Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Going Going, Back Back, to Cali Cali

You're welcome for the Biggie-Smalls reference. 

We went back to California after leaving 11 months ago! It's been a long time and in some ways, it was weird. In others, nothing has changed. What I can say is that I have never felt so good than to have the feeling of that sea mist and marine layer on my skin. At times, I was even cold! Well, that's probably not saying much since it's been in the 60's-70's in California and the 80's-100's in the rest of the country, plus ridiculous humidity.

Our main reason for heading west was to see our good friend Jen marry Travis. We were so happy to witness a wonderful day. If you know Jen, you know she's all about the details. She's a master planner and planning her own wedding was just another fantastic event-- but this time with a much greater meaning. The wedding itself was held outdoors in Santa Clarita at Grace Baptist Church in their amphitheater. We were so nervous that it would be 100+ degrees (as usual) in Santa Clarita, but it wasn't! It was only in the 80's! The wedding site was gorgeous with pine trees surrounding the area. It looked rustic and natural.

The reception was held at a Clubhouse just a couple miles down the road and was also beautifully done. The clubhouse itself was a perfect venue and we could just see all of Jen's little touches in everything. There was a picture booth complete with costumes (where we put them in a book as their guestbook) and the DJ was the best we'd even seen at a wedding. He danced to the majority of the songs, too! For about 5-6 songs, he would come in front of the crowd and randomly make up dance moves that we stood behind and "copied" just like a dancing game of Simon Says. It was a ton of fun. There was a hamburger bar of pulled pork, chicken, or hamburger patties with your choice of toppings to choose from. And finally, there was a cupcake tier in lieu of a wedding cake. There were 4 types of cupcakes to choose from (peanut butter chocolate, mint chocolate chip, lemon raspberry, or red velvet) and they were super fancy. We were also served ice cream cones to go with our cake.

The end of the reception commenced with about 75 people (left) holding sparklers as Jen and Travis rode away on their bikes (completely decorated with flowers).What a fun couple they are... we're so happy to have been there! Now, they're in Costa Rica enjoying their honeymoon. Though I have no photos from the reception, here are a few from the wedding ceremony:

Look how happy Jen is!

They are so fun. They took a panoramic photograph of the entire audience of guests in the middle of their ceremony on his iPhone! That should make for a fun photo.

On to other news... we were also able to spend some great time with my family while we visited. My mom picked us up from the airport on Friday, July 2nd, and we did some California runs... ate at Rubio's and bought ice cream at Thrifty (Sadly, chocolate malted crunch was all out! I had to settle for mint n' chip). We hung out at my parent's house that night, had dinner there, and were up early the next morning for some visiting with friends. With limited time, we wanted to pack in a few meals with good friends since we never see them!

First stop, the Yellow Vase in the Redondo Riviera. It's a cute bakery/cafe that also has delicious breakfasts. We met Alison, Nic, Gabrielle, and baby Scotty. He is so so so cute. I have never seen such a mild-mannered baby as he is. It was really nice seeing them before they headed off for a weekend of fun in Palm Springs.

Next stop, driving by our old stomping grounds. Yeah... this is what our old beach bungalow now looks like! Can we say, hillbilly? For a comparison shot from an earlier blog post (last year when we lived there), click here. Needless to say, it looked a lot better then. Not that it was amazing, but at least it didn't scream foreclosure.
After driving by the old bungalow, we headed to see more wonderful friends... Nik, Solange, and Caitlin. Caitlin was about 7 months old the last time we saw her, so she's obviously grown a ton! We hung out, talked a bunch, and picked up another favorite for lunch, Rascal's! We haven't had Rascal's in nearly a year and it's been way too long.

After leaving Nik & Solange's house, we headed to El Segundo to meet our friends Krista & Dave, and Rich and Beth. We were all carpooling to Santa Clarita for the wedding (above). It was great fun catching up with all of them during the car ride and throughout the wedding. We saw so many people that we hadn't seen in such a long time all in the same room that night. Some we could go another year (or more) without seeing. Haha.

On Sunday, we hung out with my parents and relaxed for the majority of the day. Sometimes it's just so nice not having any plans... especially since the day before was reunion overload! We had a late lunch at Island's (Oh, how we miss that restaurant!) and headed to the airport for our 6:30 flight. We walked in to a virtually empty airport. Okay, so it's July 4th and airports aren't particularly busy just hours before firework shows begin-- but it was eerily empty. We go to a kiosk to check in and it says we're too late to check in for our flight. Huh? We arrived 2.5 hours early! It turns out that our flight was changed (back in MAY!) to be 2 hours earlier than previously scheduled. We were not contacted about the flight change. The next flight out that day was a red-eye. No thanks. We asked to be put up in a hotel and leave on a morning flight on July 5th. We stayed at the Westin, took the hotel shuttle, and checked into our room. We took a trolley from our hotel to downtown Manhattan Beach to walk around and eat at Wahoo's for dinner. It was a really nice, relaxing time for us to spend together.

For those of you who know us, we met and were engaged in Manhattan Beach. Ray lived in Manhattan Beach at 3 different places along the beach before we married in July of 2008. It was sort of a mini-honeymoon for us and quite relaxing. Our flight change ended up being a wonderful experience. Although Manhattan Beach does not have fireworks (they do at Christmas and they're amazing!), we were able to see the Redondo Beach fireworks (where on July 4, 2006, we made it official!). That was also very special. Back to the Westin, sleep... then off to our scheduled flight the next morning! Here are a few beach photos:

Oh, the disappointment I have that they turned a classy Manhattan Beach into a Venice Beach with those hideously painted lifeguard stands. Ick.
It was a wonderful trip back to our old stomping grounds. We had great visits with my family, our friends, and we were able to see Jen and Travis say their vows. Now, back in Chicagoland and embracing the humidity and cicadas.