Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day Three: Castles in the Sky

In retrospect, we jammed a bit too much into Saturday, but it all worked out fine. We'd booked a tour at Hearst Castle in San Simeon (about a 45-minute drive, really lovely) for 11:10, and by coincidence, my brother and his family had done the same. I was looking forward to the castle, last seen when I was seven years old (and D and J never) but also to spending the day with my family, a rare occasion since they live in the Bay Area.

We had another quick breakfast in the coffee shop with my parents--it was really nice to start each morning like this--and then rushed to the car. We made it to the visitor center with only minutes to spare, which is a bit of a bummer because apparently there is a movie and also some hands-on exhibits, all of which Jarrah might have appreciated more than the actual tour.

It was fun to bond with my niece Stella about Facebook--at 13, she's brave for Friending her old aunt--and to realize that she's getting to an age when we can really talk about stuff. We all enjoyed the bus ride that wended its way to the top of the mountain, and searched for buffalo and zebras like we were told, but didn't see any, alas.

We took the "Experience" tour, which is the introduction to the castle, including the two really impressive swimming pools and a guest house, in addition to some rooms on the ground floor of the main house. Jarrah was instantly bored of the tour guide's coy, saucy yet canned sermon (and David was disgusted by it; I found it rather sweet) but luckily she had the best diversion possible--my brother. I was able to focus on the details, and I did enjoy hearing about an average day for guests at the estate, but the rooms seemed kind of bizarrely ornate, like Hearst wanted to live in a 15th century devotional fresco. Seemed all wrong for California, somehow. Not that I would have turned down an invitation!

Afterwards, we drove a few miles back up the 101 to the town of Cambria, which is very cute and sleepy, and after a bit of disagreement (mostly involving the tastes of the youngsters) we settled on a place called Robin's that ended up being totally delicious. Unfortunately, it was becoming apparent that Jarrah was not quite herself--she kept sneezing and coughing, and had no appetite. She was still her feisty, busy self, so I knew it couldn't be too bad, but the sad little coughs were worrying.

We hightailed it back to Atascadero with just enough time for everyone to bathe and primp before the wedding--I was supposed to be there early to rehearse with Therese (which never really happened.) It turned out we needn't have rushed--members of both clans were ridiculously late and the ceremony started 45 minutes later than planned. The drive up to the Ascunscion Inn was very windy and beautiful--we later heard that various people were frightened by the tiny road, and terrified to retrace their course at night with no light, but I was never scared because it's not like there were cliffs or anything, and there was a glorious full moon. At the top, we parked in a field of waving grasses, and made our way up to the three-bedroom inn. I was surprised to find Lindsey and Thomas getting ready together, in their gorgeous room, with my mom and a friend helping, but I guess they were determined to be pretty casual about the whole thing.

Me, I was getting a bit nervous, but not so much that I turned down the most luscious strawberries, dipped in sour cream and brown sugar, that I've ever had the pleasure to encounter. I thought it was a nice touch that the caterers put out snacks and pitchers of sweet tea--something about waiting for weddings to start always makes me hungry.

The guests all crammed together in a little patio, standing, and then we were starting--Jarrah came down the aisle, holding hands with Pele's son Aegean, brandishing her yellow bouquet, and I think she was a bit non-plussed to find herself done so soon. Therese and I did our thing--talks on what marriage means to us, readings, walking them through the vows and rings, an Irish blessing, and a short discourse on the meaning of smashing the glass. I got a little verklempt when I saw that Lindsey teared up during my reading, but I plowed ahead, and I guess they liked it because a bunch of Thomas's family asked me for copies afterward. The funniest part was that Jarrah kept coming up to me while I was standing there solemnly waiting for my next cue (there were harp and song interludes, family, of course) and hissing "Mommmmy! There's a roly-poly on the sidewalk! A rooolllly-poooollly!" I tried not to giggle, but it was just too fabulous an example of how we all have our priorities. David said I had my "Obama moment" when I totally messed up the vows, which I was supposed to recite so my sister could repeat. Everyone laughed. "At least the Constitution didn't require a do-over," I told him.

Then there were appetizers (the mushroom streudels were to die for) and drinks and a scrumptious dinner; many of us sat outside, but our trio had foolishly come without any jackets (that whole 90 during the day, 50 at night thing was throwing us off) so we didn't stay outside long. Jarrah was seeming miserable by this point, coughing, nose running, hot. Soon enough, she asked to go home. I told David we were going to have to, even though it meant missing my sister's wedding...bad timing, but what could we do? Then a small miracle happened. Jarrah fell asleep on the couch. Something you should know about this kid is that she does NOT, simply does NOT, fall asleep when stuff is happening. It could be 2 a.m. and she'd be woo-hooing with the best of them if there was action to be had. We've seen it before. But I guess she really was under the weather, because she passed out. And once she's out, there's no waking her. None. She curled on the couch under an afghan and snoozed solidly through all the yelling and laughing and raucous toasts (so many of which, I held my breath during the ones that veered dangerously toward inappropriate territory, but they got back on track.) And we didn't have too much guilt because she just would have been sleeping back at the hotel, right?

One sad thing happened, though--mosquitoes had her for dinner. The side that was exposed (not a moving target, like the rest of us) was so thoroughly feasted on that she looked like she had an extra forehead the next day, and one eye was swollen shut from being bitten in both corners and on the lid. Poor little bubelah. She was so itchy. Luckily, she's such a fast healer that she already seems better, and the same--miraculously--was true for whatever ailed her that night. By the next morning, the fever was down, she'd stopped coughing, and her energy had returned. Who knows what the heck was going on there?

Things were winding down by 10:30 or so, and though I was a bit bummed there was no dancing, we did have a lot of fun shmoozing and the atmosphere was very warm and loving. I'm happy for my sister that she's gaining such a sweet (and ginormous) family.

On the way home, a beautiful deer walked in front of our car, illuminated in the moonlight.


erin said...

Beautiful! Looks like you guys had a wonderful time!
A side note: My great aunt is on facebook. Yep. My grandma's youngest sister Eileen is my facebook friend. Wow.

Stephanie said...

What a wonderful day. I'm so glad you shared that moment with your sister, might you consider posting your marriage talk here?

Great photos too!

Sam said...

Thanks for asking, Steph, yes, I've been considering that! :)

Caroline said...

Sounds like a truly beautiful day. I'm glad Jarrah's bug was a quickie. Theories in my head on mosquito bites stimulating her immune system to fight harder or some such. Bug versus insects. All's well that ends well, I guess.

Myrnie said...

Wow, what a fabulous day! I don't know how you kept a straight face through Jarrah's announcements :)

Aunt LoLo said...

The wedding looks fabulous! What a beautiful bride...and an awesome Wedding Miracle! :-D