Laura and Lee's Northwest Wedding Narrative

September 10-12, 1999

My brother Gary got married on September 11 at the White Salmon Ski Lodge near Mt. Baker in Washington state, so we flew up for the weekend to attend the wedding and do whatever sightseeing we had time for.

Gary and Sia managed to pick *the* week when the weather was absolutely perfect - it was even warmer in Washington than it was in San Diego! It's really a beautiful place when it isn't overcast and raining. :-) (I had to keep reminding Lee that it's *not* like this most of the time...)


Friday, September 10 - Up, up and away!

We had an interesting time packing, since we weren't sure *what* to expect as far as the weather went...maybe sun, maybe rain, probably cool...so I think we ended up bringing as much stuff as we would for a much longer trip!

We had a nice direct flight to Seattle on Alaska Airlines - it's definitely one of my favorite airlines - I just wish they flew to more of the places that I wanted to go to. The weather was beautiful on the trip up, but unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the plane to be able to see Yosemite and Lake Tahoe and Mt. Lassen and Crater Lake and Mt. Saint Helens and all of that. Oh well.

My bag was the third one off the plane - woo hoo! :-) I went and got in the rental car line, and Lee soon joined me...and we waited...and we waited...and we waited. There were only two clerks working, and the people in front of us told us that the clerk on the left had been working with the same customer for 25 minutes! And then the other clerk took a bathroom break as soon as she finished with the customer she had. Once she got back she was efficient, and got through the two people in front of us, and then to us, before the customer on the left *finally* finished...Yikes.

We finally got our car and got on the road. It was getting close to 2:00 and we hadn't had lunch yet...we saw the signs for the Seattle Center and Space Needle, and decided to head there since it was such a nice day - how often do you get the chance to go up in the Space Needle on a nice day?

The tickets to go up in the Space Needle were $9.00 (wow!), or, if you ate in the restaurant you could go up for "free". (Plus you didn't have to wait in line with everyone else!) The restaurant could take us right away, so we decided to go up there and eat. One interesting thing about the restaurant is that it revolves, so you get to see the entire 360 degree view while you're eating. It takes about 30 minutes to make one revolution.

The food is on the expensive side, but it was pretty good - I had a barbecue salmon sandwich which was VERY good - the barbecue sauce complemented the flavor of the salmon very well. Lee had the crab cakes, but I think he liked my salmon better. :-) We were both starving by then, though, so probably anything would have tasted good!

After lunch we went up to the observation deck and looked around a little, but we'd already seen the sights while we were eating. There was a great view of Mt. Ranier - that mountain is absolutely HUGE. It just seems to arise out of nowhere and towers over everything around it.

We didn't have time to go into the Science Center at all, since we still had about a 1.5 hour drive to Bellingham, and the rehearsal dinner was that evening. Unfortunately we were just in time to hit the beginnings of Seattle rush hour, and it took us quite a while to get clear of that.

And then once we got to Bellingham we started to wonder if they really wanted us there or not...because the directions Sia's brother had given us told us to take a non-existent exit off the freeway. :-) If we had kept going too much further we would have been in Canada! We managed to find the correct exit, and pulled up to the place about 6:00. Sia's brother Bill owns a building that used to be a church, which he uses for his business, but upstairs there are three bedrooms, and that's where some of us were staying.

After changing clothes we met some of Sia's family and headed off to the restaurant for dinner. We met my parents and the rest of Sia's family there. Since there hadn't been a rehearsal, we're not quite sure why it was called a "rehearsal dinner", but... :-) We had a really nice dinner - most of the adults had salmon. (You could tell who the locals were...because I think they all had something *other* than the salmon. :-) ) The salmon was good, but it had a weird sauce on top that was almost like ketchup. Most of us scraped it off - it really did NOT add to the flavor of the salmon at all. The bbq sauce I'd had at lunch was a lot better.

Dessert was awesome...Lee and I split a chocolate toffee mousse cake. It was a slice of very thick chocolate mousse with a layer of crushed toffee in the middle, and some more sprinkled on top. It was wonderful.


Saturday, September 11 - The Wedding

We got up and showered and got all our wedding stuff together - the lodge was about a 1.5 hour drive away, so we were going to actually change clothes there. Gary and Sia still hadn't left by the time we headed out to get breakfast. We found a little coffee house not too far away (not that finding a coffee house in the northwest is at all difficult...they are *everywhere*). This one was called Tony's and had a very interesting clientele...aging hippies, young artsy types, and then there were the people who *looked* like street people but drove up in late-model SUVs. I don't drink coffee (I wasn't sure if that was even *legal* in that part of the country), but I had the best cinnamon roll there that I have ever had - and that's saying something.

After breakfast we got on the road and headed for the lodge. It was another absolutely beautiful day, and it was a very pretty drive.

We had to stop along the way and take a picture of the Northwest's version of the Abominable Snowman, aka Bigfoot or Sasquatch. :-)

We arrived at the White Salmon Lodge (these directions were a lot better ;-) ), to discover Sia's family hard at work getting things ready...it's a lot easier to be part of the groom's family! :-)

Gary and Sia still hadn't arrived, but they showed up not too long after that, and everyone involved in the wedding had a very short rehearsal before we all went our various ways to get dressed. Gary and Sia were wearing traditional wedding attire, but Gary had said he wanted people to wear loud Hawaiian shirts, so Lee and I had brought some Hawaiian attire, and my mom wore a muu-muu.

