Monday, October 29, 2012

the ranch, part one.

Without necessarily doing new things everyday, which is what I used to blog about before I turned 30 and how this blog got started in the first place, sometimes I wonder where it's going.  What's its purpose?

I mean, I think I'm quite clever sometimes, but my biggest fear is that someone will get to the end of one of these blogs and say, "Yeah?  So what?" 

Perhaps that's why I've tried to look for the larger meaning in just about everything - how can I make this road trip a metaphor for life kind of stuff, which even I recognize can get a little hokey and annoying.  I mean, sometimes a road trip is just a road trip, you know? 

I myself love to read blogs that really have nothing more to say than, "This is my life, these are my crafts, those are my kids."

I do not have crafts or kids, but I do have a pretty good life and I believe it's worth writing about.   I understand that doesn't mean anyone is going to want to read about it, but that's a chance all of us bloggers must take.
So full disclosure here (I don't want anyone getting to the end and saying, "Yeah, so what?"), the next leg of my summertime journey that started at my friend Kelly's has absolutely no deeper meaning than, "wild wedding weekend."  So if you came looking for inspiration or profound words about the meaning of life, you may want to move it along.

Please don't leave without at least perusing the pictures of my hot friends and the gorgeous scenery that we partied in for three days.  This was the kind of weekend that was so much fun, I felt sad when it ended because I knew the anticipation of it was over, and even if I did my best to recreate it, I'd never succeed.

Ranchin . . .in color.

But there is a good chance that these stories I'm about to tell, many of which have been watered down for the parents and children who may visit, are all of the "You had to be there," variety.  

I'm going to tell them anyway.  Besides, I know that there at least 20 people (the cast of characters I call my friends) who will think these stories are worth telling.  I dedicate all of Elizabeth's wedding blogs to them.

Elizabeth's California wedding was in her "backyard," since she lives in San Francisco.  To many of her east coast friends, it was a destination wedding that involved a great deal of planning beforehand, most about where we were going to stay.  

Leave it to the crew from Georgia to decide to take over the cheapest hotel on the list - the Los Laureles Lodge.  Elizabeth's tastes have refined significantly since she moved to California, so I had to believe this place met her standards.  Based on the pictures on the website, though, I couldn't help but think the Lodge reminded me quite a bit of the sublet apartment she and I lived in at Milledge Place in Athens, Georgia.  

I was the first to arrive and I texted Trish, since it was she who had been instrumental in convincing us all to stay there.  

"How is it?" she asked. 

"It's fine," I texted her.  "It's cute.  It kind of reminds me of summer camp."

From the gravel parking lot and the outdated, country decor to the wood paneling and screen doors, it really did remind me of camp.  But not in a negative way.  I mean, it certainly wasn't the Ritz Carlton, but it was affordable, it was clean, it was centrally located, and most importantly - it was a perfect place for my friends and I to completely take over.

And that's exactly what we did.

The innkeepers made a take over easy - putting several of our rooms in a row. 

Despite it having the most occupants in the least amount of space, my room - Room 23 - was a popular meeting place.  Sort of like the front stoop on the television show 227, people were always popping in for a visit. 

The instant camraderie and summer camp feeling often led to unsolicited singing of the theme song from the Nickelodeon show, Salute Your Shorts - "Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts . . ." 

We also started calling the Los Laureles Lodge, the "Ranch."

We referred to the staff of the lodge as the "ranch hands," which in my room full of unmarried women, led to endless teasing about someone making a move on one of the ranch hands, and of course, even more singing.

"I wanna man with a ranch hand . . .," (to the tune of "I wanna man with a slow hand . . .") My friend and trip roommate Lisa made up her own version, "A ranch hand's handssssss . . . ," which I think was a take on the country song, "Daddy's Hands," but I'm honestly not sure.

We talked about "ranch hands" so much during that weekend, that when Rick Santorum delivered his speech at the Republican National Convention and made countless references to hands, my phone immediately started blowing up with friends saying, "Did you hear Santorum talking about hands?  Reminds me of the Ranch!"

The first event of the Elizabeth and Kristof's wedding weekend was on Thursday night - a beach bonfire for all out of town guests. 

Is this the right beach?IMG_4016IMG_4026IMG_4015

I'd noticed on my ride north on the PCH that the temperature is quite different in the Northern California along the coast.  Elizabeth's instructions for us to "wear a light jacket," were appropriate, however for us thin-skinned humidity loving southerners, we might've been better off had she instead advised, "Pack mittens and a warm coat.  And a hat. And cuddle duds. And brown liquor."

It was freezing.

Certainly nothing a glass (or several glasses) of red wine couldn't fix, so my friends and I enjoyed the festivities, toasting the happy couple and getting to know Kristof's family, many of whom had flown in from Belgium.

I got caught up in caught up in the excitement (and the red wine) of meeting everyone, I brilliantly opted to wait until the sun went down to find myself something to eat which meant I was blindly grabbing at Mexican food in aluminum containers.

Thankfully, the summer camp similiarities were endless.  There were S'mores.  And a sing-along.

Trish embraced the sing-a-long - and brought a little bit of the ranch to the beach, spiritedly leading the group in favorites such as Green Day's "Good Riddance" and Don McClean's "American Pie."


When the party ended and it was time to go home, we called our cab driver that we'd appropriately named "Captain" earlier in the evening when he picked us up for the party.  

He arrived to take us home wearing the same tie-dyed shirt, leather vest and Captain's hat he was wearing when he picked us up.  We forced him to take pictures with us before piling into his cab. He offered us some of his moonshine (which he may or may not have been sipping on himself), let Lisa borrow his leather driving gloves, and then took us to the grocery store so we could pick up some rations that every summer camp full of immature 30-somethings' needs -- breakfast muffins . . . a variety pack of Sun Chips . . .and beer.

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Then, in what is now my favorite cab ride story of all time that Lisa shared with us later, the Captain turned around to make sure all his human passengers were accounted for and then looked down at his center console and counted off his collection of stuffed animals, one by one.

"Squirrel, check!"

"Bear, check!"

"Dog, check!"

"Ok," he said to Lisa, who was riding shotgun, still wearing the gloves, "Everyone's here, we can go."

And we went.  Back to the ranch.

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