Day 35: Los Angeles, CA

We got up, had a quick breakfast, and went with Arielle’s parents to Blazing Saddles. Arielle worked at this spin studio six years ago when she lived in LA, and her parents go back almost every week for a spin class. We ran into Jessie, a good friend who moved to London less than a week after she attended our wedding and just moved back! There were only a few other people in the class, taught by Maxi, who said that we had someone in the class used to weaving between cars in Manhattan (that would be Abe). It was quite an intense class that gave us a great workout. We drove a few blocks to Fresh Brothers, a pizza place that now offers cauliflower crust. We ordered one medium mushroom pie and one medium plain cheese pie. They were both great and served as more than adequate substitutes for typical bread.

We made our regular run to Coffee Bean and returned home with just a bit of time to get ready for the wedding. We drove to the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, where we immediately located our table card so that we could store our giant vault of shtick materials at our seats. Arielle went to greet Lisa at the bedeken and cried when Lisa gave her a blessing then walked over to join Abe and the men as the only woman at the tish for Michael, which was led by Rabbi Ed Feinstein, who jokingly prodded Michael to actually say something in his d’var Torah while hushing the crowd after repeated bursts of song he himself incited. Michael was danced out to Lisa before the ceremony, which took place outside. Arielle was honored with signing the marriage license, and despite practicing writing out her full name (in English), she ended up just signing it with her first and last name as her hands trembled. Rabbi Feinstein also created a wonderful moment by affirming that, as their parents blessed them, Lisa and Michael were no longer just descendants but also the architects of their own family. We scored great seats near the front with our friends Ross and David, Abe’s roommate from Florence, Lisa’s law school colleague, and Arielle’s “New Lisa” when she moved back to LA.

It was a spirited, thoughtful, and intentional ceremony, and Lisa’s college a cappella group, the Shabbatones, sang her down the aisle. Arielle was excited that Lisa chose to circle Michael seven times, the traditional way that we now rarely see at weddings we attend but which is also what we did at our wedding. It was very obvious that they tried to honor as many people as possible with the sheva brachot, which was very nice. Rabbi Feinstein made Lisa very happy when he started singing the melody for the seventh blessing after her grandparents had said it under the chuppah. After they were danced out, we made our way inside to the reception after grabbing a quick picture with our friends Ilana and Andrea!

We joined our LA friends Shiri, Yoni, Shani, Edan, Phil, Sydni, and fellow visitors Leah and Alex at Table #2, in between Penn friends at Table #1 and Cardozo friends at Table #3. We liked the long dais-table that Lisa and Michael were sitting at along with all of their immediate family members, a very sweet touch. The hora got off to an exciting start, and, after Lisa and Michael were lifted up on chairs, at seemingly very different heights, it was time for shtick. Arielle and Abe had been appointed “rosh shtick,” so we had reached out ahead of time to groups of Lisa and Michael’s friends to advise them about preparing signs and other entertainment for the happy couple. It all went by very quickly, and a plethora of people going up to make the bride and groom smile and laugh meant that we barely got in all the things we had prepared. The highlight was definitely David wearing a curly brown wig that looked nothing like Lisa’s hair, and when Lisa finally realized what the giant Bartenura Moscato bottle was. The dancing started right back up, but Lisa’s brother Adam kept making sure that Lisa and Michael saw the shtick that was still being flashed in the background. For dinner, there were alternating salads options, one of which Abe was fortunate enough to get without dressing. Abe got the stuffed chicken, and Arielle got the salmon. We danced the night away and got great pictures with the following friends: Rachel and Jordan, Ilana, our table, David and Ross, David and Lisa, Rachel, Arielle’s high school classmates, and, of course, the bride and groom!

We were honored to sing the sixth of the seven blessings during the Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals), and of course stayed to close up the joint, departing around 1am after Abe had some trouble finding the car because it was parked in a different lot and the gates had already been locked. What a blast though, and with almost no L.A. traffic in the middle of the night, it only took us fifteen minutes to get home and pass out right away after a fantastic night.

