baby update :-)) February 19, 2004 :-))

The Gina and Randy Thelen Wedding

June 1, 2002

Quail Hollow State Park,
near Ben Lomond, California

Prewedding - Announcement from the groom.
Postwedding - Announcement from the bride "Help!! - save me - ".
Hot Flashes - Honeymoon Trip Reports -

# 1 - Luggageless in Madrid! June 3
# 2 - Trip Report number 2, June 6
# 3 - Trip report numero tres, June 7
# 4 - Hola!, June 11
# 5 - in Paris and LOVING IT!! June 17
# 6 - Paris in a nutshell June 21
Status of luggage lost by Air France - Delivered by Air France June 17th

Events in time sequence

There was a Wedding Rehearsal

Casual is good :-))      Is laid way back better?

Then there was a Rehearsal Dinner,

at Gilbert's on the Santa Cruz wharf.
It may have been a great success.
The host doesn't remember.

Then - the fateful Wedding Day - June 1st.


The Groom's mother (left),
and her 4 sisters from Minnesota :-)

The assembled guests sat down

Groom's Party waiting for Bride's Party
and Alan Yoder introduced two typical randomly selected folks ;-)

Ah Heck - lets go for it!

and the guests ate, and talked, and ate, and -

Do you think they are waiting for the cake??
Let 'em wait!!

The M.C. - Uncle BillBill - off duty ;-))

Brother Carl (still married after several years) roasted Randy.
from Cody Tolmasoff's web site
Then gave the"three little words" he uses to keep peace in his house
"Your right Dear!"

The gang -

The dance - need pictures

OH - leaving so soon?? There's still some light -

May it last forever -

Sunday morning (the day after), we had wonderful brunch at the

Pasatiempo Peachwood Restaurant.
Need images of after-wedding brunch -

This web-page brought to you by      ;-))

Alan Yoder's
"Satisfaction guaranteed
or I pay for the cake".

Updated through June 7
Please send additions, corrections, .jpg images, ... by e-mail to Ed Thelen

The Honeymoon

Message # 1 Sent: Monday, June 03, 2002

Luggageless in Madrid!

Folks --

Gina and I have made it to Madrid ... Air France claims our luggage will be joining us soon (a wish-you-were-here moment if ever there were one ;-)

We´ve got a rental car and we´re having fun getting lost! The city is really pretty. It´s easy to see the architectural history that has contributed to its current shape and layout. Lots of little ´plaza´s´ appear to have been community centers hundreds of years ago. Today, after decades of urban sprawl, they´re little more than major intersections. It´s a sad fate for these community hubs.

Randy says as little as possible to avoid complete embarrassment while Gina has found she can communicate well enough to coax directions and food from the natives. One lady even drew a map for Gina after explaining that we were so lost that the directions were "poco defical" or a little bit difficult, but we found the hotel with her help.

People have been very friendly. The car rental guy reminded me that VISA offers car insurance and that saved us over a hundred bucks. The exchange rate is roughly one to one, dollars to euros. It´s easy to get ripped off in the exchange game; rule number one: don´t exchange at SFO.

Today we leave for Granada. With much luck we´ll be with a change of clothes!

See you all later!

-- Gina and Randy

Message # 2 Sent: Thursday, June 06, 2002

Trip Report number 2

Hola! Estan in Granada, pedo equipaja no estan aqui. (Or, as usual, we´re here but our luggage isn´t.)

For the last two day´s the weather has been a bit cold but today it warmed up and we are going off to the beach tomorrow.

We´re having a great time and have been loading up on tapas and beer! We toured the Alhambra yesterday and got a tour in English from Fernando, who, as it turns out, translates from his native language (of questionable origin) to English - slowly. The palace is massive ... actually there are two palaces. The first was built by the Moors who controlled Spain at the time. They wrote (and wrote and wrote) inscriptions in the walls within the palace citing the Koran and generally carved anything that didn´t crawl, run, or fly away. The carvings were like wall paper: top to bottom, left to right, and tiny. It was all done in plaster (so much of it has decayed over the centuries) but it was an impressive amount of work. The sheer number of rooms was staggering.

Then came the Christians (heathens!). They decided they wanted to prove their superiority and thus tacked on an incredibly ugly fortress which surrounds much of the original beauty. It´s interesting to see the differences between the fine attention paid by the Islamic architects and artisans and the crude work constructed by the Christians.

We´ve eaten our way in and out of each plaza. Most all the restaurants are great, some are just good. The wine is cheap, plentiful, and delicious. "Vino tinto, porfavor." Red wine, please :-) The meats consist of lamb, sea fish, pork, and very little chicken.

Everything is priced about the same as at home; but the shops close for lunch and people eat dinner later (it´s almost 8 o´clock and we´re heading for dinner now). But not as late as we thought. We tried to eat at 11 one night and most everything was closed. A few lingering shops on the street were open and happy to have us.

