30 November 2008

Peter Brown Called To Say

Monday morning, we are up before the crack of dawn for a day trip to Gibraltar. The whole day I will be singing "The Ballad Of John & Yoko" in my head - and occasionally out loud - but that's another story...

While waiting to be picked up at our resort's entrance, we met two guys from Phoenix. Mr. Phone and Mr. Engineer. They are two friends like us using up timeshare points before they expire. We chat about the other day trips we have planned and they run in to the concierge to sign up for the day trip to Ronda that we have scheduled for tomorrow. We also learn that they will be with us on our trip to Tangier on Thursday.

We board the bus and we meet an American family from Virginia Beach. Dentist dad, travel agent mom, student daughter and snowboard daughter. We learn that they are on the trip to Tangier on Thursday also. They are staying at the Marriot down the beach as they are Marriot owners.

Our guide tells us that we don't have to change money. In Gibraltar, most every place will take Euro or US dollars and those that won't will take plastic. But we should always check before eating or purchasing anything, just in case. (The currency is the Gibraltar Pound which is equivalent to the Pound Sterling but only accepted in Gibraltar. They take Pound Sterling also.) We decide to use Euros or Visa.

At the P&T stop, I chat a little bit more with our new American friends. They are all very friendly and nice.

Crossing the border, we all have to show our passports to Spanish police and then again to British police, but nothing gets stamped.

Then we drive across the airport runway to enter Gibraltar. Our large bus drives to the Visitor Centre wher we board two smaller buses. One is German & English and the other is Spanish & English. We opt for the Spanish bus as do all our new friends. It turns out that the Spanish couple is pretty fluent in English so out guide mostly does the tour in English and only explains things in Spanish as needed.

We head off for our tour of the Rock. We head first to Point Europa which is the closest point to Africa. The coolest thing there (which I unfortunately did NOT get a photo of) was half a tanker aground on the rocks. Apparently, it broke in half when thrown on the rocks during a fierce storm. It's still there.

Then we head up to St. Michael's Cave. The whole Rock is made of limestone so there are many caves, but St. Michael's is enormous and was cleared for use as a hospital during Word War 2. It was never needed so now it is used for concerts.

After that, we went to the Apes Den for a scheduled look at the Barbary Macaques. We had seen them around the Cave as well. They are the only wild Primates in Europe.

At the Apes Den' we saw the Cable Car up to the top of the Rock, but we didn't go up there ourselves. Then we headed down past the Moorish Castle, City Hall (where John & Yoko got married) and through the town to Grand Casements Square where we left the minibus behind for lunch or shopping.

T & I headed out of the very tourist-y Square and strolled down the High Street to see what sparked our fancy. We came across The Star Bar which claims to be the oldest Pub in Gibraltar. Legend has it that Columbus stopped there on his way to discover America! We had a lovely lunch of fish & chips (with malt vinegar!), lamp chops (with brown sauce!), stout & cider.

Then we headed back to the Visitor Centre, shopping a bit along the way.

Back on our large bus, back across the airport runway. Then we had to exit the bus to go through Customs on both sides of the border (but still no stamps). We boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel.

Mr. Phone, Mr. Engineer, T & I stopped back at the concierge to check on our Ronda trip for the next day. Alas, it had been cancelled. We were the only people who signed up. We inquired about the Granada trip and that was booked full for Tuesday and Wednesday. The guys were going to Seville on Wednesday so we signed up for that trip and it was confirmed right then. Then we asked the concierge for suggestions for what to do on Tuesday. He suggested that we go to Ronda on the public bus. He provided us with the bus schedule into Marbella and we decided to think it over.

Later, at Happy Hour, we ran into the guys and they said they were thinking about Ronda for tomorrow. They asked what time we were leaving. We said we didn't know, but we would try to leave early. They headed off for dinner. We chatted with the barmen for awhile and then went back to our condo for dinner and some BBC.

Tomorrow, we will try our Amazing Ronda Bus Adventure en Espanol!


Our first day in Marbella. We planned to take it easy. We slept in and woke up just in time to make breakfast at the resort restaurant. Now everyone knows that Spain is a pretty laid back country, but they serve breakfast 9-11 or 10-Noon. Lunch begins at Noon if you're lucky but usually 1. And 8pm is the earliest you could possibly think of eating dinner. Most shops close 2-4pm or so for siesta. It's tough to be an American used to eating breakfast at 7, lunch at Noon and dinner at 6.

