In my last post, I described our drive back to California from Williams, AZ. Once we arrived, the focus shifted from Jon and I being alone in the National Parks with seas of strangers, to being surrounded by loved ones. The masses were converging on the Marriott Marina del Rey to celebrate Jon’s cousin’s wedding. Other than the rehearsal dinner and the wedding, the last two days of our trip were unscheduled. We had some time to relax, and enjoy the company of family. And relax we did.
Our hotel was located within walking distance (about a mile) from the famed Venice Beach, so we walked down to check it out. Over the two days we were there, we walked to the beach three times. The pier seemed bland, a hulking concrete structure that seemed to have no purpose. The beach was beautiful, with lovely sand and gently lapping waves. California really does have amazing beaches. I collected some tiny seashells, and we walked along talking and soaking up the sunshine.
We also were treated to a Brown Pelican visiting. He was just hanging out on the beach, unfazed by the crowds. I was able to get some nice pictures of him, and when I zoomed in, I could get just him without all the people who were nearby.
We also checked out the famed Venice Beach Boardwalk; I was completely and totally unimpressed. In fact, I was more than unimpressed – I was really put off by it. It was just shop after shop of souvenirs, and block after block of young men hawking black market CDs. Yuck!
The wedding was great – the reception was a blast! It was fabulous to be a part of Jon’s cousin’s new start in life; his bride is wonderful. I’m sure they will have many happy years together. I got to do a little swing dancing to Brown Eyed Girl (one of my absolute favorite songs) with Jon’s uncle, who is a really good dancer. I just hope the video never makes it to YouTube! Because while he is a fabulous dancer, I’m sure my dancing is cause for much laughter among the audience!
On Sunday afternoon, before heading to the airport, Jon and I made a visit to my uncle who lived in Los Angeles. He was battling colon cancer, and the diagnosis was terminal. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend a few quiet hours talking. We talked about travel, family, love and loss, and he told me stories about growing up with my grandparents, father, uncle and aunts. My uncle passed away in August, and although I did get to see him again only a few weeks before he left us, this visit is the one I treasure.
After our visit, Jon drove us back to the Long Beach Airport, to drop off the car and take our flight home. We were more than relieved to hear the rental agent say “no damage” after the dirt road beating we had inflicted on that poor little car. And I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they had to realign it after our trip.
The flight home was uneventful, and a great end to a trip that made memories to last a lifetime.