Sunday, June 6, 2010

California Dreamin'

I'm currently sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to board back to Colorado (and then I finished up this post while flying on the plane). We have been in California since Wednesday and we have had a great time. Our purpose for coming out here was because I was a bridesmaid in my dear friend Laura's wedding. Since we were coming out anyway, we decided to add a day on to each end of the trip and make it a mini vacation for Dave and me. My brother, Curtis, was also coming out to sing at the wedding so he joined us for most of the trip.

We all landed in San Francisco on Wednesday within an hour of each other, picked up a rental car and headed out to Napa Valley to do some wine tasting. After a delicious lunch at In-N-Out Burger (a favorite stop of all of ours) we stopped and did some quick wine tasting at Beringer and St. Clement. We then headed over to Castello di Amorosa for a tour of the castle and a private tasting.

The castle was so beautiful and we all learned a lot about wine making and tasting. Both Curtis and us left with two bottles of wine to take home with us - since this winery doesn't distribute anywhere but on site. We can't wait to pop the corks on those bottles for our next celebration or special occasion. 

On Thursday morning we woke up, got ready and headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge. We had a lot of fun driving across it, walking across it and then driving across it again. It was really foggy that day and I never actually saw the whole bridge at once but still managed to get a few good pictures.

After we were done touring the Golden Gate Bridge we headed over to Chinatown via cable car to see what that was all about. We weren’t sure what to expect but were pleasantly surprised to find a ton of interesting sites, shops and restaurants.

After purchasing some new snazzy chopsticks and trying on some hats we went to lunch at a Chinese food restaurant recommended to us by our tour guide at Castillo di Amorosa called R&G Lounge. This was some of the best Chinese food I have ever had! They didn’t have a lot of the type of Chinese food I was used to like Egg Drop soup, Sesame Chicken and Sweet & Sour Pork so I was forced to try something new and different, and I liked it! I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone headed to San Francisco.

Once done with the delicious lunch we headed out to Sacramento for the wedding rehearsal for Laura and Kyle’s wedding. Everything went smoothly during the rehearsal despite someone forgetting the list of who in the wedding party was walking with whom and in what order. After that we headed to the western-themed rehearsal dinner at a local BBQ restaurant. Honoring Laura’s party tradition, a few of us put on fake mustaches (something that, for some odd reason, we do at almost every group gathering) along with some bandanas to make us feel more festive. Laura’s mom really outdid herself with the western decorations she made especially for this gathering. Once we were all full to the brim from the BBQ dinner Laura presented us bridesmaids with “Bridesmaid Survival Kits” and original, handmade jewelry which matched our dresses to wear at the wedding. One of my dear friends does jewelry design and she made the jewelry for my wedding as well as this wedding – and she was also a bridesmaid. If you get a chance, check out some of her work at She is amazing!

Friday morning finally arrived and I joined up with Laura and the other bridesmaids to get ready for the evening event. There were two hairstylists at the house we were getting ready at and those two gals did a fantastic job getting everyone’s hair done beautifully and on time. The only snag was that poor Laura got a horrific sunburn during the rehearsal and her chest was bright red! Not good when she is so fair skinned and wearing a strapless white gown in just a few hours. Luckily two of the bridesmaids saved the day by going to get some super strength cover-up makeup used to cover tattoos. After applying a few layers Laura looked great and you couldn’t even tell she had been out in the sun the day before. Awesome! Way to save the day girls!

When everyone was dolled up and ready to go we drove over to the mansion where the wedding and reception were to be held. We got dressed, helped the bride get dressed and then headed down to take some pictures. I was able to sneak a picture with my hubby too.

The wedding was gorgeous, the bride beautiful, the groom handsome and the vows meaningful. Curtis did an awesome job singing the song the couple chose while lighting their unity candle. We celebrated the night away with good food, great wine and even better friends. After some midnight pizza for the bridal party we all crashed in the rooms we were given at the wedding site.

We enjoyed a light breakfast the next morning and the sent the bride and groom off to their honeymoon with many, many bubbles. Curt, Lisa, Dave and I headed to the Sacramento airport so Curt and Lisa could catch their departing flights, but of course we had to stop at another In-N-Out Burger on the way so that we could all enjoy another delicious meal together in the form of a Double-Double animal style. So good! But I’m sure that if they had In-N-Out Burgers in Colorado they wouldn’t be so desirable and would lose their prestigious place in my heart… er… stomach.

Dave and I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon and evening back in San Francisco walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and taking the night tour of Alcatraz. That place, although not haunted, is really spooky at night. Dave and I had a lot of fun touring Alcatraz and we both agree that we are big nerds for finding that place so interesting. With unruly inmates and various escape attempts that place would have been a hoot to visit while still open. We bought a book written by a former inmate and attempted escapee called “ALCATRAZ From Inside” by Jim Quillen. Dave just started reading it during this flight and I can’t wait to dive in over the next few weeks.

Thank goodness we were allowed to “escape” Alcatraz by tour boat so we headed to eat dinner at a seafood restaurant on one of the piers. Once again I stepped outside of my comfort zone and ordered something I wouldn’t normally get – mahi-mahi, salmon and grilled prawns. It turned out to be really good! I think I am beginning to like trying all of these new foods. We had planned to go to a local club that night but after Alcatraz and dinner it was nearly 11:00 and we were exhausted so we decided to take a cable car back to the hotel and call it a night.

This morning (Sunday) we got up and drove out to visit Muir Woods. Little did we know that today was one of their free days and the parking lots were packed. Boy did we pick the wrong day to go there! We finally found a place to park and were able to head into the park – at least the entry was free! Muir Woods is a beautiful place and we were lucky to be able to visit. On our walk through the park we saw a mama doe and her two fawns. Too cute! It was the perfect addition to such a beautiful place.

After a scrumptious Italian lunch in a nice nearby town we headed back to the airport to return our rental car and catch our flight back to Colorado. We had an awesome time on our mini vacation and were truly honored and privileged to be a part of Laura and Kyle’s special day.

Laura and Kyle, we wish you all the best and may you live happily ever after.

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