Contintental was nice, but the seat did bad things to my spine. Stopover in Houston, where I had a "personal pizza" from "Pizza Inn," a restaurant that looks like a Pizza Hut, quacks like a Pizza Hut, and is on the razor's edge to get a lawsuit up the nose. Pizza was good, for what it's worth.
A stopover in the candy shop for some chocolate (mmm ... chocolate) showed up my cultural blinders. Used to the population in NoVA, I assumed that the very nice woman at the cash register was of Korean or Vietnamese descent until I suddenly had a little light go on. "Duh! Houston! She's Mexican." So much for my smug sense of multiculturalism.
The next leg of the trip took three days, at the end of which time my poor little vestigial tailbone was threatening to disown me. I had an unpleasant little emotional crash on the way (I hate it when that happens), which I attribute to fatigue, the sheer unpleasantness of being on a plane all day, and leftover memories from the last trip I made to California.
Finally I arrived in Oakland, where Kerry was waiting with her characteristic happy smile. She very kindly delivered me to the hotel, keeping me entertained with the "Gross Pointe Blank" soundtrack (I gather it was a movie...?) on the way. California struck me, as it always does, with the way it goes flat-MOUNTAIN-flat-MOUNTAIN! But that's sorta true of the whole country west of the Mississippi, I suppose.
Check in was short and sweet; I could definitely tell that the room was a smoking room. Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to make a reservation, all the non-smoking singles were gone. As Kerry and I tromped down the hall, a perky female voice called out, "Rumble???" It turned out to be Wabbit, a friend of mine from my alt.lifestyle.furry days, along with her hubby, Ursus. She was very pleased with herself for having recognized me from my photo.
Registration was next, which was pleasantly painless. I encountered my buddy Snap E Tiger, Xydexx and Rigel, Galen, Woof! (who goes by Johnathan now), and T'Chall, among many others.
From there, Kerry was kind enough to drive me up El Camino Royal (I think), where we paused to be refreshed at a KFC and -- and this was the important bit -- a Starbucks, which I'd been craving all day.
Mmm, Starbucks. :d
Kerry dropped me back at the hotel and I spent the rest of the evening wandering around more or less at random. I encountered and hung out a bit with Ian Rain Soulfox, who still hasn't found a job that matches his considerable talent -- hang in there, bud! You'll get there! :)
I met quite a few people who read The Suburban Jungle, as well as a good number of folks who were happy about my "Proud to be a Furry" page; I also saw a _very_ nice Chester Ringtail suit, which was roughly on par with the quality of suit I have in mind for Drezzer, whenever I can get a job again myself.
Vince Suzukawa appeared a bit later on, acting more than a little jetlagged (even though he also lives in California!). He and I hung out for quite a while, chatting with Thomas K. Dye for a bit, dancing around (well, Vince didn't do that part, it was just me), and mistaking Rory for Albert Temple. D'Oh!!! Sorry, Rory!
The downside of the evening was when I accidentally decked somebody; he was walking behind me, I was bouncing around ... my elbow found his nose, and he found the floor. He wasn't badly hurt, just a bit stunned ... but I still feed bad about it. I'm sorry, guy, whoever you are! Erf.