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Winter Road Trip of Destiny, Part 3: San Diego (Santee, La Mesa, El Cajon) - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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January 20th, 2010

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11:16 pm - Winter Road Trip of Destiny, Part 3: San Diego (Santee, La Mesa, El Cajon)
After a few days in Los Angeles, I was heading down south.

Saturday - Boxing Day

I dutifully followed my GPS's directions, but I found that it was taking me down a toll road. What! I didn't want to pay to drive! That was dumb! I couldn't figure out how to make it Avoid Toll Roads in time. I didn't know how much toll roads cost, but they appeared to have FasTrak. But it had to be different, right? There was no way my FasTrak would work. Hell, I had almost taken it out of my car because I knew I wouldn't need it. And yet, the FasTrak logo looked exactly like the one on my device, so...


I hit zero traffic on Boxing Day, such a change from trying to get down to San Diego for Comic-Con.

mutinousmuse lived in Santee, and my GPS issues were not over once I arrived in her fair city. I followed the directions to her apartment, but Magiben led me down a road that ended. It was blocked. There was no more road. Yet it wanted me to turn right half a mile up ahead. I tried going down a random side street, but it kept forcing me back down the same route. Uh oh. This wasn't supposed to happen! Finally, I forced a Detour, and it took me the right way. And then it told me to make a "hard left" on Musey's street. And by "hard left" it meant U-turn.

I rang the doorbell, and Musey's dogs went nuts, even though they had met me before. She gave me permission to punch them in the face if they tried anything. Her cat was less crazy, as were the lizards.

Musey showed off her sweet Taun Taun sleeping bag, and I showed off my sweet Locke shirt, which she said her husband would flip out over. He was a huge Lost fan, whereas she was a regular Lost fan. We chilled for a while. I had not made any plans for the day, but she and the gang wanted to see Sherlock Holmes, which worked out because so did I! I called mycenae, and she was in as well!

I showed off Caprica, but went in Musey's car since I'd been driving a lot already. She did let me pick the music. I scrolled through her iPod and put on Pinback, who I wanted to hear more from. She was pleased.

We went to a little shopping center in La Mesa, Grossmont Center. I suggested we get movie tickets first, and Musey thought that was a good idea. I tried to use Hollywood Movie Money, and the girl valiantly attempted to put it in the system, but it wouldn't take, so I had to pay $11.50. I was able to get mycenae a student discount, though, even though she wasn't there. Musey also had issues, as they wouldn't take her gift cards since Pacific Theatres had been bought by Reading Theatres or something, even though she had specifically called this theatre and confirmed that they would take them. Blarg!

We walked to Barnes and Noble, where Musey had to return some Christmas gifts—her mom always gave Mr. Musey these awful guitar calendars because he was a musician. The return went much more smoothly than the movie ticket buying, and now Musey had store credit to spend!

First, we went looking for the Bunny Suicides desk calendar that Mr. Musey claimed did not exist, having gotten Musey an Onion calendar instead. And, what do you know, she found it!

I also found this:


Just...wow. Or WoW.

I also found a calendar called 365 Things to Be Happy About. Some of the things puzzled us, though. Like...teetotalers. I mean, good for them, but is the existence of teetotalers supposed to make you happy? I guess if you really need a designated driver. Also on the list was ravioli, which seemed more suitable.

We came across a posh, fancy, gold-lined edition of H2G2:

We loved that it got the same treatment as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Complete Works of Poe, Dante's Inferno, and, well, Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.

Musey and I got separated for a few minutes, but I found her in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I pimped Rosemary and Rue, and she picked it up to support my friend. Seanan, I have made you so many sales! I also recommended The Name of the Wind, but it was too much of a commitment for her.

We looked at the various Discworld titles, but Musey had read a few Discworld titles after reading Good Omens and just been disappointed that they weren't Good Omens. She thought Gaiman was pretty good; she seemed to feel the same way I felt about him before I read American Gods. She was surprised I hadn't read Dune, which was a classic epic. She had fond memories of the book. I think she may have picked up a copy so she could re-read it.

