Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brian Kester's Wedding in Colorado Springs

Last weekend (August 15) was Brian Kester's wedding! (Brian did the same Space Policy masters at GWU that I did.) He went to the Air Force Academy and met Lindsay (now his wife!) at a swing dancing night at a place in Colorado Springs.

The first event of the weekend was a dinner at Casa Bonita in the outskirts of Denver. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's somewhat of a legend. In fact, there's a south park episode about it (Episode 711 - "Casa Bonita"). In the episode description, South Park says it's Colorado's version of a Mexican Disney Land. This clip actually has a good overview of the place.

It's a random restaurant in a strip mall, and inside it's like a maze (apparently a floor plan was never drawn up - it was made up as they went along). There is tons of (not so good) Mexican food (Brian told us to imagine taco bell and then take it down a few notches - the food is not actually the reason to go). You can get more food, and/or the infamous sopapilla desserts (which actually are good) by raising the flag at your table.

Then there's the entertainment: a cave, cliff divers, a mariachi band, stages with shows - we saw a magic show while eating (and Brian participated).

It was definitely an experience. Though clearly aimed at the under 10, Chucky Cheese crowd, we still had a great time.

Jeff and I stayed in the same hotel as our friends from DC who were also attending the wedding - Stephanie, Arthur, Eric, and Lindsey. On Saturday, the wedding wasn't until 4pm, so we decided
to do some Colorado Spring sight seeing. We went to 'The Garden of the Gods', which, oddly
enough, I'd visited seven years ago on my MIT preorientation trip, which was about geology. It's an area where these crazy rock formations jut straight up into the air. It's really incredible looking.

The wedding ceremony was held at the Air Force Academy Chapel, which is a really impressive-looking building.

It was beautiful inside - it has some stained glass, but also some normal glass through which you see the incredible mountain landscape.

Jeff and I both enjoyed the ceremony - they did a cute thing where the priest read comments that the parents had written about their new son/daughter in law. They also had a number of friends sing songs during the service, which was nice as well.

The reception was also on the campus of the Air Force Academy and was really beautiful.

We sat at a table with Stephanie, Arthur, Eric, Lindsey, and a couple other friends of Brian's. The reception had more singing by friends, which was cute. When it was time to give speeches, all of the groomsman and bridesmaids said something. It did take a while to get through everyone, but it was fun to hear stories from all different points of their lives, since some people were friends since early childhood, some from middle or high school, and some from college. Especially for Jeff and I, who only know Brian from graduate school and have only met Lindsey a handful of times, it was all new. Both sets of parents also talked, which was very nice. And of course there was lots of dancing!

Jeff, Stephanie, Arthur, and I didn't leave Colorado until Sunday night, so we had more sightseeing time. We decided to go to the top of Pikes Peak - the largest mountain in the area. There is a cog train that goes up at a pretty steep grade and gets you there in about 1.5 hours. (Hiking it takes 6-8 hours.)

Somehow, we didn't think too carefully about the weather at the top of a 14,000 ft. peak, so I wore a dress and Jeff wore shorts and a T-Shirt. When they announced that it was 13 degrees with windchill (and that the train windows are down for the majority of the ride), we decided to get some souvenier sweatshirts.

The ride was really nice and the view from the top was amazing. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Kansas.

After lunch in the cute town of Manitou, at the bottom of Pikes Peak, we headed back to Denver. Jeff and I made a stop at a neighborhood park his friend had recommended. We were sitting on a bench reading our books when an older couple came up to us and asked if we'd move for a minute. It turned out that the bench was dedicated to them (there was a little dedication plaque attached) and they just wanted to see it. There also a tree planted next to it marking their 50th anniversary. Very cute ending to a weekend all about couples.

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