Archive for February, 2010

In Merrie Olde England (Pt. 2)

February 23, 2010

Next morning, if it could be called that due to the lack of anything brighter than mid-gloom outside, I woke just after my dad had finished with the bathroom.  As we maneuvered around each other getting dressed he asked me what I was planning to do.  I told him I didn’t really have a master plan, but I’d noticed some brochures in a holder near the front desk.  I’d investigate them.

He pressed some banknotes into my hand as we left the room to have breakfast.  I am definitely not a morning person.  Coffee was terrible and the tea had leaves floating around in it so I tried just a glass of orange juice.  That seemed to work.  Four slabs of toast with good butter and some marmalade added sustenance.  I also had three eggs but I couldn’t make up my mind if they were undercooked or what.  When I asked, I was told they were poached.  Poached?  Do you mean that someone went out and stole them from some henhouse somewhere?  No, sir.  They’ve been boiled.  Oh, that explained it then.

My dad and his group packed themselves into two cabs and headed for their conference.  I wandered around the front desk area until I spotted a guy about my age in a bellman’s uniform.  I’d learned a while back that if you wanted to know what was going on in a strange town, ask hotel workers.

It turned out he and I were within six months of each other in age.  He had come on duty at four AM and was due to get off at eight.  He offered to show me some of London.  It sounded like a really good idea to me.  I showed him several of my banknotes and asked him to explain all the nuances of English money.  My head was filled with pence, crowns, quids, and pounds.  I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.  All I knew was that one of these (pound notes) was roughly equal to two dollars and fifty cents so if I just paid with them I could calculate how much I was spending.

My newfound friend, also a Tom, said that I’d need some change for the underground.  Underground?  Oh, the subway.  I changed a pound note and received a handful of various sized coins.  Tom pointed to each one and named them.  It seemed as if the bigger it was, the less it was worth.  A penny was huge.

He said that these, indicating a ten pence piece, were used on the underground so I loaded up on them.  One of the brochures had a map of the London tube system so I grabbed that as we went past.  Standing on the front walk, I unfolded it and refolded it so our local area was visible.  He indicated were we were and asked where we were headed.  I wanted to see the Tower of London first.  Hey, what the heck, I was a tourist.

We walked down the sidewalk and at the very first intersection I nearly made a fatal mistake.  I violated my own personal English tourist mantra:  ‘ALWAYS look left instead of right’ and stepped off the curb looking right.  Tom yanked on my arm as a bus whooshed by and threw mist all over me.

“Left, mate.  Look left!”

“Yeah.  Sorry.”

Looking left this time, we crossed over and went down the stairs to the Underground.  I had already spent some time wandering around the subway system in New York, so I was familiar with trains.  These cars were in pristine shape compared to their American counterparts.  Very little graffiti and no trash anywhere.  Signs proclaimed that it was a ‘fineable offense’ to litter; and I bet they meant it.

As we clattered along, I mentally marked the stations we passed through.  We had to change trains at a place called Bank but eventually arrived at Tower Gateway and emerged into deep and gloomy daylight again.  We were very close to the river now and fog had started creeping up from the banks.

I took several pictures and, owing to the cloudy skies, I felt that my black and white photos would pass on the general dankness of the day.  Tom and I wandered up and down various streets just taking in the sights.  He told me that he’d lived in London all his life but never really had taken the time to see things.  I told him that when I’d lived in Washington, DC that the same thing had happened to me.  Here I was living in a very historical town and never really gotten to see it until I began touring it with my girlfriend.

That got Tom’s attention and we began regaling each other with tales of great and not so great dates.  He began searching for a call box and when he found one he made a lengthy telephone call.  During the call he stuck his head out and asked if I would like to go to a small birthday party tonight.  I saw no reason not to, so I told him it was fine with me.  He got back on the phone and continued.  When he hung up and emerged he said it was all set up; his girl had a friend who would love to meet me.  As far as he knew, neither his girl of her friend had ever met a Yank.

Onward we walked.  We rounded a corner and found ourselves in a rather large square with multiple roads converging.  Tom looked a street signs and pronounced that we were back over the Bank subway terminal.  Not wanting to walk much further without something to eat we looked for a place we could get a snack.  We managed to locate a place that served fish and chips.  I’d never eaten them but Tom told me it was practically a national food.  They tasted great to me, but the word chips brought to mind something a little different than the rather thick, deep fried, potatoes that were served.  I had been told that ‘chips’ were actually what we called French fries.  Not necessarily so.

