Oct 302012
 

Continued from the previous post, last we left off, it was Saturday, and we had just gotten back from Las Vegas the day before. Saturday was filled with OrangeCon activity as well as an attempt to dive that evening. The following morning Jeff, Sylvia, Lil Shoes, Yuki, Brian, and I would pile into the minivan and head up towards Monterey.

Monterey

We started out around 7:30 in the morning, driving up I5 then taking hwy 46 across towards Paso Robles. On there way there we actually pass a street sign: “Brown Material Road”; someone with a sense of humor obviously gave it this name. We also passed by several James Dean pictures and cutouts, as apparently, at the middle of the way between the 5 and 101 at the junction of route 46 and 41, was where he crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder. We learned more about James Dean and a little memorial built by a Japanese business man through Brian’s constant geocache searches. Not needing to stop, we continue until we get into Paso Robles. When we get to Paso Robles, we decide to take the route that runs by a great deal of wineries and do some tasting. We picked up some amazing wines and just enjoyed the late morning drive. We picked up 4 or 5 bottles of wine, one of them a very nice white port from some ladies that really enjoyed what they do; serving various baked goods and cheeses to go with the wine tasting. The alcohol must have gone to my head as I forget that I should pass the 101 and head straight for the coast to Cambria, so I ended up jumping off 101 to hop on G18 to take us to the coast. The group is hungry so we stop by the one roadhouse cafe with a very nice geocache. It is here that I finally give in and join Brian’s reindeer games. This route is a small road and takes us right though Fort Hunter Liggett The road is fairly quiet and only a few cars are seen. It’s a very scenic route as well as incredibly windy. We had to take a few stops to ensure that the folks prone to motion sickness don’t go full blown pukey. The view of the coast along this route is amazing. I only wish I could have driven this in the Scuby vice a minivan; but there’s always the next trip.

Along the coast, we drive up hwy 1 which is considerably less windy than G18. We’ve only a few more hours of sunlight and the goal from last time Yuki and I were up here was to hit up the Big Sur national park and do a little bit of hiking. There are a few things that we want to see, but lacking decent navigation skills and completely forgetting what the area we’re looking for actually looks like; since the last time we were here there was a huge rainstorm; we missed it again. No worries, we decided to travel until we found a decent spot to watch the sun cross the border between ocean and sky.

Wandering down the narrow passage down the cliff side in my croc flip flops, there is another photographer with his tripod set up snapping pictures of the amazing sunset. Brian and I wander a bit and I snap some pictures of waves cresting over large rocks dotting the amazing coastline. It is a little on the windy side but the landscape is just breathtaking.

Brian wanders into the little cove and calls me over. Earlier from above, I snapped a picture of the cove’s walls dotted with green and purple plant life. Getting into the area, I see what Brian was blabbering about. There’s a little waterfall from the creek above. It looks almost man made, but is a nice little surprise that we didn’t see from above. Naturally, with such beauty, Brian decides to pee on it. Watching the waterfall also fills me with the desire to empty my bladder, so I run off to the side of the cove and write my name against the rocks. What? it’s completely biodegradable material! I snap a few more shots and we head up as I hear the girls shouting for us. Brian notifies Jeff of the waterfall at the top and they navigate to an area to see it. Without knowing that it exists, it is quite easy to completely bypass the little feature while circling the top area.

The sun is gone and the sky is slowly slipping into darkness when we return to the van. Headlights on and we proceed towards Carmel. The question on dinner is proposed and we decide to push past Carmel and into Monterey to first check into our hotel, settle in a little, then head out for dinner at Cannery Row. We get to the Colton Inn which is decent, but nothing worth writing home about; this is no Marquee suite in the MGM; but it will suffice for our little excursion. I think the next time I’m back here I’ll have to book one of those quaint little bed and breakfast places inside Carmel itself. Once settled, we gather back at the van and head towards Cannery Row. It’s a tourist trap area so we’re going ot have to pay tourist tax for food. We head over to the Hopper for dinner. We hit this place up last time as it was the only place open on Christmas Day; the folks were hungry so we walked in and had dinner. Nothing to spectacular as we’ve had much better food in the area at other places; and for the price, it really wasn’t anything worth noting. Next time I’ll have to explore the less touristy parts for some decent food. We picked up one geocache along the fairly new bike trail from the caboose. It was fairly long travel day with wine and scenery; time to crash out as the following morning, Brian and I are schedule for some dives at Point Lobos.

SCUBA: Whaler’s Cove, Point Lobos

Waking up around 7, Brian and I get up and head out to Point Lobos, a few miles south of Carmel. We check in at the gate, pay our necessary fees, then head down to Whaler’s Cove. Prior to our visit, I had made an online reservation for SCUBA, as the location is limited to 10 teams of 2 per day. It costs $10 per person, so that fee was taken care of ahead of time to secure our spot. At Whaler’s Cove, there are already two teams of divers getting ready for their dives. Brian and I notice that they’re in drysuits. Brian’s taken a dry suit course and has been talking about using a dry suit for a while; that said, we suited up in our wetsuits and get ready for our first dive. The surface temperature is a nice 57 degrees. A wee bit chillier than the waters off Laguna Beach where it was about 64 or so. We kicked out to where we dropped the last time we dove this spot, pee ourselves as a quick warm up, and then dropped. Learning from the last attempt, I added 6 lbs of weight to my gear and I dropped nice and slowly – perfect weight calculation. Temperature at about 30-40 feet was about 51-52 degrees, so a little bit colder, but not the 45 or so degrees from diving in the dead of winter. Once down, we are immediately greeted by freshly spawned fish, there are hundreds of thousands of these tiny fish. Getting oriented and adjusted since I hadn’t dove in a while, I set up my camera and take several adjustment shots to get my camera tuned to the lighting and white balance. Most of what I see at first are sea stars and a few anemones.

