Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pasadena trip report + congratulations to my cousin Connie!

"Are you sure he's not an undercover NSA agent?" -- me asking Luc about the wedding videographer

The weekend had an awesome beginning as my family and aunts Jill and Yu-Hua went to Pasadena for Connie's nuptials. This was especially exciting as I hadn't been to a wedding in almost 18 years. It was great to touch base with the Shiehs again after not having seen them since Thanksgiving 2011.

The vacation was also somewhat exhausting as none of us got much sleep. I'm glad it's still the weekend. In any case, here's the trip report!

Day 1

We started out pretty early due to Pasadena being about 350 miles away and the possibility of heavy traffic in the L.A. metropolitan area. Except for a stop at Casa de Fruta in Hollister so Jill and Yu-Hua could have a look around, the drive was kind of boring given the limited number of attractions along the route. Contrary to our expectations, the traffic in L.A. turned out to be smooth and didn't cause any delays.

In the interest of time, Luc and Connie opted to have their ceremony at a courthouse. They decided to forgo the traditional wedding party - meaning no bridesmaids, groomsmen or whatnot. Despite our early arrival, we didn't get to see the couple exchange their vows because checking into the hotel and dressing up took longer than expected. While this wouldn't have been the case had we gone directly to the courthouse, Mom felt showing up dressed inappropriately would be worse than not showing up at all. That said, I don't think we missed much as Connie says the ceremony was fairly simple.

The reception began around 5 p.m. at a small restaurant called POP Champagne & Dessert Bar. There was no dancing as the venue had limited space, but that make didn't the party any less fun. The place was crowded as there were over 60 guests in total, most of whom were related to Luc as he has a large extended family. I got to meet lots of people, including Connie's friends, Luc's relatives and Cathy's boyfriend Gene. Aside from the parents and one little girl, the guests were mostly my age. I had a great time getting to know them.

Dinner consisted of two passed appetizers, followed by assorted beef sliders and macaroni cheese with truffle oil for the main course. The Shieh and Danziger families then shared funny stories about the couple during the toasts, after which we were served crème brûlée, churros and pavlova for dessert. Luc and Connie later gave their speeches and thanked everyone for coming before cutting the cake.

One feature of the cake was the Millennium Falcon topper, the reason being that Connie and Luc's aunt Armelle (who helped plan the wedding) are huge Star Wars fans. It was a nice touch, considering that I love Star Wars too. Although the cake was delicious, all of us were so full that Mom and I shared a single slice!

On the whole, the evening was nothing short of amazing. The only downer was that my father couldn't attend the wedding. Dad was tied up with an important work project and also didn't want to pass any germs around from his cold. He nonetheless showed up at the end of the night to give Connie his blessings.

Day 2

I had no more than three hours of sleep and was rather tired in the morning. It was probably due to my excitement, not to mention the sugar rush from all the desserts. The rest of the day fortunately wasn't too taxing as I later got some rest in the car.

The plan was to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum with the Shiehs and some of the couple's friends. The side trip was sadly canceled due to my aunt Cynthia not feeling well the night before. Our party therefore stopped in Old Pasadena for pictures instead. Dad says this was his favorite part of the trip.

Cynthia felt much better later in the morning and invited us and Luc to her place in L.A. for lunch. The Shiehs had a large home with three floors. It was no doubt nice to relax and hang out with my cousins. The lunch made for some wonderful family time, especially with Dad cracking all those in-law jokes. ^_^

Cathy and I accompanied Cynthia back to Pasadena as my aunt had to pick up her car from the valet. One cool attraction along Route 66 was the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, and Cynthia was kind enough to take me there. While the heat would have been the perfect excuse to get some ice cream, I decided against it due to having consumed a lot of sugar the day before. I also didn't want to risk getting sick again as I had just recovered from a cold. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy is definitely somewhere I'd like to revisit on a future trip to Pasadena.

Jill and Yu-Hua are staying with the Shiehs for the rest of their visit, leaving just me and my parents. The three of us hit the road shortly afterwards as Dad didn't want to arrive home too late. Saying goodbye to my aunts and cousins was the hardest part of the trip. There was a bit of traffic in the area, but we still managed to get back to the Bay Area earlier than expected. Our adventure ended with a nice dinner at Il Postale.

Conclusions

The highlight of this trip was obviously the reception. Seeing my cousin get married was one of the most special moments in my life. This was my first time attending a wedding in almost 18 years and so was super exciting. At any rate, I'd like to offer my congratulations to Luc and Connie, and may they find nothing but love and happiness as they begin their life together.

There is so much to do in Pasadena. One place I wanted to visit was the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as I've always been interested in science. However, that wasn't an option because the facility is generally only open to the public on weekdays. Dad actually considered staying an extra night, but I didn't want to be too tired upon returning to work Monday morning. It looks like we'll have to go back to Pasadena soon!

Our biggest regret of the trip is missing the ceremony at the courthouse. Though Connie says it's not a big deal, I'm a little bummed about not being there when she and Luc officially got married. The other downside is that Dad was unable to come to the reception. I'm glad he was at least able to join us for the post-wedding lunch.

I also have a moderate case of the post-vacation blues right now; this usually doesn't happen often for short trips. Vacations come and go, but the memories from this one will undoubtedly last a long time. You can see my pictures from the wedding and the rest of the trip on Flickr. I've also uploaded two videos on YouTube.

Currently listening to: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii

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