From the shop we headed back to the subway.  Tom suggested Piccadilly Circus as a destination.  I saw no reason to disagree so off we went.  It was slightly brighter when we emerged from the cave and I was immediately underwhelmed.  Piccadilly Circus was really just a wide place in the road where many streets came together.  Compared to Times Square in New York, it was slightly larger, but not by much.  I had been so disappointed in Times Square.  It takes up really less than a block and is very narrow.  This place was at least a wider area.  Both here and Times Square held streams of traffic; and, to my eye, they were all on the wrong side of the road.

That afternoon we scurried in and out of subway tunnels like demented squirrels.  We’d pop up, Tom would name some of the sights around, I’d shoot some pictures, and down we’d go again.  Finally, I called a halt and the two of us headed for the subway for a last trip back to Lancaster Gate.

Tom checked in with his supervisor and was told that his next shift wasn’t until tomorrow at noon.  This made him happy as he would be able to enjoy himself at the party tonight.  I just had to slip this one past my dad.  I seemed to remember him tilling me we’d go out ‘just the two of us’ and see some of the night life.  No offense meant dad, but I’d much rather go to a birthday party with Tom.  As it turned out, he appeared relieved that I had something else to do as he wanted to hit a night club with some of his buddies.  Well, that situation worked itself out nicely.

Tom left my room after telling me he’d meet me right at the exit from West Acton at six thirty.  He also warned that the line had an East Acton and a North Acton before my exit.  I changed clothes, went down into the small pub and had a short beer.  I didn’t think I could ever get used to warm beer, but it sort of grows on you.

I cleaned up, changed clothes, and allowed myself ten minutes more than the thirty minutes Tom had told me the trip would take.  As a result, I was waiting at the exit when he arrived.  He has two really stunning girls with him.  I already knew he liked blondes so I figured that the brunette was for me.  I was right.

“Tom, this is Constance and Connie, this is Tom.  This other gorgeous bird is Rose.”

“I’ll ‘gorgeous bird’ you, mate.  Just you wait,” smiled Rose, offering me her hand.

She had hair so blonde it looked almost white in the darkness of evening thrown by the tall buildings.  She was exceptionally built, but I only commented on that to myself.  We shook hands and made small talk for a few moments.  Connie, as I said, was a brunette and was almost a foot shorter than I.  This didn’t appear to bother her however because she took my arm as we walked away from the tube entrance.  Proportionally, she was a well assembled as Rose, just smaller.  She had a very infectious laugh which would pop out any time anything remotely funny was said.  It could have been that she was as nervous as I.

Several blocks later we arrived at the flat where the party had only begun.



In Merrie Olde England (Pt. 1)

February 18, 2010

While stationed in Germany, my dad had to attend quite a few NATO weather conferences.  Since he was the commander of the local weather detachment here in Stadt, he was the one who assigned himself to attend.  My mom was okay with them but only if she got to go.

One fine summer day he came home and began packing his bags.  He told her that some joint British/American group had formed and needed a weather observer to attend their war games.  At the time my mom was fighting a terrible cold.  She coughed, wheezed, and groaned out a feeble protest that she really didn’t feel like going.

I had been especially grating on her nerves for reasons I don’t remember at the moment (perhaps my only sin was being 16+), so she was the one that proposed letting me go along with him.  He thought it over and, at her insistence, allowed that it might be a good thing.  Luckily, I was already packed when he came to my room to ask.

Back then, dependents were allowed on military airplanes as part of any rest and recreation flight.  Since I was a dependent, I could go.  We arrived at Flight Operations at 0God o’clock and blearily filled out all the forms that serve to make a plane take wing.  No paperwork, no flight.

Since my dad was a light Colonel he was assigned a seat that had at least an inch of foam on it.  There were only six such seats on the whole plane.  The rest of the rabble had to sit in canvas slings or stand and hold on to the straps hanging down from the ceiling.  I didn’t see any enlisted men but I was told they were being strapped to the wings.

With a huge cloud of smelly, black smoke and a large backfire, the port (or left) engine began to spin up.  I watched with interest as the propeller appeared to be going first forward and then backwards.  Probably a trick of the eye I told myself.  Similar sounds were emanating from the starboard (or right) side of the craft but, since I was seated somewhere in the middle, I couldn’t see very well.

