Now that we're back home on the boat, it does seem like a dream. Or maybe it's more like a Fairy Tale...
We left the boat "storm-ready" in Gulfport and took our cats on the road.
Destination: San Diego California.
Purpose: See Brittney get married.
If a parent's fondest wish for their child is to see them live a better life than they have led... the bar is set pretty high for my kids. I think Brittney and Scott are off to a brilliant start!
We arrived in San Diego well in advance of the wedding and it was my assumption that I would be toiling away at Brittney's side helping her finish a million "last minute" wedding preparations. I was very wrong... Brittney had everything under control and the only things I needed to do were the fun ones! Like wedding dress fittings!
I wasn't present for wedding dress shopping but being there for the final fitting sort of made up for it. Seeing my youngest in that dress just made the Fairy Tale real!
Finalizing the Cake order
Not really what the Mother-of-the-Bride would expect to do as the days slipped away... and very different from my own wedding, in which my Mother did it ALL! But then I was seventeen and what did I know about planning a wedding... anyway...
I happily tagged along while Brittney finalized the florist order and arranged for delivery of the cake... and dozens of other little details, but for the most part... we made memories.
Brittney will be leaving for Guam shortly after the wedding, so we have a lot of time to make up for, in advance!
Scott (the Groom-to-be) had to work for much of the time, but he joined us when he could.
Below are pictures from our time in California...
The drive north from San Diego to La Jolla was an experience in itself. We are just not used to driving through mountains and valleys, with our ears popping and unexpected breathtaking views. As we came down the hill and got a glimpse of the Pacific, I couldn't help but marvel at the marine layer clouds that could be seen lying over the water like a blanket.
And strange fauna... We don't have things like this where we come from... Dolphin, manatees, sure... but Seal Lions? No. I had heard about the famous "seals" of La Jolla. I happily went along with it until my (scholarly) little brother none-so-gently reminded me that they are SEA LIONS... and not SEALS! Duh!
Making those memories!
Snorkelers braved the cold water to see sea lions at play
Hey! I need this!
Butterflies and flowers
Birds were also permanent residents of the cliffs in La Jolla
We strolled the cliffs of this stunning coastline soaking it all in. We actually got to see this twice. Once with Brittney, and then again when our other daughter arrived.
The Cave from outside on the bluff
There's a cave formation on the side of the cliff here in La Jolla Cove. We did the "cheesy tourist thing" and took a $5 tour down into the cave. The entrance is inside The Cave Store.
Don't let the flash fool you. This is a dark passage!
Light at the end of the tunnel
Remember those memories I mentioned before... ?
Looks like a face, right?
That's the guys on the boat behind me
"Bring your sailing gloves" she said... Doubting that we would have time to use them, we brought them anyway... I'm not gonna lie... Sailing in San Diego Bay on this little Capris 16' made me a little nervous. I'm a BIG BOAT GIRL!
Brittney and Scott took sailing leasing on the Navy base which gave them access to rental of the Navy owned recreational boats. AWESOME!!!
I'm not very experienced with a tiller. It's exactly the opposite of what I'm used to in steering a boat, but after only a few minutes I began to relax and feel comfortable with it. Then it was really FUN! We zoomed along the water in light winds and nurturing seas for my tiller debut!
To say that I was skeptical about how well my daughter would do at the helm would be an understatement... How much could she have learned from a couple of lessons?
Like a PRO!
I ate those thoughts when she finally pried my clenched fingers from the tiller so that she could have a go at it. I watched with swelling pride as she competently handled the boat without a word from me. (that almost NEVER happens)
Me and my KID!!!
Again I began to relax and enjoy the ride! (can you tell I'm a little bit of a control freak?)
As we zipped along, I marveled at what we were doing. Never in my wildest imagination could I have anticipated that one day I would be flying across San Diego Bay in a little boat with my daughter at the helm. It was a moment in time that I will never forget.
We can't help but feel like the luckiest people on earth at times like these!
Oh, and Bruce and Scott were there too! That's them on the other boat hiking out! Yes, they went much faster than we did. Our sailing preference being to glide along at a sedate and steady pace... theirs was to careen across the Bay, white knuckles and wet! To each his own!
The weather in San Diego is everything you've heard. Even though it's August, it's cool enough to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat. Brittney asked us to bring our snorkel gear with us but when cold water and cool air temperatures left us little inclined to go into the water. But that didn't stop us from enjoying several days on Coronado Beach.
Brittney's military access allowed us to enjoy a very uncrowded stretch of some of the finest beach in the US. What I wasn't prepared for was the GOLD! I was astounded to see the gold (fools gold - pyrite) just washing up onto the shore. I was fascinated... couldn't get enough of it.
Seaweed and fools gold
The giant kelp was another thing that fascinated me here in SoCal. It grows just offshore and you can see it at the top of the water in places. It can grow up to two feet in length PER DAY!
Tiny sand dollars
We took a drive to Point Loma to see the lighthouse. From the point you can see forever. San Diego to the left and off in the distance... Tijuana, Mexico.
The Point Loma Lighthouse was built in 1850 and at the time it was in operation it was the tallest lighthouse in the country... even though the building itself is sort of squatty... It sits atop the 400 ft cliff that forms ons side of the mouth of San Diego Bay.
It was decommissioned in 1881 because fog routinely enveloped the light making it impossible to see... so a new lighthouse was built at a lower level. There's that pesky marine layer at work.
We toured the building and grounds but, sadly there was no access to the balcony at the top.
The view from here just takes my breath away. Looking out over the placid Pacific Ocean... imagining ourselves sailing out there in the wide open water... It just makes it all seem so "doable".
I could stare out for hours at the pads of giant kelp touching the water's surface... hopeful to see a whale or two. But it was not to be. Not today.