But we had our breakfast and a little bird joined us at our table. After breakfast, we walked over the road to the supermercado, but it was closed. Ah, Sundays in Spain. Not ready to throw in the towel, just yet, we walk over the highway to the centro de commercial and there we find an OpenCor that is indeed open "todo los dios". We spend about 50 Euro buying breakfast stuff, fruit, veg, and stuff for a few lunches or dinners. We walk around and check out the place and see that there are quite a few pubs and restaurants and they will all be showing the same football (that's soccer for you Yanks) game at 1500. We decide to come back and watch if nothing else comes up between now and then.

After taking our purchases back to our condo, we decide to head to the beach and explore some of the neighbourhood. It's a short walk, past clay tennis courts, to Tony's cafe on the beach. We head down the steps, past the palapas and towards Marbella. After walking for a while, we decide to turn around and walk back. But when we get to Tony's, we keep walking toward Fuengirola just to see what else there is to see. We stop when we come to a jetty that will require me to climb rocks to pass and head back to Tony's.

We sit on the patio and drink dos canas while watching the waves and the people. There are quite a few people on the beach considering it's November. There is even a woman sunbathing topless! BRR. I am fascinated by the two English guys surf fishing near the restaurant. Would they really catch anything? Would it be worth eating? Or do they just want an excuse to sit on the beach and drink beer?

While we are sitting there, African guys selling bootleg DVDs, jewelry, and knockoff watches and handbags, are constantly stopping by the table to sell to us. We tell all of them "No". One asks if we are Americans. When we say yes, he says "Obama!!" We say "Yes, Obama." He says "Obama is very good man. He will be very good President of America." We say "Yes, we think so too". So he walks away smiling saying "Goodbye Obamas!!"

Before we finish, we realize that it is nearly 4:30pm and so we have missed the football game. We head back to our resort for a short siesta and then Happy Hour at the bar. Our bar has Happy Hour every night 1830-1930. Everything is half price, except bottles and some cocktails. We pretty much stick to Sangria. It's lovely and fruity and fizzy. We sit at the bar and chat up the bartenders. They give us free shots. Sometimes, they have made too much of a cocktail that another customer ordered. Sometimes, they have made the wrong cocktail. Sometimes, they are just experimenting or learning and want to see what we think. But we prater on with our very bad Spanish which makes them laugh so it's all good fun.

Tipsy but happy, we head back to our condo to make dinner, watch the BBC and sleep. It's an early start tomorrow. We are going to another country - Gibraltar!

29 November 2008

Here comes the Costa del Sol!

Saturday morning we slept in and then packed up. Check out time wasn't until Noon and that was when we had to leave for the airport so we took our time. We ate the breakfast goodies we purchased the day before at the Boqueteria market. [I highly recommend a trip to the Boqueteria as it is one of the largest markets in the world. If they don't sell it, you probably can't buy it. There was even a stall selling foreign products for all the ex-pats living in Barcelona.] After our breakfast, we went to the little coffee shop down the street for dos cafes de la casa (espresso with chocolate). T was like "where's the leche" but we didn't need any leche. They also served a piece of chocolate on the side. Then we went to the ATM and walked up Las Ramblas to Placa Catalunya and then back over to Carrer del Pi where we shopped our way back to our hotel. The only thing we bought were Christmas cards at El Corte Ingles.

Back to the hotel to check out and then back to Placa Catalunya to catch the Aerobus back to the airport. Grabbed a quick lunch at the Bocadillo shop near our gate. I ordered the Tortilla de patate and it actually came on a baguette. Whoever heard of a potato sandwich? Crazy! We flew on Vueling and the flight was completely uneventful. There were quite a few musicians from Israel on our flight, but we never did learn where they were performing.

I had pre-arranged a shuttle that I found through Google. The company is transfersdelsol.co.uk and I highly recommend them for airport transportation to or from Malaga airport. Our driver was an ex-pat who spoke perfect English and was very friendly. We got to the resort very easily and were checked in and to our room in time to freshen up before Happy Hour. We had dinner that night at the restaurant and then turned in. We had been go-go-go since landing in Spain and we were both looking forward to Sunday, the day off.

