Tag Archives: dancing

European Vacation – Ireland and Northern Ireland

After England, we headed to Ireland. Besides seeing Jessica and Andrew in Paris, Ireland was my favorite country (countries). It was absolutely beautiful and had so much gorgeous nature. I could see myself living there happily. This post will probably have a lot of photos!

Driving in Dublin was crazy, but gem drove exceptionally! I didn’t drive the first day, but I did later. Driving on the right side of the car and left side of the street wasn’t really a big deal, but being forced to park and drive with most of the car on the sidewalk due to the small streets in Dublin was nuts.

gem’s a natural at driving on the wrong side!

First we walked to the Lansdowne Hotel for some dinner, Guinness, and to wait for a show in the basement.

The Irish House Party featured traditional Irish music and dancing. We sat right in the front row. It was easily one of the best evenings of my life. They were amazing.

Here we are with all the performers!

The next day we did some exploring in Northern Ireland. Perfect sign placement.

Our first castle was Carrickfergus Castle, which was super awesome. There sure are a lot of castles in Ireland though! Here’s gem, Antonio, and Anela in front of the castle.

And here’s me, gem, and Anela on top of it!

Anela seemed just a tad excited by the name of this boat!

Pretty close, right?

This castle wall seemed like the perfect place for them to pose.

I have a thing for silhouettes. I thought Anela and gem looked cool here in the window.

gem leans back all cool on top of the castle. She’s just chillin’. No big deal.

After the castle, we drove to Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, which is 66 feet across and 98 feet above the water. The rope bridge connects the mainland to a little island. It was a bit freaky being on the little rope bridge that high, but most of us made it across without incident. Anela was scared of heights and stayed behind for a while, but eventually someone who worked there walked her across to join us.

Look, we all made it!

I think gem took this photo of me. It was really beautiful on the island.

Of course, I had to do a little yoga. I was still a few feet from the edge; don’t worry.

After our adventures with the rope bridge, we explored the Dunseverick Castle ruins and Dunluce Castle. Both were mostly ruins, and there isn’t a lot to say about them. Afterwards we went to Giant’s Causeway, shown above.

We did some hiking, and gem and Anela rescued a slug from the middle of the path.

This rock reminds me of a dinosaur’s bone. I wonder if anyone else in my group imagined that.

Giant’s Causeway is known for these basalt columns that are naturally formed from volcanic eruption. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Anela, gem, and Antonio hike across the rocks.

Here’s a closer look at the columns. You can see that the number of sides differ.

Watch your step! All three of them are looking down as they walk so they don’t trip.

That face. I don’t know what she was thinking here. 🙂

On the way back to our apartment, we stopped in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, for pizza at Opera Italian Pizza. Anela has no recollection of this, so I’m glad I have photos! You’ll have to excuse the weird neon lighting.

We got two pizzas, but this is the one that I remember. It might look like Hawaiian, but that’s not pineapple. It’s a ham and peaches pizza, and it was super delicious! This is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.

The next day we took a day trip to County Clare in the Mid-West Region. We grabbed McDonald’s for the road before heading out. Driving on the wrong side was fun!

We started with Bunratty Castle! And I hope all these photos are accurate. I might have some mixed up with Craggaunowen. That’s the problem with using my phone as well as my DSLR since my phone’s clock updated but my DSLR’s clock was set to my home timezone. It’s hard to sort out which photos go together.

I read that most castle staircases are narrow and go up clockwise so that defenders coming down the towers would have more space to swing their swords (since most people were using swords in their right hands). Interesting!

Time for a short break from all the walking to sit and look out a window. I think there’s a pretty decent chance than I asked them to sit down and pose for this actually.

The blacksmith fit Anela her new shoe. He was a nice guy, and I bet he really enjoys what he does here.

gem and Anela help the blacksmith! Honestly, we spent a long time with him. He really wanted to show us a lot of things, but it was fun.

gem also met some new feathered friends!

Next was Craggaunowen, a 16-century castle and open-air museum. Here’s gem on the roof of the castle.

gem learned to spin yarn first. It looks like she took this seriously.

I wanted to try as well. I bet I was focusing and concentrating.