We´re staying at a hotel, Casa Morisca, and in a room from which we can see the Alhambra (we´ve taken photos of it from our room and will post them when we return). Also, we took pictures of our hotel room from the Alhambra (that´s how close we are!!). We´re in the old part of Granada. Very, very beautiful!!

Time to go! We´re getting hungry!!

Randy´s dad mailed this out:

>I have made a temporary web site of The Wedding at


-- Randy and Gina

Message # 3 Friday, June 07, 2002

Trip report numero tres

Hi Everyone,

We had to stop by the internet station to see about a hotel for tomorrow and figured a quick note might be fun. Today we went to the beach, the Mediterranean (Randy got a big kick out of drinking beers sitting on the beach). It was interesting. The water is very blue and it was very windy. There are a bunch of little almost deserted towns along the road to the beach. Our travel guides are in the suitcase so we didn't really know what to expect. Most of the towns are not touristy at all. Randy says they're similar to Santa Cruz 30 years back. Not tourist sounds like a good thing unless you want a beach umbrella and lounge chair. No such luck for the first three towns. Then pay dirt. A bunch of hotels had popped up along one stretch of sand and we were able to rent an umbrella and nap which was good because we woke up at 6am this morning due to the jet lag.

The other noteworthy thing that happened today is Randy saw a robbery. Just your typical tourist town snatch and run. Before he could figure out what was going on the guy was past him. We are watching our bags more carefully now. I have my purse strap wrapped around my foot as I type this. Other then this one incident Granada seems very safe. We see lots of families old and young walking all over town at night and there are plenty of police around. We're off to see a Flamenco show tonight and then to Sevilla tomorrow.

Hope all is well at home,


P.S. How´s Abilgail doing?

Message # 4 Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002


From the good news department, after hounding Air France for some time (you should have heard me yesterday, I was quite animated!) Air France called today to inform us that the last of our luggage has been found. The bad news is it was located in Granada in the last hotel we stayed at. They´ll pick it up and ship it to Paris where we´ll grab it in four days or so.

Everybody here smokes! It´s weird getting ashtrays delivered to dinner tables and seeing everybody light up inside of department stores (if you´re wondering what we´re doing in department stores, you´ve already forgotten that most of my luggage is spending time in purgatory [for bad behavior? whatever did my luggage do to deserve that?]). At any rate, Gina and I have picked up a several-packs-a-day habit of our own: Kleenex. Sigh. Apparently I´ve been quite allergic to something here and it´s set me off something fierce. We frequent the Farmacias to load up on six-packs of the personal-sized tissue packets.

Today has been our last day in Madrid and Spain, too. Tomorrow we´ll be in Bordeaux!! :-)

Today we went to the Prado museum. Wow! Gina had taken a great art history class and she was able to interpret and read the art in ways that were both insightful and humorous. At one point there was a painting of the queen of England (1520?) in which the goal of the painting was to impress the son of the king of Spain so that the son would marry her. Gina gleaned that from the Spanish text next to the picture looked at me and said, "what we have here is a mail order bride situation." :-) I love her interpretations!

We´ve eaten at more tapas bars than I can count! At least one a day and many times more than that. We just walk in sit down and start ordering the good stuff. Tinto vino (red wine), prawns, octopus, muscle this, potato this. Everything is cooked in olive oil (everything!), and more often there are red peppers added. It´s all so delicious!!

We look forward to the sauces of the French cooking, but we´ll miss the tastes and variety of the tapas.

Tonight we board an overnight train which will take us to Bordeaux (via a quick stop and train change in some city ... sorry I´m light on details ... dinner is the next stop and it smelled good on our way into the internet cafe).

Alan taught Gina and I the best way to gauge a restaurant is with our nose. We love giving restaurants the sniff test. If they don´t pass that, we pass on them! "Keep walking," Gina might say. With so many restaurants, it´s easy to find good ones.

Well, I think that sums it up at this point. I can only imagine internet cafes are as prevalent in Bordeaux as they were in either Granada or Sevilla (did we write about Sevilla? the river tour was pathetic!), but if not (or if we find ourselves tied up ... or tied down!?) we´ll catch you guys from Paris!

-- Randy and Gina

Message # 5 Sent: Monday, June 17, 2002

in Paris and LOVING IT!!

Folks --

Well we are here in Paris and LOVING IT!! We got in last night and Randy popped the cork on the champagne out the window. There were some people walking by on the street and they gathered under our window and sang us happy birthday in French. I sang in English and we declared it Randy's birthday. Then today we got up and went to see Notre Dame. It's a beautiful church and the choir was singing. I lit a candle for my mom and grandma who are both Catholic. The city is so nice. Everywhere there are ice cream stands and umbrella shops. Seems you can always use one or the other. Today it's definitely the cold stuff that you want: the weather is very muggy and hot.

There's more good news too. We got our luggage! Stephan at Air F. found it and had it delivered to our hotel so know we have maps, extra unmentionables and shoes. Two out of three of the items are actually useful. The maps are the odd item out, but it's just as well because driving around here is quite exciting and frustrating as all hell. The pedestrians are WORSE THAN SANTA CRUZ (or, for you Berkeley types, WORSE THAN BERKELEY)!!!! We never thought we'd see the day when that was true. We saw a pregnant lady just about step in front of a bus while calmly chatting on her cell phone. The thing about it was she didn't even seem concerned!! Red lights are optional around here, too. Man we are glad to have ditched the car.

