DOES THIS NOUN STILL VERB?
I've been ready to propose to Shauna for a good year now. At least, ya know, mentally. I started a saving program for the ring and began my "I'm buying a diamond even though I have no idea what I am doing" research process last fall. Originally I had wanted to do the deed on top of a mountain, or in a forest valley somewhere near Glenwood Springs or Frisco, though those ideas phased out when I took into account how little Shauna enjoys bouncing around in the Jeep for hours on end.
I racked my brain for extravagant possibilities while my folks and her folks just wanted me to take her down to Clement Park or a 7-11 and just get it over with. I figured she deserved more than that. San Francisco was always on my mind. She went to school there and we both really love the city. Getting us out there was the trick, though. She has very little time off due to her addiction to conventions. Any vacation is spent trotting around local hotels in wigs, scooping up dvds and figurines and (sigh) wall scrolls.
In the final months of 2009, she expressed an interest in going to Anime Expo. A few weeks later she solidified those plans. I knew then exactly what had to be done. A beach-at-sunset proposal was now within my grasp. Keeping a surprise was going to be the tricky part.
Between unanticipated medical bills, home repairs, and personal equipment failures, I got my ass kicked financially for most of Spring. A tax refund and a friend repaying a year-old debt is what gave me the final ability to afford the ring, which was ordered from a good friend of her mothers who happened to be a jeweler in Indiana. Shaunas mom helped me get the right setting, and the right size. Keeping everything but the fact that I was shopping for a ring a secret from her mother was arguably the hardest part of the entire endeavor.
Originally the plan was to for Shauna and her friends fly to LA on June 30. Alyssa was going to be my "inside man," and would get Shauna to be in the right place at the right time for me to pick her up. Since Alyssa couldn't exactly afford the plane ticket, she would ride with us in the Ecto on July 1, acting under a lie that she was flying out for just two days of the con due to blackout dates. We would drop Alyssa off near the hotel and she would tell Shauna she took a shuttle. We would then go about our business in LA, burning time and seeing friends while they enjoyed the con. Around 5 or 6pm, Alyssa would tell Shauna that they were going to get sushi. Alyssa would arrange for Shauna to be in normal -perhaps classy- attire at the required time. This was the biggest hurdle, as Shauna LOVES cosplay, and would likely spend 90% of her time there in crazy wigs and make-up. Around the same time I would leave my comrades with the capable So-Cal guys and set off to pick up Shauna.
Once I had Shauna, we'd head to Point Dume, north of Malibu. There the beach faces fairly west, instead of south or southwest like much of the coastline near LA. This would, hopefully, mean that the sun would set on the water, which is our favorite thing in the whole world.
Two weeks before P-Day, Alyssa officially decided she was not going to AX because of a kidney stone. I had to pull the rest of Shaunas friends into the plan, which I was hesitant to do because of lack of familiarity and trust with most of them. Everything was explained and they were totally in on it.
The plan was solid.
Though I did almost lose my mind making sure I had enough money for pre-road trip maintenance on the Ecto, gas money, emergency-oh-god-we're-stuck-in-Nevada funds, everything fell into place at the last minute.
Borzou arrived a few hours after I dropped Shauna and her friends at the airport. I spent the afternoon getting the rear differential fluid changed out, rotating tires, and a half dozen other small services. I showed Borzou around Denver that night after making a few additions to the rack and doing last minute touchups. Eating reindeer and boar hot dogs at a spontaneous modern art fest in LoDo was incredible. We encountered about 2,000 people riding through downtown on bicycles, taking up the entire street. After managing to maneuver into
the crowd, we received roaring cheers as we played Queen and Pink Floyd bike songs. For some reason, half the dudes in the crowd were wearing dresses (perhaps free stuff at the art museum if you crossed?), and we had a little fun with "Dude Looks Like a Lady" pumped out the roof speakers.
We piled in the car and were on the road at 6am the next morning. Zero traffic and perfect weather had us through the mountains, Glenwood Canyon, the Western Slope, and into Grand Junction just in time for breakfast biscuits at Chick-Fil-A.
The greenery of the Rockies was absolutely peaked, and it just isn't prettier than first thing in the morning.
We'd passed Richie's Gorge, where Borz nearly killed himself scaling rocks for ten minutes, and made it to Beaver by mid-afternoon. Being about two hours ahead of schedule, we decided to explore the desert a bit. North of Las Vegas we found planes flying in formation over enormous clouds of smoke. Being Nevada, there was possibility of it being a bombing range, though I was adamant that no range would be so close to a highway. Upon investigation, we found a huge brush fire, the planes were dropping retardant on it. Pretty epic.
We also found this great little disused dairy building to shoot.
We watched for a bit and were on our way. Cruised the Strip in Vegas for a half hour, showing Borz the sights. He hustled into the Hard Rock to grab a shot glass, and I washed bugs off the car before the desert heat baked them on permanently.
Las Vegas has the worst photoshop panoramas.
We arrived in Burbank shortly after midnight, definitely a good thing. The next morning we were up and downtown by 10:30, arriving fashionably late so as to make the type of entrance that the Ecto always requires; flying in, lights and siren blazing. This was made a little more difficult by the fact that I took a wrong turn and blasted down an "authorized vehicles only" street directly in front of a police station. BUTTHOLES CLENCHED.
As everyone else has said, we waited out front for a good half hour/forty minutes, weathering crack deals and enormous transvestites. The Toy District is truly a place where an ICP fan reservation could thrive, I tell ya whut.
It wasn't until Borz squeezed through the fence to hammer on the door, and after blasting the siren for a bit that we managed to get Daniel to come on out.
Backing in. The consensus was that this was the first time the Firehouse had seen an Ecto roll into the bay since 1989!
Borz suiting up.
Vinny on the stairs, suggesting that we spend the night to, you know, try it out.
Containment unit basement.
Behind the containment unit wall, a room.
Behind the room, a tunnel.
Filled with... stuff.
The door at the end of the tunnel, on the other side was the bottom of the elevator shaft.
Welp, I gots me a new desktop wallpaper!
This was the part where CCC couldn't wait for us to finish taking pictures of the door with Logan's camera, and instead chose to elbow between us to shoot with his POS handycam. Literally shoving us up against the walls. BEST BEHAVIOR.
Borz enjoying the firepole.
This pole was 10, maybe 12 feet in length. A quick ride, but it still gave me the willies before I went down. I cannot even imagine what going down the 20 foot poles in the main bay must have been like. Shit.
Scary door straight from Silent Hill.
Elevator room on the roof.
I thought everyone was talking about Borzou a little later, but they were just saying "no glass
I liked this shot.
We then flipped the car around to take pictures with it facing inward. I pulled close to a few lockers to hopefully get as much "iconicness" into a single shot as possible. The Firehouse is SO HUGE that it's difficult to capture the entirety of it in one spot.
I REALLY like this.
Close-up of tile
A little more psychadelic.
Group shot, kinda blurry.
This one is better. I even managed to get what-his-chen out of it.
Of course we had to have a picture with everyone pointing.
Go Go So-Cal
f****g laser-containment grids, how do they work?
After that we packed up our things, said good-bye to those who were departing for the day, and headed to the Biltmore for a few shots. The management was a little more wary of us this time around, but I think we'd all explored it before, and just needed the required "this thing is in a place it isn't normally, better take advantage" picture.
I'll post more in a bit. GIANT torrent of ALL photos will be available soon!