I feel a tug from Brian on my fins and look up to see two harbor seals swimming around and getting closer and closer to us. I quickly grab my camera but the one nearest me comes face to face with me before I could even snap the picture quick enough. He rubbed right up against me and let me pet him, very soft and quite friendly. They hung around us for a little while before booking it and from the discussions at the surface with some other divers, these two pups went and played with the other divers and their equipment. Regardless, this was still pretty damn cool to play with the pups even though they got bored of us fairly quickly.

The sea life is amazing, at the depth of 30-40 feet, the reefs here are full of little yellow corals, sponges, nudibranches of different shapes and colors. The surge was pretty strong so getting some clear macro pictures was a little bit of a chore. The camera is getting old so it may be time to find a housing for Yuki’s camera as no one makes housings for my camera. But it isn’t too serious a thought as I haven’t been diving as much as before. We continued the dive and I spent more time taking a few more pictures before turning it off and streamlining it with the rest of my gear to enjoy the dive. The only issue with this is that I’m unable to quickly snap a picture of something cool. Brian helped point out some neat little nudibranches and other sea life to snap pictures. Our first dive last about 43 minutes, not too bad for running on steel 72 cu ft tanks. We could easily break the one hour mark with my regular tanks.

Getting out of the water, we take about an hour long break for our surface interval. Our depth really didn’t need that long of a surface interval, but Brian the ever present conservative wanted it. Which is odd as he gets cold and required sitting in the car with the heater on to heat up his core. This was quickly cut short with the finishing divers offering to dump his cooler of hot water down Brian’s suit. This immediately worked to warm him up and we were ready for our dive. More divers are showing up and we note that not a single one of them was in a wet suit. A kayak-er shares his story of a sea otter jumping into his kayak and playing a game of tug-of-war with his bottle of water. The animals up here are truly playful; a great by-product of the marine protection act which gives these critters safety which in turns allows them to be completely comfortable and even friendly with us land walkers.

Our second dive drops at about the same spot, but we note our directions and head for the outer reef. Another relaxing dive. No seal interaction this time, but mostly enjoying the abundant marine life all along the reef. We meandered and followed the face of the reef going up and down looking at little nooks and crannies seeing large cabazon fish sleeping in their protected coves. We saw different nudibranches that I had never seen before. More coral variants, sea cucumbers, some sunflower sea stars, and a sleeping crab. The dive lasted about 42 minutes. I had to rely on Brian’s dive computer as the battery on my computer died. Checking it when we were at Shaw’s Cove Saturday night it worked just fine. Note to self, need to swap out the batteries on that bugger before my next dive.

Surfacing, I see even more divers. A pair are in wet suits, so I chuckle with Brian about this and one of the wet suit divers quips about us being real men. See, we don’t need no stinking dry suits! We gear down and Yuki and Lil Shoes have joined us. During our earlier surface interval, I called Yuki to see if they had woken up, and they split off with S&J and decided to cab it over to Point Lobos. As we geared down, one of the divers walks over to us and hands us some small cards with information about a diver in Gilroy – the garlic capital, who sells dry suits out of a storage locker. Apparently, the guy sells suits for anywhere between 3-5 hundred bucks, which is a far cry from 1200-2500 for a dry suit. The diver picked up his suit from this guy, so we thank him and keep the card information in a safe place; our return trip to LA will not include a stop in Gilroy. It was already pushing 1:30, and we quickly geared down, washing everything and letting it dry as best as possible before packing up and heading back to the hotel. In hindsight, we should have pulled the gear and the stuff started to smell since it was packed and not fully dry.

The rest of the scuba pictures are here: http://gamerabaenre.com/?page_id=2654

Carmel by the Sea

Getting back to the hotel, we quickly showered fully utilizing both room’s bathrooms, and then headed out to get lunch. We stopped into Carmel to get lunch and just split up and wandered around a bit. I love this town. The food here is amazing. We stopped by a bakery which felt like an oven in comparison to the cooler outside air, but had quiches and some quick sandwiches to tied us over until dinner that evening. We made reservations for Casanova’s for the 6 of us at 7:30 and upon further discussion, J&S noted that they’d be okay with celebrating their one year anniversary a day early as I hadn’t been able to get any confirmation for reservations in SF that I had tried to make earlier that week. We head back to Casanova and I split the party for a group of 4, and a group of 2. The restaurant is quite romantic and the food is simply amazing. But that will have to wait for later that evening. After our snack the women folk went shopping and Yuki picked up a nice Coach wallet for me, yes, it’s a men’s wallet. I still need to swap over to that new wallet. There are a ton of great shopping to be had here, the latest fashions, so this quaint little town is perfect for the shoppers. Brian and I went geocaching. Here are some pictures I snapped whilst we treasure hunted.