We did get good use out of it though. In the car we drove from Bordeaux all the way to Paris with a stop over in the Loire Valley. It's very rural and pretty. The hotel we stayed at had a chicken coop (with well behaved late rising roosters) and excellent food. The whole little town was very 18th century. All of the buildings are made of stone and the town life still centers around a huge castle. Only now the tourist go to visit instead of merchants and royalty.

Some of the culinary differences between Spain and France include the role of the chef, the use of sauces, and the length of meals. In Spain one can expect that the chef duties are divided between an individual who selects the meats to be cooked and the janitor/prep-cook who actually heated the food (no kidding, right after one of our most delicious meals was served to us, the lady who cooked it brought out the broom and dust pan and cleaned up around us). Whereas in France, well, the hierarchy of chef, prep-cook, wait staff, servers, and front desk personnel are taught at culinary institutes. In Spain one discovers a drier meal than in France. The use of sauces is less common in Spain. And, finally, Gina and I had lots of wonderful, delicious meals in Spain but none of them lasted that long. They weren't quickies, but in France, an afternoon bite to eat takes two hours! :-) As you might detect, we're having a fabulous time eating our way from the southern end of eastern Europe to the northern end!

Alright, well, we've spent enough damn time telling you what we've been doing (although, we've left out so many details: Bordeaux is beautiful!), we've got to get back outside to do some more!!

-- Randy and Gina

# 6 - Paris in a nutshell June 21

Message # 6 Sent: Friday June 21, 2002

Paris in a nutshell

Folks --

Gina and I conclude our honeymoon today with our flight with Air France non-stop to San Francisco. (As you may recall, Air France managed to lose our luggage, 3 bags for a day and the fourth bag for two weeks.)

First, the Louvre is a big place. No. The Alhambra in Granada was big. The Louvre is absolutely gargantuan. We only spent one day in there (we were driven to do it: the temperature was 103F!). We saw much of the great art while not seeing the Mona Lisa to avoid the crowd perpetually surrounding it. (The posters of it are larger than it, so it's more or less pointless to "see" the real thing; besides, it's 'protected' by bulletproof glass or Plexiglas or something. It seems a poster is a better bet.)

We ditched our rental car when we first got to Paris. Thankfully. Man, the driving here is nuts. Alright, look, the roads are often one way. Also, the lights are different than in the US: in both Spain and France (and probably much of Europe) the stop light is at the start of the cross walk, where you are suppose to stop. And, the light is placed 10 feet (or so) in the air. So, as you visualize this, imagine yourself at the head of traffic waiting on the light. Right: you can *not* see the stop light. !? How crazy is that? Well, in Spain they have one fix for this problem: they place a copy of the light on the light pole at eye level on the right hand side of the road. If the road is many lanes wide, you have to look through traffic to see it. That can be hard. Spain has a second fix: the guy behind you honks. Every time a horn honks a light has turned green. It was very annoying. France has another fix for this problem. They've cut a hole (a cross, actually) in the BACK of the light for the opposite traffic. So you can see when it's RED that means you can go. Wacky.

But, the traffic lights are only part of the problem. The drivers are nuts. The pedestrians are nuts. We saw a women with a baby and cell phone step onto the sidewalk only to miss getting clobbered by a city bus by 6 inches (or less?). She just kept chatting away. Lalalala. Then there was the guy reading the newspaper stepped onto the side walk against the light and strolled across SEVEN lanes of traffic. All those lanes were fed by traffic which came around a blind corner from behind him (over his right shoulder). But he wasn't even looking?! These guys are nuts. This morning I saw a motorcycle police officer with his lights on (in hot pursuit? or just looking for a baguette?) and he took his hands off the handle bars. For no good reason. I watched him until he put them back on. Just a hands off, hands free, hands back on kind of thing. Just wacked.

The food is absolutely fabulous. The wine is terrific. I don't really know what else to say about it. The food in the Loire valley was tremendous. The food in the city is also good, but one must be more discerning. We've walked into, sat down at, and then walked out of more restaurants. It's all about the nose. After sitting down if the nose says no (and you haven't ordered), then walk. It's that easy. Life is too short for bad food.

Yesterday we went to the top of the Eiffel tower. Wow! Then we took a bike ride (see Mike's Bike Tours .com, or something). Our tour guide had a great personality, lots of charisma, and great stories. Some of those stories I want to verify with Carl (my brother) because they're too unbelievable! At any rate, the bike tour is the thing to do in Paris. It was, in our opinion one of the best things we did in Paris.

Alright, well with knowledge of the air controller's strike in Europe in mind, we're off to the airport to throw our selves (and luggage) at the mercy of Air France. God help us!

See you all soon!

-- Randy and Gina