And here’s Anela. Is that the face of someone trying their hardest? I think not! I bet she was laughing at herself, but I don’t remember.

This was in the castle courtyard. It was very pretty and green!

This path led to the rest of the open-air museum.

This is some sort of combination of building and underground tunnel.

The site features reconstructions of what life used to be like in Ireland.

Edited to add Anela’s comment: “Also, that looks like we ’bout to drop the hottest album of the year!”

Here’s an actor playing the role of someone who might have lived here in the past. He was nice!

After finishing at Craggaunowen, we explored Aillwee Cave, a cave system that includes an underground river. I don’t have a lot of photos to share since it was dark, but it was fun to go on the tour.

The Cliffs of Moher are quite possibly my favorite place. I don’t mean my favorite stop on our trip. I actually mean my favorite place ever. It was amazing.

Just look how gorgeous these cliffs were.

I spent a bit of time sitting alone. I wish I was close enough to sit and think at the cliffs regularly.

There were even some pretty pink flowers growing along the edge of the cliff.

I believe the little island is the Branaunmore Sea Stack. Atop the cliffs is O’Brien’s Tower.

gem went to explore the tower more closely!

At this point it was getting late and we were getting hungry. In our rush to see as many places as possible, we hadn’t planned enough time to eat. It didn’t help that the sun set much later than we expected and that restaurants seem to close earlier. In our search for a restaurant, we did find some nice cows that checked us out while we checked them out.

Eventually we found a bar with a bartender nice enough to reopen the kitchen to get us some amazing stew. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. However, there was one small part of the day left. I had an approximately 170 mile drive back to Dublin – late at night, single lane and unlit highways, wrong side of the road. I was so tired. That was possibly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Thanks for trusting me to get us back safely guys!

We got back to Dublin much later than we had planned, so we decided to sleep later and spend the day in Dublin rather than driving to County Cork.

We began our day with a meal at O’Neil’s. I had some delicious shepherd’s pie! Afterwards we did some exploring. Here we are at Dublin Castle.

Next up was the Christ Church Cathedral.

We also got to go down into the crypts, which was a museum, but I didn’t take any photos worth sharing here.

Anela and gem pose in front of Peacock Green after we stopped for a treat. They gave us free pastries!

We went on a walking tour of Dublin where we were told that it was good luck to grab the left breast of the statue of Molly Malone. I bet no local believes that and that it’s just something they tell tourists.

Three lovely ladies post for a selfie. Molly Malone wouldn’t duck face.

The tour also took us to Trinity College, but I didn’t take any photos worth showing.

gem touches the tip of the Spire.

We spent the rest of the day walking through the city. We saw some interesting sights and learned some fascinating things. I was intrigued by the story of Father Pat Noise. You can read about it on Wikipedia. The tour guide told us that Irish care more about the story than the truth. Two brothers installed a plaque on O’Connell Bridge commemorating Father Pat Noise – someone who didn’t really exist. It was eventually removed (after two or three years). Another was installed, and when it was planned to be removed, a City Councillor argued against it. It’s still there.

Anela and Antonio look at something in difference while gem looks directly into the camera wondering why I’m taking a photo.

On our final morning, gem made us some breakfast sandwiches before we headed back to the airport for the next leg of our vacation!

Ireland was so amazing and beautiful. I know there are so many places to visit and so much traveling I’d love to do, but I really hope I can return to Ireland and spend a lot more time there. And while I’m hoping, I hope that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland remains relatively invisible after the UK exits the European Union! Thanks for the memories, Ireland!

Thanks to 2015 and everyone who made it great

Crow on the lake

This was quite the year filled with many fun activities. It seems like a nice time for some reflection. I went to Michigan, which was beautiful, with Duncan. I’d never been that far north or east.

Niagara Falls

On that same trip, I left the country for the first time to visit Niagara Falls.

Lee's Palace

I also visited Toronto! It was an awesome city.

Holland Tayloe Gedney as Elsa

I went to San Diego Comic-Con again. Here I’m dressed as an Aquabat with Holland Tayloe Gedney’s Elsa.

The Aquabats!

It was also my first year cosplaying – not counting the Aquabats costume I’ve worn to SDCC previously for concerts. This is Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats (with the Aquabats)!

