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 videographer

The weekend has been awesome as we went to Pasadena with my aunts Jill and Yu-Hua for Connie's nuptials. This was very exciting as I hadn't been to a wedding in almost 18 years. It was great to touch base with the Shiehs again after they moved to Southern California almost three years ago.

Though we were also invited to the rehearsal dinner, I regrettably had to decline as it would have been difficult to extend our stay given the short notice. However, that's not a big deal as the most important thing is that we got to celebrate with Luc and Connie.

Day 1

We started out early due to the possibility of congestion in the L.A. metropolitan area. Except for a stop at Casa de Fruta so Jill and Yu-Hua could look around - and lunch at Burger King - the 350-mile drive was uneventful. Contrary to our expectations, the traffic in L.A. turned out to be light and didn't cause any delays.

Luc and Connie decided to have a courthouse ceremony and forgo the traditional bridal party in the interest of time. Though I had told Connie we'd be there, that didn't happen because checking into the hotel and dressing up took longer than expected. This could have been avoided by going directly to the courthouse, but Mom felt showing up dressed inappropriately would be worse than not showing up at all.

The reception began around 5 p.m. at a small restaurant called POP Champagne & Dessert Bar. The place was crowded as there were over 60 guests, many of whom were related to Luc. I got to meet several of Connie's friends, Luc's extended family and Cathy's boyfriend Gene. Aside from the parents and a little girl named Bella, most of the guests were my age. The only downside is that there was no dancing as the venue had limited space.

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 stories about the couple during the toasts. Dessert included crème brûlée, churros and pavlova. The newlyweds later thanked us for coming before cutting the cake.

Because Luc's aunt Armelle helped plan the wedding and was a huge Star Wars fan like Connie, there was a Millennium Falcon cake topper. I'm a Star Wars fan myself and thought it was a nice touch. 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 fantastic. It's too bad my father couldn't be there. 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 totally exhausted. The excitement and the sugar rush from last night were probably the reason. It wasn't just me because Jill was so tired that she decided to skip the free breakfast. I took the opportunity to get level 83 crafting in RuneScape while she slept in.

Luc and Connie had invited us to join them and their friends on a field trip to the J. Paul Getty Museum. This would have been nice, but the plan was canceled due to my aunt Cynthia not feeling well the night before. Therefore, my father took us to Old Pasadena instead. He says this was his favorite part of the trip.

Cynthia felt much better 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 nice to relax and hang out with my cousins while waiting for the food to arrive. The lunch made for wonderful family time. Dad knew quite a few mother-in-law jokes. ^_^

Cathy and I accompanied Cynthia back to Pasadena as my aunt had to pick up her car. Cynthia was kind enough to take me to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain after Mom told her I wanted to go there. Though the ice cream looked tasty - especially in the hot summer - consuming so much sugar in such a short time seemed like a bad idea. I had also just recovered from a cold and didn't want to risk getting sick again. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy is definitely a place I'd like to revisit in the future.

Jill and Yu-Hua have decided to stay with the Shiehs for the rest of their time in the U.S. It was hard to part with my aunts and cousins. The three of us hit the road shortly afterwards as Dad didn't want to arrive home too late. Despite the traffic, the drive back to the Bay Area was fairly smooth. Our adventure ended with a nice dinner at Il Postale.

Conclusions

The reception at POP Champagne & Dessert Bar was easily highlight of the trip. Seeing my cousin get married was one of the most special moments in my life. So without further ado, congratulations to Luc and Connie. I wish them nothing but love and happiness as they begin their life together.

There is so much to do in Pasadena. I've always been interested in science and had hoped to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - which wasn't very far - but that wasn't an option because the facility is generally only open to the public on weekdays. The city is also home to a number of Route 66 attractions, including the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain. Looks like we'll have to go back to Pasadena soon!

I'd say my biggest regret is missing the ceremony at the courthouse. The only consolation is that she says it's not a big deal. Another downer is that Dad was unable to come to the reception, but at least he was able to join us for lunch afterwards. I'm also a little bummed that we had to miss the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes not everything goes to plan.

Now that we're home, the post-vacation blues have set in. On the other hand, the memories from Connie's wedding will last a long time. Feel free to check out my pictures and videos from the trip.

Currently listening to: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii

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