Treasure hunting and shopping comes to an end around 4:45 as we all meet back at the van. Onward up a mile towards 17 mile drive. The idiot gate guard fails at math and returns a quarter to me for the $20 I used to pay the $9.75 entrance fee. We drive in and Brian starts up his geocache app to look for caches along our route. We stop and grab caches here and there while we take the scenic drive. Brian exclaims that the drive isn’t very special in comparison to our dive over G18; I explain to Brian that we’ve only a mile in and his patience
will soon be rewarded. We meander around and Brian discovers that this is where Pebble Beach is; okay, now he’s a little more impressed. The view is completely different from when Yuki and I were last here. Colors are quite a bit more vibrant than when hidden by a dark gray sky pelting rain at everything. The salty sea air is refreshed with every crashing wave against the rocky coastline. The warm sun is slowing making it’s journey towards the horizon to mark the end of yet another beautiful day. We continue making several stops, finding one of the golf course holes right along the coast. It’s apparently a par 3; Brian shivers at the thought, and I wonder how many sea otters have been knocked unconscious by the random slice.

The 17 mile long journey continues, on one side, the amazing coastline, and all along the other side, multi-million dollar homes. It’s nice to dream once in a while. We make our way to the Lone Cypress stop and head down to watch the sunset from this vantage point. There are still clouds off in the distance so the sun must pass through that layer before hitting the edge of the world that meets the sky.

With the sun set, we finish our 17 mile tour and head into Carmel. I take the opportunity to get gas as the station here has some fantastic prices. We park near Casenova and head in to see a completely packed restaurant. Making the reservations earlier was definitely a good idea. I didn’t expect it to be this busy, especially on a random Tuesday night. We sat and ordered a great deal of food. Wanting to try just about everything, we couldn’t fit in dessert. Dinner was amazing as expected. A highly recommended place for a romantic date. After dinner, we requested a tour of the wine cellar from the Sommelier. Wines that range from $50 a bottle to 13k a bottle; it is a very impressive cellar. With dinner complete, we head back to the hotel as the following day will be another long one with an early start.

Before getting back, we need to head to the local CVS to grab ear plugs, as my snoring pretty much kept Brian and Lil Shoes from getting any amount of decent sleep. While in the shop looking for the plugs, we wandering down an aisle with a random couple, and Brian loudly exclaims, “Nope! No lube here!” as he walks past the couple. They look at me and I just lose it with laughter. Well played sir, well played. I tried not to laugh, tried to keep a straight face, but the woman was also trying not to laugh, and as soon as I release, she started laughing too. I just walked by them and joined Brian laughing until my stomach hurt. Finding the plugs, we grab them and head towards the checkout counter where lo and behold, the earlier couple are paying for their goods. Brian plops the plugs and some tic tacks onto the conveyor belt, and the male piece of the couple deliberately looks at the items to check if we had in fact, found the lube. We get another chuckle when they leave and make our return to the hotel. The SCUBA gear has been sitting in the car the whole time, and our mistake of not hanging everything up when we were back at the hotel earlier is now haunting us with a wonderfully pungent cheesy smell, and not the nicely aged aromas, but “ugh wtf, people eat that?” kind of smell.

San Francisco

The following morning, we get up around 5:30 and are heading out before the sun rises. I want to miss as much morning traffic as possible, but we get into the SF area around 8:30 hitting a decent amount of traffic. Forking off the 101, I decide to take the 880 so we can hit up the Bay Bridge into the City. There are a few spots that the group would like to hit so we make our first stop in Chinatown for breakfast. In front of the place, at 9:45, the restaurant wasn’t open yet, but some of our group walked in and asked to use the restroom. They stopped letting us after the 4th person attempted. I waited until the place was opened and we were sitting down before making my trip to the restroom. It was a quick meal and we left the place for the touristy spots. First spot, Lombard street where the street curves its way down. I park near the bottom and snap some pictures. Brian and I start searching for one of four caches to complete the geocache located here. Climbing up and down it, we finally find the tiny nanocache and log it without anyone taking notice.

After Lombard, we head down towards the Golden Gate Bridge; making a stop off at the San Francisco Presidio for some pictures and a geocache mystery. An hour spent here, we headed onward to the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog was doing a good job of masking the bridge, so we did a short jaunt onto the bridge and snapped some pictures along the way. There is a crisis hotline there as apparently, quite a few people jump off the bridge. An interesting film about folks jumping off the bridge was made in 2004 and released in 2006; The Bridge; gives some interesting insights.

