“I’m not going, there are 200 miles of cars with really unhappy people in them between us and Tahoe.”
Jordan did not like traffic and, truthfully, anyone who rode with Jordan in traffic grew to hate traffic as well. Hating Jordan wasn’t an option. Still, Darren needed to get Jordan to Tahoe for the weekend.
“I don’t think there are 200 miles of cars with unhappy people, the people going to Tahoe are happy about going to Tahoe … just like you.”
Darren said the last part under his breath, hoping that it wasn’t caught by Jordan.
“Oh I’m happy because I’m NOT getting in a car, spending 7 hours surrounded by drivers who, by the way they are driving, have lost the will to live and are hoping that they can end it all on the drive up the mountain.”
Caught. Darren recognized that Tahoe was getting farther and farther away, time to change tactics.
“OK, so maybe we don’t go to Tahoe this weekend but we should still get out of the Valley. Get some fresh air.”
A plan was forming in Darren’s mind. When a problem overwhelms, Darren remembers the White Stripes song “Little Acorn” and immediately knew what he has to do, be like the squirrel, be like the squirrel.
“Mount Diablo is a short drive away and I hear that we might get some snow at the top. Just like Tahoe except missing the lake, gambling, restaurants and smokey casinos.”
Jordan was caught off guard by Darren’s quick change of travel location.
“Hmm, I haven’t been to Mt. Diablo in a while, sounds like fun. Lets plan for Saturday and make a day of it. A much better idea than driving to Tahoe for the weekend.”
Darren inwardly quaked. Saturday would not work, they needed to be in Tahoe by Friday evening. Be like the squirrel, be like the squirrel.
“I was thinking, actually, with the holidays over and everybody getting back into the swing of things, we could each take Friday off and avoid the Diablo crowds. Saturday is a busy day for Mt. Diablo.”
Darren peered intently at Jordan, waiting for any facial clue or bodily movement to gauge how Darren’s latest riposte landed.
“I didn’t know Mt Diablo got crowded on the weekends, I just assumed everybody who liked mountains was up in Tahoe. Why is Saturday busy for Mt. Diablo?”
Darren started to imagine that he was Neo and Jordan’s questions were coming at him in “bullet time”, and, like Neo, the world slowed down to allow him to evade.
“I actually meant just this Saturday. Usually, the crowds are pretty minimal but this Saturday night, given the moon, the local Wiccan sects are planning a big solstice celebration on the summit of Mt. Diablo. They will spend all day Saturday moving their equipment to the summit.”
Jordan looked confused. “The winter solstice was two weeks ago. What solstice are they celebrating?”
Darren imagined he actually had on Neo’s sunglasses.
“Um, it’s a do-over for the Winter Solstice because they were missing a key member of their sect due to a data breach incident at the company he worked, at least that’s what I read on Facebook.”
Jordan looked more confused. “Does their religion actually work like that? They get do-overs for major masses? Was the religion invented by an avid golfer?”
Darren had no idea but in “question time”, there was no time for checking facts.
“So, Friday morning, we head out to Mount Diablo?” Darren asked in an attempt to stop any further questions.
“Sure, not sure about this Wiccan thing but, if you read it on Facebook, it’s probably true.”
Darren’s inward smile was ear to ear. Darren almost stopped to think about how grisly an inner ear to ear smile would actually be, he needed to stay focused on the task at hand. Time to set in motion the next phase of Operation Be The Squirrel.
“I was reading the latest Michelin guide. Some restaurants in our area got their first star, pretty cool, huh?” Darren knew that Jordan was a foody but a lazy one. Jordan liked telling people about eating at Michelin rated restaurants but had no appetite for actively seeking out said restaurants. Darren continued.
“One of the things, though, that caught my eye while I was reading the guide was that Dixon, Dixon of all places, has a restaurant that has 2 stars. Dixon!” Darren let the sentence hang out there for consumption. Darren was pretty sure Jordan didn’t know where Dixon was but Darren was also pretty sure that there wasn’t a two star rated Michelin restaurant in Dixon.
“I have an idea. Let’s go try this culinary unicorn in Dixon for lunch then head over to Mt. Diablo in the afternoon and catch the sunset. It would make for a great day. What do you think?”
Jordan looked suspicious. “Isn’t Dixon basically Sacramento? You did say two star rating, though. You sure it has a lunch serving?”
Darren chuckled. Does his imaginary two star rated Dixon restaurant have a Friday lunch seating? It does now. “Of course, I checked it out, why else would I have suggested it?!? I even got reservations just in case.”
Jordan looked interested, a lot like how Darren imagine a bass assessing a jig would look right before striking. Darren was even more impressed with his bass/jig analogy with Jordan reprising the role of the bass and his imaginary Michelin two star restaurant in Dixon with Friday lunch seating was the jig. Darren stopped, the deal wasn’t done yet.
Jordan smiled. “OK, lets do this, lunch in Dixon, sunset on Mt. Diablo on Friday. I’ll let my manager know that I am taking PTO and I am looking forward to the meal and sunset. Darren, you have really outdone yourself this time. You really didn’t want to go to Mt. Diablo, you wanted to try out this restaurant all along. I don’t even think you really wanted to go to Tahoe since this restaurant is on the way to Tahoe.”
Darren smiled. “Hey, you got me. You are way too smart for me. I hate being so transparent.” He paused. “I’m willing to go to Mt. Diablo for a sunset in order to have a Michelin two star restaurant meal. Win win for both of us though I think you are coming out ahead.” Darren also knew that Dixon was over half way to their Tahoe destination and, if you are more than half way to something, you might as well go all the way , right? Be like the squirrel, be like the squirrel.