She felt that she had exhausted her store credit, so she went to check out. And she event got to save a bit because her mom was a member! I hate Barnes and Noble's membership program because you have to pay for it—Borders gives me coupons every week for free!—but it can be pretty cool sometimes.

There were several dinner options. I chose Casa de Pico, which had migrated from Old Town San Diego. Musey's goal was to make sure I got a meal better than frickin' larb. Every time she takes friends to that restaurant, she cautions them not to order the larb. While she remained sorry that she had exposed me to larb, I was really happy we had that memory. We bonded over terrible food!

It was a mite early for dinner, but we still had to wait for mycenae to arrive, and I would be hungry by the time the food arrived, surely, so we took a table and looked at the menu. Musey took a liking to many of the entree names like Tacos Victoriosos. Sadly, there didn't seem to be anything particularly victorious about the tacos. There was also the Tostada del Mundo. The tostada OF THE WORLD.

And then there was the Albondigas Soup. What the hell was Albondigas? Well, we knew that the --digas part was about talking, so it was an Albon that talked to you. What was Albon?

"Use your iPhone!" I demanded. Earlier, she had shown me how easy it was to text on the device, allowing her to reply to my texts insanely quickly. "It's portable Internet!" She looked it up, and the reason Albon sounded familiar was because it was parasite medicine. That talks to you, in this soup.

Then she looked up albondigas and found out it meant meatballs, but she liked her definition better.

There were many interesting food options, but they also had quite a few virgin drink options! I felt inclined to take advantage of them, being on vacation and all. They also had colorful names and were very fruity. One drink was called the Hummingbird. I forget what was in it, but it, like the other drinks, was $4.50. Hey, that appeared to be what that stupid toll had been.

"Your GPS stole a Hummingbird from you!" said Musey.

As we ate our chips and salsa, Musey said that she had never read comics, but she read Buffy Season Eight because it was Buffy, and she found herself really liking it, so now she wanted to read more comics. WELL DO I HAVE A TAG FOR YOU. I pimped various comics to her. I was in the middle of pimping Chew when mycenae arrived. The two women had not met at Comic-Con, so they met now.

Musey ordered veggie fajitas and a margarita. mycenae ordered enchiladas and horchata. I ordered a "Cheese Crisp Special," which was "still a favorite after 33 years," and a Señorita Rosa, which was a strawberry and pineapple drink.

The cheese crisp was like a tostada with a flour tortilla, and it was so good! I don't know how I finished the whole thing. Maybe I didn't. I want one right now.

It seemed to be the place for birthdays. Several people had a birthday song sung to them. Other times, the mariachi band simply played mariachi music. At one point, they were right next to us.

"I feel compelled to defend my father's honor," said Musey.

After dinner, we dropped off leftovers in the respective cars, taunting incoming cars with the promise of a free parking space, and then headed to the theatre. The guy who took our tickets said that there was a line to get into the theatre. Oh, it was one of those, yes.

The line was like five people.

Better to be too early than too late. Now we had time to discuss our seating strategy. Where did we like to sit? Well, I liked to sit behind center. Some people liked to sit in the front of the middle section so you could put your feet on the bar. Some people liked the back. It was always good to know what area of the theatre you were gunning for. I had never really thought about it, but like most things, Randall Munroe has a comic about it. Well, the comic is about something else, but it's the one I was thinking of.

I led us behind center, but it felt too close, so we moved a row back. Unfortunately, someone else had already claimed the middle of that row, so we were pushed off-center a bit. I did not leave a buffer seat. Mr. Musey and his friends arrived with popcorn, and we took in the pre-show entertainment.

Then we got some awesome trailers! I finally saw the first full trailer for Inception, and eeeeeee. Just like everyone else: I have no idea what the fuck it's about, but holy God do I want to see it. And Iron Man 2 looks awesome, of course.

Cop Out does...not. At all.

Sherlock Holmes was very good! It was more Holmesian than I expected, and it was thoroughly enjoyable and fun.

