We arose bright and early (10am! Wow!), got ourselves ready, bags packed, checked out of out crappy hotel, and drove to Shin-Sen-Gumi Ramen, Gardena, where we found that Ray and Joe were already waiting. Shortly thereafter, brianrubin showed up, making 5. He called Stephanie, to cajole her into showing up too, which she did, so we were 6. We had a wonderful meal of scrumptious ramen and fantastic gyoza. brianrubin also had (japanese--different from Chinese) fried rice, and urox and Joe both had Spam Musubi also! I actually did try a bit of urox's spam musubi the previous day. It was ... well, actually not bad.
After breakf--ur, lunch, we set off in a loosely-formed convoy (well, only kind of, really) towards The Block @ Orange in Orange, CA. Alas, Stephanie couldn't come along, but the other 5 of us all went. Pretty good for a trip of 30 minutes. :) We arrived and gathered outside the Lucky Strike there. When all 5 of us had arrived, we took a stroll down the mall to a Starbucks since we all felt like we could do with a bit of a dose of coffee. After caffeinating and starting back towards Lucky Strike, we stopped for a moment outside a store selling Hawaiian shirts, among other things -- Hilo Hattie['[s]](?) -- and went "ooh, ahh" at a shirt that looked a lot like one Wash wore in Serenity, then went "uh, yeah RIGHT" when we saw the $76 price tag.
When we got back to outside Lucky Strike, we determined that danregal and Lynn would be showing up shortly, but would then have to go off and get food. We hung out for a short while until they showed up. They showed up, we chatted for a few, and they wandered off to Johnny Rocket's to get lunch. In the mean time, we consulted with the fellow at the bowling/pool reservations desk on the topic of renting a lane for an hour (despite hourly rates listed on their web site, on site they say hourly lane rates are available only with reservations [How should one get such reservations? How far ahead does one have to call?] ... and that we could not, on the spot, reserve a lane for a given time--we just had to come over when we wanted a lane and they'd put us on the list and give us a buzzer). He said he'd talk to his manager, and see what he could do. We decided (as we had been discussing doing while danregal and Lynn ate lunch) to get a pool table and play maybe half an hour of pool. We got the balls and racked 'em up. We did something I've never heard of before, which worked remarkably well: Instead of traditional pool/billiards rules, each player (there were 5 of us--you're keeping count, right?) was assigned 3 of the 15 balls. The job of each player (playing in rotation -- if you pot one, you try again; basically normal rules on turns, but with 5, not 2) was to pot everybody else's balls. Once all 3 of the balls you were assigned were potted, you were out. We played two rather fun games of this, and then I returned the balls, paid, and got my visa card back.
As we were going up to return the pool stuff and put a name down for a lane, danregal and Lynn showed up. I went up, and it turns out that they really aren't allowed to take reservatins of lanes by the hour, as "we're busy", so they can't take up lanes by the hour, but we're welcome to buy as many games as we like. Read: We're trying to turn "per-game payment makes us significantly more money" sound like it's for their customers, not for them. We considered going elsewhere for bowling, but after consulting with her mother on the phone, Lynn determined that the same by-the-game-only system and the same prices are to be had at regular lanes. Oh well, so we decided to bowl here, and to play 2 games. I went up, put down my name, and the guy said minimum probably a quarter of an hour wait, so to come back then. Well, it was said that there's a Hot Topic in the mall which had Serenity t-shirts, and there was just about enough time to walk over there, spend a few minutes, and return to Lucky Strike. It turned out they had the Serenity-logo-on-black t-shirts (woo! I bought one) and the River/"My turn" t-shirt, but only in 2-XL, which none of us were, but danregal had a standing order for basically any size from the Sacramento Browncoats, so he picked that up. It turned out that he and Lynn have a card for 15% off (I think a once-off), so we gave him our shirts, promised payment later, and rushed back to Lucky Strike while he and Lynn bought the shirts and followed us along. We rushed back, since it was already 15 minutes later. brianrubin split off to grab some more cash from an ATM, and the rest of us hurried in. I got to the counter, and our lane wasn't available yet, so he gave me a buzzer/coaster thingy.
