Carmel Valley, Day Two

I wrote this entry halfway through day three. It was supposed to include another of Anna’s photos but Bluehost is not letting me in to my email and I’ve got too many other things to do to wait on tech idiocy.

Arose yesterday about 8 a.m., which would have been 11 a.m., and went to breakfast around 9. Anna had arrived at 8, said only one other person had been in. Ashley and Skylar came in briefly and then collected Julian to get shaved. They remained vague about the exact nature of the male bonding ritual except that it involved straight razors.

Anna and Kathryn and I walked down the “miracle mile” – don’t think it’s a mile but maybe we did walk that far with the detour through the community garden and the Cowgirl winery garden, which included loose chickens, beautiful roses, some grapevines, and small cypress trees. A definite ranch feeling to the whole thing including the cowboy boots on display. A real-world, serious note when the sheriff arrived to quiz the woman behind the counter on the whereabouts of another woman concerning a burglary. No more information available.

We walked back via a small market and various shops but couldn’t find the thrift shop, which would probably have contained a gold mine of excellent stuff since the residents who aren’t farmers are almost as upscale as the Clint’s Carmel.

We trotted back up the hill and hung around until time to get dressed for the wedding. Larry and Anna and I drove up the hill to the Holman Ranch and then made the last short leg of the journey in a golf cart. We arrived at the glorious old hacienda with a small patch of green lawn, fire pits, and a barn that included the sign directing people to the “loo.”

We were greeted with beverage options: somewhat sweet peach champagne, or lemonade or iced tea served in Mason jars. We wandered through the grounds for a bit and then went inside where the walls are covered with pictures of Clark Gable and other luminaries gone by.

Back outside, the cart pulled up with Kathryn’s mother and sister Liz. They were walking toward us when Mrs. Golden stopped right in front of Larry and said, “Pardon me. I have to find a ladies room and adjust these panty hose.” She hitched up her dress as she spoke. I wish I had taken a picture of Larry’s expression, but I was too concerned that he was collapsing of shock. I guess Liz was used to it. She just walked away.

Perfect. Anna's photo.

Perfect. Anna’s photo.

We recovered in time to enjoy the glorious wedding ceremony. We walked up to the seats, and were greeted by a sign reading, “Pick a seat not a side,” which I loved. Julian and Tristen and the officiant stood on a platform framed by mountains. It started with Julian escorting Kathryn in to the Chambers Brothers’ “Time.” They had no attendants, and Tristen’s father escorted the gorgeous bride as she giggled and said “Hi” and told everyone how great they looked. The party favors were foldout fans and small bottles of soap bubbles, both inscribed with their names.

The minister, (?) Skylar said she was from Unitarian Universalist Church, did a wonderful job. She talked about how the joining of their lives would be forever – that they would support each other. She spoke of faith but not of God. They had each written what they loved about each other, which she read. Then they exchanged vows as two hawks wheeled overhead. The ceremony ended with a quote from that “great philosopher Dr. Seuss.”

Then it was time for excellent Pinot Noir, produced by the Holman Ranch, and passed hors d’oeuvres. I skipped the duck muffin, which Anna and Larry said could not be identified as duck, but went for the vegan spring rolls – with carrot, avocado, oshinko, ginger and (spinach? lettuce?). Had several of those and two shrimp (“prawns”) on blue corn with a dollop of sesame (?) sauce. Skipped the cheese and crackers.

Kathryn’s Uncle John, fourteen years younger than her mother and a Vietnam veteran, regaled us with stories of his days in the Peace Corps in India. He said he became a vegetarian because he and his cook went to a market. John asked the vendor where the meat was. The guy took a huge piece of something and flicked against the wall. All these flies took off, and there was the meat beneath it.

Everyone got to pose for a photo with the bride and groom. The photographer snapped thousands of shots. I wonder at the poor person who has to select and Photoshop what will go to Julian and Tristen.

Then it was on to dinner. Salads with a bit of goat cheese, blackberries, almonds, and greens. Freshness just makes such a difference. The main course had been grilled outside. Kathryn said afterward that we were supposed to watch the cooking process, but there was too much other stuff going on. The protein was a choice of salmon or tri-tips. The salmon was accompanied by the best  chimichurri sauce. Sides were potatoes, couscous, and fabulous veggies including also the best grilled red and green peppers and asparagus. The hit was barbecued sweet potatoes. Oh, my. That will most definitely be on the menu this summer.

It had begun to turn chilly so everyone huddled around these outdoor heaters and eventually made their way to the barn where we danced and danced and danced. I think we left at around 11 before the cake.

Woke up at 6 a.m. hungry as hell.


