Last Thursday, I accompanied my Mom to the “lovely” JFK International Airport (thanks for the ride, and enduring the traffic, Dad!). We progressed smoothly through checking our luggage (via Kiosk) and then swiftly through TSA Pre-Check, so we were at our gate with plenty of time to spare before boarding began. It was exciting to be back in an airport for the first time since my cousin Courtenay’s Wedding in Charleston, SC, back in November of 2018! That excitement wore off quickly, when we took our seats on board and realized that over the next six hours our patience would be tested by the “unruly” thirteen year old seated in the row behind us. Not only did no adult (he was accompanied by several) try to get him under control, they let him drink coffee! So there was no hope of him running out of steam. Oh, how I have missed air travel!
So, our flight seemed longer than it actually was. I was not about to let it ruin my day. Upon arrival at the also “lovely” LAX International Airport, we collected our luggage and shuttled our way to the Rental Car area, where we were pleasantly surprised with how quickly we were in and out of there, despite some initial confusion about the reserved vehicle. Once we hit the Freeway, I felt more relaxed and began to anticipate what promised to be a great few days, surrounding my cousin Aubree’s Wedding down in Dana Point! Traffic on “the 405” was brutal for a good 20 minutes before it opened up and everyone was driving at least 75 mph. We arrived at the gorgeous Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa with just enough time to get checked in before we contacted Karl (he had travelled the previous day), who came from his nearby hotel to meet us at the bar just prior to 8pm, when there was to be a gathering of family, friends etc.
Before long there was a steady flow of wedding guests who had made their way from all over the country. It was a great several hours of getting re-acquainted with so many friends and relatives who I had not seen in way too long. I even got to meet a couple of younger cousins, who I had never met before. There was a wonderful sense of reunion!
I woke surprisingly early Friday morning and got a workout in, before seeing Karl and my cousin Spencer squeeze themselves and two rented surfboards into Karl’s rental car. It was cool seeing them so excited to try out the famous waves of the Pacific.
Later on, Karl explained that they had gotten off to a good start at an absolutely beautiful spot. After catching a few waves, he caught one that pitched him and his board forward. Karl fared better than the board.
With plenty of time before the 4pm. Wedding, I decided to follow a couple of Aubree and Pat’s recommendations. I had a delicious breakfast at the Coffee Importers down in Dana Point Harbor (a short walk from the hotel), where I bumped into several relatives, who had the same idea. After getting some steps in, around the hotel. I decided I had enough time to Uber to Artifex Brewing Company in nearby San Clemente. I sat outside and got some Vitamin D, while enjoying a flight of beers, before settling on a couple that I would purchase to take with me (for Saturday’s Beach Party).
I Ubered back to the hotel with plenty of time to get myself ready for the big event. By now it was a really beautiful day and the lawn was all set up. From start to finish, the wedding was just great! The Setting was spectacular! The Ceremony, the Cocktail Hour, Dinner and the Band – it was all just about as good as it gets!
Of course, the After Party at the Hotel Bar went way into Overtime! Once again, I was awake surprisingly early, though. I made contact with several relatives and we agreed to meet at Turk’s Restaurant down in the Harbor. It was a very cool place with great food and Bloody Mary’s (so I was told). The Poet Laureate of the family (not saying who) described it as “Maritime Kitschy”.
I was a bit sad as I checked out of my hotel, it had been so much fun, but I only had the room for the two nights. So, after visiting with a host of cousins at Aunt Fran and Uncle Steve’s in Laguna Niguel, I met up with Karl at his hotel, where I would spend the final night of the trip. But before that, there was one more “official” wedding event. The Beach Party at Doheny State Park. So, once again, the wedding guests (those who were still around) gathered for some fun. You know how it is, when you are having such a good time, you just don’t want it to end. There was food, drinks and games at a beautiful beach – all of the ingredients for a memorable day!
Karl was up and out very early on Sunday to catch his return flight from LAX. I was taking the “red eye” at 10pm, so I had all day. I wish I could have enjoyed my final day more than I did. I visited with Nadine, Fran, Steve and my Mom at Fran and Steve’s before going to Stasi and Christian’s house in San Juan Capistrano (about 15 minutes away). I tried numerous times to complete the mobile check in for my flight, but was unsuccessful. So without a seat assignment, I was slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing and all day was wondering why I chose the “red eye”. It was so nice to get that final extension of a terrific trip. After the difficult “goodbyes”, as I pulled away, I was sad to be leaving and yet anxious at the same time.
I ended up checking in and checking a bag at the kiosk, but did not get a seat assignment until just minutes before boarding the completely full flight to JFK. The plan was to sleep as much as possible, while in the air. That did not work out too well, as once again I had a lousy co-passenger behind me (periodically hitting the back of my seat, throughout the trip – even after I asked him to stop). A couple of crying children and an adult hissy fit by some tall guy who did not like his seat – also contributed to a less than pleasant return to Long Island. The Air Travel notwithstanding, it was still a fantastic few days, and I am glad I got to go and be part of it.