With a slight waddle, the C-47 made its way ponderously to the end of the runway.  I was to find out in later years that a ‘taildragger’ such as the C-47 had to waddle from side to side because a pilot couldn’t see directly in front of the plane.  So, in order to taxi, he had to move from side to side of the taxiway to see where he was going.  Makes perfect sense now, but back then I began to hear whispers that perhaps the pilot was hitting the bottle a little too hard.

We made out final turn onto the active runway, the idling engines power came up rather smoothly, to my surprise, and we began shooting down the runway.  I felt the tail lift first, which made the cabin almost level.  I thought to myself that this was a bit strange, but I had to assume the pilot knew what he was doing – unless the rumors were true, that is.

We lifted off and bounced our way up to cruise altitude.  The ride got a bit smoother as we left the heated farm fields behind and rode up above the thermals.  I passed the time by looking out a cracked Plexiglas window at cloud formations and naming them.

The flight approached the English Channel right on time and once we were over the water my dad commented on the clouds that were hovering over land in front of us.  I couldn’t decide if they were cumulonimbus or nimbostratus.  When I questioned my dad he said they were just crapto-fractus clouds.  Huh?  A couple of guys behind us chuckled at that.  I figured he had to be joking.

We entered the clouds on an even keel.  Within seconds we were standing on one wing.  Things on the inside of the plane (us, in particular) were straining at seat belts.  If we had unbuckled them I am sure a lot of us would have risen to the ceiling.  Following our wing-over and dive we caught an updraft that squashed us down in our seats like bugs.  I’d been on lesser rides at a carnival.  Now I knew what he meant by crapto-fractus clouds.

Huge sheets of rain pelted the aluminum sides with the added noise of hail.  I just had to wonder how much water was getting inside the engines.  About the time of severe shaking and porpoising reached maximum, the engines got considerably quieter.  This alarmed apparently only me.  Others around me were gathering their snack boxes, paperwork, books, sick sacks, and attaché cases in preparation for our crash landing.

We didn’t crash, but, instead, landed in London – three times in rapid succession.  While we were taxiing to the terminal, the port engine stopped turning.  We screeched to a stop and waited for the mobile stairs to hit the side of the plane.  When it did, the crew chief opened the door and we all filed out.  My eyes grew wide as the cockpit door opened and a guy came out wearing dark glasses and holding the leash attached to a German shepherd dog.  The dog led him to the door and they went down.  Oh, I get it.  Some joke.  Ha, ha.

When we got into the terminal a very pretty girl whispered to me that the pilot always did that.  Oh, yeah.  I knew that.  Sure I did.

Various groups filed out into the very wet weather in front of Base Operations and waited for their rides to the hotel.  My dad and I found a spot out of the direct rain and stretched tired muscles as we talked.  He told me that this trip he was assigned to a new hotel that he’d never been to before.  It was supposed to be only three blocks from NATO Headquarters so he could walk there every morning.  This was going to be a really fun week if the sun would come out.

Our ride finally arrived and we headed for the hotel.  It was a wild ride because I had never been in a left-hand drive car before.  It was quite exciting to be sitting on the left and not having a steering wheel in front of me.  The hard part was making blind left turns.  Every instinct screams at you that a truck will be waiting around that brick building to smash you head on as you turn.

The hotel turned out to be very nice in an old world sort of way.  The elevator was one of those wire cages that you can see out of from all angles – even down.  With predictable clattering and banging it ascended to the fourth floor; pardon me, the fifth floor.  The ground floor is actually the first floor here.

The room was very narrow but extended quite a ways towards the window.  I knew that if I got out in the middle of the night I’d have to watch my shins or I’d kick the feet on the bed sure enough.  The bathroom was so small you couldn’t change you mind in it.  No tub either, just a small shower with a flexible handheld sprinkler.  There was a big red sign over the electrical outlet that warned it was putting out 240 volts at 50CPS and to take care using American appliances.  Good thing I used a safety razor for my beard.  Three hairs, three swipes, and finished.