28 November 2008

One if by Air, Two if by Sea

Our last full day in Barcelona. We decide to take advantage of the free Harbor Cruise that came with our Barcelona Cards and head to the Harbor. Dos Cafes Con Leche para llevar and a quick trip to La Baguetina and we are ready to set off. A short walk down Las Ramblas, but we take the Metro to reduce the chances of getting lost.

This not being tourist season, the first boat doesn't leave until noon so we turn around and look behind us at El Mirador del Colom - The Christopher Columbus monument. The steel column contains an ascensor and our Barcelona Card offers a discount so up we go. It is so tiny that only four people can fit in at once, and that is if you are friendly enough to be quite close. T being slightly claustrophobic had a smidge of anxiety, but she was fine. At the top, there is less room to maneuver than in the Crown of the Statue Of Liberty and it moves a lot more!

We walked completely around and then had to wait a bit for the ascensor so we could go back down. Then we headed off to the boat.

The Harbor cruise was nice enough, but it was not narrated and it was FREEZING cold. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't have the Barcelona Card. But it was nice to see the Olympic Village.

After that we took the Metro to the Mont Juic Funicular. Emerging halfway up Mont Juic, we opted for the Teleferic up to Castell Mont Juic. We walked around the ancient fortress, had great views of the city and harbor, and had our first paella at the restaurant.

We tooke the Teleferic back down and walked a bit through the Parc. A bus came along so we hopped on it, not really know where it was going. An adventure!! As soon as I figured out where we were on the map, we got off at the next stop that was near the Metro and headed back to our hotel.

Another siesta, then we headed to the Placa del Pi for dinner at Taller Tapas. I highly recommend this place if you are ever in Barcelona. The tapas choices were excellent, they have great daily specials, great cocktails, and menus in English! We saw a lot of folks ordering things we hadn't ordered and were especially glad we opted out of the paella as it came with a whole prawn (head and legs included) smack on top. We had grilled bread with tomatoes & garlic (a sort of Catalan bruschetta), jamon croquette (just one so T could try it), grilled asparagus, sizzling prawns (no heads here), patates bravas (vlamse frites mit saus), mojito, capirinha and dos aguas sin gas. We were stuffed!

After dinner, we headed over to Santa Maria del Pi for a concert by Barcelona Duo Guitarra. A man and a woman who met as music students, they have arranged "Carmen" for two guitars and they play flamenco music while making the percussive sounds of the dancers with their hands. Really wonderful and amazing! The perfect end to our time in Barcelona.

26 November 2008

Is it gaudy or is it Gaudi?

We started off our first full day in Spain with breakfast in our hotel. Then we headed off to try to find the Museu Picasso. Theoretically within walking distance of our hotel, but through the labyrinth of the Barri Goti so not exactly easy to find.

Eventually, we made it there. Picasso was from this part of Spain so it seemed like a good way to start off the trip. Plus with our Barcelona card, it was half-price!

Leaving the museum and heading to the Metro, we made our first purchase in Spanish. Dos Aguas, por favor.

We navigated the Metro fairly easily and emerged at La Sagrada Familia, probably the most recognized landmark in all of Barcelona. The cathedral was begun in 1882. Gaudi took over the design in 1883 and worked on it until his death. He completed the Portal of the Nativity. The work on the cathedral is ongoing and they expect to finish it by 2026.

Part of how they pay for the building is by charging admission to the cathedral and also by charging to go up one of the towers in an elevator - "ascensor" en Espanol. So, we decided to give that a try. Now, Gentle Readers, most of you know that I have vertigo. I am not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling from them. I do not stand on chairs. I have trouble with steep stairs and escalators. But I have been to the top of some pretty tall buildings (including both World Trade Center towers btw). So I decided this couldn't be too bad.

And it was fine, until I had crossed over a little bity bridge to the other tower and had to walk down 10 meters around an opening that went 70 meters straight down. Oh yeah, that was it. I had to beg the lift operator to take me down. (He was pretty understanding in the end.)

After the dizzying depths, we descended to the basement which contains the museum of the cathedral. But our blood sugar was sinking as well so we headed off to the Michael Collins Irish Pub. Recommended by Barcelona Card, it was conveniently just across the square.

After our lunch of fish & chips (and a strange look when we asked for vinegar for same), we set off for Park Guell. We had a vague map in the Barcelona card book, but it wasn't on the city map we got from our hotel and I wasn't carrying my Lonely Planet. So we got off the metro and looked for a sign. We saw one and followed it to a very confusing intersection. And then we chose, unwisely.

