Sunday, May 17, 2009
California Strawberry Festival
Strawberry Shortcake - Good.
Strawberry Beer - Not so good.
Strawberry Pizza - Good excepting the crust.
Strawberry Mango Pineapple Salsa - Not bad, but not good either.
Strawberry (lonely, by itself, with the green leaves still there) - Great.
There were more strawberry things about. There was strawberry wine and champagne. There were strawberry smoothies and strawberry cream lemonade. Ladies wore strawberry decorated clothes and hats, kids wore strawberry stained smiles and by the end I was wearing strawberries on both hands and one leg of my pants.
The adventure began at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles where we caught the 14 train to Oxnard. This was a first for me. I had ridden a train in North Platte once for about a half mile. I had ridden the dinner train in Branson. I had ridden the subways in Washington, D.C. and New York. I had even ridden Thomas the Tank Engine somewhere in Kansas, but Amtrak had somehow elluded me. To Oxnard was nice - we sat in the upper section in spacious, reclining seats. If you're not in a hurry this would be a good way to see the country. The return to Los Angeles was less accomodating. There was a mad rush to more confined cabins as we needed to stuff 200 people into 198 seats (possibly the largest game of music chairs I'd ever played). There was also Roger.
Roger was an asshole. We presume that he may have been a racist asshole. He snapped at Camille that there was only one line. There were two windows and people were standing in two lines so I was mystified at the one line policy, a policy that quickly disintegrated once we had left. His first words to Joanne were, "Do you speak English?" (Probably better than he does.) He then told her that she'd have to get her boarding pass from the guy standing outside even though Camille and I had just gotten our boarding passes from the other guy inside. Later, our dear Roger was an asshole to another young man, was repeatedly seen being an asshole to other passengers and then drove a golf car down the train ramp in a rather condescending way (or so we thought).
All of this traveling was really just so we could eat. We rode on the train for two hours so that we could walk around for four hours trying every strawberry flavored dish imaginable. We interweaved rounds of eating with rounds of looking at "crap". A friend of mine once argued that the arts and crafts normally seen at fairs and festivals had a finite quantity. There was, he argued, no more kitsch creation. The ugly and hideous and goofy stuff just moved from place to place through fairs, festivals and garage sales. I had thought this might be true. I no longer do. The stuff is created in the vicinity of Oxnard, California and begins its life at the Strawberry Festival. I believe this same "crap" meets its ultimate demise in estate auctions where old men looking for a well used hammer buy entire boxes of this stuff for the single quarter inch, extra deep Craftsmen socket rolling around the bottom.
Once back in Los Angeles we ate again, this time at Phillipe for a french dipped sandwich (and a half hour of some chubby guys butt crack).
Throughout the day, we made of fun of Joanne, we made fun of Camille and they made fun of me. This is how we show our affection for one another. Our favorite riffs: Joanne sniffs her food before she eats it. Camille has a purse with the same properties as Santa's sack allowing her to reach inside and pull out whatever it is any of us needs. I was carrying around my water pouch backpack and sucking on a little blue hose all day (it was gift from Thaddeus that I hadn't used before and yes I looked like an idiot, but I would have killed for that thing in Washington, D.C. last year). Somehow all of this works for us - 12 hours together, 5000 calories of sugary strawberry goo, 2 insults from the Amtrak guy and a few tense moments lost in the parking garage (with the endless series of closed exits), we still managed not to kill one another and next weekend we'll be out for some other adventure.