Snapchat magic by gem

And let’s not forget Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Bay Area friends

I visited friends in the Bay Area when I went to San Francisco for a conference.

SoCal Paddle Yoga

I did a lot of yoga, including paddle yoga. I started practicing yoga in the summer of 2014 and continued in 2014. Starting in June, I did yoga daily, never missing a day. I took over 130 yoga classes in 2015. My wrist is still healing but is feeling much better. I think the glucosamine sulfate (thanks to the pianist from Intergalactic Nemesis for the suggestion) and vertical mouse is helping quite a bit. I also hurt my knee, so for the past few months I’ve only been doing restorative or yin yoga. Honestly, I can see the good in this. I’ve learned to appreciate yin and restorative so much more, which helps give me a deeper understanding to my practice and myself.

dancing

Speaking of hurting my knee, I’ve also been dancing a lot more. I took 40-something dance classes this year. While I tried a lot of different areas, I like Balboa, Argentine tango, and Lindy Hop the most. I’m glad I have fun friends who like to go dancing.

Ooey Gooey Berry PieI baked an ooey gooey berry pie for Anela to celebrate the fact that she passed the bar. I also got to attend her bar admission ceremony and law school graduation. Folly at Dapper Day

gem and I went to the Dapper Day expo at Downtown Disney and to Folly, the afterparty.

gem on stage with Suburban Legends!gem and I were extras during the filming of The Big Day, and gem got this great photo of her with Suburban Legends. Free Comic Book Day and ImprovCity's Comic Book Day show!

I saw so much talent in my friends. This is Free Comic Book Day show at ImprovCity with my friend Alex Bower front and center. Besides some regular shows, I saw him in Scary Pants (which he wrote), Millennial Falcon at Second City, and HIStory/HERstory.

UntitledSpeaking of talented friends named Alex, I saw Alex Foster clowning around and got pulled on stage for more participation (just like the last clown show I saw before this one). Little Jimmy the Robot of the Aquabats

I painted a little Jimmy the Robot.

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_CoreI also painted this Adventure Time mug. Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

You have to see both sides.

That’s not to mention the cool Christmas gifts and cards I made this year. I haven’t given them all to their recipients yet, so I don’t want to show anything.

IMG_3833gem took me to a sushi class where we prepared sushi rolls! She’s the best 🙂Coup de Comedy 2015

We also saw Kindred Throats, an amazing musical comedy duo. She liked them so much, she baked them cookies. Twice.

Anela's graduation

I attended Anela’s law school graduation from Chapman.

bar admission ceremony

…and her CA Bar admission ceremony.

Kurios

gem and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS! Amazing!

Me and Anela at the Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show

I saw Anela dance a number of times, including the really fun Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show.

watson adventures

I helped solve a mystery at the Watson Adventures.

Blacklight Run

I ran (jogged/walked) a Blacklight Run with these two fun people.

Snow photo shoot with gem and Anela

I even got to see snow for the first time.

Heck, the year even started with my friends getting engaged.

I did so many other cool things too such as…

  • Reading all surviving plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides that I hadn’t read previously.
  • Having agents draft social media responses for me at work
  • Participating in a behavioral study
  • Becoming friends with Bryan Lackey, awesome ska trumpet player
  • Wakeboarding
  • Watching my brother perform in the Spectacles Improv Engine’s Student Showcase
  • Seeing a meteor shower
  • Attending a sand sculpture festival
  • Jogging/walking a Blacklight Run
  • Running the Walking Dead Experience
  • Seeing bands such as the Aquabats, the Interrupters, Starpool, Suburban Legends, LA Swing Barons, Imagine Dragons, Metric, Halsey, the LA Philharmonic, and Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox
  • Vacationing with my roommates and friends in Vegas
  • Swing dancing in Downtown Disney
  • Visiting the OC Fair and OC Night Market
  • Watching Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Lots of blogging (see my earlier post)

And I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a thousand things. Thanks to everybody who helped make 2015 such an amazing year.