The wedding was held outside, and Gary and Sia both walked in across the meadow. Once they were in their places, the minister announced in a *very* loud voice, "Mawwidge...is whut bwings us togevver today. Mawwidge...that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam". For those who don't know, that's a quote from the movie "The Princess Bride", which is a favorite of Gary and Sia's (and Lee and me, as well). But still, we were NOT expecting it, and we were practically rolling in the aisles. The minister (a female minister!) really did a great job with the inflection and the wording. And she hadn't even seen the movie until Gary and Sia showed her that part of it a couple of days before.

The rest of the ceremony was nice, but far less eventful. :-) Well, except for the end...when they were instructed to kiss each other, Lee pushed the button on the CD player as he'd been told to do, and Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Passionate Kisses" blared out. Not your typical recessional...

The wedding cake was shaped like a snow-covered mountain...we think it was supposed to be Mt. Baker, with two mountain climbers on top that Sia's sister Amelia had made. It was fun watching Gary and Sia figure out how to cut it. :-)

The wedding was very small - only immediate family and 4 good friends, plus the minister and the photographer.

After eating and the cake cutting and the toasts and all of that, a group of us went hiking...that's what Gary and Sia wanted to do on their wedding day. (And yes, we *did* all change clothes...though Gary didn't have to change his shoes - he wore his hiking boots with his tux!) We walked up part of the ski mountain - we'd hoped to get to the ridge where we would have a view of Mt. Baker, but the last part started to get into some really steep snow, and most of us weren't prepared for that. Steve went all the way up, though, and then we got to watch him come glissading down the slope - pretty nice technique! (Steve's not in this picture because he was up on the ridge, but everyone else is except me - from left to right: Sia, Gary, Katie, Barry, Keith, Lee, Dad, and Bill.)

Bill had brought along a bottle of champagne, and he popped the cork and we toasted the bride and groom.

It was a pretty long hike - we climbed about 1500' in about 90 minutes. It seemed a lot steeper going down! We got some really gorgeous views of Mt. Shuksan, though. And I managed to find some wildflowers to photograph...I have no idea what a couple of them are, though.

Once we got back Gary and Sia got ready to leave - those that hadn't gone on the hike had done a good job decorating their car. :-) One thing we did that was different and fun - instead of throwing rice or birdseed, they passed around little containers of bubbles, and we blew bubbles instead.

Once we all got loaded in our respective cars we made the parade back to Bellingham. Most of us walked from Bill's church to a Mexican restaurant downtown and had dinner - it was very good.

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Sunday, September 12 - Sightseeing

I think Lee and I were the first ones up - we went back down to Tony's to have breakfast. This time the cinnamon rolls were *right* out of the oven...mmmm.

When we got back, everyone else was up. We got some ideas of places to see from Sia's mom Fran, said our goodbyes, and headed out.

It was another beautiful day, and I continued to remind Lee that this was NOT typical weather. :-) We headed down towards Whidbey Island and stopped at Deception Pass. Deception Pass is a very narrow inlet that separates Whidbey Island from the mainland - until he found the inlet Capt. George Vancouver thought Whidbey Island was a penisula rather than an island. Now the two are connected by a couple of bridges. We also learned that Whidbey Island was named for Joseph Whidbey, Capt. Vancouver's trusted officer.

We continued to drive down Whidbey Island, and we stopped in the small town of Langley, an artist's colony, and looked around a little. It looked like there were lots of interesting shops, but we didn't have time to browse. We needed to catch the ferry because we were supposed to meet the Nelson family for lunch at 12:30 in Edmonds.

We missed the 11:30 ferry to Mukilteo, and caught the 12:00 ferry instead. I counted 128 cars coming off the 11:30 ferry...it holds quite a few! The ferry ride was not very long, but it was a nice day to be up on deck - you could see Mt. Baker in the distance. Since we were just tourists, riding the ferry was kind of fun, but if you had to do that as part of your daily commute I think it would get old *very* quickly.

We made our way to the restaurant in Edmonds...since we were late, I went inside to try to find the Nelson family while Lee parked the car. They already were seated at a table, and I was making our apologies when I heard a voice say, "Laura...is that you?" I looked over at the next table, and sitting there was Beth Eloheimo, one of my fellow rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup people, who lives in Everett! I hadn't told her we would be in her area because I knew we wouldn't have time to visit...but we couldn't have planned a meeting any better than this! When Lee walked in, Beth said "Hello, Lee", and he said hello, and then looked around to see if there was anyone *else* around that he should know...I think he thought I'd tried to schedule a surprise RADP meet on him. :-)

We had a really nice lunch with Steve, Kim, Kirsten, and Lauren, including some very good fresh blackberry cobbler for dessert. We said our goodbyes and tried to figure out what to do - we had several hours to kill before it was time to head back to the airport. So we went into downtown Seattle to the Pike Place market. This is an interesting place...part Farmer's Market, part artist's colony, part bargain basement. There are some fairly nice shops, but some of it is a bit sleazy. Lee got some delicious alder smoked salmon from one of the fresh fish markets. We browsed through a few shops, but mostly headed down the stairs to the waterfront.

We poked around the Seattle Aquarium a little, but we didn't really feel like going inside, and we'd missed the IMAX movie we were interested in. So we walked back up the steps to the market, only to find that they close at 5:00 on Sundays, and everything was shutting down. We couldn't think of anything else to do in the short time we still had, so we just headed for the airport, and arrived with plenty of time to spare. We had some dinner, since we weren't going to get anything to eat on the plane.

From our seats on the plane we had a view of a beautiful sunset, and could see Mt. Ranier as well. It was definitely still light a lot later up there than what we're used to! The flight home was fine, but we had to wait quite a while for our luggage because several flights had arrived at the same time. By the time we got our car out of the garage and got home and got to bed it was almost midnight. The cats were happy to see us, though.


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Text and photographs copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath, lgil@cts.com
Last updated 9/27/99

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