Taking Amtrak up there was great: very convenient and very comfortable. While in the East Bay, in the early part of our trip, the railroad tracks quite closely paralleled the Bay Trail that Shannon and I have biked together, so it was kind of nice to see the landmarks from a different perspective. At one point, I saw three dark animals swimming in the bay, not far from the shore, with their heads above water. I figure they were either otters or seals, but they were too far away for me to be sure. But spotting marine mammals is always exciting. (Though not quite as much so from a train as from a kayak, when the seals frolic excitedly around you and swim right under your boat.)
Our hotel was only a few blocks from the site of the wedding, which was terribly convenient. Also, we were right in the middle of the city, which pleases us non-driving folks. Our room was quite large and comfortable, with a desk, a comfy chair, a comfy love seat, and a king-sized bed. Like most hotel rooms, it had light switches in all the wrong places (usually *outside* the room in which the corresponding light was located), but once we figured out where they were, all was well. I slept a great deal after our walk on Friday, while Shannon amused himself with reading, iPad, etc.
The wedding (on Saturday morning) was that of two of Shannon's friends from his loooooongstanding (more than 20 years) roleplaying group: Chris and Corina. I've met them both before and had a chance to chat with them quite a bit on one occasion, and they are both really friendly, upbeat, sociable, kind people, so I was happy to share such a joyous occasion with them. I guess both of them are Catholic, so the wedding was held in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (in Sacramento, which amused me), which was chock full o' stained glass and ornately painted walls and a big (thankfully non-bloody) Christ on a cross, and a wooden structure with lots of arches and Latin inscriptions (I guess, based on descriptions on their website, that this is the "Blessed Sacrament Chapel"). The gamers became very curious about the meaning of the Latin inscriptions -- which contained lots of verbums and carnems and such -- and so everyone pulled out their iPhones and began typing the text into various translation websites. The results didn't make much sense, but some were more amusingly nonsensical than others.
The actual wedding ceremony was, as one might expect, *very* religious, with lots of readings from the Bible, and people lining up to take communion, and everyone standing and sitting and standing and sitting (Catholic ceremonies always remind me of a high school football chant my mom told me about: "Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!"), and songs about Jesus, and little old ladies from the audience hanging rosaries around the bride and groom's necks, and little old ladies from the audience giving them coins, and little old ladies from the audience giving them Bibles, and such. One of Shannon's friends pointed out that people gave them all kinds of stuff during the ceremony ... but at the end they came back up and took it all away. So apparently it was the Ceremony of the Indian Givers.
The priest seemed to drink an awful lot of wine, here and there throughout the ceremony. Maybe he gets thirsty like I do. It looked like he was mixing it with water, in the ancient tradition, and I wondered if it wasn't sacrilegious to dilute Christ's supposed blood. But I assume he would know a lot better than I. I suppose drinking blood straight-up might be hard-core. Maybe it's only for the really Goth Catholic priests, the ones with the black eyeliner.
The reception was quite nice, with kind of a funky blend of music: Chinese (Chris's family is Chinese), Latin (Corina's family is Latino), 80s, 70s, 60s, and more. The old people were *totally* getting down on the dance floor, much more so than the young folks. I love watching people dance. But I wasn't feeling entirely well (not to mention that my feet were *killing* me in my fancy shoes), so I didn't feel like dancing.
We were lucky enough to sit next to Donald and his wife, Mary. I know them quite well, so I didn't have to struggle to make conversation with near strangers. Donald is my long-ago ex, the friend who introduced Shannon and me to each other. (I've known him something like 20 years.) He and I don't see each other often, but when we do we're still pretty close. I definitely still consider him one of my closest and most trusted friends, so it was very cool to get to talk to him and Mary so much.
The reception food -- served buffet style -- was *excellent*! There was a whole roast pig with the head still attached (I found that vaguely discomfiting), which had very crispy skin (I should have given mine to Mary, because I didn't like the skin much). It was very salty, while I prefer my pork with more sweetness (more in the Hawaiian tradition), but the meat was tender and flavorful. There were lots of fruits and vegetables, which made me very happy (the watermelon and green beans -- not served together, of course -- were my favorites), mashed potatoes (a lifelong favorite food for both me and Shannon), salad (with a slightly spicy dressing I liked a lot, as well as mandarin orange slices), tasty chicken breasts with a sort of slightly sweet dressing, *marvelous* rolls of steak stuffed with feta and spinach (okay, maybe I liked this even more than the watermelon and green beans, because it was definitely delicious), and probably some other stuff I'm not remembering. I didn't eat any of the cake, though, because I figured it almost certainly contained egg, and I didn't want to risk getting sick. Still, it was one of the best meals I've had in a while.
Donald and Mary kindly offered us a ride home, so we didn't have to take Amtrak again (though neither of us mind Amtrak much at all). That way, we got to spend even more time with them ... though I must admit that I did fall asleep for a little while in the car. Not terribly surprising. So then we were home, and we inflicted much love and affection on the cats, who barely seemed to have noticed that we were gone, except that they hadn't gotten any treats in a couple days.
Shannon and I are both utterly exhausted. (Maybe it was all that standing and sitting during the ceremony. At one point it looked like the priest was doing deep knee bends, but I figure it's some kind of Catholic thing to keep him limber for those long orations.) I fell asleep on the couch almost immediately upon getting home, then had dinner, then fell asleep again. I have stuff I'd like to do, of course -- and in fact I'm getting near the end of The Count of Monte Cristo -- but mostly I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.