September! 30 yoga classes, 24 dance classes, 12 dances, and lots of friends

 

atomic ballroom

Happy October! While I didn’t get as much reading done in September as I wanted, I did a lot of other things. I took 30 yoga classes in 30 days at Purple Yoga, which was fun! When I realized I was close, I decided I could totally do it. And it was easy!

dancing

I also got the New Student Special at Atomic Ballroom, giving access to unlimited classes for a week. I took 24 dance classes and went to 12 dances, including evenings at Atomic Ballroom, Folly at Dapper Day, and dancing in Downtown Disney. You can see a lot of wristbands in the photo at the top. Alicia took this great photo one of the nights we went to Atomic. Yoda tried to squeeze into the photo too.

Atomic

I don’t know who Cynthia is, but I’m stealing Luke’s Snap since I’m in it too.

I tried 6-Count Lindy Hop, 8-Count Lindy Hop, Salsa, Country Two Step, West Coast Swing, Country Line Dancing, Collegiate Shag, Bolero, Foxtrot, Milonga, Argentine Tango, Cha Cha, and Charleston classes. I already like Lindy Hop, and it’s still my favorite, but I found that I really enjoyed Argentine Tango and Country Line Dancing too – all for completely different reasons. Oh, and I might have tried to belly dance too. There’s totally no video. Thanks gem, Anela, Luke, and new friends for making the week fun! I ran into old friends and acquaintances and met a lot of new, cool people at Atomic too.

And I did squeeze in two tragedies by Euripides and some of The Aeneid as well as picking up Super Mario Maker. My body’s ready for tomorrow’s vacation! Time for Michigan with Duncan! I’m going with him on his yearly trip, leaving Friday and returning a little over a week later. Plans include a cottage, dinner with old friends, Canada, Niagara Falls, and Detroit – a nice combination of staying busy while also resting. Let’s go!

 

Folly at Dapper Day

Folly at Dapper Day

Dapper Day was here this weekend! I was the expo for about 15 minutes right before it closed due to traffic. Ugh! On the bright side, I won a free bow tie from xoelle through an Instragram repost contest and got to pick it up!

There was some stress as I waited in line to see if we could get tickets to Folly, the after party, while gem spent a good hour trying to park. Luckily, we did get inside the party. Folly had drinks, a live swing band, a keyboardist and bassist in another room, and lots of dancing upstairs at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.

gem captured me enjoying my White Russian.

Folly at Dapper Day

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, because I still wanted to share this photo of us in line.

Folly at Dapper Day

Here’s another shot of us while we waited in line.

Folly at Dapper Day

gem enjoyed the fireworks while wearing xoelle’s business card in her hair.

We were hoping to meet some other friends there, but no one came. However, we made some new friends. It was an awesome night anyways with drinks, lots of dancing, and great music. Super fun!

Birthdays, Long Beach Sand Sculpture Festival, and games

This weekend was fun for a couple reasons. First, there was a party for Duncan and Matt’s birthdays. We had dinner, socialized, and played some games.

Reese's s'more

This is probably the only photo worth sharing. Yep, that’s a s’more with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and giant marshmallow.

Picnic in Long Beach

This weekend was also the Long Beach Sand Sculpture Music & Art Festival. It was so much fun! I probably would have had the same amount of fun even if the festival wasn’t there and we just went to the beach haha.

Picnic in Long Beach

We had a tasty meal of Korean BBQ burritos from Seoulmate in the park before heading down to the beach. I used one of those giant, human-sized hamster balls and slammed into people. I don’t have any photos yet because they weren’t on my phone. It was fun, but it was hot. So hot. I also jammed my thumb back while inside, and it was aching all day (and more). It’s getting better though! When I got out, I was feeling dizzy from the heat and dehydration. We got some water and then went into the ocean to cool off.

There were lots of cool dogs to watch as well as the sand sculptures themselves of course. I brought my DSLR out for the first time, and Luke helped me a ton. It was a hand-me-down, and I didn’t have the manual nor did I know much about it. I might not have the skill, but at least Luke explained what most things mean. I feel much better about using it now!

We also visited a skateboard stand. Anela and gem got skateboarding lessons! They didn’t care about the guys.

Oh, and I played with hula-hoops! It was super fun actually!

