During our highly eventful trip to southern California this past weekend (including the well documented run-in with the police – see “Racing With the Pigs”) we joined our friends Martha and Marcello for a night out at the Long Beach Lobster-Fest. For Lisa and I it would be another unusual event among many others we have experienced in our travels. Marcello had never eaten lobster – or even crab for that matter. So, it was an event we were all excited about attending.
We arrived at their home in Highland, California in the middle of the afternoon having driven the four and half hours from Kingman. Highland is very near Loma Linda where Lisa and I lived during the winter months while she worked for the Loma Linda hospital. It was there that we met Martha and Marcello and we have stayed in contact with the two over the past months. These are two of the sweetest people we have met in our travels and we would love for them to get to Owensboro soon to meet our family. Although they are closer to our children’s ages, we had a blast during our long weekend with them – one we will never forget.
Marcello, Lisa and I picked Martha up at her work and headed to Long Beach – just about an hour drive from Highland. We laughed all weekend about how it seemed everywhere we went was about an hour away. I stole the line from “O’ Brother Where Art Thou” saying the place was a “geographic oddity – an hour from everywhere”. It was not hard getting Martha to bust out in a side-splitting laugh that would have all of us cracking up. Southern California seems like one giant city that connects one city or beach to the next. I was glad Marcello did the driving as he knew how to get around and Lisa and I could just sit back and take in the sites.
By the time we arrived in Long Beach it was getting dark and we arrived at the Port of Long Beach around 8:30PM. Never in our lives had we seen anything like the terminal port area we drove through. Lighted crane after lighted crane dotted the landscape and the shipping containers waiting to be loaded onto trains and ships must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. It was dazzling seeing this operation and we learned that this port is one of the largest in the United States. We also were able to see the WWII battleship “USS Iowa” that is permanently docked there and caught a glimpse of the Disney “Wonder” cruise ship.
We finally managed to find a parking space and walked along the docks where fishing boats were moored as we made our way to the festival. Crowds were starting to thin out by the time we arrived but they were still serving lobster and that was all we cared about. We stood in line to buy tickets for the food and another line for drinks. Separate tickets were sold for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. We were even made to buy tickets for water. I suggested to Marcello that you probably needed a ticket for first-aid.
On our way to the where the lobster was being served, Marcello and I purchased a couple of “Panama Jack” style hats that made him look like a member of the Cuban mafia. I looked like an idiot from Owensboro, Kentucky.
We finally sat down to feast on the lobster meals ($34 for a two person meal). We tore into our lobster like we had not eaten in days and pieces of shell, meat, skin from our own hands and lobster juices went flying everywhere. None of us really knew how to get inside the shell so I finally laid mine down and hammered it with my fist. I wasn’t sure if the cracking sound was the lobster shell or small bones in my hand breaking – but I didn’t really care – I was hungry. Our friends laughed at my approach but soon tried that method for themselves. It was a blast.
After stuffing ourselves with lobster we left and headed back to Highland (about an hour away) and crashed at Martha and Marcello’s house. We all wanted to return to the port on Saturday to see the place in the daylight. Our plans changed and (again) you can read about all that happened on Saturday in that previous post.
I know that I have said this numerous times – but I repeat what I believe is a truth. It is not about the places you go – it is about the people you meet. We won’t remember much about the Port of Long Beach or the USS Iowa or the Lobster-Fest in years to come. Maybe we will be able to recall some of what those places and things were like. But I can promise you we will never forget Martha and Marcello. We will remember Marcello in his Cuban hat and will remember Martha’s hearty laughter. We will remember the day we spent together chasing crooks through Long Beach and the fun we had together at Disneyland.
Life is people and the best people are our friends.
Thanks Marcello and Martha for a weekend we will never forget.
Your friends, Steve and Lisa.