Stephen's best friend Clayton was getting married in Oakland in December and there was no way we were going to miss it. He and his fiancee (then girlfriend) Alicia had visited us a few months before getting engaged when they were in town for her friend's wedding and we were SO excited when we found out they were engaged. They just make one truly incredible couple.
So we hatched a plan to get there. We drove to Vegas the night of the 14th. We got there pretty late and all crashed in Jon and Kacey's guest room. Since Rory had slept the whole drive she was all sorts of confused when we woke her up to take her out of the car and then tried to put her back to sleep again. She cried and screamed and cried and I did everything possible to keep her quiet as we were in the middle of the entire sleeping Nielsen family. Eventually, she fell asleep lying next to me in the bed, but I was worried about her sleeping like that and ultimately Stephen and I got very little sleep that night. In the morning, Kacey dropped us off at the airport after dropping off her kids at school. She really is the coolest.
I know I've said it before, but nothing makes me feel fancier than flying without Rory. After a few shows for me and a nap for Stephen we were landing in Oakland before we knew it. Wesley, one of Stephen's roommates from BYU, picked us up from the airport to take us to Clayt's surprise bachelor party, an IMAX 3D showing of the new Star Wars movie, Stephen and I were still tired from the night before and STARVING by this point so we ordered a giant popcorn and a soda for the movie. The popcorn was pretty gross (which I feel blasphemous saying as I am someone who LOVES movie theater popcorn, but it really was. Old and not enough slat and butter.) but we were so hungry we ate it all anyways and made ourselves sick for the rest of the day.
That night Clayton and Alicia had their reception at a cute little annex behind one of the church buildings. There was dancing, delicious food, A DONUT WALL, and lots of great company so all around a perfect night. The party was still going strong and Stephen and I were both exhausted, so we decided to get an uber to take us to the hotel and peace out a little early. Right as we had confirmed our drive, who was five minutes away, we hear the DJ announce that this was the last song because they would be doing the bride and groom send off in five minutes. Stephen and I panicked at our poor timing, and hurriedly pulled our bags up to the curb of the main street so we could cut him off before he could pull into the pick up point and disrupt Clayt and Alicia's send off. We watched for him nervously as sparklers were lit and the getaway car for the couple was prepared. We finally see his car, and despite our frantic waving, he blows right past us and heads right toward the annex where Clayt and Alicia have just begun their departure. We begin chasing after him with all our luggage, trying to catch him before he completely disrupts the party (and ruins their pictures and videos forever) and we are screaming his name, "Mubashir! Mubashir!" He finally turns perpendicular to the getaway car (now blocking their exit) and we quickly throw our bags in his trunk, jump in the car, and yell, "Drive!" He managed to pull away just in time, and the happy couple was able to make their exit, none the wiser. Stephen and I laughed about it for the rest of the evening.
The next day we slept in late (hallelujah) and then decided to walk to a bakery nearby for breakfast before we had to leave for the temple. It turns out our hotel was a block away from Chinatown so as we approached the bakery and we were the only non-Asians in sight, we had a feeling it may not be a typical bakery experience. They were very nice and the food we got was completely edible, but it was another experience that made us laugh. Wesley came and picked us up for the temple and even played our chauffeur for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful ceremony and because it was so well attended I ended up having to sit on Stephen's lap. That's what I call a win-win. That night they had a gorgeous dinner for family and close friends at the Marriot tower. There were a lot of lovely tributes shared and it was so wonderful to hear again and again how much Alicia and Clayton truly deserve each other. I have to say, my favorite part of the evening was when Clayt's mother shared that she remembered being at our wedding and seeing how happy Stephen was and she said to herself that she just wanted Clayt to find someone who made him feel that same happiness- totally made me cry. Also the cheesecake was my other favorite part.
On Sunday we took a late flight out so that we would have at least a little time to explore the city. Stephen and I are both a little anxious travelers, and we are used to being followers in family vacations, not leaders, so this was a very big step for us to go out on our own and explore with little to no planning. We bought a metro card for the day and made our way to pier 39. We explored the shops, ate some yummy food, and most importantly did not get lost! We loved watching the seals, despite the smell, and of all the things we had done during the weekend that one was what made us miss Rory the most. Stephen kept saying, "We have to bring Rory back here! She will love those seals!" We managed to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge in the background, so we took some pictures and called it good. We made it back into Oakland with plenty of time before our flight, but like I said we are anxious travelers so it was probably for the best.
Yes, I made Stephen take TWO pictures of me with my edible cookie dough dessert, it was that important to me.
It was the perfect little getaway and the best part of all was that it was just a kick off to our Holiday break and we didn't even have to go back to reality when we got home! Yay escapism!