The gloom of late afternoon was seeping into our room about the time the telephone gave out with a distinctive double ring.  One of my dad’s friends asking if we wanted to get something to eat.  We agreed and would meet him down in the grill.  By the time we got there, the table had been expanded two times and more than ten or twelve persons were sitting at it.  My dad ordered two beers and when they came the waiter set one down in front of me.  I glanced at my dad and he appeared not to notice so I started sipping it.

Now, I make no claims to being any type of heavy drinker.  In fact, I related my first bout with drinking a while ago.  This happened to be a very dark ale and, as such, tasted very heavy to me.  The foam persisted for quite a while.  It was served at room temperature and certainly didn’t get any colder as time passed.  I was used, more or less, to good cold German beer.  I didn’t fancy English beer at all.  But I manfully sucked away at it until dinner came.

We had a very good dinner of some sort of fish.  The waiter expertly sliced along the back and with one swift movement completely pulled out the spine and rib bones.  It was a very classy move which I resolved to try the first time I got a chance.  It tasted extremely good to me, but, then I’d not eaten anything in quite a while if you didn’t count a dry peanut butter sandwich and an apple on the plane.

I began to get drowsy around eight and with the drone of conversation all around me I caught myself nodding off.  I told my dad I was heading back to the room and left.  By the time he came in I was not even sure what time it was.  I’m not even sure I said anything.  Tomorrow would be fun was my last coherent thought.


Anyone for a tuck’n’roll?

February 7, 2010

Coming to California from Europe, as I did in my sophomore year of high school, I never really had any idea what fads, local teen culture, or speech patterns would be like.  So, when several of the guys were sitting around in auto shop and the talk turned to our own cars I was unprepared for a statement made by one of them.

“I hear Bennie got his car tucked and rolled.”

I piped up before anyone else and solicitously asked if anyone had gotten hurt.

There was a dead silence for several seconds and then everyone, but me, broke out laughing.  I kind of chuckled along until it died out.  Ted took pity on me and told me what that meant.

“It means, Doofus, that he had the upholstery worked over so that it had little rolls in it.  Kinda like a quilt.  They do stuff like that down in Tijuana, Mexico.  Everyone piles into the car on Friday night and heads down south.”

“But, doesn’t it take a while to get down there?”

“Depends on how fast you go, doesn’t it?”

“Well, yeah.  I guess so.  What does it look like; the tuck’n’roll?”

“Where you been living?  Under a rock?”  Jibed Ding.

“He’s the new guy.  Came here from overseas.”  Explained Herm.

“I just got here last month.  I lived in Germany for three years so most of the time I don’t have a clue what everyone is talking about.”  Confessed me.

“Oh.  Come on out to parking and take a look at mine.”

I followed him out and into the student parking lot.  He led me to a glossy purple ’55 Chevrolet that looked like someone had cut the top off and glued it back on, but about six inches lower.  When he opened the door and I looked in I saw what he meant.

It looked like white leather and had little black threads along the seams.  I ran my hand across it.  Very smooth.  When I glanced around I saw that the door panels, side panels, seats, and even the headliner had been done the same way.  Very cool.

“Wow.  How much did this cost you?”

“The job was only a hundred and a half, but the whole trip cost me around two fifty; including bail.”

“Bail?  Like in jail?”

“Yeah.  We got a little rowdy and messed up a place a little.  We got stuck in the TJ drunk tank overnight.  My dad was pissed at me.”

“Well, the price certainly sounds reasonable to me.  When my car gets here I’d like to get this done to it.”

“Your car?  Whatcha got?”

“Volkswagen Karmann Cabriolet.  It’s a convertible.”

“A what?”

“A Volkswagen.  It’s a German car.  Very popular over there.  You probably won’t see one here because they aren’t exported.”

“What kind of engine does it have?”

“Four cylinder, stick shift, 4-speed plus reverse.  The engine is in the back.”

“In the back!  Where’s the trunk then?  In the front?”  He laughed.

“Yeah, with the gas tank”

He stopped laughing as I explained my strange little car.  When I got to the horsepower he started laughing again.

“Thirty-six horses?  That’s practically a two-door motorcycle.  Hoot, hoot, hoot!”

“Yeah, but I can get it up to around eighty-five or ninety though.”

He sobered again as I repeated my claim.  I’d had it wide open on the Autobahn and even though I’d been passed by lots of cars, I thought that was pretty good for such a small engine.  We talked a while about both his and my car and went back into the shop.

