A Quick Trip to California for Dennis’ Wedding; or, An Excuse to Stuff Ourselves While in the U.S.
About two weeks ago, Alex and I spent six days in California, to attend my college friend Dennis’ wedding. Alex and I were very excited for this trip because a). It was in CA, b). We’d never been to Palm Springs before, c). We could spend some time with my cousin Jeanie (who was at home studying for her boards), d). I could catch up with college friends, e). Alex could play golf, and finally, f). We could indulge ourselves in all the In-N-Out Burger we wanted.
It was Alex’s and my first time flying on an Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world. Although we had normal seats in economy, I definitely noticed (and appreciated) the extra legroom! After we arrived and rented a car at LAX, we stopped at Chipotle (check!) for our first meal (eating In-N-Out would have put us into a food coma, I’m sure). We then drove to Jeanie’s place in Irvine (a really nice town, very well-planned and beautiful). We ate dinner together at A&J Restaurant, a small Chinese restaurant (check! delicious, and of course, cash only). Alex and I really miss good Chinese food- you would think the Chinese food would be better in Korea, being so close to China… but nope.
The next morning, the three of us drove to Palm Springs (with a lunch stop at Chick-fil-a – check!). We passed a windmill ‘farm’ on the highway (Alex was very excited about that)- we’ve never seen so many windmills before- just rows and rows, as far as we could see. Palm Springs is a cute town, with a palm tree lined main street and little shops and restaurants everywhere. We arrived at the Alcazar Palm Springs hotel and had a quick chat with the grooms, Dennis and Zoran. 😀
Alex, Jeanie and I then drove to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (rated as the number one attraction on TripAdvisor). We took the tramcar (largest ROTATING) all the way to the top (an amazingly quick 10 minute, 2.5 mile ride), from ~2,600 feet to ~8,500 feet. There was a 30 degree temperature change (scorching hot 95F to a cool 65F), which was much appreciated. We did a short nature walk (saw some of the biggest pine cones as well as some of the fattest squirrels) before taking the tramcar back down.
We met up with my college roommates Judy and Pre and had Mexican (check!) food with some other folks. While Palm Springs is extremely hot during the day, it becomes bearable at night once the sun goes down. It was nice sitting outside for dinner and drinks.
Saturday morning, Alex played golf with my college friend Richard, at the sixth ranked public course in California (Alex said he saw so many dessert mammals – I’m jealous!). Judy, her boyfriend, Jeanie and I tried to explore downtown Palm Springs (we had to duck into an air conditioned store every few minutes because it was so hot). We had lunch at a little sandwich shop (not on my list but it was SO good) before heading back to the hotel to cool off.
The wedding was small and intimate. Dennis and Zoran did a great job planning their wedding: the ceremony was beautiful (we all teared up when Dennis’ mom gave him a hug and refused to let him go), the vows sweet, and the reception by the pool was elegant. We enjoyed dinner, the photo booth, and the cake (it was SO good I had to eat two slices). I made a fool of myself dancing to Gangnam Style 강남스타일 (hey, did the DJ play it just for Alex and me?! haha) and I think the videographer even caught it on camera. Afterwards, Dennis, Zoran, Pre and Judy, and a few other guests, jumped in the pool (clothes on). As Zoran said, “That’s what dry cleaning is for!” Alex looked at me for approval, but I shook my head. I didn’t think we had enough time to have his clothes dry cleaned before getting on the plane!
The next morning, we had breakfast outside and said our goodbyes. I really miss these guys already! PODJ! (Pre, Olivia, Dennis, Judy- yes, we love acronyms…)
Jeanie, Alex and I bought sandwiches (the pastrami was AMAZING) from Sherman’s Deli downtown, before driving to Joshua Tree National Park. None of us knew what a Joshua tree looked like, and we were surprised! They are the weirdest looking trees (sort of half palm tree, half normal tree)- straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! Joshua trees are native to only four states (California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona) across the Mojave Desert.
We drove through the entire park (stopping to take photos). It felt like we were on another planet! The sun made it very hot but there was a cool breeze. Some of the rock formations (the park is very popular for climbers) looked bizarre. If we had to choose one word to describe the trees and the park: eerie- for the trees, rock formations, and “barren” landscapes.
On Monday, while Jeanie was studying for her boards, Alex and I spent the entire day shopping, but not before fueling up on In-N-Out Burger (check!). My mouth still waters when I think about the cheeseburger. And I regret not getting a double-double (Alex told me I should have). It was my first time inside a Target since moving to Korea and it was an amazing experience! I forgot how wonderful Target was. Alex and I wanted to buy everything in the store, which is why we spent 2 hours and over $300 there!
We met Jeanie for a Mexican fusion (the restaurant originated from a food truck) dinner, which was delicious- this was after Alex and I made a pitstop at a Baskin Robbins for some ice cream (the portion sizes in the U.S. are HUGE!).
The next day, Alex and I drove along the Pacific Coast Highway to Balboa Island, Newport Beach, then down to Corona del Mar, past Dana Point. We dipped our feet in the ocean (mind-numbingly cold!) and gawked at all the large mansions. We just felt so free, being able to drive around (and not have to sit through Seoul traffic)! We had Thai/Vietnamese for lunch (check!) before stopping at a Yogurtland for frozen yogurt (check!) and then headed back to Jeanie’s to load up the car and drive to LAX (where we had In-N-Out again! 😀 ).
It was great seeing my college friends, attending Dennis’ wedding, and spending time with Jeanie. Alex and I really enjoyed our short trip to California! Can’t wait to go back!