Fairs and Weddings and Gold Mines, Oh My!

It’s been a busy summer again this year, re-visiting some of our favorite activities and encountering some new ones.

Brian and Meredith’s Wedding

June was a very busy month for us, with social events nearly every weekend. One would think that Steve and I aren’t actually the social outcasts we claim we are! Halfway through June, our friends Brian and Meredith got married. The weekend before was the bachelor party at a place in San Jose that is basically like a Chuckee Cheese’s for adults. It’s a big video game arcade with a restaurant and a bar. Seems just about right for a bunch of computer geeks, doesn’t it? From the pictures I saw, it looks like everyone had a fun time and there wasn’t even a stripper! Or so I’ve been told. . .

Steve and Brian


Brian with his arcade ticket winnings

The wedding itself was a beautiful outdoor event on a hilltop near Santa Cruz, at the Hilltop Hacienda. It was also very interesting for me because I had never been to a Jewish wedding before. Here Meredith is stomping on the glass.

Meredith stomping on the glass

The reception was lovely, too, although it was a bit hot in the sun. It made it a little hard to get out on the dance floor, but people still managed to raise a ruckus with the infamous Chicken Dance! Just a few more pictures of the bride and groom for your viewing pleasure.

Brian and Meredith

Brian and Meredith eating wedding cake

16-to-1 Gold Mine Shareholder’s Picnic

Last summer when Steve and I were in Gold Country looking for a mine to explore, a park ranger in Coloma let us in a great little secret which I will share with you here. You see, it’s kind of hard to find a mine that you can really go in to. The best one in the area is the 16-to-1 Mine in Downieville. It costs about $75 a person to go on the tour. But every year they hold a picnic for the shareholders and let them go into the mine. You have to own 100 shares of stock for you and a guest to be invited. Now, the stock usually runs about 60 cents a share. So, for $60, 2 people can go to the picnic and tour the mine. And you own stock in the country’s oldest and only still operating gold mine. Pretty cool, huh? Well, we sure thought so and so did my parents, so we all bought our shares and planned for our trip to Downieville. The picnic was at the end of June and my parents drove across the country again for their visit. We rented the 2-bedroom H&M Cottage for the weekend and met my parents Friday night in Downieville.

The next morning we got up early and headed off to the Shareholder’s meeting and picnic. A while back, the mine had found a huge gold nugget which they call the Whopper. If they were to stamp it, it would yield about $40,000 in gold. But the specimen itself is so fantastic that it is worth several times that amount in it’s current form. They even let people hold it for pictures! I guess they figure you couldn’t run fast enough carrying it to get very far.

Dad holding the Whopper

Anne holding the Whopper

The tour of the mine was a little strange in that they kind of just sent you off into it without a guide. I don’t think you could get lost. At least not as long as the people in front of you went in the right direction. But it was very dark and damp. It was also quite cool which was a great relief from the heat of the day outside. Here I am with my parents at the mine entrance.

Mom, Dad, and Anne at 16-to-1 Mine entrance

After the picnic, we headed back to our cottage and then to the river for some gold panning. We all got out there, but my dad and Steve stayed out there for about 2 hours, long after my mom and I retreated to the bank of the river, just enjoying the day.

Mom and Dad panning for gold

Mom panning for gold

Dad and Steve panning for gold

Dad and Steve panning for gold

Their persistence paid off and both Dad and Steve managed to find some gold flakes.

We drove back to San Rafael that Sunday and the next two days of my parents’ visit were spent looking at wedding dresses. In two days, my mom and I went to 4 shops and looked at lots of dresses. I found a beautiful one in ivory and pink that I ordered in July. It was a very fun couple of days. We got a lot done but we never felt rushed. I just felt bad about leaving my dad to his own devices, but he insists that after being constantly on the go as they drove across the country, he was ready for a couple of days to relax.