Approximate number of miles covered: 18

Day 34: Los Angeles, CA

We slept in a bit since our first plans were lunch but still enjoyed a nice breakfast at home with Arielle’s parents. We drove to Beverly Hills for the lunch, which was hosted by family friends of the Schlesingers’ and featured only friends and family on the bride’s side. Abe was delighted to finally meet Elana Neshkes, who he had heard plenty about from his Hebrew school friend Miriam (and from Arielle and Lisa). The homemade food was very good, and while it was sunny and hot, the backyard setting was beautiful. Arielle was thrilled to find out that Jay, whose adult children were hosting the lunch, was a longtime customer of her grandfather’s - a small world indeed. On the theme of Lisa, Abe dropped Arielle off at our friend Shiri’s house so that they could spend the afternoon working on shtick posters for the next day. They traveled together to the Shabbat Kallah at Lisa’s cousin’s home, throughout which Arielle sobbed, and then returned to Shiri’s to work for several more hours on the shtick, the most impressive of which was a life-size Bartenura Moscato bottle referencing Lisa’s love for the sweet bubbly. Abe, fresh off a productive afternoon and evening of much-needed TV marathoning, picked Arielle up around ten o’clock to come home for a relaxing and low-key night.

Approximate number of miles covered: 12

Day 33: Los Angeles, CA

After managing to put 5,800 miles on our car in just three weeks, we brought it in to a Toyota dealership for its 30,000-mile inspection. We didn’t realize that they would need more than three hours to do this, but luckily we were able to walk about ten minutes from the Santa Monica Toyota to the Third Street Promenade. Abe got a tasty salad from Simply Salad while Arielle went to the nearby Apple Store for her prescheduled Genius Bar appointment. Arielle then enjoyed an Orange Dream Machine Jamba Juice while Abe purchased his signature seasonal Ice Blended Pumpkin Chai from Coffee Bean. Both places gave us the leftover from the blender so that we could each have a bit of the other's drink!

We walked down the promenade to find the area where board games were being provided and played, but got distracted by a T-Mobile tent set up right by it. Arielle was engaged by the representatives, who nearly convinced her to switch from Verizon by guessing what her current bill was and promising infinitely cheaper options with their service, and Abe reset his Twitter password so that he could follow T-Mobile to receive a free gift. We ended up walking away with more than one branded item, and continue to be Verizon customers. We walked back to the Toyota dealership, where we learned the unimpressive news that the USB port we thought had been malfunctioning was actually never meant to charge the attached device, just connect the media, meaning we would need to purchase an adapter for the cigarette lighter if we wanted to be able to charge our phones while driving. We did some food shopping and then stopped at home to change before heading to our first wedding weekend event. We arrived at Temple Beth Am for a lovely outdoor Shabbat dinner for family and out-of-town guests of the Schlesinger and Goldsmith families. We enjoyed reconnecting with Lisa’s friends from Penn, including Rachel, as well as a few other New York acquaintances and Los Angeles natives now living elsewhere. The company was great, and so was the food! After services led by Lisa's cousin and the beginning of the food, Lisa and Michael had people come up to share stories, and Arielle went up with Rabbi Leah Loeterman Fein, who grew up with them and now lives in Syracuse, NY, to share a few nice anecdotes.

We helped close up shop as the last people to leave, stopping at the venue for the next day’s lunch to drop off some centerpieces on our way home. We also dropped the groom off at his apartment since he and Lisa weren’t going to be seeing each other from that point until the wedding day.

Approximate number of miles covered: 47

Day 32: Bar Harbor, ME to Los Angeles, CA

We woke up around 7am, packed up, and ate our last buffet breakfast at the Acadia Inn, a hotel we’d return to and recommend for future Bar Harbor visitors. We got on the road to drive the several hours needed to get down through Maine. We made a quick stop for gas along the way and then stopped for lunch in Westbrook, ME, where we met our good friend Jacob, who works them on a contract assignment.

We went to Legends Rest Taproom, a small restaurant and bar, which had great food at an unbelievable price. Abe got the smashed burger (ground brisket, chuck, and short rib blend) for a mere $5, Arielle enjoyed the plain tots, which were delicious and also $5, and Jacob got a tofu and black bleak burger, also $5. We ended our efficient and enjoyable lunch to make sure that we would have enough time to drive back to Boston before our flight. Arielle drank her blueberry soda on the way.

