18 September 2005

Road trip, Korean-American style

They say that your average Korean-American takes his [insert your favorite Japanese family car here] to only three places ever: a home in a Republican suburb, his workplace, and his [death cult] church. There is pretty much no time to take the Camry/Accord/whatever (for some reason, it's not a Sonata/Optima/another Korean car, but always Japanese) anywhere else, and when he does try to go elsewhere, it becomes an exercise in how many miles one can drive in a given day - and how many landmarks one can cover. (i.e. A drive across the Golden Gate Bridge counts as a "visit" to San Francisco.) I found it the hard way through my father yesterday, as I joined his trip. Although I resisted, my mother talked me into doing much of the driving.

We ended up driving 1,400 miles in just 28 hours. Leaving yesterday morning at midnight, our original plan called out for checking out Shelter Cove, a vacation community 25 miles west of Garberville and 250 miles northwest of San Francisco, starting late morning; after spending the night there, the plan would've been to make a leisurely drive back today, arriving home just about now.

Shelter Cove was beautiful, but it was not a place we liked as much as we thought, so we changed plans, spent the afternoon doing the Avenue of the Giants just south of Eureka, before arriving in San Francisco in time for dinner. The only place I could take my parents was Brothers Charcoal BBQ Restaurant, San Francisco's most famous Korean restaurant, in the Richmond District; I had no choice, as it was unthinkable to even consider something like a Thai place in the Castro District (which would've been much more to my liking). As we made the drive down to San Francisco, I proposed that since my mother had never been on a cable car, we could spend the morning doing just that, and spend this afternoon making the leisurely drive back to Southern California.

At Brothers, my father called off the cable car ride, saying that he was busy. The plan now changed again, not to spend the night in the Bay Area, but to immediately return home. I came back at 3:40 this morning. As it turned out though, he was not that busy, and we could've squeezed in a cable car ride easily and still allowed him to work and rest. But the excuse was that even after budgeting for the expensive Shelter Cove motel, he didn't want to spend money on a motel room in the Bay Area. Even though he had enough money to force me to keep driving until the gas ran out at an expensive gas station, instead of buying cheaper gas ahead of time.

It did not help that I put in these 1,400 miles using a Honda Odyssey, which only gets 25 mpg. (Even with both my own cars, which get 30 mpg on the highway, I feel guilty, because they are not 45-mpg hybrids!) And my father, who as you know is a W supporter and couldn't care less about the environment, wants a new Ford Econoline Chateau passenger van, complete with a honking 5.4L V8, because it'll allow him to keep traveling like this, while sleeping in the back whenever he gets tired. Never mind the dismal fuel economy (15 mpg!). While his business does require an Econoline, I'll make sure that he'll never use it for this kind of driving.

When I travel, I always make reservations ahead of time - maybe a few weeks, maybe months. I don't drive over 500 miles a day unless I have a good excuse. And I always give myself ample time to enjoy Shelter Cove, San Francisco, or whatever. (One reason I am keeping my sanity is because I had made another trip to the Bay Area just two weeks ago, where I really took it easy.) Apparently this concept is foreign to the Korean-Americans, as my father has demonstrated so well yesterday. They need to get their minds off of their death cult churches, cut back on overwork, and instead of thinking of how to evade taxes, think of how the quality of life can be improved.

And until my father changes his mind, I will no longer join his trips, much less be his chauffeur, which was the case this time.