Done with the Gate of Golden, we head towards Fisherman’s Wharf and drop off S&J and lil shoes. Brian, Yuki, and I head back towards Chinatown and check into our Japanese hotel, the Nikko. We get a damn good view from our room and Brian goes to pollute S&J’s bathroom. Our luggage arrives and we spend some time washing and hanging up our SCUBA gear as the process we used the previous night helped a bit, but wasn’t up to standards. Finishing this, start walking towards Chinatown before realizing that we should just grab the van for timing issues. Parking near Chinatown, we head off towards the Golden Gate Bakery for some delicious egg tarts and some other goodies, then head up the street to grab some bbq meats. This was our lunch/snack for the afternoon. With the food in tow, we head back to Fisherman’s Wharf and pick up S&J and Vicki. Returning to the hotel, we drop off the car and Brian and I head off towards the California Historical Society, which is being remodeled. The staff were dismayed to learn that we were there for the geocache. But looking at the books, I pick one up on old alcoholic beverages. We head back out and go towards Chinatown to continue our geocaching. Playing out the mystery one, we failed to find the geocache after spending a good 40 minutes. We found a few other geocaches in the area then headed back to the room. The girls had gone shopping. My phone also ran out of battery and was off so the first thing I needed to do was get the damn thing charged. We snacked on the bbq and some baked goods while waiting for the rest of the group to return. We also hung up all the mostly dry equipment so as the bathroom no longer looks like it had been ravaged by wild divers. With everyone back, it was night fall and I drove everyone to the twin peaks area to check out the City lit up. Of wind and raccoons, our stay didn’t last too long and we headed back to the hotel. Time for a beer. Dropping off the car, we headed directly to the Johnny Foley’s, an Irish pub across the street. We ordered some light snacks and beers and ciders. Thumbmaster was quickly taught to help facilitate the drinking fun. Having our fill, we headed back to the hotel and crashed out. The next morning we would need to leave around 9:00 for our trip back to LA via Gilroy.

Homeward Bound

Our whirlwind trip up the coast now needed the return piece to complete the loop. We had called the dry suit guy while I was passing the Castro district on our way to the Twin Peaks the night before and scheduled a meet with the guy the following morning/afternoon. The drive down the 101 towards Gilroy was uneventful, folks were still pretty tired from the previous days’ events. Getting into Gilroy, we called the guy and he met up with us at a storage unit. Following his ’84 300SD Mercedes with 600k miles or so on the diesel engine, we find his storage unit filled to capacity with easily a hundred or more dry suits. The guy buys suits off ebay/craigslist, etc and makes the necessary repairs and then resells them. We try several on and it’s either the feet or the suit do not fit. I find a neoprene suit that fits me quite nicely, and he’s willing to sell it for about 300. But I’m a little unsure if I want to stick with neoprene. I mean, if I wanted neoprene, I’d stick with my wetsuit. Brian gets in an old Viking suit that just looks like it’s been through hell. It fits nicely, but just doesn’t sit well with him because of how ugly the damn thing is. He finally settles on a neoprene suit by Moby for $300. Not a bad price. I try on a few and find one that Brian had tried on earlier but didn’t fit. This fit just fine and is a trilaminate suit by Northern Diver. The guy first offers it for 500 saying he’ll knock off 100 bucks, so it’s 400, but then when we’re actually buying, says it’s a 600 dollar suit, and after negotiations, settle on 500 for the suit. Not a bad price as the suit looks like it’s never been used. We pack up our gear and chat a little bit with the guy then head off across the freeway for some lunch. S&J head to Denny’s and the rest of us grab In & Out. Done with lunch, we have a small amount of time to drive down the road a bit to grab a geocache, and head back to meet up with S&J at the gas station next to the Denny’s. Filled up, we head down the 101 and don’t stop until we’re at the junction of 46 and 41, where James Dean bit it. Here, snap pictures of ourselves next to the Japanese made monument to the late Mr. Dean to log the virtual geocache. Then head back down to LA. Getting home, we unpacked and actually washed and rinsed our SCUBA gear and hung it up in the backyard for some real dry time.

We split up cars with Yuki, S&J and lil shoes grabbing all their stuff and heading up to Yuki’s house. They will be staying with them for the remainder of their stay. Brian and I get done and head up to Yuki’s place as well. I leave Brian at Yuki’s place to forage for food and geocaches, while I drive Yuki and her brother to the airport to pick her her parents. As we’re just about to get into LAX proper, we get a call, it’s Yuki’s mom inquiring where we are; she found a payphone and gave us a call. Getting to the terminal, I cut off an idiot driving indecisively to get into the inner most ring near the entrance to the terminals. I park, and Yuki and Jeff are off to find their parents. Parents in tow, we head back to the house. Dropping them off, I grab Brian and we make our way to my house for a relaxing evening and a final end to our trip.

Family

Yuki’s family is in town, so long before this, we’re scheduled to have lunch and dinner with my mom’s side as well as my dad’s side respectively. Originally, my dad wanted to have dinner at Lunasia, for which my mom also mentioned going there for dimsum. Upon hearing that I would be there for dinner, she changed her plans to a Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights. An email from Uncle Johnson confirming this was sent while I was in SF. I got a call from my mom confirming this and adding another chair for Brian. I had also gotten another email during the SF/Monterey trip from my dad that they had changed their dinner location to NBC in Monterey Park. Regardless, the morning of October 18, a Thursday, Brian and I headed out to pick up Yuki’s parents as she didn’t have the space to take them and S&J and Shoey. S&J and Shoey came with me and I drove us to Lunasia. Getting into the restaurant and seeing no 16 person table or a reservation for that matter, my memory jogged and I realized that I had gone to the wrong restaurant. We climb back into the scooby and head to Happy Harbor. My 2nd aunt, cousin Ann and Michael; 4th aunt, Uncle Jimmy, and Grandma Beatrice along with Mom and Uncle Johnson are there waiting for us; so are Yuki and her parents. Apologies all around and we sit down and join lunch already in progress. It’s good to be around my family again; the jokes are free, and the atmosphere is one of just love and happiness. Uncle Jimmy inquires about my sister, and I told him to not even bother asking, it won’t happen. Then a quick thought flashed across my tiny little brain. I quietly tell Uncle Jimmy that I’ll pick him up in the morning, he nods approvingly. I invite my 4th aunt, but she says she’s unable to wake up. No worries there.

