- Where We Started: Anaheim, Calif.
- Where We Ended: Anaheim, Calif.
- Miles Driven: 66 (10,255 total).
- New States: None.
- States So Far: 19 (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California)
THE DAY'S HIGHLIGHTS
Sunday was the day where the FHMA team was to be reunited back in Los Angeles, so while I got up for a midday flight -- hey, I was at my high school reunion, you didn't expect me to take an early flight, did you? -- Joan began a quiet day among the sprawl of Disneyland with a brilliant idea. "Hey," she figured. "I'm right down the street from Disneyland, so why don't I walk the dogs down to the entrance and get a picture of them there? It'll be good exercise for everyone." The logic behind this was excellent: Disneyland is an icon of American culture, so we should indeed have a photo of the beagles there. The dogs aren't allowed in anyway, and Joan and I aren't amusement park types, so a photo op alone was just fine with us. So off Joan went, beagles in tow. That was the last thing that went right.
Joan had seen in the hotel book that Disneyland was just six blocks away, straight down Harbor Boulevard, so she viewed it as as a pretty short walk. That's because Joan lived in New York for years, and had in her mind what "a block" meant. Anaheim hadn't gotten the memo, however, so six blocks was actually a little more than a mile. And it was 95 degrees outside. And Joan didn't bring water. And, not wanting to carry anything more than she had to, she also decided to leave her wallet at the hotel.
Now, I realize that as you're reading this, you're probably starting to wonder whether we stage these events just for the blog, since it seems crazy to take two beagles out in boiling weather with no water and no money, but really, we don't. In fact, Joan is incredibly conscientious about being prepared at all times, so this truly was an anomaly. But, anyway, back to the story...
So off Joan went down Harbor Boulevard, a wide street lined with all the commercial amenities you'd expect around Disneyland: hotels, fast food, gas stations, etc. Quickly, Joan realized "The Happiest Place on Earth" wasn't the closest place on Earth. So down Harbor Boulevard she went, armed only with Fred, Hank, her camera and poop bags. The idea of traveling light soon lost its appeal, as continued plodding revealed no Disneyland. After more than a mile, the beleagured trio finally arrived at one of the entrances to Disneyland. Now tired and thirsty, the beagles weren't particularly interested in posing, and Joan -- undoubtedly already thinking about the walk back -- wasn't much in the moment either. But, for posterity's sake, she did get a picture of the dogs' posteriors.
Hank and Fred check out tourists in questionable outfits entering Disneyland in Anaheim. Little did they know that this little R&R break was far from the end of their journey.
Soon, the long trek back to the hotel began. Tired, and with tongues almost hitting the ground -- and that was just Joan -- the hardy trio began their march back down Harbor Boulevard to the Quality Inn. But, about halfway back, trouble flared, as the beagles decided to protest the inhumane conditions by going on strike. First, Fred saw some shade, laid down and refused to get up. Then Hank followed suit. Despite a few attempts, they would not move. When this happens with one dog, there's always the option -- an embarrassing one, but an option nonetheless -- to pick up the striking dog and carry him to the final destination. With two dogs and one human, this was not an option. Deciding the problem was that the dogs were thirsty. Joan decided to see if she could get them some water, though she'd made that task slightly difficult by bringing no money.
So Joan padded up to the drive-thru window at a Carl's Jr. on Harbor Boulevard, about a half-mile from the hotel to beg for water. Waiting on line between cars, the dogs laid in the shade while Joan waited to get some water. And waited. And waited. Apparently, one of the cars in front of her had ordered 1,000 hamburgers to go (50 without pickles), so after 10 minutes, Joan decided it was better to keep moving. After some fits and starts with the angry, thirsty beagles, everyone finally reached the oasis called the Quality Inn (and, for the record, that's probably the last time that hotel will ever be called an "oasis"). After two-plus miles, street beagle protests and the humiliation of standing on a drive-thru line without a car, the nightmare was over. Fred and Hank each drank about a gallon of water and then went to lay on the cool tile in the bathroom for an extended period of time. From there, it was back to Julie and Marty's for the third and final day Hump-a-Palooza with Baxter.
Fred and Hank, while having a mixed record in one-on-one competition, are much better at playing when they can gang up on a smaller dog. Here, they get the upper hand on Baxter, though it should be noted that Baxter -- still traumatized from all the humping -- was solely focused on protecting his rear, leaving him susceptible to frontal attacks.
Late in the afternoon, Julie and Joan were nice enough to come get me at LAX, and soon, the FHMA crew was reunited.
