1 Long, Rambling (and Delinquently-Blogged) Weekend Trip, Not in San Jose

We've both been working pretty hard, and have had some fairly un-fun days at work recently, so we've felt the need to get away from home and work and everything else in San Jose that reminds us of home and work... and that resulted in our taking a couple of mini vacations several weekends back.

This particular weekend, I had Friday off (my work called it a "Spring holiday"; people at work were calling it Good Friday; but since I didn't have to work I was considering it a great Friday.) Lucie had to work, but she was able to arrange it so she could leave work early... and since it also happened to be Earth Day, what better way to celebrate the global effort to conserve and save our environment than to take a road trip?

We hadn't been up north and inland in many months, so we decide to drive up to Vacaville and see where our impulses take us (with both of us pretty much agreeing that at least a couple of those impulses would be casino-based, which if you know anything about us should come as absolutely no surprise.). We head out of town early afternoon, just in time to run into everyone else heading out of town early afternoon on a Friday, and end up taking a slow leisurely drive along with about three hundred thousand other people up 680 toward Pleasanton; then with two hundred thousand people up to Walnut Creek; and then with only a hundred thousand or so the rest of the way to Fairfield, where we make our first stop of the day at the Jelly Belly factory.

Immediately, I start to realize that this may have been a mistake... not because I regret wanting quality tasty fruity processed sugars, and not because I suddenly have a change of character and decide not to spoil my coworkers with free goodies, and not because I don't want to continue our tradition of stopping by here every time we go through Fairfield; but because MAYBE it's not exactly the SMARTEST idea ever to stop by a JELLY BEAN FACTORY on the Friday just before EASTER.

Hordes of children and their traumatized, beleaguered, deafened, twitching, and otherwise thoroughly defeated parents are already inside the Jelly Belly Factory store; waiting (not very) patiently in line for the free tour of the facility; running from free sample to free sample in an effort to establish a sugar rush that will last through the weekend; bolting screaming from the store in horror and fear that one's clothes will get stained by blood and food coloring after being trampled by more tiny feet than the time that scholastic equipment manufacturer had to recall all those out-of-spec rulers. You know how it is.

Anyway, I bravely brave the throng of tykes and forcibly force my way to the display of "Belly Flops" (misshapen beans that still taste yummy but wouldn't win the Miss Jelly Belly pageant), handily hand my haul to the cashier, adverbly verb my way back to the car; and then we continue on our way to Vacaville.

Oh, by the way... new flavor of Jelly Belly that I discover: chili mango. Freakin' awesome.

We get to Vacaville, check in to the hotel, and head off to our non-casino-based spending destination, namely, the outlet mall conveniently located directly across the street from where we're staying. I opt to stay away from Harry & David's since I had just bought 15 pounds of Belly Flops not 30 minutes ago, but Lucie reacquaints herself with Lane Bryant and some other clothing stores where she helps the local economy recover in her favorite way.

After proudly displaying her retail conquests, we head up to Cache Creek Technically Also a Resort But Really Mostly a Casino for dinner. Casino eating means a buffet, so we make our way slowly toward the buffet located strategically at the rear of the casino, playing cautiously and in a thrifty manner right up until we get separated, at which point I start feeding the machines twenty dollar bills like they're goats at a petting zoo.

The machines are like goats. Not twenty dollar bills like goats.

That would be weird.

We eat dinner, then slowly work our way back out of the casino, once again feeding the machines bills (only this time like I'm an old woman feeding pigeons in Central Park -- I've got a system) until we reach the safety of the elevators. We get caught up for a while in front of a vampire-themed machine, but still manage to escape the beast with some money in pocket (Lucie of course having more in hers than I do in mine.)

We return to the hotel, spend the night in blissful slumber dreaming of recouping our losses, and the next morning we head further up highway 80 past Sacramento and Folsom until we get to Apple Hill in Placerville.

Well, okay... so we actually go past Placerville and up to Red Hawk Casino first and gamble some more, but really, the results are remarkably similar to yesterday's trip to Cache Creek Technically Also a Resort But Really Mostly a Casino. Maybe it's a fishing themed game instead of vampires this time, but bloodsucker, sucker fish -- whatevs; no need to rehash. So, skipping the gambling palace and on to the domestic Malus.

It's sort of between apple seasons right now but Boa Vista has a fruit stand open all year so we stop by. We get some Arkansas Black apples on sale (just past season so they're a bit old but serviceable), some unfiltered apple cider (with plans of French onion soup on our mind), and blackberry honey; and then we go to the adjoining bakery where we get some apple-themed carbs (fritter, cookie, donut, turnover) for snacking on the way home.

The Arkansas Black apples are tasty but a little mealy, the cider is of course destined for drinking out of a glass instead of soup but refreshing nonetheless, the apple-themed carbs range from good to heavy on the apple and good, the blackberry honey is as yet unopened, and we both arrive back home with less money, more calories, and a fun lost weekend.

And reliving all of this makes me want apples again. Dang.