After lunch, we split up, S&J and Yiki’s parents go with Yuki to run her errands. I take Shoey, my Uncle Jimmy, and Brian on my own errands. I stopped by the restaurant on Mission to test out their sound system’s compatibility with my ipad. 20 feet from the back of the restaurant, Brian finds a geocache. We head back to my mom’s place and just relax. Yuki is done with her errands that finish at the flower shop less than a mile from my mom’s place so they head up and relax there for a bit before we have to head back to my house so I can drop off Brian. Touring the house for Yuki’s parents, we feed the three little corgis and head off. Angel is already at the house to pick up Brian. Yuki’s parents ride with me and we head to NBC. My dad, Auntie Teresa, and my sister are there waiting, we’re about 10 minutes late and my dad makes a comment about us being late. Yuki is really late, and gives me a call, apparently, she drove to Lunasia. This whole business with first selecting Lunasia for everything just worked to mess everything up. Dinner was nice, and a complete 180 from lunch with my mom. My dad stood up and gave a fairly long history about the Ng family and it’s roots – pretty much a memorization from our family tree book. I can tell that it’s a little on the awkward side for everyone, but what can I do, this is how this side lives. Yuki’s mom makes a small response with Yuki’s dad, but they’re pretty shy and a bit awkward at such situations. Thanks to Sylvia for the conversations on places to eat and things to eat while in Taiwan, as my dad and Teresa are planning on going there next week. Without Sylvia, the atmosphere would have been much more awkward and forced. Nothing is ever natural with this side of the family. Dinner ends and Yuki and I take everyone back to Yuki’s place. Her parents are very polite but do acknowledge that the atmosphere was quite different. Getting back to the house, Jeff calls me out on just being an audience member as opposed to participating in the madness that was dinner with my dad. I chuckle, apparently he noticed that I barely said a damn thing during the whole experience. We chat a little while longer than I head off towards my mom’s house with Jeff and Sylvia in tow. My 6th aunt and uncle as well as their kids are arriving, and the cousins are staying with me. Getting there, they’re still not there yet, so I just hang out with my mom, Uncle Jimmy, 2nd Aunt and 4th Aunt telling them the fun of my dinner with the Father unit. The group arrives around 11.

My 6th Aunt hands me an envelope an a bottle of ice wine that I place in the pocket behind the driver side. My cousin Karen is recovering from being airsick so she’s sprawled out at the back of the van. I chat with my 6th aunt for a little and she freaks shit when she finds out that Uncle Jimmy is coming along with me to the wedding ceremony. Asking if my dad will be there. I answer in the affirmative and she continues to freak out. Her understanding is that Uncle Jimmy is gonna punch my dad when he sees him. I laugh at her. No, nothing of the sort will happen. It’s my wedding ceremony, yeah, that kind of bull shit won’t fly on either end. I’m also bringing my three cousins along. After reassuring her, the other cousins hop in and we drive to Nicky and Angel’s place to pick up Brian. I get in and grab whitey, and we head down to the hotel that Yuki and friends are staying at that night to drop off J&S. Finally, we’re able to head home; tomorrow will be another long and early day. Getting back to the house, the cousins get settled and we share some of the moonshine that Brian brought. The cousins were apparently unaware that they were going to join the wedding party. But accept it as they really don’t have any other choice in the matter. I get a couple of games of GBO in before crashing out.

The day Yuki and I get Married

It’s Friday, October 19, 2012; today, Yuki and I get officially get married. Getting up early, I wake everyone up and then leave the house to pick up Uncle Jimmy, getting back to the house, I grab some McD for the cousins. Helen is there, Jason arrives, and Nicky and Angel arrive. I get dressed and we all head out in two cars, the van and Angel’s acura. We drive directly to the Best Western right across the freeway from my work to pick up Yuki and company. I get a request for someone to drive Yuki’s car as Jeff is nervous about the prospect, so I get Jason to hop over and take the driver’s spot. Good thing because he’d been recently car shopping and this was one of two he was narrowed down towards. I high five Mr. Ning Wong and we head towards the Old Santa Ana Courthouse. Parked, we get into the courthouse and my dad, Auntie Teresa, and my sister are sitting in a row waiting for us. I step aside so that Uncle Jimmy can say hi, and my sister stands there in stunned silence, my dad had to break this by tell her to say hi to 舅父, for which she does. I get a nice little chuckle as I know she wasn’t expecting it. I don’t think she was expecting to see my cousins either, but briefly said hi to them as well. I go into the office and register ourselves, then just wait to get called. During all of this, cameras are flashing and clicking like mad. I handed my camera over to Jason who was completely unfamiliar with it, but got used to it eventually.