I also got to playtest Joe’s new super hero board game. It’s pretty amazing. He’s really talented in a lot of different, creative ways. I’d share photos, but I wouldn’t want to leak an unreleased game. 🙂

Belly dance trip to iHOOKAH

belly dance at ihookah

Friday night, Daniel and I accompanied Anela to iHOOKAH in Riverside where she was performing. She invited us so there could be some friendly faces with her. Here she tries to teach me to dance with her while I awkwardly fail at it.

Belly dance trip to iHOOKAH in Riverside

As we were leaving her place, there was a DUI checkpoint. If she’s not going to take a selfie, I’ll grab a quick snapshot!

Anyways, iHOOKAH was a pretty chill place. Daniel and I split a hookah and each had a beer, and it was only $20 or so excluding tip. The people around us were pretty fun, and there was even a small birthday party sitting next to us. They brought a cake! And of course, it was fun to watch Anela perform.

iHOOKAH even recorded it!

It’s been years since I’ve been to a hookah lounge – nine years maybe? I think it was back when I worked at Albertsons. I wouldn’t mind going a little more often.

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Last weekend was Pizza Beat Entertainment’s Prom Night of the Living Dead! They’re the group that held Ska Day at Disneyland as well.

By the way, even with makeup remover (which I did not buy before trying on the make up the first time), it’s really difficult to get that eyeshadow off. Also, I splashed blood on the flowers.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Once I was a zombie, I had to go after Angel for her delicious brains.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Unfortunately, I forgot that she was dumb.

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Here’s my wounded hand. I guess I didn’t do that great of a job blending it to my skin.

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Victim’s point of view!

Prom Night of the Living Dead

The prom king and queen were pretty cool! gem went after them while I took their photo.

Here’s how zombies dance. gem even requested Dead Man’s party.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Feeding time!

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

The pursuit.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Animated!

Prom Night of the Living Dead

I kind of like what happened to the undershirt more than my visible shirt. It looks more “natural,” like there’s really blood soaked on my shirt.

There are more pics in my Flickr album.

It’s a Ska World After all! The 4th Annual Ska Day at Disneyland

It's a Ska World After All

It’s a Ska World After All! Sunday was the 4th annual Ska Day at Disneyland! I’m pretty glad I found this flier at The Skatalites’ concert at Slidebar last week.

The festivities actually started Saturday night. There was a pre-party at Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant in Anaheim. I went with Edward and gem. I guess there was a call-out, because there was some staffing and service problems. It was fun anyways! I noticed that we were sitting next to members of the ska band Half Past Two!

It's a Ska World After All

There was a hat dance, musical chairs, dance competition thingy! Basically, there was a circle of people, and one person had to wear a hat. As music plays, the person wearing the hat has to dance across the circle and put the hat on someone else. If you’re wearing the hat when the music stops, you’re out, and it continues to another round. gem made it to the last round!

It's a Ska World After All

The person with whom she’s dancing in the photos was the guitar or bass player (I couldn’t see) for The Pocketeers I think!

It's a Ska World After All

She technically came in second, but they gave her a prize anyways. She got this sweet 45 of David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7’s cover of “Evil” by Moondust Records. Pretty cool!

I found this article about it:

New Single: David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 “Evil” : Moondust Records.

It's a Ska World After All

On Sunday, we started the day by trying on some hats.It's a Ska World After All

Next we went on Space Mountain. We didn’t even realize it was already Ghost Galaxy!It's a Ska World After AllWe had lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for the meet and greet. After we sat down, we noticed we were sitting next to some of the members of Half Past Two again. Cool coincidence or destiny? We chatted for a bit with out new friends and took this photo!It's a Ska World After All

While in line for Splash Mountain, we met two women from Sacramento here on vacation. We had fun talking to them, and then I got soaked on the ride. We also gave them our fast passes to Indiana Jones because we were running late for the group photo.

It's a Ska World After All

This is as good as a group photo as we were going to get, because we were a little late. Oh well.

It's a Ska World After All

Look how many security guards it takes to deal with ska fans! There were actually a few more here at one time. Let’s skip over the negative part of the day.

It's a Ska World After All

After the group photo, we all went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad together! We had a rather large group. The plan was to ride It’s a Small World together as well, but gem and I decided to go on Indiana Jones instead.