After the movie, mycenae went back home, and Musey proclaimed it to be her bedtime, which was too bad because I wanted to hang out with them more!

From Musey's place, I drove to the same Rodeway Inn in El Cajon my family had stayed in two years ago. Conveniently enough, it was really close to Musey's place! So that worked out pretty well, especially because the room was free. This is why it pays to be Indian. We own all the motels. I'm not even sure how we knew this guy, but my mom had called him right before he left for India, so she snagged a room for me.

When I checked in, though, the guy asked for a credit card. Uh, it was complimentary. Well, the computer still said forty bucks a night. Uh, no, really, it was complimentary. Well, the owner was getting back from India tomorrow, so he could ask him then, and thankfully, he took my word on it for the time being.

I parked in front of one of those signs that said they were not responsible for any stolen property and not to leave any valuables in your car. The same sort of signs you see everywhere, but for some reason they are scarier in foreign locations. And I was a tad sensitive to crime currently. So I covered up my "valuables." And by "valuables" I mean the various CDs I had acquired. And the Risk. As if someone were going to break into my car to steal Risk.

Sometimes a hotel room is nice. Just having a room all to yourself. You can do whatever you want. You don't have to entertain anyone and no one has to entertain you.

Entertainment doesn't have to come from inside the room, however. amberlynne had introduced me to a fannish Indian girl in New York in order to prove that such women existed, and we had been e-mailing back and forth for weeks, but I gave her my number before I left for the trip. It was pretty late in San Diego, so I was surprised to get a text from her on the East Coast. She was letting me know she had tried fried Oreos. I took the opportunity to call her back, and we talked for over an hour.

I read some Daredevil before going to bed, of course.


I woke up in time to go get something from the "continental breakfast": Corn Flakes and a stale croissant. I spent the morning watching the Food Network, which I am declaring here and now to be the new Law and Order. This is Hotel TV.

My notes say, "call mom, blah..." Which represents a call with my mom that was probably blah. I wanted her to take care of the room situation, but it didn't have to be taken care of anyway since I later asked a woman at the front desk what the computer said, and it now said my room was on the house. Whew.

I had no plans for the morning. It was a lazy Sunday morning. I mapped out the Veronica Mars Filming Location Tour. I downloaded the Doctor Who Christmas Special futilely. I knew I couldn't install any codecs on the company laptop. But, huh, I could install VLC player. And VLC player could play the partially downloaded file! It really could play anything! Man, if only I had thought of that earlier, I would have had it ready to watch this morning when I had nothing else to do. But I left it downloading slowly as I read Daredevil and went to lunch.

According to the 10% off coupon I found in the hotel lobby, Cafe 67 was East County's Best Kept Secret! According to Yelp, it was an awesomely kitschy diner that was very popular, very good, and very white. Sounded like a fun place to try out! I plugged it into my GPS and went off. I couldn't find it initially because I was expecting some big kitschy sign, but then I saw a line of people carrying takeout boxes—portions were huge—and traced them back to the parking lot. Which is where this car pulled up:

Out of this pimped-out Bug stepped...an elderly couple. I don't even know.

It was very busy, but I only had to wait a few minutes for a booth. And then a couple minutes later, a woman sat down across from me and asked me what I wanted to order. I had looked at the menu online before, and I was trying to decide between the chicken salad sandwich and the chicken cheesesteak. She said she would go get me a sample of the chicken salad. What! How cool!

...And then as soon as she left, a woman came up to my table and asked if I wanted anything to drink. Well, er, the other woman was going to get me a water already, so...I didn't know what was going on. But this new woman was my official server.

The first woman brought me a little bowl of chicken salad, and it was pretty good, but it did have fruit in it, and that's not how I roll. So I ordered the chicken cheesesteak with curly fries. As I waited for my food, I examined my environs.