Lucasfilm 4th of July Picnic

This summer’s picnic at Skywalker Ranch was, unfortunately, sweltering. It was definitely over 100 degrees that afternoon, and Steve and I had a hard time getting excited about anything. I had every intention of participating in the tug-o-war again this year, hopefully advancing from 3rd to 2nd place, but I just couldn’t do it. We actually left the picnic a full hour before the tug-o-war was scheduled to begin. It was too bad because I really think this could have been the year, but I was literally starting to feel sick to my stomach by the time we left. We did make it out to the barns to see the animals and we had the obligatory picture in front of the picnic arch taken, too.

Anne and Steve at Lucasfilm picnic

Marin County Fair

The Marin County Fair was again a rip roarin’ good time this July. Well, not really, but we get in for free with passes through work, so it’s worth going for an afternoon. After all, it’s always fun to revert back a bit to your childhood.

Anne on carousel

Steve on carousel

We also got to see at least a few animals, including this duck with a very fashionable hairdo!

Afro Duck

We spent a good deal of time in the petting zoo feeding the goats, too. I do like goats.

Anne feeding a goat

Steve feeding a goat

Anne feeding a goat

This picture was actually taken at the Sonoma County Fair later in the summer, but it so accurately depicts any fair food situation that I thought I’d include it here.

Anne eating fair food

We also got to see Chubby Checker live in concert one evening there. Let me tell you, he has aged VERY well. He looks like he’s only in his forties! He also has a pretty sweet gig for a dirty old man. He kept inviting girls up on stage to dance the twist or some variation thereof. He basically stood up there and watched all these women shake their assets. Invariably they hugged and kissed him, sometimes leaping up and putting their legs around his waist, before leaving the stage. He’s got quite a good thing going. Unfortunately, none of my pictures came out very well, but he does put on a great show.

Finally, there were some great fireworks over the lake on the fairgrounds every night. We got a lot of good pictures of them so I’ll share a couple of them with you.



Dunsmuir House Scottish Games

Once again, we went to the Highland Games at Dunsmuir House in Oakland. It is a beautiful place, although the weather this year was downright chilly. We spent some time watching the athletes and I learned something new this year. Unlike the Olympics where people can choose which events they wish to participate in, everyone who plays in the Scottish games has to participate in every event. By the end of the day they start to get pretty darned tired, bringing even more danger to the toss-a-heavy-weight-over-your-head game.

This year, we also stayed for the closing ceremony and the gathering of the bands. It was a truly amazing sight to see the 4 bagpipe bands gather on the front drive. There were well over a hundred musicians there with the drums and pipes.

Massed bands

By far the most tear-jerking moment was when they played Amazing Grace. As a bit of background to this story I need to tell you about the first time I watched Wrath of Khan. It was just within the last year. Steve could not believe that I had never seen it before and he has it on DVD, so we invited one of our friends over to watch it one evening. It was very sad when Spock died and there was nary a dry eye in the house. Then Scotty started to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipe. I just burst out laughing. To me, it was a very cheesy moment and I found it highly amusing that Scotty suddenly was able to play the bagpipes. At least in the newer Star Trek series, the characters have a long standing history of playing musical instruments. Whether it’s Ryker with his trombone or Ensign Kim with his clarinet, there is at least some basis for them playing. Scotty was just totally out of the blue. Anyway, Steve was just horrified that I was laughing at this tender moment as tears were rolling down his cheeks.

So, this is our history with Amazing Grace being played on the bagpipes. At the Scottish games, it began with a lone piper standing on the upper porch of the house. Steve and I immediately started laughing just thinking about the Star Trek moment. And Steve started taking my picture as I was laughing which only made me laugh harder. Things only got worse when the entire 100-strong band of pipers joined in on the second verse. It was just like in the movie when the rest of the orchestration joins in with Scotty. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. It was classic.

Anne laughing at the bagpipes

LucasArts’ Bimbos Party

LucasArts finally got around to throwing their annual company party in the City this July, at Bimbo’s 365 Club. As always, it was a very fun affair with an excellent band. This year, it was a band called Tainted Love and they were playing 80’s tunes. Steve and I had a great time and I even got him out on the dance floor for a while. We even got all dolled up for the occasion.

