Driskill Hotel
The lobby of the Driskill Hotel
I had a very alliterative vacation and not just because of the places (and one very fat cat) we saw. Other “d’s” included delayed luggage, dehydration (I drank way too much Diet Coke to fight jet lag) and a dead iPhone (d’oh!). (Warning: this is an image-heavy post and there is a giggly automaton involved).

 My goat-in-law 
The main objective of our trip was to remind our family members that we exist. Ron and I don’t go back to the States as often as we would like to, but that means that we are treated like rock stars every time we do manage a visit and feted with hugs and so many delicious avocado-based dishes that I now resemble a giant avocado. I visited Ron’s home state of Texas for the first time, where I met many of my in-laws, as well as one of his parents’ friendly pet goats.
Dealey Plaza
Texas School Book Depository
Texas School Book Depository 
We visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, where alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s alleged sniper’s nest is recreated (just in case you forget the alleged part, vandals helpfully made a little annotation on the plague attached to the outside of the former Texas School Book Depository). One of my favorite movies when I was in sixth grade was Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” which had just come out on VHS (yes, I was a lonely preteen). I’ve seen many photos of Dealey Plaza and the Zapruder film, of course, but I was surprised to see just how small it really is. The grassy knoll is more like a grassy lump. While we were walking around outside, a man pointed to a sidewalk drain near the spot where President Kennedy was shot and told us that’s where the real gunman hid. I assume he was kidding, but there are so many conspiracy theorists wondering around Dealey Plaza that there’s always a chance he wasn’t. Hmm.
Only slightly creepy MegaBus mascot
A few days later, we took Megabus to see Ron’s sisters in Austin. Megabus offers lower fares than Greyhound and alleged wi-fi on buses. I say “alleged” because it certainly didn’t work during our ride. It was hard, so very hard, not being able to surf scrapbooking and knitting blogs for three hours.
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I loved visiting sunny Austin and seeing the beautiful architecture. We sat outside the Texas Capitol and watched the squirrels. Or rather, the squirrels watched us…
Austin squirrel
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Ron booked our Austin hotel room on Priceline and since we were traveling on a budget, I assumed we’d stay in a hygienic but no-frills establishment. Instead, Ron surprised me with a reservation at the famous Driskill Hotel. We were in Austin for less than 24 hours, so he figured staying in a hotel that is so entwined with the city’s history would be the best way to get the most out of our trip.
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The Driskill was built in 1886 and the interior looks exactly like Texas did in my dreams.
After a week in Texas, we flew to my home planet of California to visit the Shu Crew (my new and only slightly annoying nickname for my family). Deedee was there to greet us:

Deedee
California Highway 5
My parents drove us down Interstate 5 to visit my brother in Los Angeles. We stopped at Harris Ranch, which celebrates the many different ways to consume cattle.

 

Harris Ranch
Harris Ranch
Harris Ranch
No, I did not sit on that chair, I was afraid it would come to life. It looks like something out of “Beetlejuice.”

 

Harris Ranch
Harris Ranch
Speaking of films from the eighties and inanimate objects, this giant display of baked goods in Harris Ranch reminded me of that scene in “Young Sherlock Holmes” where Watson gets attacked by pastries. I have to say, if a strawberry pie launched itself into my mouth, I think I’d be quite happy.
Fisherman's Wharf
No return trip to California is complete without a visit to San Francisco. We wanted to take Ron to Alcatraz and introduce him to a few papier-mache heads, but ferry tickets had already sold out. So we went to look at Pier 39’s sea lion mosh pit instead.
Fisherman's WharfFisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf
I had no idea I captured this couple kissing when I was taking photos of the sea lion pile, but I love it!
Musee Mecanique
One of my favorite parts of our vacation was visiting the Musee Mecanique. It’s a warehouse filled with working coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines, including Laffing Sal. I did not pop a quarter in Laffing Sal because, seriously, look at her.
Musee Mecanique
I also did not try out this massage chair because it has vibra-massaged so many butts that there are cheek marks worn into its seat.
Musee Mecanique
But I did see what the belly dancer did on her day off…
Musee Mecanique
Creepy
…and Ron and I did watch an English execution. As creepy as it was, I loved how meticulously the tableau and its mechanics were constructed. It reminded me of “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”
Disneyland
Speaking of machine-operated insanity, we also visited the Happiest Place on Earth, but that’s a post for another day. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for looking at my photos!