Monday, July 13, 2015

Entering California through the produce inspection station was not the greatest greeting, but a few miles down the road we were properly welcomed to the state by the Redwood National Forest and its Trees of Mystery, a tourist attraction which offers a view of the giant trees from above.
 After camping under and between these coniferous giants we decided we would not miss the opportunity no matter the weather.

A 1/4 mile hike in the rain allowed us to bond in our plans for our forthcoming weekend wedding.  Especially after standing under the cathedral of redwoods. During the SkyTram ride the forest encompassed us and the heights were hidden by the moisture and the greenness around us.Departing the forest through the lakes area, we got glimpses of the California drought. Water  levels were low on lake after lake.

The docks were high above the current water levels.  Obvious signs of previous fires and the potential for future fires reminded us that we were headed toward Placerville and the current El Dorado County wildfires.  They were nearly 80% contained during our September visit.

special touches for us
Our friends Melanie and Dara's had relocated to the area after leaving the hustle and bustle life of New York State.  Their Placerville area home offered a relaxing country atmosphere and wooded acreage. This fall their home had been threatened by the wildfires but luckily the winds had changed direction.  As we drove through downtown, we noticed the incident command center and the notes of appreciation to all the firefighters, EMS, police, pilots, etc who have helped fight the wildfires and save acres of land, property and even lives.

It was nice seeing friends we hadn't seen in several years. They were so willing to help us make arrangements for our wedding.  We introduced their two dogs to our two dogs and they all got on fabulously.  We were a little worried as Frances feels threatened as acts aggressive when on leash and their dogs had some aggressive episodes with each other.  The four of them fell into their roles and there were only a few occasions when one mom or the other had to tell the kids whose boss.
Friday was dress shopping and license day,  during our Washington visit, Kathy's mom had commented that a print dress wasn't for a wedding.  I went out looking for another dress but didn't find one. I was frustrated and decided to show the dress to Kathy. She liked the nod to the dress I was wearing on our first meeting.  Decision made.  The Michael Kors navy and tan dress purchased in Washington would be my wedding dress.

Saturday was tourist time. Kathy had never walked a corn maze or selected a pumpkin still on the vine. I felt like a kid wanting to run in the fields.  Instead I walked hand in hand with the woman I love.  Later our hosts drove through the southern part of the county to another vineyard for wine tastings.  That evening they created a wonderful homemade dinner that we all enjoyed.

We were showed up a day early for our visit and weekend wedding.  Melanie and Dara our witnesses and hosts had arranged that another friend Rhonda officiate our service.  Rhonda was so excited she decorated the guest apartment with rose petals, wine, and champagne.  We loved all the romance!

Thanks for officiating Rhonda
Sunday, our wedding day, it rained. According to tradition, this is a good thing.  We had to relocate the ceremony because we had chosen a nice spot outside to exchange our vows.  Instead vows were exchanged inside in front of a fire.  Tears ran down both of our cheeks as we shared our own words of love with each other.  The dogs ours and Dara's and Melainie's got involved in the ceremony too.  Each one walked through the living room during the ceremony.  Frances walked between us just before the legal pronouncements but we were finally and legally wed.  The afternoon turned out beautiful so our celebration dinner was eaten al fresco in downtown Placerville. Even our dinner was provided by our hosts.

After our honeymoon weekend, Monday was a great day to visit San Francisco.  We drove in and then walked the waterfront area.  Watching ships enter the port under the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing Alcatraz Island while eating hot clam chowder from sourdough bread bowls is the ultimate tourist image.  We were them!  After playing antique games and walking the length of an early atomic sub we needed a rest from the pavement.  We took a trolley to Haight Ashbury
and on to Castro for lunch.

Melanie our personal tour guide or friend just along for the honeymoon.
The trolley car we rode was one from the era that my parents Ed and Ruth had met.
Both of them drove streetcar in Minneapolis MN during the early forties.  They met during shift change. Ed was holding up Ruth's timely departure by standing in the aisle of the car and counting his shifts worth of nickels from the meter box.  Ruth told him he needed to get off so she could keep her schedule.  When he refused, she flung his stacks of nickels down the aisle and told him he could ride along with her and gather them back up. He rode with her for most of her shift.  After she apologized, they carried on like best friends teasing and flirting with each other.  They were married a year or so later.

The Women's Building
Dresses from the first lesbian wedding
In Castro we walked through the GLBT Museum, a simple but important museum.  It addressed the L in GLBTQQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning).  It was interesting thinking about the important women who can before the three of us who helped pave the way so we could feel free and safe.  Free to be jovial and buoyant and safe so others wouldn't bully us for being ourselves.

 We headed back "home" and found the best Mexican restaurant in the state of California.  Of course it was called Abuleta's, and yes grandma was doing the cooking.  When we go back to California we are going there.

Dara and Melanie our besties and hosts
We allowed ourselves, one more relaxing day as we looked at property in the neighborhood. I enjoyed the weather and Kathy enjoyed the people.  This is an area we may consider revisiting for residency after our nationwide tour. The prices are reasonable and you can still own enough acreage for privacy and yet have neighbors that do not blatantly despise our "life choices."

At an apple festival, tastings were appreciated: Yummy apple fritters.   Then we drove down a road through a vineyard with Concord grapes hanging on the the vine.  It opened to a huge field of pumpkins and beyond a corn field.

We left California via the road to Reno.  We really had no idea Lake Tahoe was in California let alone so beautiful.  A total tourist community, Lake Tahoe was beautiful and accommodating.  We only stopped for groceries before crossing into Nevada but given the opportunity we want to go back for a real visit.

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