I have finally returned from the western edge of Amurrika. Herewith be my travelogue… (or something like that).
As some of you may be aware, I was to journey to the land of California (it’s a whole ‘nother world over there) for the purpose of attending a retirement party for mine Uncle (my mother’s brother). So, mom paid for my train ticket, expecting that no one else from the family would be able to attend. HA! I ended up travelling with my [native New Yorker] cousin from Philadelphia to Chicago, and with my mother and my cousin from Chicago to Pasadena. (Mom actually detrained in LA, as she was supposed to be a surprise for Uncle George.) I get along well (Thank Deity!) with my cousin, she knows all about me, is one of the few family members who has met my lover, and has actually been willing to share a bed with me for sleeping (my roaming hands and my snoring notwithstanding).
As y’all may have gathered, I managed to avoid all of the derailments that occured during my (too short) vacation. We were actually sitting in Union Station in Chicago, waiting to go west, when the Zephyr derailed. The train trip west was reasonably uneventful, except that Nina (cousin) somehow managed to attract all of the apparent single, weird, men on the train. At least, they’re the ones who tried to talk to her. (I must admit (ok, boast), Nina is very attractive by almost any standard one chooses. And she’s personable to boot.) I teased her about the men. I decided to read a tome called Sex Work: Writings by women in the sex industry. That was fun. There were actually a few women bold enough to ask if they could look through the book. As I handed the book over to them, I would comment that it wasn’t nearly as titillating as its title would indicate, that it was more a scholarly work than strictly entertainment. Some of those ladies actually sat ’round to chat, even after a couple of them figured out what kind of prevert I actually am. Gives me more faith in the Milk of Human Kindness.
I must tell you — if you want to comfortably experience the beauty of this land (The US of A) take the train long distance. I was once again overwhelmed, silenced even, by the beauty of the terrain we passed through. The Southwest Chief (train #3 or #4 depending on direction) and The California Zephyr (#6) let you see the desert in Texas and Nevada and New Mexico, and Utah and Colorado (and the Rockies) and the flatlands in Nebraska and Iowa. If only you could hear the exclamations running through my brain! We really are blessed to live in this beautiful a country and we really should do all that we can to be sure it remains this beautiful. Ok, enough soapbox for now.
On to Beautiful Downtown Pasadena … Uncle George met me and Nina at the station and checked us into the local Holiday Inn. I promptly went to sleep after we ate breakfast. (You didn’t think I’d slept on the train, did you? Between the beauty outside the windows and the beauty of various sorts in the lounge, I couldn’t sleep.) Somehow a day passed, and it was time to make sure we were ready for the retirement party. I had planned to attempt full-shock-affect, so I made sure my hair was pretty short, and I wore a burgundy dinner jacket, wing-collar tuxedo shirt, tuxedo pants, and a leather bolo tie (string tie). We spotted the limo from the window in our room, so we dashed downstairs so Uncle George wouldn’t have to wait. As we exited from the hotel, I saw something that made my eyes sparkle, I’m sure. Standing next to the limo was the most gorgeous butch woman (dressed in a three piece suit, natch), who smiled quite broadly when she caught sight of me. It’s amazing what recognition will do for one’s spirits. B-) She carefully escorted me into the limo, so of course I sat on the seat right behind her. Her name’s Renee, by the way. (I believe the company is H&H, or something like that.)
Well, we finally arrived at Descanso Gardens, to discover that we’d have to leave and come back again; they planned to videotape the whole thing! So, floating somewhere ’round Pasadena and parts of Virginia and Illinois, there is a record of Amelia in formalwear, being handed out of a limo by a(nother) lovely butch dyke. Anywhooey, Mom succeeded in surprising Uncle George, and they pinned lavendar orchids on female family members’ left ti, er, breas, um, chests — yes, that’s the word, chests. Males got a white carnation pinned onto their left chest. The party was actually quite pleasant for me. Several shots of Jim Beam helped considerably. Also fun was having several of the ubiquitous blue-haired lady type walk up to me and ask “Oh, are you George’s nephew?”. To which (each time) I calmly replied, “No, I’m George’s niece.” It’s amazing how quickly embarrasment will stop a potentially boring conversation. Well, the party ended, and we were driven home by another gay limo driver, Bob. (I know; I asked him as I handed over a tip. He says there’re several GorL drivers for this company.)