The sun began to set and we had to leave the lighthouse park. One more stop to the National Cemetery here on Point Loma...
We walked through row upon row of precisely placed identical headstones and thought what a lovely final resting place this is.
Sea World San Diego
Scott was able to get some time off for our Point Loma Excursion... and he was able to join us for our visit to Sea World San Diego too!
I know that some of you may have objections to what Seaworld and parks like them do with captive animals. I don't know what the answer is... but I can tell you that it appears that the park is taking every opportunity to treat the animals well... they just aren't in the wild.
We had a fun-filled day and laid up another layer of awesome memories with our daughter and her husband (to be).
A little ruffling of the feathers here..
Obligatory dolphin show
There were numerous sculptures like this made entirely of ocean garbage and plastic
Brittney is directing her ride...
Funnel cake, ice cream and a LOT of other stuff. Stomach ache in the making!
We rode this thing. Good thing about it was that it went so fast we had no time to be scared!
What IS this flower???
It looks real....
Bruce petting the little sharks...
OK, these guys don't look very happy...
Obligatory whale show
Exacting revenge upon the human spectators...
San Diego Zoo
Riding the tour bus
No visit to San Diego is complete without a day at the zoo! We arrived mid morning and spent the entire day enjoying the balmy temperatures in the warm sunshine.
There are two types of tour busses included in the price of a ticket... one takes you on a continuous loop of the park. We took the tour so that we could get the lay of the land and see what exhibits interested us. It was fun and informative... and nice to just sit up top and watch it all go by.
There were other busses, the kangaroo bus... that you can get on an off of at the different stops throughout the park. It sure beats walking all the way across the park to get from one section to another.
The third mode of transportation was the sky gondola. I LOVE these things! They whisk you up silently into the sky and provide a bird's eye view of everything far below.
It's so peaceful and beautiful up there...
I didn't take a lot of animal pics... many of the animals were sleeping and not very photogenic...
Scott's parents and nephew joined us and we had the best time watching the little guy climb on the animal statues around the park. He has SO much energy!
Maybe we climbed on a statue or two too!
In his defense... it was getting late.
I will, however, share this one picture of the famous giant panda... sleeping.
One more sky gondola ride before we left... provided another breathtaking view of the night sky with fireworks in the distance...
Yes, some wonderful memories were made today!
By this time, guests and more family members were beginning to arrive. There was one more thing I wanted to do before the wedding took over... while I had both of my daughters here together.
It occurred to me that this may well be the last time the three of us are together for a long time to come. Being here on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, I was reminded of another time we were all here together... but in Puerto Vallarta. There is a favorite photo of mine that I wanted to try to re-create with my girls. One in which we were all three walking lock-armed along the beach at sunset.
Well, the sunset was hiding behind that pesky marine layer... but we still made our memory and had a little bit of fun. Ahh to be young again...
The wedding is tomorrow. Guests are arriving. Brittney and Scott attended to their friends and left Bruce and I to enjoy the company of our own dear friends who flew all the way from Texas to California to see our girl get married. We spent an enjoyable day doing touristy stuff with our friends.
Yes. We took a DUCK TOUR! It's an amphibious vehicle that is as much at home in the water as it is on land. It was fun rolling right off the road and floating out into the Bay with our Buds.
These birds and sea lions are lounging atop a floating fish farm...
We put-putted out to check on some more Sea Lions and birds... and just took a nice little paddle around the harbor gawking like tourists.
We found a nice little waterfront restaurant to while away the afternoon catching up on the gossip and news from home. It feels so nice to be with these people!
Suddenly it was time to go get ready for the rehearsal dinner. It's STARTING!!!
We had just enough time to get showered and changed and dash off to a most unusual rehearsal dinner. There wasn't actually any rehearsal, just a dinner... with ALL of the wedding guests invited.
Once again we got to share a table with our friends as we ate great food and listened to one after another of our daughter and Scott's friends tell heartwarming stories of their friendship with the Bride and Groom.
I sat there and felt my heart swell at the outpouring of love these people felt towards my daughter and her intended. It made me realize that Brittney is not just awesome to me (I'm biased), but to SO many people. People who would use their vacation time and money to travel across the country to be here for this wedding.
I didn't take any pictures of the rehearsal dinner. Nor did I take even a single one of the wedding day. I take so many pictures of the awesome things we do and I feel that sometimes I might be missing out on some of the awesomeness while I'm fiddling with the camera. For this event, I didn't want any distraction. I wanted to see it all.
The Wedding Day was a blur of activity. Brittney had it all timed out and we took off in the morning for a Bridal Party brunch, then off to the church to dress... All of the following pictures were taken by friends or the photographer.
After everyone was ready, the photographer came and took a few photos...
Everyone left Scott and Brittney with the photographer and dashed across town to the wedding venue on Coronado Island. The Bridal Party was in charge of laying out the decorations and setting everything up for the reception. It was a mad whirl of activity but somehow with all of us working on our assigned tasks, it all got done in time as the first guests began to arrive.
We went out to take our seats and the music began to play. The Bridesmaids came up and took their places and then the music Brittney had chosen as her bridal march began. I couldn't help but cry a few tears, but not for long.
She looked so happy. He looked so happy.
Mr. and Mrs.!
There was food and dancing and cake... disco ball lights and laughter and more than a little sweat. It was all a happy blur. It was done. She's married.
There is no "empty nest" syndrome here... we have no nest. We left long ago and now Brittney and Scott are on their way to their dream.
I know, I can't help but be a little mushy. It was all just so wonderful. The whole thing. Yes, we made some memories, but we also cut loose a life of Live-The-Dream wishes for Brittney and Scott.