It was, indeed, full of kitsch. Lots of old movie posters on the wall. Also, randomly, a guitar. And you'll notice the abundance of white folk, which Yelp had warned me about. I was certainly the only brown person in the establishment. I did spy a Mexican couple. I'm sure I wouldn't have noticed if the Yelp review hadn't made me aware of it, though.

So my lunch arrived.

Half a plate of curly fries! Half a plate! Amazing. I asked some girl for a bowl for ketchup, and then my server for a fork, and they were really falling down on the service after that first woman had made me feel like I was going to get special awesome treatment.

There was no way I was going to be able to eat that sandwich like a sandwich, so I ate it with a fork and knife. The bread was soft, and there was a shit-ton of cheese and not much chicken, but it was pretty good. The curly fries were well seasoned and quite tasty. I couldn't finish the whole plate, though.

My server dropped off the check before I was done eating, which confused me because I had said I didn't want anything else when I ordered my food, but that didn't meant I might not want dessert later! She clipped the coupon to the check. I placed my credit card on the check and continued reading Daredevil.

I waited for her to pick up the check. I waited. And waited. She passed me a couple times and did not say anything. I waited. I...was I supposed to pay at the counter? THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW, GEEZ. Is this common? The Apricot Tree Restaurant did that too, but it said right on the check what to do (or my waitress told me what to do), so I didn't waste my time waiting.

I chilled in my hotel room for a bit after lunch, and then I went to pick up Musey for the VM Filming Location Tour. As we set off, Musey pointed out that my GPS was lying to me, as it did not know about the moved entrance to the highway. I had encountered that issue last night! This time I knew to just go the right way based on signs. It was taking us a different way than she would have gone, but she was interested in the route it chose, since she believed her way would be faster, even if this way were, like, three inches shorter. She also complained that Magiben referred to "West I-8" rather than "I-8 West." Musey and my GPS did not get along.

We wondered how it talked, too. Because it seemed to pronounce things much better than a simple text-to-speech synthesizer would. Musey guessed that rather than programming in the names of the streets for the GPS to read out loud, they actually programmed in the syllables/phonemes required to say the names. We were proud of the machine for pronouncing "El Cajon" correctly.

We saw some fun sights down El Cajon Blvd, like a psychic reader next to a dentist. Musey wondered if they performed their services on each other. We also passed a mortuary—one of many—called Goodbody. Better than Badbody!

Our first stop was the Camelot!

Or, as it is better known, the Navajo Lodge.

Of course I was wearing my Go Pirates! shirt.

And of course I had to go up the stairs. As soon as I stepped foot on the second floor, I got the weirdest sensation. It was like I was on a set, like I was in the show. I wouldn't feel this sensation this strongly again, unfortunately, but while I was up there, I did my best to recreate the famous scene.

We can Photoshop Kristen Bell in later.

Musey and I wondered about the life of a location scout. How do they work? Just drive around and look for places that look cool?

This is a video store! It is full of VHS tapes! It was on the show. We went inside and it looked like...a video store. No weird sensation, no real memory of the scene that was filmed (I guess the interior was filmed on a set, so that makes sense anyway). In any case...there it is!

Musey took the reins from the GPS again, since Magiben didn't know about construction. She guided us through and around various presidential street names. We encountered a magic shop that was good for "traditional and urban magic." What the hell is urban magic?

The Fitzpatricks' church! It...looks like a church. And I don't remember it from the show at all.

I should have gotten a picture of this one guy with a Prius, which has that little "gas-electric hybrid" engraving on it, whose license plate was something like "GS EL HYBRD." Like, really? You do realize EVERYONE drives a Prius, right? You are not that special.

Mars Investigations is a fencing academy! Musey was hoping it would look familiar to me, but it's been so long since I've watch the show, nothing was ringing any bells! Le sigh.

Lilly's car wash is a car wash! And it's very flashback-appropriate blue.

Cho's Pizza is an Italian restaurant!

Vinnie's office is a gay gym! Okay, it probably wasn't pink when the show was filming.

That movie theatre Keith and Harmony went to is...a movie theatre! I wish they had used the movie theatre that had been converted into...shit, I don't even remember anymore, but it was really silly. Like a clothing store or something.