It's a Ska World After All

This is not a good place to leave a diaper.

We also managed to go on some rides that didn’t involve photographs. For example, we had to go on Star Tours of course (twice!) as well as the Haunted Mansion to see its Nightmare Before Christmas version. We played a lot of Heads Up, a game gem introduced to me, on our phones while in line. It seemed to be a popular game with other people as well, and we even told others about it. There was a woman in line with us for the Haunted Mansion who downloaded it after we told her about it, and then we played with her and her son too!It's a Ska World After All

I also battled the Evil Empereror Zurg!It's a Ska World After All

Pew pew pew!

It's a Ska World After All

And another Toy Story shot.It's a Ska World After All

Before the concert, I just had to play some Fix It Felix Jr.It's a Ska World After All

While we were waiting for the show to begin, we saw that the latest It’s a Ska World SKAvenger Hunt goal was near us. We headed there and got there first, winning some Dulce Cookies by Melo! Oh my goodness, they were so amazing. We gave two to Remy, the host, for him and girlfriend as well as one to a woman who got there after us. Then I ate some more of them. They were really tasty!

It's a Ska World After All

Next it was time for the highlight of the evening, Suburban Legends! They’re so amazing. Their sound is great, their choreography is stunning, their ability to engage the audience is always superb, and their sets consist of covers and awesome originals.

It's a Ska World After All

There’s gem with the band!

Here’s a clip of them playing DuckTales. Very awesome.

I danced a lot, and boy was I exhausted. I even got to be a firework. The crowd all crouched down. They began to count to eight, using “cicero” to switch to a “Cell Block Tango” reference, and then went back to counting normally. When they reached eight, we all jumped up, threw our arms in the air, and yelled, “boom!” It was fun!

Also, you know how gang fights always involve singing, dancing, and hand snapping? Yeah, the audience split in two for one of those fights. Super rad.It's a Ska World After All

After the concert I wanted to try on this helmet even if I looked dumb.

It's a Ska World After All

After a break, The Suffragettes, an all-girl cover band, played at the Tomorrowland Terrace. They were pretty good, but they just didn’t do enough for us. We listened to a few songs before heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. We had some delicious ice cream before calling it a night.

It’s too bad that this was the fourth annual Ska Day at Disneyland and that I missed three of them. I’ll be going in the future!

The Skatalites with the Steady 45’s

The Steady 45's

The best way to spend your Tuesday night is listening to live ska music.

It’s a scientific fact.

Duncan and I went to the Slidebar early to ensure we got wristbands. By 7:40 or so we had our wristbands, so we only had to wait slightly under two hours for the music. I got some tacos and nachos, found a sliver of bar to use, and began eating. I thought I recognized the guys next to me as frequenters of the Ska Parade Lounge, so we chatted a bit, and I was right! I spent the two hours chatting with Amit, Stephan, Christian, and Duncan as well as people watching.

The Steady 45’s took the stage first, and they were excellent. I’d seen them at the Slidebar once previously – at the January Ska Parade Lounge opening for the Originalites. I think Collin was at the show actually. They have a standing bass! Definitely good stuff.

The Skatalites!

The Skatalites were skamazing. They were one of the first ska bands, forming in 1964 in Jamaica. This year they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary! From what I can tell, all the founding members except one have passed away. Doreen Shaffer is still alive and active, singing for the band!

Sultan Ali with The Skatalites

They also performed with guest Sultan Ali a.k.a. the Sultan of Ska, son of Prince Buster (the Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer). The Sultan of Ska is the leftmost person in that photograph.

It was a great show, and I’m thrilled to have seen such an influential ska band. After spending three hours dancing, however, now I’m exhausted and my ears are ringing. If you ever get the chance to see The Skatalites, I recommend you take it!

Santa Cruz weekend: Matt and Katie’s wedding!

Beautiful

Saturday was the day of the wedding! It was also the day we were switching hotels, so we began the morning by packing and checking-out.

Brunch

We had an amazing brunch at Casa Nostra. It was super delicious. We had toast, jams, bruschetta, a frittata, and an omelette. And mimosas. We were pretty full. gem also played her ukulele while we waited for our food!