The next morning, I was rustled out of bed (by my mom) at 5:45 am! Uncle George wanted to beat LA’s rush hour slowness, so he picked me up to go to the train station at 7:00 am. I was in the train station, waiting for a 9:55 train, by 7:30am. The Coast Starlight (train #14, I think) follows the California coast from LA up into the Pacific Northwest. I detrained in Oakland. <DEITY!> My eyes were tired after looking out the window at all that beautiful coastline. And, just in case I got tired of watching the view outside, there were 6 (apparent) heterosexual couples on holiday together, most of whom hadn’t ridden a train in their recent memory, if ever. They were very entertaining, and loud. As the train pulled out of the station, they commenced passing around (amongst themselves) canapes and wine and bloody marys. By noon, most of them were either asleep, or drunk, or asleep and drunk. But they were still entertaining when they were awake.
Oakland — I’m glad I wasn’t alone there at night, judging by what I saw from the car as we whizzed through it on the way to El Cerrito. Saturday morning (well, late Saturday morning, I’m not normally a morning person) we got up and started that tourist thing. Vina had to drop off some stuff in Marin, so I got a scenic tour of Marin. Then to the Golden Gate Bridge, and Golden Gate Park. I got some pictures there. Damn it’s windy and cold there! Didn’t see any bison. Then off to The Haight. Looks almost the same as it did 20 years ago on television! Sat in a cafe and watched the (weird) world go by while sipping espresso. I felt like I was in a time warp!
And then, and then, off to Good Vibrations! That’s one of the smallest “museum”s I’ve seen in a long while. The rest of the store; let me just say that it, too, was most entertaining. Some poor soul was actually strongly encouraged by the staff to use the tryout room. I don’t think her complexion could have stood any more color changes than it went through. I guess she should have been glad for the increased blood flow she got, keeps the skin healthy, doncha know.
From there we visited Women’s Craft West (?), and the women’s bookstore right next door to it. Ah! Bookstores. It’s a good thing I didn’t have very much money with me. I lust after books. [You thought it was something else, didn’t you?] Saw Dorothy Allison there. She is an attractive woman, with a very pleasant voice, and a great smile. Not to mention that she’s a good writer.
To the Castro! Wow! Say what you want about ghettos, but it was quite pleasant to feel really comfortable walking around there. Stopped and got coffee in a little coffee shop, and then wandered into A Different Light. (Another Bookstore! I was in an orgiastic frenzy! All those places to buy books, in one day!)
Sappho.dinner was a most pleasant experience, too. We dined at Ryan’s; I don’t remember the address, but it’s not more than a couple, three, blocks from A Different Light. Very nice place, very gay/lesbian-friendly. (No big surprise there, right? After all, it’s located in the Castro.) Hello to Tess and Michele and Julie and Sherrie, and Vina and Sora (even though they don’t have email access). We almost picked up two more women to add to our lovely band of lezzies. But they weren’t there to dine with us. They had everyone fooled for quite some time, though. (We sat in a small bar area while waiting for everyone to arrive and for our table to be prepared.)
Once we’d determined who the real members of the sappho.dinner.party were, we were seated. Our waiter was a CYT (Cute Young Thing) who wore very nice pants and suspenders (or were they braces?). We complimented him on them. Just for this special occasion, I wore my Dyke College sweatshirt. (It really is a school in Cleveland. A good buddy of mine, who lives in Cleveland, gave me the sweatshirt.) Dinner was superb, at least mine was. How about others’? — ladies? My dinner companions all seem to be exceptional women. ‘Twas a pleasure to share your company. I hope to do that again, soon. (Maybe we’ll run into those other two women again, eh?)