After a bit of photography, we were called into the office, only the Yuki and I, and the main photographer are allowed. Then they ask for our witnesses, for which I grabbed my dad and Yuki’s dad. Everyone had to pull out their identification documents, and then we all signed and the deal was done, we’re married. Well, they do another verbal ceremony in the room across the hall. Standing room only, it allowed for about 20 people; we had about 25, standing room only. The ceremony to exchange vows and rings complete, we snapped a few more pictures and my dad announced that he is inviting everyone to the Cheesecake Factory for a reception lunch after all the picture taking and such is done. We head outside and snap a few more pictures here before moving to our next scheduled location, Laguna Beach, right behind the Montage resort where I typically go to dive. Also known as Treasure Island as the diving location name. I called my mom to make sure she hadn’t left for her dimsum goal that morning. Catching her at home, I inform her that Uncle Jimmy will be on his way back shortly along with my three cousins. I ask Angel to drive them up, stopping by to grab clothes from my house then heading to my mom’s place. Since Uncle Jimmy only wanted to be there for the ceremony and to see/chat with my sister, the plan from the start was that he would head back to my mom’s place after the ceremony. I told the cousins to take off as well as I’m sure they would have been bored to tears had they come along to the beach, but the second issue was the lack of vehicles when we lost Angel’s car, so I made the decision to send them along to my mom’s place. I would swing by afterwards to pick them up.

It’s a perfectly sunny and clear day when we get to the beach location. The fresh sea air and the fairly quiet beach gives a relaxing sensation to the already hectic morning. Being a late Friday morning, there wasn’t too many people on the beach so our pictures were taking with fair ease. Some of the attendees marveled at the location we chose; Brian is secretly hoping he can magically make our scuba gear appear so we can do a quick dive as it was high tide. Relinquishing this thought, he went and found a geocache. We spent about an hour and change snapping pictures. Then pile into the cars and head back to my place. On the way back, I explicitly let those in the car know that they can completely opt out of the lunch event. Just taking a cue from the previous evening’s dinner event with my father; I figured I’d give everyone a fair chance for escape. All for one, one for all, they were all in…. suckers.

We got back to the house around 1. There was a bit of miss communications at the house. All the clothes for Yuki and family were in her car when Jason took the crv out to get gas. Jeff thought he was just backing out to park it, but panicked when he took off. Additionally, I called my dad telling him that we had reached the house. I naturally assumed he would understand that we needed time to change and such before meeting him at the Cheesecake factory, and I figured it was good enough timing for him to get there from his house – that we could change and set out as well. But there was a delay in getting changed as Jason had taken off with the clothes in tow, but he was back shortly. Angel showed up and Brian, Helen, and Nicky took off with him to run a quick errand then head to the Cheesecake factory. They get there around 1:30. My dad has been there since 1:15; according to him. Regardless, after a while, he was getting noticeably agitated. In our defense, I had to deal with a large group and they were changing; in previous discussions about the planning for this particular day, we made it fairly clear to my dad that the afternoon lunch event would not have a hard time schedule and it all depended on the photography session. We get to the restaurant at 2, and my dad’s obviously agitated, starts up but catches himself. Everyone sits and starts to order food.

Once food is ordered, my dad goes over to where Yuki’s parents are sitting and makes another little speech and gets choked up a little. I’ve seen this act of his hundreds of times; so while others new to his antics are touched, I just bite my tongue and let it roll. He sits back down, but isn’t done. He somehow feels to need to prove to my new in-laws that my step mom did a fantastic job raising me – as was his exact preface to what he was about to use as an example. He mentions my SAT scores back in high school, and starts out stating that my first test scored an 800. I call bullshit; for which he says that I’m incorrect, then states that my next score was an 860, and only after getting tutored by Auntie Teresa, did I score a 1360. Wow, everything about this is complete bullshit and incorrect. I call him out saying that he’s incorrect. He gets offended and says I’m calling him a liar. Wrong again, I said he was incorrect. Now for the facts – which are completely inconsequential to the whole story; my first SAT score was a 1040, not good, but not as bad as an 800. It is then that I got tutelage from Auntie Teresa, and my second score was a 1300. Now the college board is genius, they schedule the next testing deadline before you get your scores for the previous test, so you are pretty much forced to take any following tests as you’ve already paid for them, at least this was how it worked in 1993. Regardless, I didn’t bother studying after my fairly decent score, so my third test was a 1240 or something to that effect – now that last score I’m not completely sure of, but positive that it was a 12 something. All this is moot as I could always go here: http://sat.collegeboard.org/scores/send-old-sat-scores and get proof. But what do I know, I was the asshole that took the fucking tests; I’m pretty sure I’m the one most aware of my own scores than anyone else. But no, my dad freaks shit. He’s already put on edge by us being late, for which he should have already expected with the entourage that I had; and just blew up. Standing up in the middle of a restaurant with other patrons, pointing at me and yelling that I’m an ungrateful child. Not respecting the amount of sacrifice that he and Teresa gave for my education. I calmly told him no such thing happened, that I was fully grateful for both their sacrifices, that my only issue was his exaggeration of the almost 20 year old scholastic history and that he was completely wrong with what I scored. No, he’s never wrong, and being called into question is tantamount to calling him a liar. WTF?!? Is it still my wedding day? He’s still standing and wanting to leave, Auntie Teresa has completely abandoned him, pretending like she doesn’t even see this happening. My in-laws are in complete shock. I tell him that he’s making a scene and that he needs to sit down and just eat his meal. Food’s arrived. Like the child he is, he turns his back towards me and eats. Small talk is exchanged with some people. I completely lose my appetite, but I haven’t lost my temper, I just sit there, pulled out my phone and wrote an email to my dad right then and there, copying my sister and Yuki, explaining my stance. Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe the event.

