And we're off!

Trip Start Nov 08, 2007
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Trip End Jan 03, 2008


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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, November 9, 2007

The two flights we took to get to San Jose (BWI to Houston, Houston to San Jose) were pretty uneventful. Get in plane, plane takes off, plane lands, get out of plane, repeat.  We both slept a bit on and off, Becky filled the rest of her time reading magazines and I listened to Spanish lessons (which, I might add, are beginning to get hard).  Food for thought: when you have two segments on an early morning flight you get served breakfast twice - which really equals 1 full breakfast served over two courses when you consider the portions of airline food.  The second course was better (I like Honey Nut Cheerios)...

We were thrilled to see our backpacks intact on the belt at baggage claim.  We had originally planned on putting them in large contractor trash bags for the flight, but the women at the Continental check-in desk at BWI told us that they weren't allowed to handle things in plastic (does that even make any sense?), so we had just tied up all the loose straps and crossed our fingers.  We threw our packs on our backs and a short bus ride later found ourselves at the Santa Clara Caltrain stop.  The train arrived almost immediately, and, as quickly as we could, we punched the appropriate buttons on the ticket machine, fed it some money, and got our tickets in time to hop on.

The guy driving the train was an absolute comedian. He began his routine by adding adjectives to the stop names as he called them out.  "Sunny Sunnyvale"; "Beautiful Mountain View"; and "San Antonio" was called out in the best Texas drawl he could muster up.  Then he launched into the rules and regulations for riding the train, which included "no knife fights", "no thuggishness of any kind", and he wrapped it up with "if you are smoking you had better be on fire".  He was hysterical...


We arrived at the San Mateo stop, hopped off the train and immediately saw Ted on the other side of the tracks to greet us.  After the hugs and hellos, we threw our packs in his car and headed to a Japanese restaurant for lunch.  We sat and talked for quite a while after we finished our bento boxes and then headed to Ted's apartment to see Melissa (wife) and Audrey (daughter).

After a little more than 3 hours in San Mateo we walked back to the Caltrain stop to wait for the next northbound train.  On the previous ride the train had been almost empty (the exception being a class of about 30 elementary school kids and their teachers that got on for a couple stops).  A few hours later on the 4:36 train there were a lot more people, which reminded us that Thursday afternoon rush hour was approaching.  The next hour and a half or so was spent on mass transit in rush hour.  We got off just south of San Francisco to take the Bart (Bay ARea Transport?) blue train for a few stops to a transfer station and then switched to a red train to head into Berkeley with our backpacks on our laps for lack of
room.

Rick picked us up at the station and we drove to his house only a few blocks away.  It was definitely good to see Rick considering he had just gotten out of the hospital for having a blood clot in his lungs - which is very serious and apparently he could have dropped dead at any moment, which wouldn't have been cool at all.  Unfortunately Tracy was going to be out of town for a little while so we wouldn't get a chance to see her.

At Rick's house we dumped our gear and sat and chit-chatted for a while with Rick and a friend of his, Micheal.  Rick hadn't heard about our plans for extensive travel through Latin America (I guess I never mentioned it), so there was a bit of talk about where we were going, places we should check out, logistics, etc.  After a little while, Micheal left and an exhausted Becky crawled into her sleeping bag. Rick and I decided to go out for beer and food.  After our initial destination turned out to be packed full of college students like sardines in a can, we headed to Brennan's, which is basically like a large, dark cafeteria with a large, dark bar right in the middle. The brisket was good, the mashed potatos covered in gravy, and the beer was cold - a good dinner.  Becky had requested that I bring her a few bites of what I ate - I just went and bought her a whole dinner.  We returned home after dinner and went to bed soon after that.

Expenses:

Caltrain from San Jose to San Francisco: $15
Bart train to Berkeley: $8.50
Starbucks Caramel Apple cider for Becky: $2.50
2 Bento boxes and a beer for lunch: $24 (with tip)
2 beef brisket platter dinners: $18.50

Total Expenses for Day 1: $64.50
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