Monday, January 24, 2011

Going to California

 Standin' on a hill in the mountain of dreams
Tellin' myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems

This isn't a health update, but this is sort of cancer related.  I told you before about how the kids missed out on summer vacations the last two years because I was in chemotherapy and generally feeling awful.  Instead, we compensated by taking short trips to Seven Springs, PA and Williamsburg, VA.  However, this December I had a chance to make up for that when I attended a work-related conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, at the tippy tip tip of Baja California.  The family came along, getting their long overdue "summer vacation."

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Flying anywhere these days means enduring the inconveniences and indignities of airport security.  For me, international travel (that term sounds exotic, even if it is just across the border) also means that I have to use the official duty passport for federal employees traveling on business.  To those outside the Washington, DC area, this may seem special, but I'm sure that half the Americans flying out of Dulles have one of these things.
They look like any other US passport on the inside, except for the stamp that says that I'm on official gov't business.  On the outside, however, the cover is  reddish-brown.  We call it the bull's eye passport because it says "Hey terrorist.  Shoot me first!"  The advantage of carrying this passport is the extra paperwork one must file with the State Department.  The disadvantages are that (1) you will need a visa to travel to certain European countries that don't require visas for private citizens, (2) the security guard at the Mexican airport will pull you out of line for a bag search and pat down because he's still angry about the "dos a cero" in the 2002 World Cup match, and (3) the terrorists will shoot you first.

We arrived a full day before the conference so that we could have some family time before I had to spend the days in a conference room (Note to Darrel Issa: I used a vacation day for this and I paid for the non-work night out of my own pocket). Anyway, for most of the time in Los Cabos, I was in an auditorium listening to seminars while the rest of the family were at the pool or beach.  In between sessions we managed to do a few activities.
The Gray Whale is far from being extinct,
probably because it doesn't taste good to
the Japanese.
Whale watching.  The peak of the whale watching season is mid-December, about a week after we were there. One day we were at the pool and noticed a few people staring at the sea.  We joined them because whenever a crowd gathers to stare at something you should do it too or risk being thought of as a clueless idiot.  We did manage to see a whale (probably a Gray Whale) come out of the water and splash a few times.  Well, I saw the splashes.  My older son, who has better eyes, saw the actual whale.  I figured that what we saw was as good as any whale watching boat trip and considerably cheaper.

Jet Skiing/Wave running.  I thought it would be a good idea for the four of us to go jet skiing (you know where this is going).  Mrs. 270 got aboard one of these machines with older son and decided that she just wanted to float around a few yards from the beach.  Younger son did not want anything to do with deep water (by deep, he means above his knees).  When we put him on the jet ski, he became very upset.  Having paid for this already, I rationalized that after a few minutes he would realize it's safe, calm down, and enjoy the trip.  So, after a few minutes Mrs. 270 and younger son went back to the beach while older son and I scooted around the water.

Glass-bottom boat. With time running out on the vacation and having yet to get close to the arch that marks the true tippy tip tip of Baja, we decided to go on a submarine (actually a boat with a lower deck beneath the surface).  When we arrived for the "tours that leave hourly," we were informed that "hourly," in the off-peak season, means "twice a day and you just missed the last one."  Luckily there were several idle glass-bottom boat operators who were happy to take us out on the water.
cabo submarine tours - cabo san lucas, mexico
What we wanted
Glass Bottomed Boat in Cabo San Lucas
What we got (shown actual size)

So we went on a GBB tour with another family who intended to take an hourly submarine ride.  They too did not get the memo about the off-season schedule, because it wasn't printed on the freakin' brochure! Anyway, we made it out past the arch, officially crossing from the Sea of Cortez into the Pacific Ocean.

The morning of our departing flight, I woke up at 6AM and  headed to the beach to see the sunrise.  After 45 minutes of waiting and whatever the digital equivalent of wasting film is, I got this photo.

Of course, it's already 8:45 back home.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel, hit the breakfast buffet one last time, and finish packing.  Despite the long flights, airline delays, and complaints of boredom in between beach time and pool time, we had a good time.  And in the end, after the radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and more chemo, the results were worth it.

"We're just pretending to have fun, so don't let it go to your head."


  1. cool. driving the length of baja california is something i've wanted to do, but now i kinda fear the media reports of violence in mexico. but i think it's not as bad in baja, i'm not sure. i could always fly right to the tip, too. heck, i've vacationed in haiti, could baja california be worse?

  2. I can't believe you were in southern California and didn't drop by to say hello. Oh, THAT southern California.

    Glad you didn't get taken hostage by the drug lords. They probably would've been distilling your blood for all the chemicals pumped through you in the last year.

  3. Those are two happy boys. Glad you got away for some well-deserved family time.