It’s my fucking wedding day, and this asshole of a father has to pull this bullshit. Not that this hasn’t happened numerous times before. He freaks shit about something and he’s ALWAYS the fucking victim, he’s always the one that was wronged. I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s completely delusional; that he’s fabricated so many stories in his life that he cannot tell which ones are reality verses the mind numbing television show that is his life playing for an audience of one inside his one head. Case and point, a fun little anecdote that happened just a few weeks prior. Our wedding cake, for the banquet, was supplied by a bakery for which Yuki’s co-worker(Mary) that brought her into her current company, is owned and run by Mary’s sister. My mom knows the owner too and asks how Yuki knows of it. Yuki tells the story and my mom exclaims, hey, Mary was an old mahjong friend, her and her husband John used to play mj with my mom and dad way back in the day. Heh, small world. Anyways, the next day, Yuki talks to Mary about this and then from the conversation had, sends me a text telling me that we really ought to invite Mary and John to the wedding. Apparently confirmation about the mj buddies happened. Additionally, Yuki tells me that Mary said my mom gave Mary her first husky. I chuckle as this was my husky, and I respond that until that very moment, my memory tells me that this husky, I incorrectly remembered the name, had run away. I remember being told that he ran away. This made for a funny dinner story, and my mom just looked down when I called her out on it. Her friend pipped up saying my parents told me he ran away to spare my young feelings. And that was the end of it. Cut to the next day, when telling the story to my dad and family, my sister states that she remembers the dog being given away -and this was before I even finished the story. My dad immediately puts his hand up, no, everyone is wrong. He is the only one that knows the true story. The dog did indeed run away, he in fact chased after it and it ran up a hill and under a truck or something. Wow, full on description of the event, the hill, etc. But there are so many holes. If the dog ran away and no one saw it ran away, then it’s near impossible to find it. But the dog ran away in his presence, which some how makes it seem worse as he pretty much states that he gave up let it get away. Who does this? Why would a third party (Mary) have any need to lie about such a story – dog given to her by my parents. My mom accepted the truth, my sister did, it is confirmed by a third party; is it absolutely necessary to continue in the story? Accept that you got caught, and called out. Then everyone moves on. That dinner was slightly awkward too.

Returning to the reception lunch, it ends awkwardly, and people start to leave. Yuki attempts to give the gifts that her parents brought for my dad and Auntie Teresa, but he acts coldly towards her and says to have Teresa deal with it. I try to reconcile with him and he’s not having anything of it. He’s too hurt that he believes I called him a liar. What a completely spoiled fucking man child. It’s sad. Every two years, my dad will get upset with me and something like this happens. It’s an endless cycle of retardation. I leave with Jason and head to my mom’s place to pick up my cousins. They’re playing mj with the aunts and uncle and I vent. After a quick retelling of the last few hours transpiration, my 6th uncle chuckles and says, “well, if anything, your dad is consistent; these stories have personally happened to him multiple times between the years of 1961-1963 when they were together in school. I now fully understand why my own Godfather and his family have broken all ties with him, stating that they’ve given him too many chances in the past. But apparently, ALL of us are wrong and he is the correct one, the victim. Even his own wife is embarrassed when he does this, and she left him hanging. It’s just sad, the spoiled brat is going to die alone without anyone giving a damn. It is true, you sow what you reap.

It is almost a self fulfilling prophecy when I told my friends that they could opt out of the lunch. At the very least, the following day would be much more entertaining and actual fun. Picking up the cousins, I head back to the house with a quick stop by the local liquor shop to pick up the wines for the banquet. I decided on sweet wines as I figured no one there were serious wine drinkers. And that these wines would actually get consumed as opposed to just opened and wasted. I wasn’t about to single out any tables with a nice wine as it would just be unfair. We picked up some beers as well and headed home. Brian and Angel were there and Nicky had gone over to Helen’s place. Kamun, Yee, and Benny got into town and were hungry so they set off for food. We decided to hit up food trucks for dinner that night, and it was just a lazy evening as we were all tired from the fairly long day. I played a few games of GBO before crashing out. Brian, Ka, and Karen pretty much crashed out by at least 10 pm. Steve kept up with me while I played GBO, Ed was crashed out on the couch and finally went to bed when I finished playing to go crash myself. No schedule to wake up to the following day and Nicky and Angel had plans purchase some built gunpla in some darkened alley way somewhere in Korea Town. We slept in, it was nice.

Day of the Banquet

The fun and awkwardness behind us; Benny and Yee show up at the house around 9:30. I get up about that time and I’m ready to roll within 10 minutes. We’re now just waiting for Keith to show up. He gets in around 10:30 or so, after settling, the rest of the house is up and we pile into the van and I take them to Bordard for some different Vietnamese food tastings. I pretty much order for the table, but a few folks order things they’d like to try. We just about finish everything, stuffed, we head back home. Yuki has dropped by the house to pick up a few things and left a list of things to bring. It’s still early so rockband is set up and we get all instruments running with three singers. I finish up the small amount of prep I need and we play for a few hours. We planned to leave the house around 3:45; I already get a call from Ning saying he’s at the restaurant. We all get changed and I pack up the favors, the wines, the iPad, and guest lists. I also pack up my Qing Dynasty court official outfit complete with peacock feathered hat with my tux and shirt. I’m wearing the shoes, tux pants, and a NiN t-shirt that Pete picked up for me years ago.

