Monday, June 13, 2005

Weekend Travelog: A Wedding in San Luis Obispo

This weekend, we traveled up to Shell Beach (just north of Pismo Beach, on the Central California coast) to attend my husband's cousin's wedding in San Luis Obispo. I procrastinated in booking a hotel, and it turned out to be the same weekend as Cal Poly SLO graduation, so every motel room in a 50-mile radius was booked. Karma was with us, however, as I was able to find an absolutely charming beach cottage for rent in nearby Shell Beach. We spent Friday night in the Laughing Buddha house, a sensuous feng-shui home filled with color and fabric and Zen ambience. Saturday, we moved just a few houses up the street to the Purple Moon house, a cute beach cottage all done in purples, blues, and a nautical theme. We had time in the morning before the wedding to take a walk on Shell Beach, a typical central California beach with pebbles, dramatic rock formations, and tide pools.

The wedding ceremony was at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, one of California's beautiful and historic missions. It was a lovely setting, with the floral-decorated white walls, and the tall beamed ceiling. The beautiful bride was walked down the aisle by her father, a senior chief petty officer, in his Navy dress whites complete with sword. The handsome groom was accompanied by several groomsmen, including his sister, who dressed nattily in a tux like the rest of the groomsmen, though with a hint of feminine accent in dangly earrings and a bit of sparkle on her white shirt. The readings included the usual I Corinthians 13 for the New Testament, but an Old Testament reading from Tobit that I'd never heard before. The priest asked the couple to pray every night of their honeymoon that the love they felt for each other that night would be the smallest that it would ever be, and that it would only grow each day forward.

The reception was at the nearby Avila Beach resort, in a tent by the water. It was a beautiful sunny day, although it got a bit cold as evening came on. They had a nice sit-down dinner and dancing, and it was a great pleasure to see some of George's family I hadn't seen in a while, as well as to meet a number of cousins I hadn't met before (including the groom). George has a large extended family, and they are all good people. And it was great to see that the bride had lots of family and friends, and comes from a strong family. I think both coming from a good family and valuing their family as they do bodes well for this happy couple. There were some eloquent speeches from both sides, including a few emotional moments, as the groom's sister and father both got pretty choked up.

George's Mom and sister didn't have a place to stay and were tentatively going to drive back to Lodi, but we had room at our cozy cottage and talked them into staying. It was great to get to spend some more time with them. We had breakfast together the next day, and went for a walk around the beach town. After they took off, George took me to a secluded beach cove he'd been to before, a bit of a nudist spot, and like many of those, the kind you have to hike to get into. There was a neat cave along the way, and many cool rock formations in the cove, with a bunch of seals lounging on the rocks. (I love seals and sea lions -- they're so cute!) After hiking the main cove, we discovered that there was an even more secluded cove down another trail that required using a rope to rappel down the last 20 feet or so. We hung out there for a while, collecting pebbles and enjoying the sun.

On the drive home, we stopped in to visit the La Purisima Mission, which neither of us had seen. It is quite an impressive place. Unlike most of the missions, which are operating Catholic parishes, this one is a state park, and it is probably the most completely restored to its authentic form. They have the entire mission compound, including the various outlying buildings, and they have furnished it with period artifacts and replica furnishings. You really get a great sense of mission life. They even have a sampling of farm animals there, just as they would have had at the mission in 1820. It's quite interesting to visit and beautiful in its way.

We drove home along the backroads through Solvang and San Marcos Pass. It was very nostalgic driving down roads that I have known better on my bicycle in years past, having done the California AIDS Ride and several Solvang Century rides. I just need to make a mental note: do not drive home on Highway 101 on Sunday nights, it's just bad. But all in all, it was a wonderful weekend!

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