Sunday, April 18, 2004

Napa? Nada.

I had to fly up to Napa Valley for a wedding this weekend. I actually had a Moment of Joy at the airport. When my plane arrived for boarding, I saw that it was a Southwest Shamu plane. Basically the plane is painted to look like a giant killer whale. (Not that anyone would confuse a 500 mile per hour, 5,000 ton piece of metal at 30,000 feet with an actual killer whale.) I was happy to be flying on Shamu, until I discovered that like the whale, the plane did tricks too- it was NOT a fun descent into Oakland.

I'm not sure where in the country I "fit in", but I learned that it ain't Napa Valley. I was driving up from Oakland, it was about 5:00 and the only thing I had to eat all day was a few Ritz crackers around 11:00. I pulled into a shop marked "Grocery Store" to get a snack. There wasn't an Oreo in sight. It was all fresh fruit, and a butcher with fresh meat, and all sorts of strange dinner crackers. And lots of wine, of course. But no Oreos, no Mountain Dew. Hardly a preservative or chemical additive in sight. What kind of grocery store is that? They did have Coke, but they were teeny-tiny 8-ounce bottles. What's up with that?

After getting to my hotel, in the rinky-dinky town of St. Helena about 20 miles north of Napa, I realized I forgot to pack a plain white T-shirt to wear with my suit. I went to the front desk to ask where I might be able to buy some. I started to ask "Where can I buy..." I didn't even finish the sentence and the lady says "Safeway... up the road a quarter mile, turn right." Apparently, if you need to buy ANYTHING after 6pm in this town, it HAS to be from Safeway or you're out of luck. What's up with that?

Around 8:00 I made it to dinner. Having not eaten anything all day (other than some Ritz crackers and an 8 oz. Coke) I was looking forward to a simple chicken salad. I found a nice little restaurant in town and ordered. Well, it seems that they had chicken, and they had salad, they just couldn't make a chicken salad. You see, the chicken is pre-basted or whatever in a spinach/mushroom glaze. Whatever. I had to settle for a plain salad (no dressing) and a bowl of spaghetti. Since I was eating alone, I brought my laptop with me thinking that while I was waiting for my food I could work on my blog and do other things. The waitress comes over and says " I'm sorry, but the manager just told me you're not allowed to have your computer on." Huh? Is my portable electronic device going to interfere with the navigational equipment in the kitchen? Are they worried I'm going to hack into the oven and ruin their spinach souffle? What's up with that?

So help me, I miss L.A.

p.s. Coming home, my plane pulled into Gate 1. Number 1! No walking!

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