After brunch, we checked in at the Best Western Plus Inn Scotts Valley and then headed to SS. Peter & Paul where a shuttle drove us up a winding, mountain road to the Stones and Flowers Retreat in Ben Lomond. It was gorgeous.

Guestbook

At the entrance, a photographer took our photo with an instant camera, and these were used in the guestbook. It was a really awesome idea!

gem!

The ceremony was held outdoors to the left of the barn in this picture. The tables were for dinner, and the barn itself was for dancing and dessert!

edding

Here are the tables for the reception.

Ceremony

I didn’t want to try for many photos during the ceremony, but I still snapped a couple.

matt & katie's wedding

Between the ceremony and dinner, it was time to drink wine. Wine time is always good time. Dinner was fantastic with tri-tip, salmon, pasta, and more.

While it doesn’t have anything to do with dinner, I did want to mention Matt’s family. gem promised Matt she’d bake cookies if she came to the wedding, so she brought a cookie jar full of her cowboy cookies around with her to most places (except the wedding itself). As she offered them to people, Matt’s family realized that gem was the woman who shipped cookies every year for Christmas! I love our guild.

During the meal, gem and I also noticed that Matt’s brothers sound very similar to him! I guess we’ve spent much more time listening to Matt’s voice over Mumble than actually seeing his face. That’s kind of weird but proof that you don’t always need physical proximity to make great friendships.

matt & katie's wedding

Speaking of making friends, we met a fun woman, Iamee, and as it turned out, she’s from Orange! We took this awesome photo together. Hopefully we hang out in the future!

Best man's speech

Marc, Matt’s best man, delivered a very nice speech. I texted him to give him an 8 on his speech, but in actuality, he nailed it. No surprise honestly.

gem in the barn

The barn had the letters ‘K’ and ‘M’ for Katie and Matt. There was a spiral staircase inside going up, so gem went up for a photo.

Entrance

Here the happy couple walked into the barn for their first dance.

Matt and Katie's first dance

And then it was time for the first dance itself!

matt & katie's wedding

Sorry, this was blurry. It was dark, there was drinking, and we were all dancing. I have a lot of excuses for the photo quality.

Matt and Katie

Katie and Matt decided to dance above us for a little bit.

Photodancing

By the end of the night, even the photographer joined us in a bit of dancing! I had fun on the dance floor. There was even a bit of line dancing!

Dessert was served buffet-style in the barn. I thought it was a great way of doing it. After they cut the cake, pieces were cut and placed on a table along with brownie bites, cookies, apple fritters, donuts, chocolate-covered raisins, M&Ms, and probably more things I’m forgetting. You could grab a snack, load up on calories, and then go burn them off by dancing. I may not be any good at dancing, but it was certainly a lot of fun!

After things calmed down, we all headed back to the hotel. At drunken requests, I went through Jack in the Box’s drive-through for tacos. As we waited at the window for our food, we saw Iamee entering the restaurant. gem ran out of the car to give her a hug! By the time we got the food, she was waiting in front of the drive-through to get back in the car.

Back at the hotel, we ate our tacos and then headed to Marc’s room to hang out with our new and old friends, talk, and watch people chug whiskey for who-knows what reason. It was fun though! Everyone was super cool. I’m always a little bummed out after events like this because I meet a bunch of interesting people, we get to know each other, and then we go our separate ways. We met high school friends, former bandmates (Matt was signed and had a CD and radio play; check out “In Character” by Blood and Water on iTunes), former classmates turned teachers, former camp coworkers, friends from Boulder, and more. It was really a fantastic day.

Sunday, however, was not so fantastic. After check-out, I went to Jamba Juice because I noticed one was less than ten minutes away, and I was craving it. Once I had my Strawberries Wild, we got on the freeway and headed home. For the most we just talked, but we also listened to some My Brother, My Brother, and Me. We topped off the weekend by eating too much at Las Brisas De Apatzingan with chile relleno, potato tacquitos, and pozole verde.

Congratulations, Katie and Matt! It was a beautiful wedding, and I was very happy that you shared your special day with me. I love you both!

View more pictures in my Flickr album, Matt and Katie’s Wedding, or read my first post about my vacation, Santa Cruz weekend: Redwoods and the Boardwalk.