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Going to California, and We're...

Going to California, and We're...

Old Jul 7, 08, 1:24 pm
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Going to California, and We're...

...going to get married!

My partner and I met in late 2002, and we have been planning to get married since California’s Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. We made an appointment to get a license in San Francisco on July 3 at 2:30 p.m., and planned another trip to San Francisco Labor Day weekend for a ceremony.

While I was in Turkey, my partner found an appointment time for a ceremony: 3:30 p.m. on July 3. We had discussed the possibility before my trip, and we agreed that if something became available, he would take it.

My partner grabbed airline tickets for his parents and booked a hotel room for them as well. I invited my sister in Denver, but she already had plans she could not cancel. Finally, I told my brother in San Jose, who was planning to meet us for breakfast the morning after we arrived, what the purpose of the trip had become.

Because I had already made all of the travel arrangements, my partner and I only had a few more things to take care of: I called the Starwood Platinum Concierge and let them know that my partner and I would be getting married; my partner made a reservation for a celebration dinner after the ceremony; and I made plans for a “honeymoon activity” on July 4.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Flight #1
American Airlines 1679
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 5:55 p.m/7:45 p.m.
Actual Departure/Arrival: 8:25 p.m./10:07 p.m.
Seats 6A and 6B

Flight #2
American Airlines 629
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 8:40 p.m/11:10 p.m.
Actual Departure/Arrival: 11:50 p.m./1:46 a.m.
Seats 5E and 5F

My only concern regarding our travel arrangements was the short connection time we had at ORD. AA 1679’s dismal on-time performance along with the forecasts for storms in Chicago during the afternoon and evening hours made me a nervous wreck. We made our way to Airside F, through security, and took seats near gate F-78.

What happened over the next few hours took its toll on my nerves. AA 1679’s departure time was delayed until 6:30 p.m., then 7:00 p.m., and finally 8:00 p.m. In the meantime, our connecting flight’s departure time held steady at 9:00 p.m. I called the EXP desk and was told that we would be fine, and if we missed our connection, there was an early flight on July 3 between ORD-SFO that had plenty of seats. The AAgents at Gate 78 said the same thing.

I was not satisfied. I recognized the AAgent working the 7:15 p.m. flight to DFW as someone who had always been helpful. I went over and explained our situation to her. She congratulated me, and said that it was hard to say what would happen in Chicago that evening. She said that she could book us on the first ORD-SFO flight on July 3 in case we did miss the connection, while leaving our other flights in the record. I appreciated her doing this for us, and I calmed down a little.

At 6:30 p.m., there was an announcement that our flight had just received a release time of 7:05 p.m., and that we could board and possibly get on our way. By 7:00 p.m., everyone was boarded and ready to go. However, the pilot announced that while local ATC was giving us an immediate release, ATC in ORD and operations were giving him times after 8:00 p.m. He said that we were going to taxi out and that hopefully we would get these differences resolved within the next few minutes.

We taxied, stopped, turned, and stopped again. We were in the penalty box. Thunderstorms were around TPA, and takeoffs and landings had been stopped due to the weather. I went to AA.com on my iPhone and saw that our connecting flight was still only delayed by 20 minutes, and scheduled for a 9:00 p.m. departure. I began to resign myself to the fact that we would spend the night in Chicago.

Eventually, the weather cleared enough in TPA to allow our departure. We finally took off at 8:25 p.m. Unless fate intervened, there was no chance that we would make it to San Jose this evening, but at least we had a flight out tomorrow morning. The FA served dinner: beef short ribs for me and tortellini for my partner. I had a glass of red wine with dinner, and it, along with my jet lag from the Turkey trip, relaxed me enough so that I was able to take a short nap.

I was awakened at 9:45 p.m. CDT by an announcement that we would land in about 25 minutes. We were scheduled to arrive at gate K-18, and the FA was going to give departure gates and revised departure times for connecting flights. It seemed as though she was reading through every city AA serves, but finally she announced “San Jose, flight 629: revised departure time 10:44 p.m., gate K-4.” We were going to make it!

The plane arrived at gate H-8 instead, but we made it to K-4 quickly. Flight 629 was boarding. We reached our seats, and settled in for the four-hour flight to SJC. However, there was an additional delay due to some maintenance issue. We didn’t care; we were just happy to be on the plane. When the maintenance issue was solved, we were #15 for takeoff. Once airborne, the FA came through the cabin for drink orders and to ask which snack we wanted. I had an Amstel and the mixed nuts, but the only thing I ate off the snack tray was the cookie. Then I fell asleep until we were about an hour outside of SJC.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The flight arrived at SJC about two hours late, and by the time we walked through the length of Terminal A to the taxi stand, it was after 2 a.m. The attendant at the stand ordered a taxi and explained that all of the taxis were at a different terminal due to a delayed UA flight that had come in from ORD a little earlier. Within a matter of minutes, we had our taxi and were on our way to our hotel.

We arrived at the Hilton Newark/Fremont around 2:45 a.m. and checked in. We had been upgraded to an Executive King room (7018) on the Club Level, and we received two coupons for breakfast.

