Driving south to San Diego, I’m excited about Vanessa’s arrival. It had drizzled off-and-on all day – an unusual occurrence for San Diego in July. The rain had let up and I was hopeful this wasn’t an omen for the rest of her visit. Sunny Southern California has a reputation to maintain and drizzly dark skies aren’t what out-of-towners are expecting to get!
I’d emailed Vanessa back in May and asked if she might come to our Blog-o-versary Party. Lo-and-behold, she said yes and the day was already here! She sends me a text to tell me her plane is running 20 minutes behind schedule. No worries (as the Australians say); that will give me plenty of time to avoid traffic problems in San Diego and find a parking spot at the airport.
I arrive with plenty of time to spare and manage to find one of the last parking spaces available in the immense parking lot. What’s up with that? Is something special happening in San Diego (other than our party!) to fill this very large parking lot at our airport? Are people flying in from hither-and-yon to celebrate something I don’t know about? Comic Con is over, so it can’t be that!
I walk leisurely to the terminal and find the “Arrivals” board. Her flight is still delayed, so I wander up and down the terminal, locating baggage claim and then wander back to the gate. Finally, the board flips and states that her flight has landed and is at the gate. People start coming through the gate, heading for baggage claim in droves. Then, there’s a lull. People trickle through and no Vanessa. She’s not hard to spot – an attractive young woman who happens to be 6′ 2″.
The lady next to me asks me from where my friend is arriving. I tell her LA and she looks at me strangely. She tells me that she’s waiting for her niece and great-niece from San Francisco. Her party arrives and they are joyfully reunited. The onslaught of people deplaning lulls again.
I decide maybe I’d better go to baggage claim and check there, just in case Vanessa slipped by. It’s now easily 20 minutes since her plane arrived and no Vanessa in site! Worried, I get out my cell phone to try to call her. Instead, I see a text from her from 15 minutes earlier! How did I miss her text?
Silly me – she was at the Commuter Terminal! Apparently, all flights arriving from Los Angeles are now routed to the Commuter Terminal! I’ve lived here 35 years and have never been to the Commuter Terminal! What’s up with that? To make matters worse, there is a gigantic sign over the road leading to the airport that states “All Los Angeles Arrivals – Commuter Terminal”!!! How could I be such a ditz and keep Vanessa cooling her heals by the side of the road?
I trudge back to my car, exit the parking lot and drive the few miles to the Commuter Terminal. There she is, literally, by the side of the road, scrunched down on her knees, backpack beside her, book in hand, reading. She has traveled 25 hours to get here and I’ve made her wait 45 minutes more! Not a good way to start as hostess!
After profuse apologies and collecting her belongings, we head to a Thai restaurant to get some dinner to take home. It is almost 6:00 p.m. and by the time we get to our town outside of San Diego, it will be 7:00 p.m. I love this little Thai restaurant, Saffron. Run by Su Mei Yu, an internationally known chef and cookbook author, I’m sure the food will please Vanessa, a foodie and fellow blogger. She defers to me when ordering and I order my favorite dish to share plus spring rolls. Back in the car, we head out for the long ride home.
Heading out of downtown San Diego on one of our major freeways, suddenly a police car zooms ahead weaving back and forth between the four (or is it five) lanes! He’s so fast that I’m worried he is going to create an accident. Instead, he expertly slows the freeway traffic to a dead stop, bobbing in and out, from lane to lane. He jumps out of the patrol car and removes a large piece of debris from the road, tossing it up on an embankment. Task completed, he gets back into his car and zooms away. Traffic resumes and I’m relieved there wasn’t an accident that would delay our ride home.
We gab all the way – I’m excited to have her here and she’s excited to be here! We exit the freeway and head down the country road that will take us home. Along the way, we pass a winery, an ostrich farm, a dairy, a small sheep farm (or is it still considered a ranch?) used to train sheep dogs, vast fields of citrus in valleys below with avocados dotting the hills. It’s still daylight – the gloaming – and I’m thrilled that she is getting to see our dry, barren landscape at its best advantage.
Pulling into our exceeding long driveway with Jacarandas trees dotting both sides (blooms now spent), we round a corner and are literally stopped dead in our tracks. A rainbow has appeared over our house as if to welcome her to California! Not just any rainbow, but a double rainbow! We jump out of the car and both of us try frantically to take pictures. My fancy dancy Nikon DSLR camera is not capturing the moment. Arg! It doesn’t know what to focus on and I don’t know how to make it focus by changing the settings! In desperation, I pull out my iPhone and take these pictures:
Charlie hears the ruckus outside and drives his scooter out to greet us. The few remaining swallows are twirling, whirling, diving and soaring as we walk around trying to get the maximum view of this rainbow. I tell Vanessa that it’s her rainbow and a good omen for the days ahead!
Inside, we drop Vanessa’s bags in the guest room and head into the kitchen to eat our take-out Thai food. Now cold, I realize, immediately, that it is NOT my favorite dish! I’m hugely disappointed that I can’t share my favorite dish with Vanessa; there won’t be another opportunity on her short visit here.
She then presents us with a few gifts from her native land: Tim Tam cookies (biscuits to the Australians) and Vegemite. Well, the cookies go without explanation – they are chocolaty, with a crispy center and delicious! With only 11 in the package, they are gone in two days!
But, the Vegemite is a mystery to both me and Charlie. We’ve never heard of it or tasted it. Vanessa tells us that it originated in Australia and is made by Kraft. That gives me pause since Kraft is an American company until she explains that she is quite sure that Kraft acquired the original manufacturer many years ago. Very salty, it was developed as a food supplement and is served (mainly on toast or other bread) for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It is also used as a flavor enhancer for soups, pasta, stews, etc. Then, as if in a dream, I remember:
Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscle
I said, “Do you a-speak my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,
“I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.”
– hit song performed by Men at Work and released in 1981
Yep, I’m really that old (and so is Charlie!)…
Charlie and I each try a tiny little bit on the end of our fingers. It’s an “acquired” taste, much like coffee, beer and smoking are “acquired”! Stay tuned for Vegemite recipes in the future on this blog!
We bid her good night. She needs her sleep because there’s no time for jet lag tomorrow – our Blog-o-versary Party day! And, much to do in the days ahead…
(other posts about Vanessa and her visit)
- Barefoot with Friends and Vanessa’s Pavlova
- Bloggy Boot Camp Revealed
- Toot Sweet 4 Two Turns One: Blog-o-versary Party Recap