A tired Jim hangs out on a rock next to a tired Fred at Julie and Marty's.
After Msrty cooked a lovely dinner for all of us, we headed back to the hotel and got ready to hit the road again. This time, we're planning on bringing money and water.
- Julie and Marty were the greatest hosts ever. In addition to tolerating one beagle who was insane about their pool for three days, and two beagles who were constantly seeking to violate their puppy, they couldn't have been nicer. Marty not only cooked a wonderful dinner on Sunday, but also was willing to be a dog-sitter while Joan and Julie went shopping and lunching and, on Sunday, decided to wash our car while they were out. For anyone who's ever planning to stay with us, I'll be honest: We don't provide car-wash service. And you're unlikely to get a home-cooked meal. So a huge thanks to both Julie and Marty for everything.
- My weekend away was exhausting, but fun. It didn't start well, though. I took a red-eye to Austin, and arrived early Friday morning to find there were no rooms available for me to take a catnap or change, so I washed up and changed in a bathroom in the hotel. Having slept only one hour on the plane, I was tired. But with nowhere to sleep, set off in a drizzle to get a much-needed haircut. So does this sound familiar yet? Someone sets off for what they think will be a simple walk, only to see things go awry? The difference: I had money and no dogs, so it should have been much easier for me. The problem was I had a heavy computer bag. And water. Lots of water. The drizzle I ventured out into soon turned into a downpour, and I got soaked to the bone. To top if off, the barber I was sent to was closed. Not that day. Forever. Dripping wet, I finally found an overhang to stand under, called a cab and went straight out to the University of Texas, where the journalism conference I was attending was being held. Completely soaked, I decided not to embarrass myself by walking into the auditorium, and instead went and hid in a nearby cafeteria until I was presentable. If you care at all about the panel I was on about merged print and web newsrooms, you can read about it here and here. There were also some Tweets about the panel.
- After a night out on the town in Austin with friends from the online journalism world, I hopped on a flight to LaGuardia early Saturday to attend my high school reunion in Huntington, N.Y. I got to catch up with some great old friends, see my hometown and stay out until the wee hours again, this time until 4:30am. I think I made a reference the other day to your mind writing checks your body can't cash... Well, this was another one of those situations, and I slept a lot of the way back to Los Angeles. Though I'm still a little worn down from the travel, we need to start moving again, as we have a lot to see before we get home.
- Totally unrelated trip note: While I was in Huntington, I discovered that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have rented a home in Lloyd Harbor, just north of Huntington, because she's filming a movire nearby. Apparently, Pitt was seen in my favorite pizza place growing up, DiRaimo's, and both were seen grocery shopping in Oyster Bay. The movie that she's making is called "Salt." This is as close as I'll get to being Perez Hilton.
- Random iPod shuffle song of the day: We were in our own car for a total of 10 minutes on Sunday, so we had no random song of the day.
- Most-Played Albums: See above.
- Lunch: Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Costa Mesa, Calif.: Joan and Julie split an excellent beet salad and Joan then had some equally excellent squash soup to start. Unfortunately, the main course was completely Pucked up. The Ahi tuna they ordered to share tasted a bit off, so after one bite, Joan pushed it aside. Julie quickly followed suit. They mentioned to their server on the way out that the tuna wasn't very good. Her response (and I'm not kidding here): "You know, my manager didn't think it was the right color either when it was coming out." This falls clearly into the category of things you may think, but should never, ever say. Good news: They took the tuna off the check, since the check didn't look right either with the tuna still on it. Jim Nutrition Rating: 2 (out of 5). I was over Nebraska when Julie and Joan were having lunch, but when I arrived at LAX, I had a $15 personal pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. Restaurant Rating: 0 stars for Wolfgang (out of 5). Even though the other food was good, being served food that restaurant professionals have already cocked an eyebrow at is inexcusable.
- Dinner: Julie and Marty's, Santa Ana, Calif.: Marty made some salmon, shrimp, mushrooms on the grill, and also made a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad. Everything was excellent and -- yes, believe it or not -- even healthy. Jim Nutrition Rating: 4 stars (out of 5). Woo hoo!
- Quality Inn Maingate, Anaheim, Calif.: Joan's original rating of three stars stands. The room felt a lot smaller once I was in it -- as does any room I'm in, sadly. She also didn't have a good feeling about the cleanliness of the sheets, but lacking an ultraviolet light, couldn't confirm her suspicions. Hotel rating: 3 stars (out of 5).
COMMENT OF THE DAY
BONUS BEAGLE PHOTO