Day By Day

This Day by Day section corresponding with my California trip may be slightly different than most, primarily because this trip was family oriented and had a more personal nature than some of my adventures. I hope that won’t make it any less interesting or helpful!

Day 1 (Wednesday, September 2, 2015)

  • I began the day with my boyfriend on an early flight from JFK to San Francisco‘s SFO. We made it to California around noon, as scheduled
  • SFO is large, but navigable, and the free AirTran made inter-terminal transit and BART access easy enough
  • We took the BART to Lafayette, a town that neighbors Walnut Creek, where we were scooped up by my California aunt. She and her husband raised their two daughters in Walnut Creek and have lived there for as long as I can remember, so they’re my California people. They’re all friendly, bright, tall and blond
  • We spent the afternoon/evening catching up with family and providing artistic support to my worker-bee mom, who’d already immersed herself in wedding prep. At one point my boyfriend, uncle, and I escaped to the gym. This particular gym, ClubSport Valley Vista, was pretty intense and well-equipped, for anyone interested in fitness and living in proximity to Walnut Creek
  • The day was concluded with sushi takeout for dinner from House of Sake, which was delicious
Decorative Sign for Wedding: Constructed by Uncle, Painted by Mom

Decorative Sign for Wedding: Constructed by Uncle, Painting and Lettering by Mom

Day 2 (Thursday, September 3, 2015)

  • I slept until nine in the morning, which was fantastic because it was more like sleeping until noon with the time difference
  • This was the day that everyone planned to mobilize to the wedding site three hours away, so we seized the opportunity to get to the venue via Monterey Bay. The detour was two hours out of the way, further than expected, but at the end of the day the experience was well worthwhile
  • The drive to Monterey Bay was scenic and the coast was breathtaking
  • We had lunch at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, which offered outdoor, waterfront seating and a broad menu of primarily seafood offerings. I’m no stranger to bread bowls, as a New England Native, and I can honestly say my bread bowl was the largest I’d seen. The chowder was pretty tasty, too. Between fantastic service and the view of the water, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this spot to anyone visiting Monterey Bay
  • Our next stop was the aquarium. It’s tough to find street parking in the downtown area near the aquarium (at least that was our experience), but we parked at Cannery Row Parking Garage nearby for a reasonable price (I can’t remember how much exactly, maybe $10?)
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium was truly unique, and I definitely hope to visit again. It’s a multilevel aquarium with a focus on sustainability and environmental awareness. It is home to some remarkable creatures and has modern features that make exhibits simultaneously engaging and educational. The Kelp Forest Tank is vast and impressive, but my favorite exhibit was one that may be temporary called Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes. Octopuses are the coolest
  • We swung into a Dippin Dots (apparently they do have storefront locations) before driving another two hours to our resort at Lake Nacimiento near the wedding venue and turning in for the night
  • Lake Nacimiento Resort and Marina: My mom, grandmother, boyfriend and I had our own little cabin on Lake Nacimiento with a lake view, kitchen, and open living area. There was a little porch with a table and chairs along the side of the cabin, and I think ours was the best view in the resort. There was one large bedroom downstairs, and another bedroom upstairs with two bunk beds, both with double sized bottom bunks and twin upper bunks. There was plenty enough space for us all in the cabin, and I imagine it would be large enough to accommodate a bigger family as well. My only complaint would be that there was only one bathroom, but  proximity to the lake and the overall comfort of the cabin made it easy enough to deal. The kitchen was fully equipped with appliances, dishes, silverware, etc., and there was a grocery store nearby. I kept seeing people jet ski from the window, and wishing I had time
Lake Nacimiento Resort

Lake Nacimiento Resort

Day 3 (Friday, September 4, 2015)