We walked up the street whose name we could read on one of the maps and ended up climbing a huge flight of stairs only to end at a large mural depicting tourists being robbed. Hurriedly, we walked down the nearest street. As we approached a cross street, we saw large numbers of people walking up the hill, we followed them and then saw that we were on the right road. We referred to that journey as "The Stairs of Death" for the rest of the trip.

Park Guell is full of Gaudi's handiwork. The Sala Hipostila staircase has a very famous dragon. The house where he lived is also here and we visited that as well. That was where we encountered The Toucher. Seriously, some British woman who had to touch EVERYTHING in the museum, no matter how many signs were posted or how mortified her companions were.

After leaving the museum, we declared that we were "museumed out" for probably the rest of this trip and we found our way back to the Metro without getting lost or going down the Stairs Of Death.

Once back at our hotel, we had a short siesta and then asked the concierge to recommend a place for dinner. He sent us into the labyrinth to find Banys Nous on which was located a restaurant that he highly recommended. There seemed to be a bit too much pulpa on the menu so we decided to keep walking. We stumbled across Campostela and, though they had pulpa in the window, they had a lovely Menu del Noche so we went in.

We had ensalada mixta, gazpacho, steak (the saltiest steak I have ever eaten in my entire life), and helado. Throw in a bottle of tinto and a bottle of agua sin gas and we were very happy.

We strolled back to our hotel via Las Ramblas. Ready for a good night's sleep and our harbor adventure in the morning.

12 November 2008

The Rain in Spain is Mainly at the Airport

Hola from Barcelona! Here´s the news so far:

Got home from work about an hour before the shuttle came to pick me up which gave me time to shower and change before the flight. Always good when you are going to be traveling for a long time.

The shuttle arrived on time with a very friendly driver who asked if I had my passport & tickets. We had one more stop and then flew to LAX with zero traffic. There was no line at the Swissair counter so I had about 90 minutes to shop, eat, etc. before boarding.

After browsing the Duty Free shop (does anyone really buy that stuff?) and having a snack, I zipped through security, obtained some Euro, then went to the gate. Oddly, the same gate I left from for Ireland in 2006!

Once the flight had boarded, the captain announced there would be a slight delay. It was actually a medical emergency and delayed our leaving for about an hour. They not only had to get the passenger off but also his luggage. I was only nervous because I didn´t have a long layover in Zurich. The flight itself was fine. I didn´t have a seatmate so was able to spread out a bit. I had a personal tv and watched ¨Get Smart¨ and ¨Mamma Mia¨, plus two episodes of ¨Friends¨. I also played Sudoku and read one of MAD´s romance novels (she gives them to me to read on planes). I even managed to sleep!

We landed in Zurich at 4:10pm and my flight to Barcelona boarded at 4:45. I sped through Flughaven Zurich but it looks like a nice place to have a layover. I had to go through security again so I had to put everything back in the plastic bag and toss the water I had bought in LA. A quick passport control line and then boarding commenced.

As soon as we boarded, the captain came on to make the announcement that a passenger had not boarded so we would be delayed while his luggage was removed. It was just my day for that sort of thing.

An uneventful flight during which I slept and we landed in Barcelona in the rain. T texted me to say she would be in the arrivals hall just outside customs. I zipped through Immigration, collected my luggage and met her easily.

While she had been waiting, she had discovered that the Aerobus was a better option to our hotel than the Airport Train so we took that. It was raining as we walked to the stop, but not very hard. We boarded the bus, got our Barcelona card discount on the tickets, and were off.

The bus stopped at La Placa Catalunya and we got off. The tricky part was figuring out which direction our hotel was from there. I knew it was on a pedestrian street so we headed in the direction of the only pedestrian street we could see. Good choice! We were at our hotel in less than 10 minutes. And it wasn´t raining!!

Greeted with cava, everything was great. We had a little trouble with the lights, but it turned out to be the circuit breaker and was fixed in a jiffy. Showered and changed, we headed to dinner at a place suggested by both of our guidebooks and less than 5 minutes walking from our hotel.

El Quatre Gats, now a restaurant, was an artist´s club modeled after Le Chat Noir. Picasso held his first exhibition there. They have a traditional Cataln menu. We had olives, bread, mesclun salad with goat cheese, spinach & goat cheese ravioli, baked cod and roasted goat. A bottle of the house red topped us off.