Carmel Valley Day 1

 Holman Ranch, Carmel Valley, California. Photo by Anna Bush

Holman Ranch.  Photo by Anna Bush


The computer gods ate my blog so I’m starting over, beginning with the trip we took to California for the wedding of my cousin Julian James to Tristen Woodburn. Credit my cousin Anna with the spectacular photo of the Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley if I can ever upload it.

Larry and I left the house April 3 at 9:30 a.m. for an 11:30 a.m. flight., making perfect time to Bradley where we picked up breakfast at D&D. Flight to Las Vegas was uneventful, and we discovered that the young woman who was sitting in the middle seat in our row was a student at Wesleyan, as was her boyfriend who was sitting in front of us.

The Vegas airport has lots of slot machines but almost no boards for flight information. A rather small operation with twenty-five gates (I was calling them “slots”) in Gate C. I did not get to see the other two, but there is a people mover, meaning that the airport probably covers more real estate than is obvious.

Larry discovered Popeyes and chowed into some fried chicken, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes with gravy, and a biscuit. I had an enormous panini Caprese, of which I ate half in the airport and the other half on the flight to California. We lost track of time and so didn’t get your early bird seating. We were way in the back in middle seats, separated by a couple of rows.

The seriously obese guy on the aisle in my row ate a banana and a chocolate bar before the beverage service started. He hogged both arm rests for the entire flight, which was far more rough than the first leg.

The young woman in the window seat and I chatted for part of the trip. She grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and lives in San Jose where her husband just lost his job with Barnes & Noble, working on the Nook. He received a good severance and has multiple networking opportunities so she’s not concerned. He worked for Nokia before that. We agreed that we both prefer reading ink and paper books to ebooks despite the convenience. She had just bought God by Deepak Chopra, her first experience with him. She did not know he was an entire industry.

In addition to kids, the family has three dogs and two cats. The youngest of the dogs is an English bulldog mix and snores louder than regular bulldogs, which is saying something. She loves San Jose and has only felt one earthquake. The place a few 100-degree days, which are dry and much better than Texas. Also no tornadoes, though she said she only experienced one bad one in “tornado alley” Dallas. She and the dogs and the cats  all huddled in the bathtub.

She had met a friend in Vegas so they could see Elton John, whom she adores – enough to name the dog Elton. Said he (the singer, not the dog) was still good but can’t hit the high notes any more. I was sort of surprised that someone in her early thirties at the most loved such an old-school performer.

Picking up the car at the San Jose airport was a piece of cake as one walks out of baggage claim and crosses the street where the buses and cars load and unload passengers. All the rental offices are right there with the cars above in a parking garage. We were supposed to be at Payless, but they didn’t have the right size car, said we’d have to wait a half hour/forty-five mins. so they sent us to Thrifty. The young woman was all giggly at Larry. We wound up with a Ford Fiesta that he thought was much too small. The rental lady also gave us great directions to avoid the worst of the traffic, though we realized that we’d have to do the same thing we did in Oakland, which is leave the car the night before and stay near the airport.

Cousin Ashley had warned us that we were driving into the heart of Silicon Valley at rush hour and would need hours to get to the hotel. The traffic was bad for the first few miles, but we zipped into the HOV lane. Soon there was almost no traffic. We got turned around a bit in some little town.

Impression: there are vast differences in wealth within a few hundred feet all over this area. Final leg of the trip, as a climbing, twisting ride. Big discussion about whether to use the directions from the rental lady or the phone which was supposed to direct us to the Country Garden Inns. We went by the phone and were glad once we figured out that Carmel and Carmel Valley are not the same.

We reached the hotel office a minute or two before closing. It’s not a hotel. It’s a series of motels, spread out over a few blocks of a cutsied up little stretch of commercial establishments. Ash had to come collect us to find our section. Then we unpacked. I lost the room key.

After a bit of panic on my part, we went to the “meet and greet,” which was supposed to be over at 8. We arrived at 8:15 and stayed till around 9. Tristen looks radiant, so much better than when we saw her in the fall after she’d reset her dislocated shoulder. Julian looked thrilled. Met Kathryn’s mother and sister (also Liz), and a few other people whose connection to the family I’m not sure of. Ash helped me look for the key – no luck.

The room is spartan, to say the least, and the “closet,” a rack with coat hangers, is in the bathroom! But the bed was comfortable, and so was the room once I opened the slider to the patio.

Today: mooch around, go for a walk if it stops raining, which I will not begrudge because the area needs rain so desperately. Hang out with Kathryn. Ash and Julian and Skylar are going for a shave at 10 a.m. Ash said this was some new ritual. Wedding at 4. It WILL clear by then.


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