Sure enough, as soon as we approached the city we started hitting a lot of traffic. Luckily, we had built in plenty of time and made it to Ezra’s apartment to drop off the car and hop in a Lyft with a lot of time to spare. Despite starting out with a twenty-minute ETA, the Lyft driver impressively navigated himself, jumped in the carpool lane, and trimmed down our travel time to a mere ten minutes. Arielle headed as usual to the Delta SkyClub to peruse the food options while Abe, having been upgraded once again to Delta Comfort +, asked the gate agent about Arielle’s chances. Despite politely replying that they would kill him if he bumped up a basic economy ticket, he showed the exit row upgrade he had already given her and said he would keep her in mind if the seat was still open. When Abe went back to ask if it was possible right before to boarding, we saw that he had in fact made the switch, which was very nice. Much to Abe’s chagrin, Arielle once again got upgraded despite booking a basic economy ticket. We settled in to our comfortable aisle and middle seats for the flight. Arielle had brought Abe some meatballs, which were good, and some rice, which was not because of the artichoke hearts puzzlingly mixed in. Arielle enjoyed a delightful broccoli cheddar soup. We got some work done on the flight and landed early before 9pm pacific time. Arielle’s parents were kind enough to pick us up and we relaxed and chatted at home before getting to sleep.

Approximate number of miles covered: 3287

Day 31: Bar Harbor, ME to Acadia National Park

After weeks of “getting up early” at 6:30am, we finally got up objectively early to truly take advantage of the day. Our alarm went off at 4:30am, and we were out the door before 5am. We traveled the completely abandoned park road to Otter Cliff, where we parked and then descended the stairs to stake out a prime spot to watch the sun come up. Tremendous as the view was - and it was incredible - we were not so excited to be joined by many, many mosquitoes, which bit Abe at least two dozen times. We were slowly joined also by a few sets of humans, and were very pleased overall with our chosen spot and our superb visual experience.

We returned to our car and drove to Jordan Pond, where we decided to make the most of the early morning hour and walk the 3.4-mile loop around the pond. This mostly shaded path goes through the woods and, for a portion, over long boardwalks made of sometimes stable wood and other lengthy series of rocks that make you question whether you’re still on the path.

We finished what was listed as a two and a half hour walk in about an hour and a half, and drove across the street to Jordan Pond House, which wasn’t open for its famous popovers just yet but still provided a beautiful - and very peaceful - view of the Bubbles, two large mountains right next to each other. Though Arielle could have sat there forever, we eventually got up and drove back to the hotel to eat breakfast, managing to get there earlier than we had the day before when we were just starting our day. Arielle was delighted to try the blueberry toast, which she loved. After breakfast, Abe got very tired and managed to fall asleep in bed for an almost three-hour nap, which is totally uncharacteristic but also completely understandable since we got up at least three hours earlier than we usually do. Arielle went to lay by the pool and enjoyed a bit of less uninterrupted napping thanks to the presence of some rowdy children.

We had a lazy afternoon after that but then got ready to seize the day and drive into Bar Harbor. We stopped at the second, far smaller location of Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream that is located a few blocks from downtown, and realized that we had been doing it wrong the past two days when we discovered the “Flight.” It costs $8, as compared to two $4.25 single scoops, and contains four large scoops, though the woman working at the store was kind enough to give us five slightly smaller (but still huge) scoops. From left to right: Brigadeiro, Cookies and Cream, Buttermint, Cereal Milk, and Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet. It was quite something.

We moved our car closer to the waterfront and explored a few restaurant options for dinner, as well as an ice cream shop that had a flavor which contained real lobster which grossed Arielle out. We laid down on the grass by the waterfront for a while until nearby smokers forced us to get up and move. Abe tried to find the same pair of Sperry flip-flops he was wearing and had purchased in Bar Harbor six years earlier, but the make seems to have gone out of style. Arielle was intrigued by a blueberry-themed store and purchased an Old Soaker blueberry soda to try on our drive the next day. Arielle had been excited the night before about trying to go up onto the roof of a fancy-looking hotel that faced the waterfront, and while we managed to get up to the fifth floor, roof access required a key. We asked at the front desk and were told we could have an escorted tour an hour later, but getting permission made the whole thing less exciting for Arielle, so we decided to skip it. We ultimately settled on Terrace Green, a highly-rated restaurant attached to the Bar Harbor Inn, for dinner. While Abe’s swordfish and Arielle’s salmon were nothing special, the experience of sitting out and looking at the Harbor was pretty great. Arielle was also thrilled when our waitress Kim managed to get her a few small pieces of bread to finish off the butter that had come with her fish.

We left downtown and returned to the hotel in time to dip in the pool and the hot tub, which wasn’t particularly hot but was pleasant enough. We changed and went to the campfire to make some s’mores, which Arielle always loves. We returned to our room and watched a bit of TV before going to bed, exhausted from a long day full of both activity and rest.

Approximate number of miles covered: 9