We stopped in the hotel bar for tea and were asleep in our beds within 30 minutes of finishing dinner.

The agenda for our first day includes the Picasso museum, La Sagrada Familia, Michael Collins Irish Pub (seriously!) and who knows what else.

Stay tuned...

09 November 2008

Thank you America

On Tuesday evening, I will board a plane for my European vacation. the last time I went to Europe was exactly two years ago, but that trip was to Ireland which is very American friendly. The trip before that was to France in 2004.

In France in 2004, I was quite concerned to be singled out as an American tourist. Our President and his policies were not popular there. Fortunately, I am able to blend in quite well with the "natives" in appearance and it's only when I open my mouth that they know I am a tourist. Still, I had more people tell me how much they didn't like Bush than when I visited the Soviet Union in 1985 (OK that was Reagan, but you get the idea).

So thank you America. In the recent election, you showed to the rest of the world that the American people were also unhappy with the status quo. WE wanted something new and different and we are going to have it.

I still plan to try and not stick out as an American tourist, but now it's because I don't want to be a target for petty theft. And every tourist should worry about that.

So, if I happen upon an Internet Cafe, I promise to blog from the road. If not, I am signing off for the next two weeks.

God Bless The United States Of America.

05 November 2008

Country First.

I watched the returns last night with a group of friends from church, including the folks I went to Nevada with (see the Driving For Change post below). When Colbert & Stewart called the race for Obama, we were stunned. We looked at each other in disbelief. Was it true? How could it be true? We've been down this road before, you know.

Someone shouted "Turn on Fox"! So we did, and then we believed.

And then we cheered.

And as we toasted our new President with champagne and congratulated ourselves on our contribution to this historic moment, we were still a little bit stunned. Hours later, as we watched to see the results of our local races, we kept turning to each other and saying "I can't believe Obama is really President".

We all gave kudos to John McCain. He gave an eloquent speech and looked like the old McCain, the maverick, the one we had respect for and liked well enough to say "he wouldn't be so bad as President". The crazy, pandering, negative McCain had gone. He lived up to his campaign slogan and put his country first, offering his full support to the new President. Having met McCain, I know he meant it.

So should we all. And now, that's really what we have to do. In the words of our President-elect, "I have heard your voices and I will be your President too".

So I encourage all Obama supporters to reach out to the McCain supporters in your lives. Show respect for their passion in this marvelous process. Unity is where it's at!

04 November 2008

Advanced Citizenship

Today, America is the envy of the world. Today, after 8 years of a President who has steadily declined in popularity both at home and abroad, amidst a struggling economy, in a war, Americans from all walks of life, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, will go to the polls to vote for a new President.

We have had 18 months of increasingly negative and bitter campaigning. Both sides have slung their share of mud. Good friends and family members have argued til they were blue in the face because they are passionate about their candidate.

Beginning at midnight in Dixville Notch New Hampshire and continuing until the polls close in Alaska and Hawaii, Americans in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will go to the polls, braving weather and lines (hopefully) to have their say. And they won't just be voting for President, but that's the one vote that will make the difference to the rest of the world.

Because no matter how cantankerous this campaign has been, we will elect our next leader peacefully. We do not need UN peacekeeping forces to protect us while we vote. We do not need international monitors to ensure that our election is carried out fairly. We respect each other's right to vote for the candidate of our own choice, even if we don't agree with who that is.

And tomorrow, if we have conclusively chosen our new President, we will simply get on with our lives. Between November 5th and January 20th, the new administration will put its Cabinet together and begin to build bridges to the other side. There will not be riots in the streets by the losing side or violence against the other side in anyway.

If the President has not been conclusively decided, there may be some protesting. But it will be done peacefully and respectfully. Because that's who we really are as Americans. We respect each other's Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

This marvel of the free world that we call America is only made possible by men and women who fought and died for our right to exist as a country and for our Constitution. You do them dishonour if you do not vote today.

In the end, it doesn't matter who you vote for, but if you don't vote, you don't deserve to live here. Dixville Notch had 100% turnout (15 for Obama & 6 for McCain btw), but they are likely to be one of the only places in America that does so well. And that, my friends, is sad. We should all love our country enough to take the time to vote.

