Friday, August 8, 2014

Her Beautiful Wedding: my niece gets hitched

How often does a normal mortal have the honor of marrying a young couple in love?  Drew had that chance in late July and I was especially proud to be the minister's wife.

We flew to Denver on Friday morning and promptly started the vacation at the Inverness Hotel pool 

Friday evening was the rehearsal dinner at my sister's house.  All my siblings were in attendance from far away.

Brother B and fiance
Brother T and wifey
Q: We had both been at the pool, but which of us used sunscreen? (A: Drew. That fetching shade of pink is his normal color, while my glowing red chest should be a less painful color.)

Niece J and Sister M

Lovely ladies: niece  and sisters

Sister M and hubby

Bro in law and his fam

Which is my sister?

The younger gen.

The other side - they were so nice!

The groom and buddies play pool

At the end of the evening we had a quick shower for my niece, organized by my super-planner sister.


Saturday, after the good food and drink from Friday night, I needed some exercise so two of my nieces and I walked around the hotel neighborhood.  On the walk we encountered a gopher colony.

I'd never seen so many gophers in one small place.  The golf course next door must have some elaborate anti-gopher devices to keep out this herd. Carl the groundskeeper had to be on the staff.

Soon it was time for the big event. 
 Drew got all mic'ed up so he could be heard celebrating the marriage.

The wedding was held at a beautiful venue near Denver.  The only problem with staging this beautiful outdoor wedding is that the rain had begun an hour prior to the wedding.

But right at show time the rain mostly stopped so the processional started...

 with the strapping men...

and then the darling ladies.

And lastly the beautiful bride and her father. I could not believe how beautiful and mature my cute little niece who used to play fashion dress up with her cousins looked.

But as soon as the wedding party was in their places, the rain started again
and we thankfully moved inside.

Since the wedding was quite short, standing in this lovely stairway was not a problem.

The bride and groom are not of the religious sort, so they asked Drew to say words about love, commitment, and marriage.   They and their guests clearly have good senses of humor because the Sporcle joke went over well (Sporcle is an online quiz game that the bride and groom may spend a bit of time playing).

Minister Drew incorporates humor into the ceremony.

Enough fun and games, they're married already! The first kiss.

All smiles after the wedding.

In the few minutes after the wedding but before the reception, we snagged the photographer to capture the uncommon moment of Drew in a suit and me in heels. 

One of my favorite moments was the announcement of the bride and groom at the fun dinner reception.

The best man (groom's brother) and maid of honor (sister of the bride, niece Laura) gave excellent, funny, and sincere speeches.

And there was dancing

First dance

Father daughter dance

Let's just say that if my dad had been present at my wedding, we wouldn't have been nearly as cool as this.

The night went on, and so did the open bar, and before you knew it Drew and I were closing down the hotel bar after holding the shuffle board table for four games and elbowing our way onto the dance floor amongst another wedding party.


All that merry making made us hungry; the Inverness' award-winning bunch fixed that!  Oh my, what a spread! 

The newlyweds at brunch; what a cute couple!

 My sister and her newly-extended family

Drew had to work early the next morning so he hopped a flight to Vegas after brunch.  The plane had to put on extra fuel to carry him because he ate so much.

It isn't often my immediate family all gets together so we planned a few extra days to enjoy some of Colorado. Finding activities that all of us like to do, however, can be challenging.  Our first activity was antique store browsing in Castle Rock.

Our second activity was relaxing back at my sister's and gobbling leftover wedding desserts and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory goodies.

Enough for one day.  We made some plans for Monday and called it a day.

No, not that kind. This kind!

This is the best family picture I've seen in a long time.  Gosh, I love this picture.

We wanted to take the cog train to the top of Pike's Peak but tickets were sold out so my brave brother and brother-in-law drove the lot of us in large American vehicles up a seriously steep and winding road so that we could stand atop a 14er.  

At first I was grossed out by the gift shop on the tippy-top of a mountain, with its fudge stand and racks and racks of souvenirs.  But then I ate a fresh doughnut from the snack bar.   It was my first doughnut since the VooDoo doughnuts back in Oregon when I swore off any impostors. This doughnut, although a cake doughnut as compared to my favorite raised maple glazed, was authentic and made me glad to be a car-drivin' American tourist.

Enough doughnuts.  Get a look around the top of the world.

But don't fall off!

Large crystals of microcline feldspar (pink) in the Pike's Peak Formation, a ~1 billion year old granite.

Brother T

Brother T points to the switchbacks of the end of the 13-mile hiking trail to the peak, like "yeah, we did that." Ha.

Once the doughnuts and souvenirs were consumed, we drove back down the curvy, busy, two-lane.

Please, Bro, make that turn.

A video of the hairpin turns road. 

 Luckily we had fudge to keep us calm. 

Pike's Peak granite might be 1 billion years old and the mountain uplift may have taken place 60 million years ago (Laramide Orogeny), but the really crazy stuff has all happened since humans came along. 

Those signs were at a break test station. We had to stop and let ours cool down.
Of course there is another souvenir shop and snack bar at the break test station. America.

The next activity was Garden of the God.  I had personally been really looking forward to this. A few of us went on a short hike.

The younger generation bouncing on top of hoodoos. 

Our destination was the Siamese Twins.
I didn't realize it until we were there, but the Siamese Twins is one of the pictures on the vintage family postcards I used to decorate our guest room a couple of years ago, as I detailed in this post.

 Siamese Twins, upper right, on the front of a 1930s postcard in my guest room.

Here we all are in the belly of the Siamese Twins.  I wonder if this formation will be renamed to Conjoined Twins to be more PC.

Horseback tours were in progress while we were enjoying the park.  Somehow, being eight feet up on a shod horse on slickrock going down a steep incline with no helmet, as are some of the riders in this video, does not seem like a particularly safe tourist activity.
  Crazy horse-ridin' tourists!

More of the rock formations in Garden of the Gods.

I very much enjoyed Garden of the Gods.  I would love to go back again and hike all the trails and have a picnic.


After all the tourist stuff (and no actual lunch stop), we were looking for some chow.  We found this place - Rudy's Country Store and BBQ

It was perfect for us because we could each order our own thing at the counter and sit family style.  It was very tasty too.
Lots o' ribs went down.

After that we headed back to the campsite in Colorado Springs where a couple of the parties were staying.  Brother B lead the way on his three-wheeled motorcycle.

A long but fun day!


Tuesday we said good bye to some of the family and the rest of us enjoyed another day of being together.  Rain was threatening so we didn't dare hike Castlewood Canyon. Instead, we wandered through the Denver Botanical Garden at Chatfield.

The place contained lovely gardens and a restored ranch, complete with animals.

We toured inside a greenhouse made especially for butterflies.
Video of butterfly in the butterfly house.

A very lovely morning!

While we us old folk were strolling the botanical gardens, the younger set was exploring downtown Denver.  Here are four of the five musketeer cousins.


After lunch at Cheesecake Factory minus the cheesecake, we headed back to sister's house for more relaxing.

The next day I was supposed to leave at 6 PM on a paid ticket (Drew advised that afternoon and evening flights have been jam packed with no non-revenue passengers getting on.) but somehow my reservation got cancelled so I had to quickly buy one of the last two seats for sale on the 2 PM flight.  At the airport I ran into someone I know.

He just happened to be passing through on his way to San Antonio.  How funny.

That wrapped up the wedding/family reunion for me.  Right now, the newlyweds are safely on their honeymoon, my traveling siblings are safely back at their home bases, and my host sister finally has some relaxing peace and quiet.  Until next time, Hooray!

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