We wandered to the bar area and sat down on a couch and chairs around a coffee table sort of thing in the bar area. I asked if anybody wanted drinks, and was asked for a diet coke and 2 glasses of water. I wanted a roy rogers (coke + grenadine), so went up to the bar, and asked the barman for the four drinks. He filled a couple of glasses with ice and filled one with diet coke, then the second. "Ur, that was meant to be regular coke, not diet for the second drink." He filled another glass with ice and regular coke. "Um, I meant, ur, sorry, but, ur, the second drink was meant to be a Roy Rogers." "Ok." He filled a glass with ice, added a hefty shot of grenadine, and filled it up with 7-Up. "Ur, I'm really sorry, but ... ur, that was ... uh... meant to be a Roy Rogers." "Oh," he said, "I wasn't sure. Sometimes guys really want a shirley temple, but they don't want to say it, so they ask for a Roy Rogers." Seriously? Are you kidding? Are guys that insecure and that lame? :) "Huh, oh. I, um, well, I actually really did want a Roy Rogers." "Ok, sorry about that. Just a moment." He made a Roy Rogers for me. He said I can take all the drinks, and ... get this, he says "I've got it covered." Huh! He checked on something down the bar, then came back over when I caught his attention. I reminded him about the two waters, which he then got for me, and I had to check to make sure, but he really meant that they're all free. Wow. So I left a couple of bucks as a tip (I wonder if really I ought to have left more), and brought all six drinks to the table. As it turns out, brianrubin was happy to take the second diet coke, the first being destined for Joe. urox and Ray took their waters. I had my Roy Rogers. I had a Shirley Temple left over, and offer it around. danregal and Lynn arrived at this point. danregal wasn't really interested, but Lynn said that while she had been intending to have a beer, she'd take the Shirley Temple. So, all drinks assigned, we sat, chatted, joked around and relaxed. Fun!
The buzzer went off, and we went up with the remains of our drinks to the counter. We had decided that we wanted 2 games each -- for 7 people, thus 14 games -- and Joe had his own shoes, but the rest of us needed shoes. The guy said we can take either 1 lane or 2. He recommended 2, as we'll be cramped at 1 and the price is the same since we're paying per game. I checked to make sure they're together, and he said yes, made sure everybody thinks that's ok, and said, "Ok, let's go with 2."
We took our place at our lanes, picked out balls, and set up the computers. Despite computer issues, and the machine not returning Joe's ball at one point (it came back soon enough -- both Joe and Lynn had their own bowling balls), we played a couple of fun games of bowling. I played ... ok, but below my average (126, 118). Not as good as the 3 games I bowled in Boston a few weeks back (all 3 in the 130-140 range, if I recall correctly). Lots of fun is had, regardless. :-) brianrubin and I both took a bunch of photos. His photos are up at http://www.brubin.net/plogger/index.php?level=album&id=13 -- some pretty cool shots there. :)
After bowling, we said our goodbyes, and rushed back to Gardena, arriving a few minutes after Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori's 6pm opening time (we'd intended to arrive a quarter of an hour before, to get in there instantly and eat and still hit the road back to San Jose in the early evening), but there was still space, at the bar. Excellent!
We sat down and proceeded to order tonnes of food in two rounds, about as much as 3 of us ate the night before. Wow. In addition to everything we tried the past couple of days, we also tried (beef) tongue (tongue's not very alien to me, as I grew up in Ireland, and the idea of eating tongue is a lot more normal there than here in the US) ... "flap meat" (also beef -- and I have NO idea what that means; I don't even know if I want to know), and roasted gingko nuts (courtesy of the strange guy who sat next to us ... was white, said he was a regular [he clearly was] and that they regularly had to ask him to leave, pretty drunk, had gone to Karaoke with the staff more than once after closing, had been in the US Marine Corps, spoke fluent Japanese [he did], had been stationed there, has a Japanese wife for the past 14 years, plays poker for a living, is in the LAPD, and was proceeding to get more and more drunk -- ho-hum. Not sure how much was true. Nonetheless, an amusing fellow in general, and quite courteous/pleasant, generally speaking, though he did make a nuisance of himself a bit, telling the waitress he liked her, saying conspiratorially to us that he'll eat his shoe to see a Japanese woman naked, and generally being a bit of an ass as he got drunker). Oh, we also had two orders of one of the specials of the night. Black Cod with Miso! *drool* It was fantastic. I love black cod with miso. YUM!
We eventually finished up, and it was about 8:20pm! Gosh. A lot later than intended. Still, early enough that we had some chance of getting home by ... not too late. We had to stop for gas a couple of times, and for coffee, but we actually arrived home a few minutes before 2am, about 20 minutes earlier than my estimate made early in the trip. Not too bad! 5.5hrs including 2 gas stops and a Starbucks stop. The drive was remarkably ok. I drove the whole way and never felt too tired to drive, which is wonderful. I hate it when that happens, and the drive home from LA is alas a drive which often does it. In fact, the drive was great both down and back. :)
Having arrived home, we got to sleep in the hopes of being able to wake up the next morning (well, ur, that morning -- Monday) for work.
What a fun weekend!