There are many local officials up for election and local propositions that will directly affect your life even if you don't think the occupant of the Oval Office will do so.

If you don't know where to go to vote, please visit www.canivote.org to find your polling place. Most states require employers to give you reasonable time off work to vote. Most states will allow you to vote a provisional ballot if your name is not on the list at the polling place. Some states allow you to register and vote on the same day. There's just no excuse for not voting.

If you can't appreciate how easy it is for you to vote your conscience today, you should seriously consider moving to some other part of the world for awhile. People in other parts of the world walk for days, some in fear of their lives, to cast votes for their candidate of choice. In those places, people can be pitied for not voting. But this is America, people. Vote, or leave.

My two cents...

03 November 2008

Driving For Change

One note - This post has been held in draft at the request of the Obama campaign until after the election. All bloggers were asked to do this so that blogging about the Drive For Change events would not affect the outcome.

As mentioned in an earlier post, one of my friends from church is very passionate about electing Obama. She not only helped convince me that Obama would be my candidate of choice if I didn't live in California, but also asked me to go to Nevada with her to knock on doors and get out the vote.

So we did. Another church friend joined us. The most interesting addition was the fourth person. Our driver had posted on the DFC site that we had a space in the car and the guy we lucked into was absolutely the right fit for us. He liked the same music, was an In-n-out person, into community service, and interested in discussing religion, politics and all kinds of controversial subjects people don't usually discuss when they've just met. It was Divine Providence. (Trust me, cause we met guy #2, and he would not have fit in at all!)

Our assignment was Las Vegas. For our driver, it was her first trip to Vegas so we couldn't NOT go to the Strip. After checking in to our hotel, we took a short jaunt down the south end from New York, New York to Mandalay Bay. Then we headed back to get an early start the next day.

We had to report to a park first. This reminded me of MMM where everyone gets a disbursement clue. Each car was handed a map to a precinct. Again, we had Divine Providence because our Precinct Captain had gone to UCDC with Random Car Guy and was also a UCSD alum (as I am). He handed us two large packets of voter lists and info and asked if we could do both of those before coming back. Early voting had begun and we were going to the doors of sporadic voters and asking them to vote. Most of the people were registered Democrats but all were either undecided or Obama leaning. We did not knock on any door of someone who was strong McCain, but we did knock on a few strong "Other" doors. When we finished those packets, we headed back and were given another packet in the same area where the staging office was located so we didn't even move the car.

Exhausted, we grabbed some dinner, and then headed back to the hotel. We had entertained ideas of the hot tub, but instead we ended up sitting around and talking about everything until nearly 1am. The four of us really bonded over the whole experience and we were sharing all kinds of life experiences. It was very special.

The next morning we were back at the staging office to pick up two more packets. We did those and then headed home.

That weekend, our team of four knocked on around 350 doors. We met some really great people. Everyone was friendly, even the people who had decided on McCain. Only one person slammed the door on us. Along the way, we met really fantastic Americans: a convention delegate, a former Californian, a Republican dad who had just dropped off his Democrat son to knock on doors like we were doing, an older woman who shook her cane in the air with joy that we were reminding people to vote, an undecided woman on horseback who stopped us on the street and asked us about Obama and by the end was pretty sure she was going to vote for him.

We also saw a lot of foreclosure signs. In one neighborhood, a child told us not to knock on the house next door because "nobody lives there anymore". We saw housing developments that had been abandoned only partially completed. One woman told us that she was so disappointed in America that she would "not be participating in the election". That made me so sad I almost cried. I hate to see Americans not exercising their right to vote. In the end, it's more important that you vote than who you vote for. If you don't vote, you are letting other people decide your life for you and that is just sad.

By the time the weekend was over, our precinct had knocked on 5000 doors, and the state of Nevada had knocked on 100,000 doors. The one-day voter turnout on our first day was 23,000 statewide, a new record.

On the way home, we encountered a horrible traffic accident so the drive took about three hours longer than we had anticipated. But we just looked at it as more time to spend together.

I haven't bonded with virtually random people like that since boarding school. It was definitely a life-changing experience.

We plan to get together to watch the Election Results. We hope we will be celebrating, but at least we know that we did everything we could.

BTW - I still am technically "undecided". I will decide on Election Day whether I will actually vote for Obama or cast my vote for my preferred candidate Nader. But I hope Obama wins.

By the time I post this, we will know.