We followed the GPS's directions to the River Styx, but...it was gone! Musey had done this tour before, and she knew we were in the right place, but it looked like the building had been torn down. Sadness! A piece of television history, no more.

The Seventh Veil is TOTALLY A STRIP CLUB! Unfortunately, this stupid truck was in the way. Musey took some surveillance photos from afar while studying for her calculus test.

Even though seeing the locations wasn't turning out to be as exciting as I'd hoped, it was still a fun day, hanging out with Musey and all.

That motel Amelia DeLongpre stayed at is a hotel! Shocking! We couldn't find an icebox to check for corpses, though.

The Mars apartment was in an apartment complex, and we didn't have time to go looking for the actual one. The beach looked like a beach, and we even passed a yellow Xterra!

We were off to our final destination—appropriately—which led us down Cabrillo Memorial Dr. Which, sadly, the GPS did not pronounce correctly. They're not memorializing Cabrillo pads! This was only part of the GPS fail on that leg, though: it repeatedly attempted to take us into the adjacent military base. Then, when I forced a detour, it wanted us to drive through a cemetery. It was kind of insane, but we followed the road we thought would get us to Cabrillo Memorial Point.

Thankfully, we didn't have to pay $5 to get in because it was about to close. This was supposed to be the bus crash site, but it wasn't really. I was looking forward to this one a lot, but I guess wherever they filmed, we couldn't go very easily.

We had timed our journey perfectly, though. Musey had looked up the time of sunset, and I had gauged how long it would take us to get to the bus crash site, and that was how we set our departure time.


Musey merely got scalped.

Then it was time to drive back. The GPS surprised Musey by taking a back way that led to Nimitz and then 8; again, she would have gone a completely different way. We passed the JOY hotel, a hotel whose lit windows spelled "JOY." We wondered how the people in those rooms felt.

Musey had work the next day, so she couldn't hang out in the evening, but she could have dinner with me. I felt like noodles, and there was a good Thai restaurant on the way. Musey knew how to get there, so I shut Magiben up.

Even though I wanted noodles, I became intrigued by the Three-Flavor Catfish. First of all, it had THREE flavors! How was that possible? Apparently it was spicy, sweet, and sour. Also, it was "delicately fried." How do you delicately fry a fish? Just baaaaarely drop it in oil? Shoot hot oil over the fish? Finally, Sunny Anderson had been cooking catfish on the Food Network that morning, so it was clearly a sign. The waiter approved of my choice. Musey also approved of my choice, since it was not larb.

It was very good! The three flavors did not blow my mind, but I did taste them individually. I've found that ordering fish in Thai restaurants usually results in a very tasty meal.

Our dinner conversation was about theories vs. hypotheses and the writing prowess of Richard Dawkins. Because we are intellectual like that.

Musey was glad she'd given me two good eating experience to make up for larb and Red Pearl.

On the way back, we noticed there had been some significant change in gas prices since yesterday. The Mobil station with gas at $2.81 had gone up to $2.88, and the nearby Chevron, who had a ridiculous price of $3.29, had realized that was incredibly non-competitive and brought the price down to $3.09.

On Musey's street, we drove behind a car that had what looked like a frickin' wolf in the back. I kept flashing my brights, trying to get a better look at the thing. The dog took up the entire backseat. It was huge! Then, at the stop sign where we were to make a "hard left," the car appeared sort of hesitant after making its own left turn. Musey guessed they thought I was following them, what with the flashing of the brights.

I said goodbye to Musey, alas, and went back to the Rodeway Inn, where I talked to various people on the phone—my brother, Aarika, Lamb, and shpyum—watched Doctor Who, and read Daredevil before going to bed.


Although it wasn't the Perry's Cafe, I knew a Perry's Cafe had been on VM since I had written Perry's bio. Can you appreciate the reference to a brilliant-but-cancelled show?