  • Before joining the crew at Ranchos Dos Amantes to help prepare for the wedding and attend the rehearsal dinner, my boyfriend and I stopped for breakfast at a spot called Naga within minutes of Lake Nacimiento. It stands out, as there are very few restaurants around Bradley. Naga offers healthy, organic breakfast and lunch options, and would be the perfect place to grab coffee and work remotely. The staff and the owner are extremely friendly, and my boyfriend and I got amazing breakfast sandwiches. Needless to say, we were back the next day
  • The drive to Ranchos Dos Amantes took around fifteen minutes, and involved a majestic view of the mountains and, at one point, some mean looking bulls
  • I arrived to the venue with a sort of “What can I do?” panic, but soon found some tasks to complete and people to talk to as guests began arriving for the rehearsal dinner
  • The wedding rehearsal was followed by a delicious BBQ dinner
  • Ranchos Dos Amantes: Located in what seems to be the center of a world of golden mountains, resilient plants and cactuses that have clung to life in a dry climate, and endless sunshine, Ranchos Dos Amantes has found success in its recent debut in the world of weddings. The ranch is home to gardens, animals, three casitas that act as B&Bs as well as places to stay for wedding parties, and stunning views. It is also worth mentioning that there is a kitchen on the property for use when events take place that is worthy of jealousy called the Red Barn Kitchen. Both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding dinner and dancing took place around the casita that hosts the Red Barn Kitchen, but the ceremony itself took place down a path a ways in an open field. The family that runs the venue was present before and during the wedding, but many aspects of the wedding including the catering, floral arrangements, DJ, and photographer, were provided by vendors not associated with Ranchos Dos Amantes. My cousin liked that she had the freedom to customize most aspects of the wedding as a result of the venue’s newness and flexibility. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about Rancho Dos Amantes, and although the bride and groom and their immediate families could give a more detailed account of the experience, I was definitely impressed!
  • Lake Nacimiento Resort and Marina: Nice stay the second night as well, especially since resort staff had replenished towels and made beds at some point during the day
The Red Barn House at Ranchos Dos Amantes

The Red Barn House at Ranchos Dos Amantes

Day 4 (Saturday, September 5, 2015)

  • We had breakfast again at Naga, and this time I ordered a yummy poppyseed muffin
  • We spent the day leading up to the ceremony on a wild goose chase around Paso Robles (a half hour from the wedding venue) searching for a Nikon DSLR camera battery charger. The entire point of my buying a snazzy camera was to use it at events like this, and of course it died and I neglected to pack a charger. After stopping Staples, Target, Walmart, and Radioshack, it became clear I wouldn’t find the appropriate charger. It was nice to explore Paso Robles, but I’d have preferred to do so by touring wineries as opposed to hopping from one big-box store to another. Paso Robles belongs to wine country, after all
  • We made it back in time for the arrival of guests prior to the ceremony, and even in time to help complete some final pre-wedding projects
  • The ceremony was beautiful, the flowers were exquisite, dinner was excellent (amazing tri-tip steak), the cake was delicious and the DJ was great. There was a definite emphasis on country music at this particular wedding, which is not always my thing, but I managed to get into it
  • Shoutout to whoever designed the signature cocktail, the Mengo Mojito, as it was both scrumptious and a clever play on words, as the groom’s last name is Mengo
  • The makeup for this wedding was done by my cousin, the bride’s sister, a hugely talented makeup artist out of LA who rocked her wedding makeup debut by doing makeup for the wedding party and the mother of the bride. Check out Abby Woodman Makeup Artistry to see her work!
  • Signs and favors for the event were provided by my ever talented mother, who outdid herself and added tremendous charm to the wedding
  • Lake Nacimiento Resort and Marina: Third night here, just as comfortable as the first
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Ranchos Dos Amantes

Day 5 (September 6, 2015)

  • We ate cake for breakfast as we helped family pack up the wedding site and prepared to return to San Francisco
  • I left around noon with my boyfriend to return to Walnut Creek via San Francisco, where we stopped for an early dinner and a quick stop to visit the Golden Gate Bridge
  • The drive took about three hours, but there was very little traffic
  • For dinner we went to Pier 23 Cafe, in which we were able to sit right on the bay and enjoy an incredible view of the water. The location was prime and the service was great. I am actively trying to challenge myself to eat seafood, so I ordered chowder and fish tacos. I didn’t like the food as much as I probably would have if I’d ordered something I typically enjoy, but I think it’s worth it too experiment. I ended up eating half of my boyfriend’s grilled chicken sandwich and my chowder, so I didn’t leave hungry
  • The drive to the Golden Gate Bridge took about a half an hour, but it was worth the hike. We got a beautiful view as the sun set
  • The drive back to Walnut Creek took about an hour, and was followed by a cup of tea and then bed in preparation for a 4:00 am departure from SFO the following day
Pier 23 Cafe

Pier 23 Cafe

Day 6 (September 7, 2015)

  • Waking up to leave at 4:00 was definitely as struggle, but we made it. It was worth leaving early as we would be losing time upon our arrival at JFK in NYC
  • I picked up at crepe for breakfast at Three Twins Ice Cream before boarding the flight, which curbed the misery of being up so early
  • We slept through the entirety of the flight (which somehow took less than five hours), and arrived back to reality a day or so too soon
  • In conclusion, I had an incredible trip, and am planning not to be a stranger to the state of California

Drawing and Lettering by Mom