The Wedding (not ours!!)

Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hi all, hope you all had a great Christmas, here's the latest..

"Marc, whatever you do, don't get married without us" were our parting words to our friend Marc in Aberdeen just before we set off in Oct 2002. More than 2 years later, there we were, heading for Houston, the city Kev never had any desire to return to, to see him tie the knot.

It started at 3 a.m outside our hotel in Antigua, Guatemala, after only a few hours sleep having spent the day rushing around buying last minute Christmas and wedding presents. A tourist shuttle bus took us to the airport for our 3 hour flight to Dallas Fort Worth airport. After being grilled by the customs officer and having the hardest time getting into any country so far, we tried to reassure ourselves that people were no longer trying to steal the rucksacks from our back and Sian tried to stop twitching as she learnt the shadows on the floor were not cockroaches scuttling over her feet but simply reflections in the gleaming, polished would appear we may have been travelling too long!

We chased the downtown buses around the massive airport for a while until we finally made it to the bright but chilly city centre and a brief meeting with our host for the night, Ian. We dropped off our bags and headed off to Dealey Plaza, the infamous Grassy Knoll and the 6th floor window from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots and assassinated JFK. The 6th Floor Depository is now an excellent museum, the whole floor dedicated to JFK, his brief presidency, the assassination and the associated stories and conspiracy thories of which there are so many. We didn't have nearly enough time so we had to return the next morning. The evening was spent swapping travel stories with Ian and his flatmate Stephen over a couple of beers and some decent western food (at last) in a Dallas bar. We were treated to a guided tour of the suburbs where the locals try to out do each other decking out their homes and gardens with thousands of tiny Christmas lights and lit up giant plastic Santas! Some of the displays were really quite spectacular ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. We had a great time with Ian and Stephen and would have liked to have explored Dallas more but by noon the next day we were on a Greyhound bus heading South to Houston.

Marc collected us from the station and with more than 2 years to catch up on, we bombarded him with questions about his bride to be and what goes on in an American wedding which is quite different from the U.K version. Marc then mentioned that Kev was a groomsman with several duties to perform, something which had slipped his previous correspondence much to the amusement and surprise of both. Yes, Marc was as organised and unconcerned as ever. Thankfully, Kimberley was a picture of calmness and had everything in order. Other friends from Aberdeen, Eurig and Jane arrived the next day on a flying visit with the silk dresses that Sian had made in India (then had sent home), thus saving Sian from showing Kev up by having to wear jeans and hiking boots. After the expected last minute panic we were all set for the church rehearsal and an evening meal for all those involved. This is also the time when all the speeches are made and the best man (Marc's Stepdad) gave the typically risky and traditionally British speech that shocked most of the Americans, although they couldn't help but laugh. Then it was the turn of friends and family and with Marc being so outnumbered both Kev and Eurig jumped up and gave impromtu speeches although they surprisingly refrained from too many innuendos regarding his 'past life'.

The wedding day itself got off to a relaxed start with the groom even insisting on doing a last minute supermarket shop in the afternoon before flying into a mad panic when his suit trousers didn't fit! The wedding wasn't until 7 p.m but all went smoothly and the reception was great fun complete with a Union Jack wedding cake and a fantastic band that allowed Marc to do his Mick Jagger impression!! All too soon the happy couple were being driven off in the back of a 1966 Mustang while all the guests waved sparklers, it was a bit like something out of Hollywood!

We headed off on the 20th on an early flight to Dallas and then on to Seattle where Winston, a friend we first met in India over a year ago, was awaiting our arrival. Winston and his wife Jen had just had their first baby, Rebecca, 6 days earlier, so we were doing the whole wedding and baby thing within a week. Although she received a lot of attention from everyone, Rebecca behaved perfectly and took it all in her stride but it was certainly a scary bump straight back to suburban reality for us. However, it was really nice spending the run up to Christmas with them all, shopping for a few presents and again being spoilt by everyone's generosity. Christmas Eve was spent at Jen's sister's where we had a fabulous Christmas dinner and later attended a true 'American style' Christmas Eve service.

The following days were pretty relaxed and we didn't really do that much. We walked around the nearby Green Lake a couple of times and went downtown where we visited the Klondike Museum detailing the events of the Gold Rush in Alaska, Seattle being the key port from where eager prospectors set off. We also did the Seattle Underground Tour which detailed Seattle's bizarre construction history and made us wonder 'how can people be that stupid??' After a huge fire wiped out a massive area in the 1890s, the city had the chance to redevelop itself and sort out it's flooding problems as most of the city was built on mud flats. However, the local business people couldn't wait for a solution and re-built their businesses just where they had been before the fire. Meanwhile huge amounts of earth was relocated from the nearby hills to fill in the boggy mud flats. Encountering a problem with the new businesses being in their way, the town planners simply built a retaining wall around each block of new buildings then filled in the areas in between with the earth from the hills. The roads and streets were therefore raised by as much as 30 feet in places with the sidewalks and buildings down below. To cross the street you had to climb up ladders against the walls, cross over and climb back down ladders the other side!! After many people fell to their deaths from the road into the sidewalk, they built extra floors onto the buildings, raised the level of the footpaths and thus created an underground system where the lower stories and old footpaths had been. Honestly, it's true, this is what happened. Unbelievable but very amusing!

Well we are moving on from Seattle on the 28th, heading North to the chillier climate of Canada. Until next time,

Happy New Year, see you in 2005!

K & S.
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