Anyway, Rodeway Inn was right next to Perry's Cafe, so I thought I'd stop in there for breakfast. I wanted something really cheap, though, so I just ordered French toast and a scrambled egg. When my server brought my food, she said, "Enjoy, sweetheart." Aw! I know women don't like being called sweetheart, but it made me feel good for a bit, even though of course she called everyone sweetheart. I wasn't special. She did not tell me to take the check to the cashier, but I was quicker on the uptake this time.

Although the owner of the Rodeway Inn was back from India, he was still in L.A., so my mom gave him his number so I could call him and thank him. To my surprise, he sounded really young! Maybe a little older than me, but still young. He seemed pretty cool. I thanked him for the room, and then I packed up and checked out.

It was off to Tucson!
Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: St. Vincent - Paris Is Burning

(16 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")


[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
I read the subject line of your post and my first thought was: "He went to San Diego and THOSE are the three cities he visited?! What the hell?" Hee. I'm glad to see you made it out to Point Loma at least. East County of San Diego does lean pretty heavily white, especially Santee. (In my youth, they called it 'Klantee.' And I say this as someone who actually lived there as a child. It's better now.)

That's mean posting pictures of delicious Mexican food, though. I have been craving some lately and Seattle just doesn't do it the same.

Edited at 2010-01-21 02:21 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
I was born in La Mesa, lived in Santee, and went to school in El Cajon until I was 9. I haven't been back since, and touring the area via VM locations was great fun! Thanks for that. :)
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
Hee, you're welcome!
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
I want that "cheese crisp special" and a horchata. Mmm.

What is that you're kissing, in place of Kristen Bell?
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
My ceramic doggie doorstop.
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
You got a trailer for Iron Man 2? I was cheated! I demand my money back, Fairchild Cinemas!!
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't get one the—SPOILER WARNING—second time I saw it.
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I wonder what a lizard's like when it goes crazy.

Now I want to try out decapitating horizons.
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
I wonder what a lizard's like when it goes crazy.
They wear little hats, for starters.
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Those Hitchhiker's Guide Ultimate Editions are always on remainder. I think I bought mine about 15 years ago for about 8 bucks. Except mine looked like this:

So I guess it's now the Penultimate Edition.
[User Picture]
Date:January 22nd, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Entertainment doesn't have to come from inside the room, however. [info]amberlynne had introduced me to a fannish Indian girl in New York in order to prove that such women existed, and we had been e-mailing back and forth for weeks, but I gave her my number before I left for the trip. It was pretty late in San Diego, so I was surprised to get a text from her on the East Coast. She was letting me know she had tried fried Oreos. I took the opportunity to call her back, and we talked for over an hour.


Also: do you see how many times your GPS tried to mess up your life? This is because GPS thingies suck and maps are awesome. Also x2, I'm pretty sure Vinnie's office was pink on the show too? Possibly not..
[User Picture]
Date:January 22nd, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)

This is because GPS thingies suck and maps are awesome.
Maps are hard!

Also x2, I'm pretty sure Vinnie's office was pink on the show too? Possibly not..
I will have to keep an eye out.
[User Picture]
Date:January 24th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
We can Photoshop Kristen Bell in later.

You rang?

(Round 2! Fight.)

Edited at 2010-01-24 12:31 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:January 24th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Daaaaamn, you're good!
[User Picture]
Date:January 30th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
Holy crap! This post is making my head explode. I mean...it really oughtn't. I shouldn't be surprised that I feel all commentacular; you're talking about places I frequent. Because I live there. So, not shocking. And yet, shocking, because it's you! Where I often am! For example, back in the day when I lived in La Mesa, Grossmont was my go-to movie theater. I have killed time before many a movie in that Barnes and Noble. Also, I have eaten the Tostada del Mundo. The thing has a 12" diameter.
And I totally see that Prius with the redundant vanity plate all over town. I assume the owner is in the local EV association or something.
[User Picture]
Date:January 30th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
Ha ha ha! I love that you've seen that Prius. And you know all the Grossmont stuff I did! Man, too bad you weren't around to do it with me.

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