I have the unique opportunity to write a blog of a longer vacation as it happens! Elizabeth’s cousin Chris is getting married to his longtime fiancee Chanelle in San Diego this weekend. Elizabeth booked us flights to get out here today and stay all the way through Thursday the 15th. With my Pathways internship at WFO Blacksburg being so short, I can’t justify taking 6+ days off of work, so I have brought my work laptop and will be on call from 7:00 – 3:00 each day. That gives me a chance, in between Commerce Learning Center modules, to upload a quick diary of what has happened since my previous shift each day.

I’ll start this one off by noting what happened last night when I dropped Scipio off with the dogsitter:

This was his first-time ever swimming. I’d say he can do the doggie paddle, but he was thrashing about so much that I couldn’t *really* tell. His dogsitter, Libby, seems like she’s super nice, and I haven’t heard that he did anything bad while she was at her internship today. Let’s hope that holds.

Elizabeth and I actually got finished packing pretty early last night. The only major thing I needed to do was pick up my tuxedo, which thanks to a clerical error (read: Winston was way too late in ordering our rentals), I had to order super-last minute from a bridal boutique in Norman. Everything arrived literally with hours to spare. We managed to get everything reasonably packed, even though Elizabeth took up some of my suitcase space, and I went to sleep still feeling that it was surreal that I would be in a new state by the end of the night.

The two of us were jolted out of bed at a ridiculously early time of 4:45 CDT (2:45 PDT) by simultaneous alarms. It took a few minutes to get going (I was worried about some suspicious log-ins to my FanDuel account which slowed us up), but despite Elizabeth’s obvious impatience we were still out the door by 5:20. After briefly discussing whether it would be possible to go to Starbucks with the time left before our flight, we (she) reached the executive decision that we could indeed spare the two minutes. And that is how I came to drive down I-240 at 5:45 a.m. with a Starbucks breakfast sandwich singing “California Gurls” at the top of my lungs.

We got to the airport a little ahead of schedule, and even got a good spot in the outdoor parking (N for Nolan!). I was fully ready for the Southwest baggage line to be long, but Elizabeth… wasn’t. She started to say something strangled like “Nolan, I told you!” but whatever she told me drifted off into a huff of anger as we took our place in the back of the line. It was 6:10. Our flight took off at 7:15.

It took 15 minutes to get through the baggage line and only 5 to get through security, leaving us at our gate with a firm 15 minutes to spare.

Boarding passes A59 and A60 got us a good spot on our flight to Phoenix. We chose the right side of the plane so Elizabeth could see the Grand Canyon, betraying an unfortunate ignorance of the geography of Arizona on our parts. However, we were treated to the sight of a praying mantis on the wing of the aircraft, which hung in there until it couldn’t anymore during the takeoff taxiing.

The flight was mostly noteworthy for the exciting fog bank over the Canadian River Valley in the panhandle, and the sight of the mountains near Santa Fe, and also for Elizabeth and me triumphantly returning to Candy Crush. Otherwise, it went about as well as anyone could have hoped. Elizabeth particularly enjoyed the view of Phoenix and surrounding mountains as we landed.

My impression of Phoenix:

After a quick layover, we were back in the air, this time bound for San Diego. The two of us continued our hot streak in crushing candy until we were well into the mountains of California. Then we watched, transfixed, as the desert and bumpy terrain passed by underneath. Faster than I expected, we were descending. I saw dudes on the ground, then palm trees, then the harbor. And then, with a jounce, we were on the ground in San Diego.

My first impression, fueled by smoke-shrouded skies, was that it was an urban hellscape. Maybe that’s just where we were, but it was an honest impression. My first surprise about the area came when we left and I discovered the airport was smaller even than OKC’s. And that is saying something. My second surprise came when we stepped outside so I could actually be on California ground.

Seriously, I still haven’t quite figured out how that’s happening, particularly as the Southwest goes through yet another record-breaking heat wave. Death Valley may touch 130 this week. And yet, 75 in San Diego!

The process of getting our bags and getting an uber was remarkably efficient. Even though we had to wear masks in the uber, the driver more than made up for it with his nice tour guide behavior. He showed us all the cool landmarks in downtown San Diego, which in all honesty looks like a cool place. Then he took us over the bridge to Coronado, where the wedding actually is. Turns out, he lived in Coronado, and knows a lot about the area.

Just as I thought the area couldn’t get any cuter (think Mackinac Island mixed with California), he swung a left and ended up on a little road that follows the strand a couple of miles southbound from Coronado to the Loews Hotel, an *incredibly* bougie hotel. Like, tour guide told us that he once had room service delivered on a boat levels of bougie. The hotel is in a part of the island so narrow that it faces right over the bay in one direction, and a tunnel under the road is all you need to get to the Pacific. The whole thing was incredible – columns everywhere, gleaming marble, boats sticking up in a little private harbor, tennis courts out front – it’s enough to make me want to sell out and become a stock broker so I can be rich enough to stay at places like this all the time.

Elizabeth and I walked in the insane entrance, which featured the kind of staircase you’d expect someone to walk down as she dramatically debuts to society in a movie, and got our room key. I had told my coworkers I’d be online at 11:00, and after not being able to connect my work laptop and making an unsuccessful call to the front desk, I connected my personal laptop and was logged in by 11:01. Meanwhile, Elizabeth continued to ooh and ahh at the surroundings.

And yes, I messaged him while looking at this view:

11:00 PDT is 1:00 CDT, and we were both ravenous for lunch. There aren’t any restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so Elizabeth and I headed down to the pool area (!) where there is a cantina (!!). I kept my laptop logged in and we ordered lunch – a margarita to split that turned out to be mostly (smooth) tequila, a fruit salad that I really should have taken a picture of (I tried something called a jicama – a Mexican potato essentially), and street tacos that hit the spot.

Since then, Elizabeth has left for a tea she’s throwing to celebrate Chanelle as a sort of wedding shower. I went back down to the pool with Victor, Charlie, and Michael, and worked on a Commerce Learning Center quiz while (kind of) enjoying a “skinny” margarita that Michael ordered for me. Now they are off to the San Diego Zoo, my work shift is just finishing up, and I need a nap.

I love it here.

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