spacelodgeBrian, Pilot and I spent New Year’s Eve in the Best Western Space Lodge — originally build in 1964 by a man who had connections with the aerospace industry, this remodeled (1998) motel was actually quite nice. The space theme permeated the property — from the huge murals in the lobby, to the space saucer on the roof, to the Space Shuttle artwork adorning our room, to the very cool architectural detailing (laser-cut metal columns, glitter embedded into the stucco walls.) We watched Kathy Griffin and (my love) Cooper Anderson in NYC with the ball drop — all which happened at 9:00 our time. So we did our best to stay awake while watching endless HGTV until it was actually midnight (we both forgot to look and the only reason I noticed the time change was that my email program told me that the new emails I was reading came in “yesterday.” Yes, we are losers.

Anyway, the next morning, we awoke to a hearty breakfast (space saucer pancakes and eggs), then headed on the road for the final leg: 4 hours into San Diego. The drive was actually more spectacular than I had thought — long stretches of desert and farms created in the arid soil, sand dunes (and tons of ATVs and dune buggies) in souther CA, a mountain range near San Diego that looked like piles of massive boulders stacked on top of one another. And we hit 3 border crossings/security checkpoints along the way. Yes, I understand making sure we don’t bring in fruit flies, but do we look like labor smugglers or terrorists?! Sheesh.

datelandOne great stop made along the way was in Dateland, AZ. Thanks Mark for the suggestion. This shack (the larger restaurant was being rebuilt) is at the edge of a small date farm in the middle of the desert — sort of a sugar smack oasis. Brian purchased a pound of dates (they were like $3 — about 1/ the price at WholePaycheck.) And we had the most amazing (ok, AMAZING), delicious date milkshakes. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound overly appealing, but I swear it was the best milkshake I have ever had. Not too sweet, sort of musky, cold and filling. When we finished ours, we looked at each other — I was about to suggest making a U-turn for another, but opted for the New Year’s resolution of losing a few tons.

At about 2:00, we arrived in San Diego at Brian’s new pad. The cute 2-BR, 2-BA unit has an open kitchen, a small fireplace, and sort of reminds me of something out of “Three’s Company.” We unpacked the car, and headed out to shop. Now, Brian hates shopping. And he does not like large crowds. So shopping at the big box stores was not his idea of a San Diego welcoming. I, on the otherhand, am a good shopper — I do not necessarily enjoy it anymore, but I can work my way through a retailer and get out fast. So we did.

boulders1Over the past 24 hours, we hit Bed Bath and Beyond ($800, after $150 in gift cards and another $130 in coupons), Target ($300 after $100 in gift cards), Ikea ($600) and a furniture rental place where he found a really nice sleeper-sofa, chair, coffee table and side table for less than $1000. I think Bri was a little sticker shocked — and a little scared at how fast I can shop (and find a better bargain.) In the end, we moved everything into his place, I spent yesterday hooking up his internet and wireless network (named PilotNet), and connected the TV. Exhausted, we went to bed early — Brian in his new chocolate and baby blue sheets, me on the new Aerobed — and zonked out until this morning.

Today was spent at Ikea, having a very filling breakfast at Brian’s (a diner he likes — probably because of the name, the hot waiters, and the huge portions — take your pick,) and taking me to the car rental place. Brian and I parted ways outside the Enterprise rental car office — happenstance brought us to a service station called “Route 66,” piled my stuff into the car, got Pilot in the front seat, and said goodbye (for now.)

In Hebrew, it is customary to say “L’Hirtra’ot” instead of “Slahom.” It means “Until next time” instead of “Goodbye.” I know that the physical distance between us will keep us from seeing each other, but email, videochat, and visits will keep us together. We began our journey as acquaintances and ended as close friends. Brian is truly an inspiration — picking up and moving across the country to start anew is something, that even with my chutzpah (craziness or gumption), I would never do. To me, the thought of starting over is much sweeter than the doing. I prefer to cultivate my piece of DC — it’s what I know, and what I think I can manage. I am very honored and humbled to have had this incredible experience, and most importantly, to call Brian my dear friend.

NOTE: This will NOT be the last post — Brian wants to make a few more, and I will be reporting from my week in Los Angeles.  Stay tuned!