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January 17, 2004

California Departure
Written 12-27-03

Well here it is, the last day in California for a while, and I’ve just now gotten the chance to sit down and write a new blog. As I write this, I’ve got a very sweet dog on my lap; I could get used to this. I have pictures of this dog, of course, as you can probably see.

The trip’s been terrific in all regards, I have to say, except for one: I didn’t get to see Nick and Mike in San Francisco due to the difficulties of a hastily planned expedition to the Bay Area. (I’ll make it up to you guys.) The trip to San Francisco, while beautiful and fun, was not what we’d hoped for. Instead of eating in Chinatown, we just drove through. Instead of wandering art and paper stores in Berkeley, we ate there and wandered a single game store (a good one). Instead of meeting Nick and Mike, we drove through gorgeous Marin County and think we may have actually found Skywalker Ranch. I took pictures, but won’t put them on the internet, for obvious reasons. I love the Ranch because it seems like a great–even idyllic–way to work and I love the philosophy of the place. Plus, if what I was looking at was the Ranch (it’s a very handsome office building in a Frank Lloyd Write style) it seems like a great “office sanctuary,” if you will. Good stuff. I aspire to work in an environment like that one day, be it a small one of my one or a big imitator. Sadly, I don’t think Lucas needs game designers or writers at the Ranch, so the odds aren’t good that I’ll ever work there, exactly. Still, a nice aspiration.

San Francisco was breathtaking and somewhat overwhelming, as usual. I found myself unable to take any good pictures from the car, so all you’ve got is all I got. Sorry about that. Berkeley wasn’t quite what I remembered it being, but is a great town nonetheless. Sara and I talked about moving there, somewhat seriously, but that would have to be a ways off. Four movie theaters, restaurants, a great game store, several terrific-looking bookstores, scenery, and an ocean? Yeah, we could be happy there. Of course it’s horrendously expensive, too. Haven’t figured that part out yet. (Plus, I like a great deal of people in Chicago and would hate to be so far away.)

We drove through Sacramento and saw Arnold’s not-house; no one lives in the California Governor’s mansion anymore on account of it’s a deadly firetrap. The capitol building itself is on a huge and very Californian lawn with orange trees and all that. Sacramento is much lovelier town than I remembered. When I was there last time I said it was a city of beatniks in cowboys hats. That may still be true, but it’s also a town of indy-rocker hipsters and wilderness sports-types. Oh yeah, and politicians, I guess. Anyway, nice place. These nachos I got for lunch came with probably the best chorizo I’ve ever had. Plus, they were good-looking nachos. (Edit: I added this stuff about the nachos on 1/16/04 just so I could include my picture of the nachos.)

The hills here around Sara’s parent’s house are simply stunning to this Midwestern suburbanite boy. I’ve got to write more about them, but I want to spread out the pictures a little bit, so that’ll come next, I think. By then I should have new Chicago pictures, too, for those of you who care about such things.

(The dog on my lap, Molly, has left to inspect the carpet in this room and has now returned.)

Today looks to be another good day, followed by a flight back to St. Paul with another layover in Denver. Today I play with dogs, drive around the Folsom/Sacramento area, eat sushi, and then rocket at the speed of sound through the mighty Rockies to the frozen north. It’s going to be real hard to get excited about the Twin Cities again after two consecutive visits to California and Chicago. San Francisco and Chicago are my two favorite cities, though there are plenty that may top them once I get there.

Which reminds me, I’ve got to go think seriously about how a honeymoon in Europe is going to work. I’ve been desperate to get to Europe for years, and this coming year may be when it finally happens. Wedding, schmedding, so long as we get to Europe. Therefore, friends, expect paper plates, plastic cups, and Pizza Hut.

So, I’m off on sleeping feet to play with Petey, who’s just come in to sniff my stuff. Word to your mothers.

Noise: Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, Thrills

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