2 Big Ol' Geeks on the Bridge of the Enterprise

So Lucie is able to leave work a little early today, and we've got a few hours of rare weekday daylight time together. And to celebrate that, we decide to go someplace we've been meaning to go for a while, the Star Trek Experience at San Jose's the Tech Museum. Lucie's sort of a closeted Star Trek fan (Kirk, not so much Picard) and I'm a sci-fi fan (general all-around geek), so it sounds like a good time for both of us. It's only in town until the new year and we figure most people are either at work or our shopping, so it should be fairly empty.

I'm actually looking forward to this; I haven't been to the Tech since last year, when I went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit they had (which was way cool in a mechanical engineer wannabe sort of way) and I figure it's high time I paid it another visit.

Parking is a little sparse, as Christmas in the Park is going on right across the street and the normal business parking lot is closed, but there's a public parking structure a block away where we find an open spot, so we have a small hike through the carnival rides that are set up for Christmas in the Park, and we eventually arrive at the Tech.

There's no line to buy tickets, which makes us happy. After buying tickets we realize that our scheduled time slot for entry isn't for another hour, which makes us grumpy. We sit for a few minutes by the entrance; there's hardly anyone nearby to get in, which makes us wonder why they're rationing the crowds so heavily. I eventually go back through the line and ask why we need to wait for an hour before entering, and the guy apologizes for typing in the wrong time -- we can go ahead and enter any time we'd like, he says, which makes me a little murderous and not at all Christmassy in spirit, but I get over it, he survives the day, and Lucie and I enter the exhibit.

It's a Star Trek geek's paradise -- costumes and props (some of them replicas; some of them the real thing) from a myriad of characters from all of the shows and movies. Everything from the outfits from all of the original series' characters (McCoy's shirt didn't look nearly as fuzzy when I watched it on TV), to tidbits and trivia about the actors (I never noticed or realized that James Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand during D-Day and just tried to hide it on set), to a replica of the original bridge complete with Captain's chair where we get our picture taken by an official The Star Trek Experience Wants More of Your Money worker. We also get our picture taken in the Transporter Room, for a "holographic" picture where we appear and disappear (maybe it's just me, but for some reason the official worker here seems relieved that he can make the image of me and my tie dye outfit go away.)

Walking through the rest of the exhibit, we say hi to a tribble, ooh and aah at the assorted weapons, mock a picture of Wesley Crusher, get a headache trying to follow the huge Star Trek timeline display that takes up an entire wall and covers everything from Star Trek: Enterprise (hi, Sam Beckett!) to Star Trek Nemesis (so long, Bob Wheeler!), and buy several cans of Romulan Ale, a Star Trek themed energy drink which gimmick I wholeheartedly support. We also buy a picture of Lucie in the captain's chair (looking very commanding and in charge), me in the captain's chair (looking decidedly less so), and our holographic transporter room picture (complete with rocking picture frame to best view the disappearing act.)

Geeked out, poorer, and happy we came, we leave the Tech and wander back through the Christmas in the Park carnival toward the parking garage. We stop long enough to win a pink-frog-in-a-Santa-hat stuffed animal; buy a caramel apple for Lucie, a bag of cotton candy for us to share, some caramel corn on a stick for me (because it's caramel corn,on a stick) and a funnel cake in case the other stuff doesn't have enough sugar in it; and continue on back to Meg.

We pay way too much for parking (not surprising) and drive home. If you're near San Jose and like the show or movies (and dislike your money and want to get rid of a bunch of it), I do recommend going to the exhibit. I wouldn't recommend wearing your Star Trek shirt or Spock ears or anything, though, 'cuz that might be going just a bit overboard. And, uh, we didn't think of it.

Merry Geeksmas.


Hawai'i 2.0, Day 12: "Do You All Know What It Is You're Carrying?"

Dawn breaks on our last day in Hawai'i.

We don't notice it, on account of we're sleeping at the time. We saw one sunrise here; that's enough for one trip. However, we do eventually wake up, and busy ourselves with packing everything up (it even fits, though one of the suitcases feels a little heavy) for our trip back home. We pay our hotel bill (which, especially when combined with the bar tab, is not quite insubstantial) and load up our poor abused rental car, wave our last goodbye at the ocean (which waves back) and head on out to the airport.

I drop Lucie off, we pay someone from the Hawaii Porter Service not nearly enough to struggle with our suitcases and check them in for us (it's well worth the minimal cost to have someone else lug our bags for us), and I return our convertible to the rental agency. We spend part of our remaining time poking through the airport gift shop, where I buy two bags of One Ton Chips for snacks (first had some from the Volcano Village store when we bought gas -- they're mild in flavor and oddly addictive), some more goodies for friends and family (my carry-on bag's seams voice their concerns), and another ball cap. I don't usually buy ball caps -- I've grown accustomed to bandannas -- but on this trip I've bought four; not exactly sure how that happened.

Our flight to Honolulu is uneventful, but apparently they've entered us into a local iron man competition at the airport, since we have a half mile long outdoor hike to our connecting flight to Oakland. We get a little lost trying to find the right gate, but once we decide to follow the trail of fallen bodies of other passengers on the same hike we eventually find our way. We take a very welcome rest in a slightly cooler terminal for a while (no air conditioning apparently, as they're doing construction on a nearby section of the building) and board our flight to the Mainland.

A pretty impressive dinner for first class -- a crab tomato salad with wasabi vinaigrette, macadamia nut crusted ahi with lilikoi sauce and pineapple chutney, ginger chicken stir fry over garlic rice, and a Kona coffee flan -- and some cold drinks (guava juice, guava juice with champagne, and ginger ale), an in-flight movie of Julie & Julia for the foodies among us, and Lucie watches Mama Mia on her personal video player (free rental for first class) while I study Japanese on my iPhone for the rest of the flight, and another safe touchdown in Oakland. In just a few short hours, we've gone from a hot, humid, and sunny day to a cold, rainy night. It's one heck of a change, and it takes me a little while to adapt.

We have trouble finding our luggage -- which is surprising, as mine is a bright red Hawaiian print. Turns out they sent half of our plane's luggage to a different carousel, so there's a slight delay leaving; but eventually we gather all of our belongings and wait for our limo for the ride home. We don't recognize it at first, as our original Lincoln town car from the ride up has grown into a stretch limo... which is a nice surprise indeed. Our driver is once again Dean (the guy whom I contacted at On Time Limousine is named James, this guy's name is Dean, and there's driving involved... just sayin') and he welcomes us back and starts driving us home. Turns out he's from Fresno, so Lucie and he chat amiably most of the way home while I relax and stretch my legs. I can't hear the conversation, as I'm in the back of the limo and Lucie's near the front, but I've got some binoculars so I do my best to read lips from a distance.

We get home safely, give Dean a bag of Kona coffee as part of his tip, and lug our bags inside our apartment. We find two notices from the TSA saying they've inspected our luggage -- one in Lucie's bags and one in mine. I can only assume that we were carrying home so much coffee that the drug sniffing dogs assumed we were trying to smuggle cocaine (admit it -- we've all learned that from watching Beverly Hills Cop) and they had to check us out. I understand it's done for everyone's safety and all that, but when it happens that often it's just a little creepy.

Our trip to Hawai'i is over. It'll take us a while to recover financially (we spent an awful lot), but as soon as we can build up our vacation fund we're going back. Lucie suggests next March; I'm thinking it might be just a little longer than that, but hopefully not too much longer. Aloha, mahalo, and see you again soon.

Coffee consumption: 1 can of Royal Mills "island mocha" and some coffee flan.