Anne and Steve

What has just struck me is that, although I was there with all the right people, there were no shots of tequila that night! I can’t believe it.

Chris, Kirsten, and Dan

Somehow I managed to muddle through the night on Long Island ice teas. I had only had one of these once before when I was in college. It was awful and I never understood how people could claim that they were so dangerous because you couldn’t taste the alcohol in them. The one I had burned my mouth it was so strong tasting. Well, at Bimbo’s, Steve ordered one and I decided I should give it another try. It turns out the one I had on the Senior Walk in college was very crappily made. The drink was delicious! So, I ordered one for myself. All in all, I had a very fun time that evening even if it was incredibly hard to get up for work the next morning.

Anne and Denise

Another Night of Karaoke

Our first experience with karaoke had been such a great time, that we decided we should do it again in July. Fewer people turned out for the evening, but we still had a good group and a few good turns on stage. Here are Dan and Neil singing their version of Walk This Way.

Neil and Dan

Aaron decided an encore of Whip It was in order.


And we did Love Shack again, this time incorporating the musical stylings of John Hancock on back-up vocals.

Neil, Anne, John, and Kirsten

But the biggest story of the night was when I got Steve up on stage for a duet with me. I had decided that we should sing The One I Want from Grease. Everyone always chooses Summer Nights and I thought this oft overlooked song should get some airtime, too. Besides, I knew it pretty well. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Steve. I really thought he did, though! Poor Steve. I don’t think I’ll be getting him up there again anytime soon. Especially after the hard time my brother Greg gave him in August. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, here is a picture of Steve’s and my ill-fated duet.

Steve and Anne

Lucas Softball League – The Mobsters?

That’s right. I played another season of softball this year, again as the captain (although I had a co-captain this year to assist with the line-up. Unfortunately, I still had to play bad cop to deal with administrative issues, disagreements with umpires, and other team tensions). And the team voted in a very democratic fashion to change the name from the Roswell All-Stars to the Mobsters. I wasn’t thrilled with the decision, but I did kind of like the logo and my new nickname: Half-cocked. I think the team was hoping to put our losing season behind us. We did much better this year, ending the season in 7th place out of 12. I had an okay season, managing to get on base from time to time, sometimes even by hitting the ball!

Anne at bat

Unfortunately, my biggest moment of the season was a bit painful for me. I had managed to avoid playing catcher for most of the season, but close to the end of the summer, I was called into that position. The league had made the decision at the beginning of the season that the catcher did not have to wear a mask if s/he so chose. Now, normally I’m a safety-conscious person. But the masks that are available at the Ranch are old, sweaty, and smelly. And every time I wear one, I break out where the old fabric touched my face. So, I chose not to wear the mask. Things were going pretty well. We were winning in the 6th inning and I was catching. Suddenly, the woman at bat hit the ball as a foul tip-off and it flew into my face. At first, it didn’t really hurt, but I was pretty sure I would need someone to finish the inning for me. Then I took my hand away from my eyebrow and the blood started to hit the dirt.

Ranch fire and safety personnel were called, I was made to lie down, and huge amounts of gauze were applied to my head. I never saw the laceration, but folks tell me it looked pretty bad. The softball (which should not be so named) hit me directly on my brow bone causing my eyebrow to split nicely. The doctor said it was a very clean cut. So, Steve and I went off to the ER where I was patched up. I was feeling pretty good until after we got home, as you can see from my smile in this picture.

Anne with a black eye

Unfortunately, that was not the case once the lidocaine wore off. My eye got pretty swollen before it was over, and I wound up with a pretty decent shiner to boot.

Anne with a black eye

But hey. We won the game and had a decent season, even if we didn’t get very far in the tournament. Here we are in our end-of-season team photo.

Mobsters Team Photo