Vina and I went off to Amelia’s, in front of which I had my picture taken. Nice, dark place on the first floor. Had to rush off to a private party. Had fun there, too, but I’m not going to provide details… B-)
Sunday we went to Mr. S. I’m now the proud owner of a leather hat. I’d always wanted one, so now I’m a little happier. All I need now is a leather jacket and the motorcycle (and the driver’s license) to go with it. So, questing for coffee, we went to The Eagle! (Did I mention Chuck and Rich? [Hi guys!] They were our “tour guides” for this part of the adventure.) We finally gave up on finding hot coffee at The Eagle, and ventured over to (I think) Hamburger Mary’s. (Am I right, Rich?) Interesting little joint, whatever it was. It was a definite change of pace to be in the company of good looking men dressed in wonderful-smelling leather. (Can you say Bear, Furr? Yes, they have lots of hair, too.) After consuming LARGE mugs of decent coffee, it was time to go to MOTSS.DINNER.WITH.AMELIA.
Before I say anything else, I want to thank Joe Stong for organising this event. THANK YOU, JOE (Woof, moo!) And I want to thank all those motssters who attended: Joe, Vina, Rich (and Chuck), Melinda, Paul, Chris, Henry, Jack, Rob, Debbie, Mike, David, Harry (and Daffodil), Chris, and Andy. Whew! As you can calculate, we were a merry band of 19 assorted happy people. We were seated together at a long table in the center of the restaurant (Ristorante Venezia). Dinner was, again, superb. (Joe, thanks for recommending this place.) I had such a good time, I didn’t even think about smoking a cigarette until we’d left the restaurant. (It is a “no smoking” restaurant.) Henry was the only motsster who was immediately identifiable as a motsster, thanks to the soc.motss sweatshirt he wore. We had to guess about the rest of us. I’ll only make a few more comments about dinner — remember folks, I have pictures! (Speaking of which, if the group shot develops nicely, is it ok if I send a print along to Steve Dyer for the mythical motss.pix archives? If anyone has objections, please email me. Otherwise I’ll assume I have your consent.) I wish I’d had more time to talk with everyone! Mike, you have wonderful nipples! (Are you blushing yet?) My hands hadn’t had that much fun in public in days. Hmmm — let’s see, y’all are all great huggers. I like that quality in a person (or a people). Is it true that GorL folks make better huggers? Or is it just my (possibly) cuddly nature? (How do you hug a 230lb black she-bear? Anyway she wants!)
Monday morning; Time to make sure everything that should be packed is packed. That done, off to breakfast at FatApples, leave FatApples, get halfway to train station, remember I’ve LEFT MY JACKET IN THE RESTAURANT! Screeeeeeech, vroooom, back to restaurant, rescue lonely-looking jacket from back of chair, screech-vroom back to train station. We pulled into the station just after the train did. Sad goodbyes…I wasn’t ready to leave California yet.
The 4-day train ride from Oakland to Philadelphia was as breath-taking as I expected it to be, particularly while we were in the mountains in Colorado. Denver by night was pretty, too. Especially since we’d had no lights (or functional bathrooms) in the cars on the train for the previous two and-a-half hours. [“What?? No bathrooms? How the heck am I supposed to drink beer if there’re no functional bathrooms??? What else am I supposed to do in the dark with a carful of strangers?” 😉 😉 We told sick jokes, instead.]
Well, I think my hindquarters have finally recovered from being sat on for 4 days, 24 hours a day, in freezing climates, but my respiratory system is still putting up a fuss. Yes folks, I got sick after I got back from vacation. Methinks (and Schweetie does, too) that I had some sort of sinus infection. But it’s mostly gone now … either that, or it’s migrating down to my chest.
This has gone on long enough now, so I’ll end it.
Warm hugs, everyone,