“Hey guys, he’s got a car coming over here from Germany that’s got the engine in the back and runs a whole thirty-six horses.”

One of the other guys piped up and said that he’d heard about them in one of his car magazines.  “Seems they get really good gas mileage.”  He said.

“I usually got around 640 kilometers on a tank of gas.  My tank holds around 45 liters of gas.”

“What the hell does that mean – in English?”

“Sorry.  That’s around 400 miles on, mmmm, about 11 gallons.”

He grabbed a piece of paper and did a fast calculation.  When he told the rest of them that my mileage was around 40 miles per gallon they began hooting.  I did my best to convince them it was true.  Eventually the subject drifted back to making a run to TJ to get a tuck’n’roll on Terry’s car.  All in favor say ‘Aye!’

“Aye!”  We all shouted.

It was several weeks later when we finally got clearance from our parents to make the road trip.  I didn’t have any trouble at all because I’d been making trips all over Germany and surrounding countries for quite a while.  Eventually, only five of us were going.  One Friday evening, after grabbing burgers to go, we piled into Terry’s car and headed south on the highway towards San Francisco.  Buzz was driving.

Navigating anywhere was never a problem for me because I seemed to have a ‘bump of direction’ that always told me which way I was heading.  When this bump began shouting at me that we were headed west and not south, I spoke up.  I was shouted down up until we crested a hill and was greeted by a magnificent view of – the Pacific Ocean.

“Uh, Buzz.  Unless Mexico has moved, we ARE headed the wrong direction.”

“Just checking to see if you guys were awake.  Heh, heh,” said Buzz as he hung a left at the next street.

Onward we went.  Down past the airport and into San Jose.  We changed drivers a few times but finally got to Ventura before we had to pull over and crash for a while.

A loud tapping on the roof of the car woke all of us.  It was a highway patrol.  He told us we’d have to move along.  No sleeping in rest stops.  Groggily, we tossed for who got to drive and drove off.  Everyone else crashed again.

I found out that it was true about seeing Los Angeles city limits signs hundreds of miles away from Los Angeles.  I saw the first one way north of Santa Barbara as we began waking up.

Luckily, it was a Saturday so travel through LA wasn’t all that bad.  The main problem was all the stop and go traffic.  Only small portions of what they called freeways were completed.

Finally, after a little over five hundred miles, we cruised through San Diego and reached the border.  A quick flash of our driver’s licenses and we entered Mexico.  Herm had the piece of paper with the address of the guy who did Ted’s car so he kept us all alert for different roads.  It seemed as if every turn we made took us into a more run down area than the last.  I expected to be rushed by a gang and killed at any moment.

We arrived at a really run down shack with a broken garage sign over the door.  When we parked, a couple of guys in ratty jeans came out and we began to dicker with them about what we wanted.  They opened all the doors, peeked into the truck, thumped, banged, and tapped every surface and named their price.  We countered with a figure around two thirds of their price.  They chattered back and forth and finally their faces lit up with smiles and we shook hands all around.

They took us inside and let us look through books with loads of pictures of cars they had done (maybe).  I tapped Ding on the shoulder and pointed silently to a couple of pictures of Ted and his car.  At least we had the right place.  Terry settled on a very nice shade of blue for everything horizontal and insisted on pure white for vertical surfaces.  I thought it would look very nice when done; so did he.

It was around ten in the morning and we hadn’t eaten as of yet.  Buzz asked the guys where we could get some food and he pointed down the street to a Cantina.

“Good food.  Good food,” he assured us, pointing emphatically at the sign.

I grabbed a couple of his business cards, and then we walked down and tried to make sense of the menu.  I knew from previous experience that ‘taco’ was a good thing and, when I saw that on the menu, I asked for it.  In fact, it turned out to be a Grande Taco; just like the one I’d had years ago.  All five of us had a beer to wash things down; then, another one to just be sociable.  We stopped before three however when I related Ted’s story of being put up in the TJ jail.

The guys had told us to come back at four.  So, what do we do now was the question.  We agreed that perhaps walking around might be not a good thing to do so we asked the buy behind the counter to call us a taxi.  Since one slid to a stop two minutes later I figured he had to be waiting around the corner for us to finish our beers.

“Hey.  You boys go see show?”  He asked through his mustache.

