With two weekends left until Diane and I pack the car and vacate what used to be our primary residence, it was time to load our remaining possessions into a truck and drive them to a storage locker. Thinking it makes more sense to keep the stuff in California than ship it away to a city we’ve never visited and have no address in, the plan is to have our awesome next door neighbor drive the boxes to a local port after we’ve been in Malaysia for a few months. Fortunately, a reputable storage locker is right around the corner, making transport quite easy. Providing a free truck with move-in, the property managers were very friendly and we chatted about our move while providing payment information and buying a lock. Needing only an 8 X 10 locker, it seemed odd how 50 years of my life (14 married) all crammed into 24 boxes in a locker the size of a large closet. They assigned us #532.
Utilizing the amazingly successful app known as OfferUp.com, Diane and I continue to liquidate almost anything we can sell and people drive from as far as four counties away to buy crap. Cleaning out the kitchen ware of everything but the important stuff like some plates, coffee maker and basic silverware, someone came and paid us $95 for a bunch of pots, pans, some utensils and various other little sundries, bringing our total to almost $4,500. Not realizing we even owned that much, the pile of unsold items gets donated to our local Hospice thrift shop this week and fits into about two medium boxes. Unfortunately, nobody seems to want our custom-made Italian microfiber maroon loveseat that we bought in Canada. Waiting almost two months for the delivery, we paid over $800 and can’t even dump it for $50. Unable to find a buyer but needing something to sit on anyway, I scheduled a Salvation Army pick up four days from our departure date. So much for anyone understanding quality merchandise.
Having spent most of the afternoon packing, Diane headed downtown for the last $77 haircut of our California life. Those of us whose hair is mostly not on the head will never understand how women’s salons get away with this highway robbery but we never argue because everyone wants to look their best and here in the land of the overpriced, that’s a small price to pay. Since dinnertime was fast approaching and I had nothing much left to cook with anyway, we decided to check out one last yuppie dinner in trendy downtown Walnut Creek.
Unfamiliar with almost any dinner outside the house that costs more than McDonald’s, I had no clue where to go so Diane chose a restaurant that’s actually stayed in business since 2008. Equivalent to a 114 year old life in restaurant years, we lucked out because it was only 4:30 PM which means “happy hour” menu items are in full swing. (Nobody in The Bay Area ever eats before 8 PM due to 90 hour work weeks and four-hour commutes). Using the tagline “Innovative California Cuisine”, Diane and I looked happily at each other when we saw reasonable prices but realized they hadn’t yet taken away the lunch menu. Understanding quickly why nobody in America can ever retire early, we grimaced at the prices and realized once again why we chose Southeast Asia over insanely overpriced California. Not to mention how nobody can retire here at age 50 with less than $10 million or more.
Thankfully, the “happy hour” menu proved worthy of a reasonably priced dinner. Defying the true meaning of offering lower priced food meant to be paired with $100 worth of expensive California wine or $15 martinis, Diane ordered a $3 Corona and I chose a 22 ounce Widmer Pale Ale for $6. Already half drunk from our wimpy little alcoholic binge, the waiter brought out three appetizers big enough to be called main dishes in most suburban enclaves. Starting off with calamari served the way it should be, the plate included deep-fried battered lemons and a sauce unlike most that tasted like a southern style clam bake dip. Fried to perfection and steaming hot, we decided this place was OK
Seemingly delicious enough to order some more we decided to order some Fried Ravioli and beef tacos. Here’s the thing: Living in a state whose demographics have now rendered those not of Mexican ancestry as minorities, Mexican food is more common that rice anywhere in Asia. Normally shying away from generally unhealthy and flavorless slop made from corn and flour that lies in your stomach like a rock, the menu picture looked good and the dish turned out to be uncommonly good for Mexican small plates. Loaded with copious amounts of real flank, homemade guacamole and a salsa that rivaled the best I’ve ever had, we devoured it quickly and jumped into the ravioli. Dripping in mozzarella and piping hot, we learned the benefits of being old farts and arriving early for the Seniors Discounts.
Almost two-thirds through my large beer our stomachs were so happy we finally gave in and ordered a main dish from the Milleniums-Pay-Way-Too-Much-For-Everything Menu. Although lamb should be plentiful in Southeast Asia, it’s not usually the most popular menu item here unless it’s an entire rack and that might cost us a large chunk of our escrow proceeds in most cases. Disguised with cooking show speak for sweet purple sauce, the pomegranate shallot reduction sounds great after you’ve had some alcohol so we went for it. Deliciously tender and surprisingly well done, the meal was complete and all for the basement bargain happy hour price of less than $80 including tip. Yes, I’m saying that with the sarcastic tone it sounds like since we spent time later that evening perusing Georgetown eateries with incredible looking food for about one tenth the cost.
Rarely indulging in delectable desserts, especially in trendy places where they line up for 45 minutes, I decided it was OK to finish the meal at Walnut Creek’s busiest ice cream creation specialty store. Specializing in two homemade cookies layered in ice cream and dipped in coating, Cream served us the best dessert I’ve had since living here and almost made me wish I could eat it regularly and still have an HDL to Total Cholesterol Ratio that ranks half as low as the average white male for heart disease. Luckily, I hate chendol and with the extra palm oil, noodles and other goodies I’ll soon be eating it looks like I’ll be at that awesome new gym they just opened in Penang quite often. (Mine had strawberry cheesecake ice cream between two oatmeal raisin cookies).
Finishing out the last two weeks and a few days before hitting the road, one of the hardest parts is last. Figuring out what to pack and how to get it into two suitcases and a backpack might be harder than all 114 pages of paperwork we filed for our MM2H Visa. Wishing it was as easy as packing the computer, printer and keyboard into one more box, I’ll begin this fun task next week. Staying out of Diane’s way will be the key issue here since she derives more stress from packing than just about anything I can think of. And making it more confusing is the four weeks we’ll spend in Canada before booking plane tickets to Malaysia. Understanding Canadian weather is akin to one of those formulas you see on the whiteboards of A Big Bang Theory Episode. Good luck to both of us !!
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Coming next: One last American destination post for the road