strongly recommend that you NOT try this drink. It's like chocolate crack.

Okay, onward. That night, we went to the beach bonfire. It was a cool concept, but the weather did not cooperate. We got so sandblasted that I didn't even have to use my exfoliating body scrub the next day. And I think I got plenty of fiber from all the sand that wound up in my food and drink. Wait...sand is just silica. That's not an essential nutrient! I got to make a s'more...delicious! Also, I saw a girl that I hadn't seen since 8th grade. That was kind of a trip. We tolerated the windstorm for a while, but then one of our party got a grain of sand in his eye and couldn't get it out and that pretty much cut our evening short. The beach was beautiful and the fire was hot, but not hot enough to warm the whole crowd. So we went back to the hotel and warmed ourselves by drinking copious amounts of vodka. Then we went and bought an eyepatch for Mr. Sandy Eye, but he refused to wear it.

That night, I nearly froze in my sleep, despite the copious amounts of alcohol. I might have been warmed up by some good lovin', but unfortunately, although I brought the sexy lingerie, I overindulged in the devil's drink. My poor husband! It was not until the next morning that I realized our room had a thermostat, and it had been set to 60. We had a delicious restaurant at Eggheads, the one establishment I can recommend in Fort Bragg, although they do get a little carried away with their Wizard of Oz theme. The wind had died down then, so we lolled about on the beach for a while. And then we got gussied up for the weddding.

The ceremony took place at a quaint community center in nearby Caspar. It was full of Jewish traditions that the couple had tweaked to make them more personal, and everything was very lovely and touching. We had been told that we would be hiking to a cliff so that the couple could say their vows overlooking the ocean, but alas, it was too windy. (Damn you, wind!) Luckily, the bride was still radiant and relaxed, so everyone just went out into the back field for the ceremony. But first, the men hung out with the groom and drank whiskey while the women mingled with the bride and drank fruit punch. Isn't that always the way? Then we learned a song in Hebrew that signaled the men to come in and join us. The couple signed their marriage contract, which was beautifully illustrated, and then it was out into the field and under the huppah for them. They had written their own vows, and we all got a little teary-eyed.

The reception turned in to quite a party. We were all seated at long tables, family-style, but unfortunately, Mr. Pink and I were at the edge of our group, and some other wedding guests started talking to us. Now, I'm all for making small talk and meeting new people, but this was a little strange. This older couple wanted to know Mr. Pink's life story. It went far beyond small talk and into prying. Then, they gave us a business card and asked us to come buy vitamins at their health food store! Odd. But then Mr. Pink got an asthma attack and we had to go back to the hotel to get his inhaler. Fort Bragg just seems to bring out the maladies, doesn't it? But we rallied and returned for a bit of dancing, and we got to see the bride and groom pour from a methuselah of champagne (a really, really big bottle) and drink from ginormous glasses. The cool thing about this wedding was that it really reflected the bride and groom's personal style.

After the reception, Mr. Pink and I were still hungry. Others in our party were headed home, but we had our room for one more night. Once again, we headed out to find food, and once again, we were stymied at every turn. If you ever do go to Fort Bragg, against my advice, be sure that you are only hungry before 2:00 p.m. or between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. After that, you're out of luck. We tried restaurant after restaurant, but we were always turned away. We didn't want to go back to Denny's, so we drove down the road a ways and came to a place called Perko's. It was open, and that's about the best that could be said of it. By that point, it was 9:35 and the restaurant closed at 10:00. We could have foraged further, but we didn't want to take the chance of having nothing to eat at all. So we stayed. Perko's is like Denny's, but worse. At least Denny's is a franchise!

After our terrible meal, we didn't think things could go much more awry, but of course, they did. We were maybe a mile from our motel when Mr. Pink noticed a police car stopped behind us at a red light. "They'll probably pull us over just to put a great capper on this night," I said. And that's exactly what happened. The cop claimed we were going 50 in a 25 zone. In my little Prius? Yeah, right! It's not exactly a speed machine. He asked why we were going so fast and I told him I wasn't feeling well and we were just trying to get back to the motel. (You wouldn't feel so hot, either, had you sampled Perko's fried chicken.) Then I made the mistake of expressing my opinion that we couldn't possibly have been going so fast. "Are you calling me a liar, ma'am?" the cop asked, real menancing-like. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, no one's calling anyone a liar," Mr. Pink intervened. He gave the cop his license and then said to me, "Just relax, okay?" But the cop overheard and returned to our car. "What did you just say?" he asked. "I was just telling my wife to calm down," Mr. Pink said. And then, after all that confrontation, the cop let us go with a warning, probably because he tagged us at a total speed trap. He pulled us over right where the speed limit changed from 45 to 25.

Luckily, we were able to put all that unpleasantness behind us and have a nice breakfast the next morning back at Eggheads. I had the "Kansas cakes," which were pancakes full of blackberries. Then we headed back away from the ocean, and we resolved that if we ever returned, it would only be to visit the more glamorous Mendocino, where perhaps the cops aren't as eager to hassle the tourists. But at least we have good stories to tell--and the bride and groom looked so happy together. And that's really all that matters. Already, we can look back and laugh.


  • At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! We must have been on different trips! It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.

  • At 10:45 PM, Blogger Astera said…

    Yeah, I think we were on different trips. You didn't get hassled by the police or eat at Perko's!


Post a Comment

<< Home