Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Vacation: Part 4

Robert and I stopped for the night in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and then visited the Cougar Bay Preserve (back to our more straightforwardly bird-seeking ways) in the morning.  The most notable birds we saw were swallows, including the following species -- violet-green, barn, northern rough-winged, cliff, and tree.  We also saw a willow flycatcher.  It's always nice when we can identify an empidonax flycatcher because these are some of the most challenging birds to tell apart.  (They are most easily distinguished based on their songs.)

We arrived at the La Quinta hotel and were greeted by a calling California quail, always a welcome start to a hotel visit.  (This becomes the #2 favorite hotel bird after the lifer cactus wren that sang to us from atop our hotel in South Texas.)  Our parents showed up soon after, and we went to the little airport to pick up my sister.  (It was amusing that my dad saw her standing outside the terminal building and started yelling her name, and just about every person in a 10 foot area around her turned to see what the hell was going on, but she didn't.)  Although I had seen these guys at Christmas, it was still totally great to see them again, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with my sister, who I really, really do not see enough. 

The next day was the wedding, and we spent the morning at a local park, walking around a bit and trying not to relive the gull attack scene from The Birds.  (It was a mixed flock of ring-billed and California gulls driven into a frenzy by some people with bread.)  We also saw what, if I recall correctly, was a life bird for my mom -- ash-throated flycatcher.  My sister and my dad were good sports about the whole thing, though I promise that next time we will do a winery tour or something that appeals more strongly to those who do not really understand why people get excited about things like the difference between Canada and cackling geese and whether they have seen a specific type of nondescript little bird before or not.

The wedding itself was pretty good.  It was outdoors, but it was a pleasant temperature and the ceremony did not go on too long.  I wish I could remember all the interesting music that they used, but the recessional was from Star Wars, and how cool is that?  The bride and groom, and all their friends, are pretty serious nerd gamer types (though thankfully, they are not SCA geeks who required or requested people to dress in garb; we wore normal wedding appropriate clothing, including the wedding party, though the father of the bride GROOM was rocking a purple tux, which for him actually counted as sedate compared to the blaze orange tux he has been known to wear on other occasions) and at the reception (which had a free bar, excellent! another merlot, please!), there were a bunch of games lying around for people to play.  My family did a bunch of Pictionary and we determined: (1) Robert really can't draw, (2) Jen is an awesome guesser/interpreter of mediocre drawings, and (3) my dad still draws good horses and all other four-legged animals as though they are somewhat distorted horses.  We were joined by my mom's sister for a round of Scrabble with partial teams (appropriately, Robert and Jen were teams by themselves).  My team won (my dad's major contribution being a knack for drawing good tiles, a skill that can be underappreciated in these settings).  At the end, we started playing Apples to Apples, which is my uncle's favorite game.  Oh, and continuing the geek theme (the bride is a computer person), their cake was decorated with mathematical equations, with hearts representing some of the variables -- very cute.

The next day was spent at my aunt and uncle's house.  Though the bride and groom, as well as one of the other cousins, departed early, we had fun hanging with my oldest cousin, who (like Tam's cousin) is a minister but you would never guess it in a million years.  One of my favorite moments was when my uncle got his game system running so he, my cousin, and Robert could play some bowling and golf.  Jen had been a developer on the (sorry, I know I will mangle this!) motion-recognition, etc., system that underlay the game, and because I was standing next to her in the "audience," I got the inside scoop on what was going on.  (My mom wasn't aware of this conversation, so when we were on the phone the other night, she referenced this project that Jen had been working on, that her company decided, probably stupidly, to sell to Microsoft or somebody, and my dad and I were like, "We know!  It was used in those games from the wedding!  We saw its awesomeness firsthand!").  (OK, that was more my take on the situation than my dad's; his commentary was more subdued.)  We played an absolute marathon game of Apples to Apples in which my sister and my ability to read each other's minds came in handy.  But my mom's decision to play the Marx Brothers card to me was was very appropriate; I'm not sure there is a positive category that I would not choose the Marx Brothers for. 

Next:  Another crowd-pleasing vacation destination


mom said...

Don't be saying your Uncle Todd was wearing the purple tux. He was really much more sedately dressed. It was the father of the groom!

Sally said...

Yikes, thanks for pointing that out!