We get to the restaurant and there are other people dressed up there. Apparently, the restaurant is completely booked for the night with 3 wedding banquets. Good thing we got in early with the room we wanted. We get settled and start setting up. Sylvia is a great help with some of the cake table decorations. Helen and shoe kid man the reception desk with an iron fist of authority. Yuki and her mom are getting make-up done, the artist is slow and doesn’t get to my mom for which Yuki really feels bad. My mom sees my Qing costume (vampire suit as she refers to it) and quickly says that I’m not allowed to wear it. Something about bad luck and such. I laugh it off, and put on my tux shirt, tie, and vest; not wearing the jacket yet as I’m already sweating profusely. They’re waiting to do the tea ceremony and time is ticking away as the make up artists are still at work. Finished with the setup for the room, I grab my 6th aunt to see what she things of my “special” costume. I run into the change room and quickly slip on the costume and put the hat on, shyly poke myself out to show my 6th aunt. She squeals in excitement and laughter. Everyone says that I should wear it for the tea. Comments about vampires come up and I’m immediately reprimanded by Uncle Jimmy when I extend my arms out in the standard Chinese vampire pose. Superstitions. Everyone then starts coming up and taking pictures of me and with me. Center of attention again. Well, at least I’m entertaining some of the folks that may be bored. I get a pour of some gold label, and get a glass of water. Tasty stuff, I may have to start drinking Scotch. Yuki is done and comes out in her Chinese dress, and we do the tea ceremony with the elders. The thing is being filmed and photographs all around. My gifts are placed inside my sleeves as was done in the typical Qing fashion. The folks are very highly entertained. The tea ceremony completed, Yuki and I change to the wedding gown and tux which is a simple pulling off of the costume for me.

I go out for a drink and induct a few new members for the BM club. Steve’s already called out Keith and another for drinking with the incorrect hand. I’m quickly pulled back to the photo booth area for pictures with the incoming guests. I used my booming voice a few times to get the attention of folks for some pictures, and in a few cases, to embarrass folks into the photo shoot. Most of the guests all arrive by 7:30 and we call to have dinner started. Everyone is seated and I’m given the mic to do an introduction. People start making the clinking noise to call for a kiss, and we do a quick one. Dinner starts. A few courses in, we get up to change, my mom goes and changes too. We make our rounds to “drink” with every table. More pictures are taken and we sit for a little more food. I walk over to the table of Uncle Johnson’s friends and they’re trying to plot some entertainment value out of Uncle Johnson and my mom. And just then, they’re standing up near the center and the clinking starts, to get them to kiss. Close enough of some fun. Yuki and I go up to cut the cake and the room booms with the sound of clinking; I’m used to playing center of attention, so I used this to get some entertainment out of it. The Hulk Hogan, I can’t hear you pose is made, it gets louder. I go in and give Yuki a peck on the cheek, and I ask if they are satisfied, it gets louder. I warn Yuki that I’m going to dip her, and I do and give her a nice posed kiss. A moment of silence, then applause. So easy. In all this, I noticed that my 6th aunt is the one starting all the clinking. Ok, time for a little retribution. I have the mic. We’re cutting the cake and I do some thank yous for the evening’s participants, then look at my cousins and ask if they’d like to see their parents kiss. The room booms with clinking, my 6th aunt is bright red and comes over and kisses me on the cheek, acknowledging an unspoken treaty. Heh, I have the mic AND i have no fear of embarrassment of any kind; it’ll be a little difficult to get to me.

The dinner starts to wind down a bit and I’m trying to spread my time among the tables. The cake is served and it is good. Folks compliment the cake. I pass out a few left over bottles of the Moscato as I picked up an extra case of that particular wine. And around 10:00, folks here and there start to wander towards the door saying their much welcomed congrats and thank yous are exchanged. A few more pictures here and there. A quick hour goes by and almost everyone is gone. My mom and entourage leave and Yuki goes into the room to change. I remove the Qing costume and get my stuff packed up. Brian mentions something about Friends in Low Places for which I comment that the song was part of the wedding set list, and we prolly just missed it or it never got around to it yet. So I find it, pump the volume up a bit and we loudly sing the song with the replaced third verse. I think Yuki’s parent’s video camera caught it. Some of the cousins and Keith were drunk. We piled into the van with the gear we needed to take back and hit up the local In & Out for a midnight snack; then headed home to see Nicky and Angel passed out on the couches waiting for us. Tequila shots and Jaeger shots, and rockband brought out for a few hours before everyone crashed. A damn fine evening in comparison to the idiocy that was the previous day.

I had no time to snap pictures or give me camera to others to snap pictures for me, so everyone will just have to wait for the official pictures from Mr. Ning Wong in another week or two. The exact memory of the events as they unfolded may be a little fuzzy, but the general gist of how it all went down is about as truthful as it can be.

A very humble and hearty thanks to all those that came to my wedding banquet, and an especial thanks for those who traveled to attend this event. I am truly blessed with so many loving family and friends; that I can only hope to live up to your expectations. Holy crap this was a long post, only about 425 shy of 10k words, impressive.

  One Response to “The Last Two Weeks, Part 2”

  1. Wow, you got a lot of stuff done on our dive trip.

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