E and I attended a wedding this weekend for our childhood friend James, in Carmel Valley, just outside of Carmel, CA. We've both known James since elementary school, and we all spent a bunch of time together in high school before he went off to pursue his education all over the country. He and E have stayed in touch over the years and we didn't want to miss this weekend. The wedding was at a beautiful resort, The Carmel Valley Ranch.
We decided to go a little more low-key on Friday evening, so we stayed in Santa Cruz, which was a little more our speed. It was like the warm-up to the real hotel. Basically we drove all afternoon, found a senior citizen filled steakhouse, ate our fill of mediocre smoked meats (but some DELICIOUS chowder), and passed out early watching HBO. Dream. Night. After the week I had, I was happy with boring.
Saturday morning we were up pretty early and we made our way toward Carmel. I decided I wanted to drive along the coast, so we cruised through Monterey/ Pacific Grove, Asilomar and Carmel, and E obliged by rolling the windows down (AND listening to about half the new Justin Timberlake album. What a lamb.). Haven't been back to the coast with him since we were there with the kiddos a little more than a year ago, but the weather was much better this time. It made me miss the monkeys, though.
We arrived about lunch time and had lunch with E's friend trent at a little cafe in Carmel Valley while we waited for our room to be ready. Service was slow but the food was tasty. A similar thing seemed to be happening over at the grocery store where I stopped for snacks, re: speed of service. It took my checker (who was also my bagger, natch) about 20 minutes to ring up five items and then get them in a sack. Ain't nobody in a hurry in the Carmel Valley, apparently.
But finally we headed over to the ranch (hee!) and we could check in.
The resort was breathtaking. I'm not sure how to talk about it without sounding like a girl from a small town who is amazed by such things because they are unfamiliar to her. So I won't even try. This place was. Just. WOW. Huge property. Gorgeous facilities. Wonderful people. It's a good thing there was a group rate for the wedding, so we could attend and stay there. That's all I'm sayin'. The property was amazing and everyone there was magical.
And my God, there were free things everywhere. And not just apples.
So we got checked in, and then we got fancy. And I continued to struggle with my selfie picture-taking skills. But we gussied up good and eventually it was time to meet up with high school friends in the hotel bar.
And then we took a short hike to the wedding venue, which was a vineyard. No detail was overlooked. I made sure to act like a total nerd and avail myself of every amenity they had. Sparkling watermelon non-alcoholic drink? Sure! Parasol? Mmhmm! We took our seats and waited for the ceremony to begin.
James and Bonnie both seem very happy, as did their families. It was a beautiful ceremony.
Then it was time to party in a big tent and dance the night away to an 80s cover band.
My achilles tendons still hurt, but you know what? Worth it.
And just because I love peeking into houses and hotel rooms, here's a look into our gigantic suite at the Ranch:
Schmancy. Favorite thing: fireplace with a sleep timer.
Sunday we went to the final wedding event, a big ol' brunch, and then we headed out. But not before I made E stop and walk on that big, soft beach with me. And not before I touched the Pacific.
The moral of the story is that when life gets too hard, all need is a weekend away with my husband, a bunch of high school buddies, the sea, and an unreal (in its beauty) wedding to cheer me up.