Wednesday, August 26, 2015

All That Caz

At the beginning of August, we headed for Cazadero, up north on the Russian River, for a girls' getaway weekend.  Melissa's aunt graciously offered up her cabin to us, and we had a great time eating, chillin' and dancing on the deck.

Car one headed north on Thursday afternoon, and Melissa, Kasey, and I stopped in Occidental for "fine Italian dining" at the historic Union Hotel-it's been around since 1879.  Get a load of this: entrees come with minestrone soup, a generous salad, and a variety of antipasti, including salami, cheese, olives, kidney bean salad (the best thing there, if you'd believe it), and bread sticks.  Needless to say, we didn't make much headway on the entrees once they were finally put in front of us.

The next day, after a pit stop in Duncans Mills (population 175) for sustenance at Gold Coast Coffee and Bakery, we dropped Kasey off at her family's house in the Cazadero hills and then continued on to Armstrong Redwoods State Park.  It was wonderful to get the landscape of Muir Woods without the ambiance of (too many) screaming kids and inappropriately dressed tourists in hoards.  

The Parson Jones tree, below, wouldn't quite fit into the frame, as it is approximately 62 times my height.

That evening, car two arrived with Brittany, Gio, and Melissa's coworker/friend Katie in tow.  We left the house soon thereafter and headed for pizza and live music night at Raymond's Bakery in "downtown" Caz.  Nothing says Friday night like pizza and beer, you know?  We sat at the aquamarine table.  Just kidding!

The highlight of the evening was when Brittany sat down at the table, turned to me, and exclaimed, "Guess who's here?!"  I couldn't imagine who we would know that would be at Raymond's, until she told me: it was our pal Lucky, whose pants-less escapades you may remember from Kristen's bachelorette.  I was afraid what he might reveal if I got too close, but just know that's him, below, sitting all the way to the left.  Apparently Raymond's is the spot to be on a Friday night!

The next day we headed to our favorite (so far) little spot on the river, loaded up with PBR, french onion dip and Ruffles, and pool floaties.  What more could you want out of life?  It was such a relaxing day.

Fast-forward to the evening back at home, and we were holing up for a night of BBQ, mac salad, and s'mores, not to mention games, lots of wine, private dances to Pony, too much fun with a selfie stick, and a follow-the-leader dance party that got out of hand in the best way possible (equal parts laughter and quasi-cardiac arrest).  

It was so nice to have a lovely place to stay while we were there, and I hope we can go back again soon!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kristen + Daniel

On June 20, 2015 two really good people pronounced their love for each other amidst a background of pine trees and a foreground of people who love them immensely.  Kristen, our California girl, met her North Carolina mountain man at grad school in Chapel Hill.  Several years later, after many trips out to visit all of us in CA, and some of us going out to see them in NC, there we were in Mount Shasta, prepared to celebrate their marriage!

The rehearsal dinner Friday night was amazing-definitely a huge highlight of the weekend!  It was hosted by Kristen's aunt and uncle, Maggie and David, at their home in Mt. Shasta.  They prepared a delicious three-course meal all themselves, and served it on eclectic family china collected by various couples over the years.  There was also special beer with a custom label for the bride and groom!

The lovebirds were quite the celebrities over the weekend, so we felt excited any time we got Kristen to ourselves.  She and I had been talking weeks before about the risks involved with crying during your ceremony and turning into a puffy, red-faced monster.  To mitigate this, that evening I gave her a white hanky with blue embroidery, hoping it would also serve as her "something blue" for the big day.

There was lots of mingling, and at one point we got regaled by Uncle David's telling of how he met his wife, Maggie, which involved a party with a hot tub in the woods and a striking absence of clothing.  Oh, to be a young hippie living in Shasta.

Two more adorable lovebirds, the MOB, Carolyn, and her hubby, Brenn:

Our table was the obnoxious one in the back.  Boy, were we having a blast with our little UCSD reunion!

For the weekend, we had rented a huge house with a pool that slept a dozen people.  It was the perfect party house!

Saturday morning was upon us before we knew it, and Kristen came over to relax a bit before it was time to start getting ready.  We started with a cuddle session and then moved on to the pool!

Here's six out of eight girls from our freshman dorm, Harlan Suite 108, representing!  Amazing to still be in each others' lives ten years later to celebrate occasions such as this.

Obligatory apple-watch controlled photo of the group looking all spiffy before we left for the ceremony!  Quite the transformation.

We got settled into our seats at Carolyn and Brenn's house, on pins and needles, we were so excited.  The energy was mounting and we couldn't wait to see Kristen in her white dress!

Kristen was glowing, and the ceremony was beautiful; very inclusive of everyone in attendance.  Her uncle officiated the ceremony, and both sister of the groom, Laura, and Brittany read poems.  

Soon it was time for their heart-felt and personal vows.  I loved their telling each other that one was their biscuit and the other was their gravy, which tied their vows together so sweetly and really injected some southern lovin' into it all.

And there you have it folks, Mr. and Mrs. Brookshire!  You could feel the weight of the moment lift as we all kicked into celebration mode.  

Enjoying apps and drinks

Suite 108, and my favorite photo of the day

13 UCSD grads in attendance!

Our table, right after dinner

There were so many beautiful speeches.  I have to say Kristen's dad's was my favorite.  He told about how he used to volunteer in her class when she was little, and how she was always so eager to answer the teachers' questions, even before they had finished asking them.  Her hand would shoot up in the air and she'd exclaim, "Oh, oh, me!"  He said those were some of his favorite memories with her.  Then he described that when she met Daniel, all he could see was that little girl throwing her arm in the air and yelling out, "Oh, oh, me!"  He had us all in tears.

Kristen had asked me to give a speech as well, and I was equal parts honored and nervous.  I blacked out for most of it, as usually happens when I'm in front of crowds, but I know one line I'm really sorry I forgot to say when talking about living together freshman year: "Since Kristen was in water polo, we got used to her being in various states of undress, and I like to think this 'clothing optional' lifestyle will carry over into her married life."  I'll have to be satisfied with imagining the blushing!

Another big highlight of the wedding festivities was the couple's first dance.

Well, actually their second!  They started with a very sweet slow dance, and then kicked up their heels cackalacky style for the next (they had even changed into tap shoes earlier on without us noticing).  Check out their surprise for us all, below:

After that, everyone got involved, and I so enjoyed watching Daniel and his family do their thing.

Aside from Daniel's grandmother giving us all quite a fright later in the evening when she took a tumble, the reception was lovely and filled with such great joy!

The weekend was a priceless opportunity to be together with great friends that are all so spread out across the country these days.  I also enjoyed getting to spend time with both families, and see them become one.  Kristen and Daniel, a huge thanks to you and yours for hosting such an incredible weekend for us all to celebrate with you.  We can't wait to see what the future brings for you both!