Tuesday: San Diego
Plane lands at 1pm, I’m met at the airport by Coach Adam/A muse who has hired a Smart Car. I use Zipcars here in Philly, but these are even cooler – funny little electric cars you don’t reserve, you just walk out to the street and if you see one, you can use it. When you’re at your destination, you park it and walk away for the next person to drive. Neato.
Adam was a great tour guide, pointing out sections of race courses while I gulped at the hills. “Fast and Flat” does not exist in the San Diego race lexicon as far as I can tell. Eventually we park the car and I get a walking tour of his neighborhood, a uniquely hip area with lots to see. Here’s this neat billboard that says “Before I die I want to __________” for passers-by to fill in with chalk. We talked to a journalist for a bit who was writing a story on it for the newspaper then moved onward to a fantastic Mexican spot where I had fish tacos to die for.
Soon after, Louis and Jackie picked us up to take us to a beer garden/warehousey type place called Green Flash where we met up with Adam’s lovely wife Stacie and Matt and his fiance Erin. I’m not a beer drinker but my method of choosing highest alcohol content worked out well.
Jackie and Louis own a lobster business and work crazy hours, sometimes getting up at 2:30am though I think 4:30 work start is the norm, so they were gone when I woke up. I had an extremely trying day lounging by the pool watching hummingbirds bounce from blossom to blossom in the soft San Diego air.
That evening, Jackie made an incredible meal of lobster, beefsteak tomato salad and champagne. I am salivating as I write this – my god it was good. The next day I had my first lobster roll ever (more drool on the keyboard) but I’m jumping ahead.
Jackie brings me with her to work at 6am, the plan being she’d finish up loose ends before our roadtrip to Yosemite commenced. Meanwhile, Louis would get the trailer, then we’d start the journey at 9am. My roommate for the trip appeared, Shelby, who would follow in her car as we made our way north.
Here’s Jackie in lobster-gathering regalia, pulling some orders before we leave. It was really cool to see her in action because when someone tells you they own a lobster business it’s very hard to picture what in hell that actually entails. It also makes a great contrast to the delicately beautiful bride she would become 2 days later. But again, I’m jumping ahead.
The ride was huge fun; Jackie, Louis and I made for easy road companions chatting the whole way while Skye, the Wonder Husky, lay quiet as a mouse in the back (such a good boy!). Somewhere outside of Los Angeles, while stuck in traffic, Shelby texts Jackie “Did you see the goats?” We had no idea what she was talking about until a car passes with 2 goats in the back, 3 dogs in the back seat and another dog in the passenger seat next to a young girl driving. While editing the photos, I now see the license plate says Alaska. Go figure.
Later that afternoon, after a stop at the Sun-Maid raisin factory (raisin capital of the world), we arrived at our destination for the night, Chukchansi Casino. There, we met up with more friends and family of the wedding party, including Charlie (another RW forumite) and his wife Bonnie and a bit later, Adam and Stacie. After dinner, the runner group of us hung out at the trailer and drank margaritas.
First thing, those guys met up for a run but I did not, deciding to take a clump of off-days to get the knee finally over and done with. Back on the road, we get to Yosemite around midday and I’m jaw agape at the beauty of it all.
But there is much on the agenda as far as wedding preparations, meeting with the event planner at the hotel where the reception would be, then on to the chapel where Shelby and I hang out with Skye while the wedding folks rehearse, taking photos and walking around.
After that, we got installed in our rooms at the Yosemite Lodge (a really sweet place, very rustic), cleaned up and went to the BBQ Louis and Jackie had arranged. Aside from great food and company (including more forum/runner friends! Barb, Lorina and Nestor), Adam brought his guitar and thoroughly entertained us with the buckets of talent he and his JewFro possess. Here are Barb and I looking like we’re on a date with Adam behind, crooning to the crowd.
Afterwards, Adam still keeping it musical while the babes keep it hot.
Saturday: Wedding Day
6am we meet for a run (this time I join, yay!) and it was such a great experience, running on a beautiful trail in the middle of a national park with a group of folks I adore…amazing. Jackie, Barb and I ran a little over 5.5mi while the other guys went on for 10. That was actually 1.5mi more than I’d planned due to babying the knee, but I was A-OK from start to finish! Huge sigh of relief.
At around 10am, Jackie and Stacie (maid of honor) start getting worked on by the hair and makeup ladies, then at 3:15, all us smartly dressed wedding guests (40 people total) board the shuttle to the chapel.
The ceremony was simply wonderful: Jackie looked like a model, Louis so handsome in his tux. If you missed a previous post where I mentioned the two lovebirds, they’ve been together 20 years, he proposed to her 17 years ago! Finally, they’re officially hitched.
Cutest chapel, ever!
The Bride and Groom with Skye. They clean up well.
Remember the gal slinging lobsters? Yeah, this is her.
Gratuitous group shot so you can what dress and shoes I wore.
The reception was a blast, great dinner, lots of dancing. I drank like a fish and surely embarrassed myself though I’m not sure to what extent since I was so drunk by the end. As it should be.
Everyone meets for breakfast and many goodbyes as most of the guests depart for home. Hugs and kisses abound but a good group of us are staying an extra day so the festivities continue. Louis, Jackie, Shelby, Barb, Skye and I take a hike in the afternoon that includes a swim in the crystal clear river. We are delighted to see a deer pee in the river, a sight none of us have ever witnessed before. They kinda look like dogs when they do it, going back on their haunches. That’s probably more than you’ll ever want to know about deer.
We clean up and go for dinner, meeting up with Jackie’s mom and dad for a last group meal. Yet another fabulous lady shot despite my hair looking like a pencil eraser.
Another breakfast meetup for final goodbyes, but before that, I go for a short solo run, 3.5mi looping a couple times past the lower Falls – a gorgeous, solitary way to say goodbye to Yosemite. Best of all, I do not wear my knee brace and I feel healthy and right.
Back on the road, we take a scenic way out of the park. One of the things I haven’t mentioned is that Louis and Jackie are such experienced Yosemite travelers that they make fantastic tour guides. They’ve even camped there in the dead of winter with piles of snow around, so their stories added enormous depth to the entire trip.
What is this thing you call a “jacket” in July? Does not compute.
The route back was really cool: mountainous desert which I’d never seen before, wind whipping constantly in a surreal landscape. We hit San Diego after 9pm, a long day of driving but solid fun with hours of easy conversation. A late dinner and then it’s back to their beautiful house for my last night in California.
I think these lovebirds will last.
Jackie makes me a great breakfast, gives me snacks for the flight and after many hugs and smooches, I am back inside the airport, homeward bound. I’m sad it’s over though we’ve already begun talking about next year’s Yosemite trip. Count me in, I’m there.
I wake up very early this morning because, unlike the sweet air of California, it’s already hot and gnarly at 6am in Philly. I put on my running garb, grab the Shuffle and Garmin and out I go. For some reason, I feel lighter and faster than I have in weeks, my legs feel zippy and strong and I run with joy in my heart on the river path – just 4 miles of unadulterated happiness but it’s more than enough to know all is right with the world. Thank you, Jackie and Louis, you gave me a fresh shot of life just when I needed it. Congratulations to you kooky kids, you were made for each other. Here’s to love! Cheers.