Ahh, I see you are wondering what has happened to the three Santucci's. Well, I won't tell you just yet. For now, let's get back to business.
We left Coronado and San Diego on August 10th. Some stress had begun to build up since Las Vegas. Did I mention how civilization slapped us in the face like a rude SOB? The traffic, the pollution, the crowds. The natural world is EASY to get used to. A week away from all the chaos of city life had me hooked. Even though I've always considered myself a city girl. Which makes me wonder, how long would I actually last if I changed things up and became a woodswoman? The point is, driving into Vegas there was a lot of construction, it was late, it was dark, I was tired. We were all tired. And from there we went to San Diego. Paradise, sure, but not exactly relaxing enough. Now, from San Diego our trek was to take us up the coast to Oakland, where we'd stay with Mummy's friend Jenny. We had to pass by Los Angeles and Mummy thought she'd like to stop in for a short visit with some of her friends from the firm she used to work for. They have a showroom in Santa Monica, I think. Well, it was Friday and I don't think it even matters what time we left because it seems that rush hour lasts just about all day between San Diego and L.A., especially on a Friday! So what SHOULD take 3 hours ended up taking 7!!!! I had definitely noticed the increased number of tourists in Coronado when I was there, and I certainly don't remember this kind of traffic 13 years ago. But that said, we did not make it in time for Mummy to visit her friends at the showroom. And she was audibly upset about it. By that I mean I got the silent treatment from her and I could hear the serated edge of the knife cutting through the tension in the air. And once again we found ourselves driving late into the night, tired, no room at the inns we first sought out, necessary to go another 30 mintues north and keep our fingers crossed. We stayed just north of Magic Mountain and headed to Jenny's the next day. And this is what I first noticed in Jenny's guest room, where I went directly for a nap after the delicious luncheon she prepared for our arrival:
Okay, I think George Clooney is absolutely gorgeous. But that's not why I picked up the magazine and took it to show Mummy. The reason is because George Clooney has an uncanny resemblance to my grandmother. Hey, don't get the wrong idea! My grandmother was a beautiful woman. Seriously, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL woman in her hometown in Italy. And everybody knew it. Just imagine George in a feminine way. Cross him with Salma Hayek and you'll get the picture. So, I show my mom that a sign from Nonna was waiting in the guest room at Jenny's and she reminds me that the day before, August 10th, was the 2 year anniversary of Nonna's death. AND I HAD FORGOTTEN! And THAT was what was REALLY bothering Mummy all day. I felt soo bad. But she said she didn't want to mention it because it was better not to get sad. We think of her all the time, everyday, when we aren't on vacation. She knows we love her and miss her. See, I'm getting sad anyway. So.....
Jenny's granddaughters were performing that night in an obon festival. It was serendipitous.
The 13th through 16th of August is called obon in Japan. Obon is a Buddhist event and is one of the most important traditions for Japanese people. It is the period of praying for the repose of the souls of one's ancestors. People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during obon.
People clean their houses and offer a variety of food such as vegetables and fruits to the spirits of ancestors in front of butsudan (Buddhist families altar). Butsudan is decorated with flower and chouchin (paper lanterns). On the 13th, chouchin are lit inside houses, and people go to their family's graves to call their ancestors' spirits back home. It's called mukaebon. In some regions, fires called mukaebi are lit at the entrances to homes to guide the ancestor's spirits.
Hey, is that the Karate Kid or Matt Lu?
Here are Jenny's beautiful granddaughters:
The festival was so neat, I couldn't stop taking pictures. The traditional dresses were so colorful and the dancers ranged in age probably from 2 to 85.
Afterwards, we went out to dinner with Jenny, her son, and his girlfriend.
One thing we really hadn't had a lot of on the road was good food. Between Pittsburgh and San Diego the best thing we ate was bought from the grocery store in Colorado at a Safeway. We bought hard rolls, turkey and the BEST EVER salami from the deli and had picnic sandwiches with mayonnaise. I'm tellin' you, the BEST EVER salami! In San Diego, Mycol and I had a great breakfast downtown around the corner from the hotel. He had a sausage omelet and I had one with mushrooms and squash blossoms. Both were served with a side of refried black beans in a corn tortilla shell. Mummy missed out on that one, but we brought her some leftovers. So Jenny's luncheon was the first excellent home-cooked meal we had. She served soup with fish and shrimp, and a lentil salad. And a nice red wine from Trader Joe's that I should remember the name of, oh wait, she called it something like "ol' Chuck" as a joke. So eating out after the festival at a chinese restaurant was our second good meal in 48 hours after searching the expanse of the country for something good to eat in a restaurant. (Oh, shit, I'm lying! The lunch I had at the Highway Restaurant in Albia, Illinois was pretty good. Standard BLT and a cup of excellent soup of the day, something with beef and cabbage in it. And of course, we avoided fine dining across the country to save money). When Jenny took us into Berkeley the next day to have my oil changed, shop at REI, and eat lunch at ANOTHER good place to eat, it almost overwhelmed us. We started to remember the good things about city life all over again. We had lunch at an Indian restaurant and filled up on curry, nan, saag, etc.
That's Jenny with Mycol and me. The name of the restaurant reminded me of my friend Raj. His little girl's name is Priya.
At REI I bought a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag for Mycol. I wanted our next night in the elements to be WARMER. Jenny knows all about that, she camps a lot! We had a great time at her place, very comfortable. It was fantastic to stay with a friend for the first time in a week. Life on the road can be tough. But we had to move on. Stay tuned for our next stop. Northern California, here we come!