But wait... let's back up a bit.
[backward tape scrubbing noise]
The wedding was amazing. We both had a great time. Kyle Stevens composed and performed an original song for us (AND did our reception music). We were married by my friend Hans, who proclaimed, "by the power vested in me by the State of Washington AND THE INTERNET, I now pronounce you husband and wife..." And when he told us to kiss, this is what happened.
The highlights of the reception were:
- Conga Line First Dance: Raechelle and I didn't want to do the sway-back-and-forth-on-the-dancefloor thing, so we had our MC (Raff) get everyone out on the floor to bounce to Bob Schneider's "Bambonanza". Conga line ensued, with me carrying Raechelle's train.
- Steve Hartley Caricatures: Steve's wedding gift was his talent. He set up shop and drew everyone who came to sit for him.
- Roses for Grandmother: We didn't do a bouquet or garter toss. Instead, Raechelle gave my grandmother her bouquet of red roses, since Omi hadn't had roses at her own wedding in 1941. It was an amazing gift.
- Bride's Dad Gets a Burger: Raechelle's folks are meat-n-potato people, and the cuisine offered by the caterer was very much swanky Seattle wedding food. When my FIL joked that he just wanted a burger, my producer Dan made it happen. Out of nowhere, a Jack in the Box bag appeared, containing a cheeseburger and fries. He was a happy man.
- Bride's Parents Getting Down: Apparently this is unusual behavior for them (although I'm told they were quite the hoofers back in the day). We all thought it was awesome.
- The Speeches: Several friends and family members got up to toast our marriage. Kayleigh shut it down with a really heartwarming story about how she knew when I started dating, there was light at the end of the tunnel, and that she was happy Raechelle was the light. Not a dry eye in the house. And nobody could follow that.
With family and friends seen safely to the airport by the end of Monday, we prepared to head to Kauai for eight days of unplugging and unstressing and undressing (Hawaii, folks - gotta dress light - get your head outta the gutter). Alaska is my favorite airline anyway, but a first class nonstop flight to Lihue, Kauai, was much better than I could have ever expected. The food was not only palatable but actually good. The extra leg room spoils me.
We got into Lihue after dark and got our car. We upgraded to a Jeep Wrangler, which turned out to be a pretty good idea on the Garden Island during the start of the rainy season. After a long, windy and wet drive to Kekaha, we found the rental house we'd booked. Although adequate (and the owners were nice), it just wasn't romantic, being a downstairs apartment in the owners' home, with a view of... the stairway. So the next morning we set out to find breakfast and potentially some different lodging. We ended up at the brew pub at the Waimea Plantation Cottages and fell in love with the place. When we inquired about availability, they checked and found a vacancy. SCORE!
We killed time until check-in by driving up to the top of Waimea Canyon, which is like a mini Grand Canyon with waterfalls. Beautiful and majestic, and one heck of a fun drive.
After we checked in, we went to find a beach - any beach - offering white sand and clear water. Since much of the south shore is made up of black volcanic rock, white sand is not as common. We did find a nice secluded cove with warm sand and gently rolling surf. We lay out awhile to get started on losing our Seattle anti-tan.
The next few days are a Hawaiian blur (which really sounds like it should be a fruity cocktail). We had a gecko sharing our cottage, which was totally cool with us, since the little guys tend to keep the bugs down, and not once did he try to sell me car insurance with a Cockney accent. Aside from that, we saw lots of cocks (ever since Hurricane Iniki swept through in 1992, Kauai has been teeming with wild chickens; the roosters are very pretty and very loud, and they're everywhere), and lots of pussies (Kauai seems to have almost as many feral cats as it does chickens). Those jokes never seemed to get old, and were later supplemented by references to nuts (macadamias seem to be in everything) and boobies (a few species of which nest along the cliffs of the north shore).
The dinner theater production of South Pacific at the Hilton in Kapa'a was... disappointing ('nuff said). We got out and explored as far as Poipu, ate at some wonderful restaurants, and were treated to phenomenal lightning displays three nights in a row. After a blissful 5 days at Waimea, and a choppy sunset dinner cruise up the Na Pali Coast, we moved our base of operations to a privately owned room at the Hilton.
The Hilton is right on the beach and has several beautiful pools and manicured grounds (including a tiki bar). Wish it hadn't been raining so insistently.
Again we headed out, exploring the north shore and down into Hanalei. We discovered the north shore is really where the money is, and upon reflection it was nice to start out in the more rustic south end and have more of an exotic "escape" for our honeymoon.
We also took a riverboat cruise up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto. We noted a Japanese tourist wearing a dry cleaning garment bag. The tour company has been family run for over sixty years, and there was fantastic entertainment along the way.
We went back to the north shore once again, checked out the Kilauea Lighthouse, got shave ice back in Hanalei, and had our last dinner at Scotty's in Kapa'a. Fantastic barbecue - highly recommended. Then we headed back to Lihue to turn in the Jeep and headed to the airport for our red-eye flight home. Whew!
I have to say, Mrs. Downing and I travel extremely well together. And I think it bodes well for our life to come.
So that's my long-ass post about the wedding and honeymoon. Sorry for the delay - hope you enjoy the pictures and narrative. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.