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 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 three years ago.

This was an exhausting trip as none of us got much sleep. I'm glad it's still the weekend. In any case, here's a report of the wedding and the rest of our stay in Pasadena!

Day 1

We started out early due to 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 - and another stop at a Burger King for lunch - 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 opted to have a courthouse ceremony in the interest of time. They decided to forgo the traditional wedding party and didn't have bridesmaids, groomsmen or whatnot. Speaking of which, we missed the ceremony because checking into the hotel and dressing up took longer than expected. While this could have been avoided had we gone directly to the courthouse, 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. There was no dancing as the venue had limited space, but things couldn't have been better. The place was crowded as there were over 60 guests in total, most of whom were related to Luc. I got to meet lots of people, including Connie's friends, Luc's extended family and Cathy's boyfriend Gene. Aside from the parents and a little girl named Bella, the guests were mostly my age. It was definitely great to get acquainted with everyone.

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, after which we were served crème brûlée, churros and pavlova for dessert. The newlyweds later gave their speeches and thanked us for coming before cutting the cake.

Of note is that the cake had a Millennium Falcon topper. Luc's aunt Armelle helped plan the wedding and was a huge Star Wars fan like Connie. As a Star Wars fan myself, I 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. The only downside is that 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 all the desserts probably contributed to my insomnia. It wasn't just me because Jill was really sleepy too. She was so tired that she didn't even want the free breakfast. I took the opportunity to get level 83 crafting in RuneScape while Dad checked out of the hotel.

Luc and Connie had invited us to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum with them and some of their friends. The field trip was sadly canceled due to my aunt Cynthia not feeling well the night before. Therefore, the five of us went to Old Pasadena 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 nice to relax and hang out with my cousins. The lunch made for wonderful family time, especially with Dad's 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 with the high temperatures - I didn't buy any because I had consumed a lot of sugar the day before. The other reason is that I had just recovered from a cold and didn't want to risk getting sick again. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy is definitely somewhere I'd like to revisit on a future trip to Pasadena.

It was time to part ways with Jill and Yu-Hua as they are staying with the Shiehs for the rest of the time. 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 some traffic, but we managed to get back to the Bay Area earlier than expected. 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!

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 lunch afterwards.

It'll take some time to recover from the post-vacation blues. Weddings come and go, but the memories from this one will undoubtedly last a long time. You can see my pictures and videos from the wedding and the rest of the trip.

Currently listening to: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii

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