City by the bay

Kenley and I decided to take the scenic Highway 1 route to San Francisco for his college friend Pete’s wedding. It was a quick trip — leaving Friday and returning Sunday — but we wanted to make the most of it.

We made a similar trip when we visited California in 2006 and rented a Sebring convertible to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Who knew at that time that we’d be married and living in Los Angeles five years later?

The trip up the PCH is a drive that everyone should make at least once. (I’ve been fortunate enough to do it three times now, the first with my parents and my brother when I was in high school, only I don’t think we rented a convertible then.)

On this trip, Kenley and I stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and used Frommer’s website to find Brophy Brothers, a seafood shack overlooking the marina. We sat at the bar and ate clam chowder and fish ‘n’ chips. A perfect lunch on a cool, overcast day.

We drove through Paso Robles, the quaint town where many Central California wineries are based. Kenley and I spent a night there during our first trip, but this time we only had time for a bathroom break.

When we got to San Luis Obispo, we decided to cut over to Highway 101 so we would make it to San Francisco in time to meet the groom and friends from the East Coast for drinks.

Kenley met Pete Johnson at the University of South Carolina, and they worked together at The Gamecock student newspaper. Pete also took photos for us at our own rehearsal dinner in 2010.

Fellow Gamecock alums Dave Cloninger, Ann Marie Miani, Todd Money and Bevin Hutcheson all made the trip from South Carolina, as well. We met them for drinks at the Americano restaurant in Hotel Vitale, where the wedding party was staying.

Dave Cloninger, Todd Money, Pete Johnson and Kenley Young (Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Miani)

On Saturday, we had lunch at Brandy Ho’s in Chinatown, which was a safe bet but not too memorable. I wish we’d had more time to walk around because San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of my favorite parts of the city. I love the crowded markets with the strange fish and chicken dangling from the windows, and the stores with embroidered silk robes. (This reminds me that Kenley and I need to explore Los Angeles’ Chinatown, which is downtown. And I’m told that Japantown is just a couple of blocks from our apartment.)

Instead, we had to go to the Financial District to buy Kenley a pair of shoes to wear to the wedding. He had forgotten to pack his on Friday morning as we rushed out the door, despite my reminders. But hey, any excuse to go to a city’s shopping district is fine with me, and San Francisco’s district hosts Gap’s flagship store. Though the company had just announced that it was closing one-third of its outlets, the flagship store was bustling. (Read the Los Angeles Times article here.) I bought a pair of skinny boot-cut jeans.

Kenley found a pair of shoes for $22 at Payless. I think he is in love.

We stepped into the Ghirardelli Chocolate store and were given a limited-edition pumpkin-spice caramel square! Chocolate and pumpkin?! These are two of my favorite things! And Ghirardelli, the San Francisco-based chocolate company, does it far better than Hershey’s, whose pumpkin-spice kisses are disappointing. I escaped without buying a whole bag. (More on my great pumpkin obsession coming soon.)

By the way, October in San Francisco is hot! It was 80-something degrees. I’ve never been hot in San Francisco. I remember being one of those tourists who had to buy a San Francisco sweatshirt at the wharf when I was there with my family one July. I’m learning that September and October are considered summer months in California.

Pete’s wedding was held in a beautiful historic church on a hill in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco. The church was gorgeously rustic with unfinished timber framing the front of the church. Pete’s bride, Esme, looked beautiful in a short dress with a full skirt, pockets, and gold, glittery shoes. (Photo courtesy of Pete.)

The ceremony was performed by one of the couple’s friends. It was really personal and sweet, with the officiator telling Pete and Esme that marriage means they can be their true selves. I, of course, cried (and Kenley may have had a little smoke in his eyes, too).

The reception was held at 12 Gallagher Lane, an art gallery. The heavy hors d’oeuvres by Taste Catering were amazing and included lamb meatballs, mini tacos and creamed corn souffle.

The couple had a dessert bar, with equally creative bite-sized sweets, including Earl Grey tea infused chocolate cups. Pete later told me that the dessert chef won the first season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”

At the reception, we got to see Abby McKee, one of Kenley’s friends from college who now lives in San Francisco.

Sunday morning, we returned down Highway 5, which is not scenic at all, but a much faster route.

We picked up Buster and Malia from The Kennel Club, where they had dressed Malia for Halloween:

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