Now, we’d heard all about some of those ‘shows’ that we could see in Tijuana.  We’d also heard that sometimes the drivers would take you out and you’d never be heard from again.  We declined and told him to just take us downtown.

With a roar and a cloud of blue exhaust we took of for ‘downtown’; wherever that may be.  The driver had a habit of turning to talk to everyone in the back seat while he drove.  When, for the third time, he drifted over into the opposing lane we got him to pay attention to his driving.  All the while he kept trying to get us to go to a show.

“Very pretty girls.  You see.  You have fun I bet.

No thank you, kind sir, but we prefer a more genteel form of entertainment.  The humor was lost on him.

We slammed to a stop on a crowded street full of signs, mostly advertising bars.  Vehicles of all sorts were weaving in and out of double-parked traffic on both sides of the street.  Girls of all ages, and states of undress, beckoned to us with promises of virginal treasures.  Little kids either pestered us for gum, or offered to shine our shoes.  Never mind that every one of us was wearing sneakers.

I would dodge one salesman only to bump into two more selling everything from fake diamond rings, to fake treasure maps.  Loads of plastic items were piled high on tables that we passed in hopes that someone would be crazy enough to buy something.

Every bar entrance we passed had a slickly dressed guy that would try and drag us into his place.  Free this, and free that, was the cry.  I was thirsty as hell and when I mentioned this we all agreed to look for some place we could just get a soda.  We finally found what passed for a drugstore in the next block.

Even sitting at the counter sipping Cokes the kids would pester us.  There was some guy dressed as a guard that made sure that only kids that were allowed to pester us would gain entrance.  The rest he would yell and scream at until they ran away jeering at him.

Onward we walked until we reached a small park.  By the time we found a bench to sit on, we began to get very well built girls passing us and smiling with bright white teeth.  Some would simply circle the park and return with regularity.  We began a numbering system to rate each one.  One of the girls, a ten, went so far as to approach me and ask for a light to her cigarette.  When she bent over, the open neck of her scooped blouse fell away and I was able to see complete through it to the pavement beneath her feet.  Nice little puppies nestled in there also.

“Talk about jail.  There’s the bait right there,” Herm said as the girl walked away with an exaggerated sway to her hips.

We wandered aimlessly back and forth the busy streets until three thirty rolled around.  I dug out a business card and we flagged down a cruising cab.  The first one just shook his head and indicated he didn’t know where it was.  The second one nodded and opened the passenger door.  We piled in and zoomed off.

We were apparently going back by a different route than we had come.  When I saw the back of a building I was sure we had passed in front of once before I told Buzz and Ding who were sitting on either side of me.  All five of us managed to convince the cabby to get to the shop right away.

The two guys were waiting for us with smiles on their faces.  With a flourish, one of them pushed aside the garage door and waved us in.  Terry’s car was sitting in the middle of the floor with all the doors open.  Brilliant white glowed from the side panels as we approached.  We looked into the back seat and saw the blue of the seat cushion and the neat little rows of stitched white vertical ribbons running across the back.  It was a true work of art.

“Man, that is one cool set of upholstery you have there Terry,” said Ding.

“Yeah.  What the hell is it, leather?”  Chimed in Buzz.

“Is nooga hide,” said one of the garage guys.  “Nooga hide.”

“I think he means ‘naugahyde’.”

“Si, si, nooga hide,” nodded the second guy emphatically.

“Well, I like the hell out of it.  Let’s pay the guys so we can get on up the road.”  I said, reaching for my wallet.

We had split up the money just in case one or more of us got waylaid by anyone.  Now we put it all back in Terry’s hand that, in turn, got passed to the garage guys.  They smiled and chattered among themselves as we got into the car.  We backed out and went down the street towards home – a very long way away from us at the moment.

Somewhere around Paso Robles we pulled off onto a dirt track that meandered between fields of some kind of crop.  This time we hadn’t picked a rest stop so maybe the highway patrol wouldn’t bother us.  They didn’t.

We woke to a very hot and stifling sun.  Fortunately we had enough sense to stock up on sodas earlier the night before, but all the ice had melted in the cooler.  Still, even warm soda for a thirsty person seemed good.  Buzz started it with a huge belch and soon all of us were blasting each other with variations using the warm soda as an initiator.

We got back home sometime after seven that night.  We were very tired, but happy.  Terry would probably sleep in his car until the pleasant smell of fresh nooga hide faded.