At this point, you might be asking (1) Why did you fly into SJC and not SFO; and (2) Why did you get a hotel in Newark? We flew into SJC because the fare was a lot lower, about $150 each, to do so. We decided to stay in Newark, because the rate was great ($116 per night), and it is close to a BART Station.

Our initial plan was to have breakfast with my brother who lives in San Jose. However, when our plans changed, we had to tell him. He then insisted upon driving us into the city, and we invited him, his wife, and son to join us for the ceremony and dinner afterward.

After a brief night’s sleep, my partner and I awoke, had breakfast, and got ready for the big day. My brother and his family picked us up shortly after 11 a.m., and we were on our way to our hotel in San Francisco.

We arrived at the Westin Market Street at noon, unloaded our bags, and checked in. My brother and his family had to run an errand in Tiburon, so we told them when and where to meet us. We were greeted at check in, and when I handed my SPG card and credit card to the clerk, she welcomed us, looked at the record, and offered her congratulations. Then she said “We have a very nice suite for you, but it is not ready yet.” We told her that was OK. She offered to store our bags, but my partner’s parents were in Room 1205, so we went there instead.

We went to their room, left our bags, and the four of us walked across the street to California Pizza Kitchen for a quick bite. Things had gone so well for us so far that we figured someone was watching over us. Just before our meals arrived, there was another good sign. Someone I thought I recognized walked over to our table. She had been a student in one of the MBA classes I taught two years ago. I asked her what she was doing in San Francisco, and she told me that she took a job in the city when she finished her degree. Then, she asked me what I was doing in San Francisco, and I told her. She offered us her congratulations, and told me that it was really good to see me. Small world.

After lunch, my partner and I took the Muni from Montgomery Street to the Civic Center. One of the friendly little disputes we have had in the over five years we have been together is over transportation. I love to take public transportation, and he loves to take taxis. However, I convinced him that going underground was faster than a taxi along Market Street at 1:00 p.m. We paused at the Starbucks at Market and 8th for some caffeine, and walked to City Hall.

In dozens of trips to San Francisco, I had never noticed City Hall. My partner wanted to get married there, and I didn’t care where we got married. When I saw the building, I realized my partner was right to insist that we get married there. What a grand building! We went through security, and waited for our 2:30 p.m. appointment to get our license. That done, we then waited for our 3:30 p.m. appointment for a ceremony by exploring the building. At 3:00 p.m., we heard my partner’s parents and my brother and his family walking in. They had found each other. And we waited. Finally, at 3:20 p.m., we were able to check in and get a number: B 242. Then we waited again until it was called.

The number flashed on the screen and the voice said it. We walked back into the city clerk’s office and sat at the desk. We met our officiate, and he asked us if we wanted to be called by our legal names, or if we preferred nicknames, and gave an example of a nickname. It was the nickname that my partner gave me when we took our first trip together to Santa Fe in March 2003. Coincidence or fate? We stuck with our legal names. Then my partner’s mother and my brother acted as witnesses. Then the officiate asked us if we wanted to be married in a private office or the rotunda. We chose the rotunda, and he asked us to go there and wait until he saw the third couple.

The seven of us went to the rotunda. Around 3:50 p.m., the officiate appeared, and we watched the first couple get married. Then it was our turn. It was finally going to happen.

I was not nervous. I respected the gravity of what we were doing, but I have known for over five years that I want to spend the rest of my life with my partner, who was going to become my husband. I also realized that we live in a state that won’t recognize our marriage, and that California will have a referendum regarding same-sex marriage in November. I didn’t care. This was our moment.

The ceremony went quickly. My partner had a laughing attack while he was saying his vows, and we had five people taking pictures of our every move. And at some point, the officiate said we were something. I don’t even remember the terms he used, but we were married!

As we left city hall, my brother and his family said they would meet us at the restaurant at 5:30 p.m., and the newlyweds and my new parents-in-law took a taxi back to the hotel. Our room was ready, and we went to Room 1606, a two-room suite that looked to the south and east. We sent emails to friends; we had not told any of them what we planned to do. Then we went to the lobby to get a taxi to the restaurant.

A friend of ours who lives in San Francisco, a self-described “food snob,” had suggested Boulevard when we asked for a nice place for a special dinner. He didn’t know what the reason for the dinner was, just that it was special. We would have invited him to attend, but he and his partner were out of state visiting family for the week. Boulevard certainly lived up to its billing. We had a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge through the large window, and the service was very attentive. Our waiter answered all questions we had about the menu and accommodated the requests of my eleven-year-old nephew. Because the six adults were having fish, we ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Since a trip to New Zealand in 2005, my partner and I have been fans of Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. We chose the Ata Rangi from Martinborough, an area we had driven through, only because Spy Valley from Marlborough was not offered.

I ordered the Pan Roasted Halibut with Shrimp & Basil Stuffed Squash Blossom, Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms, Sauteed Sweet White Corn, Squash Blossoms & Baby Zucchini. My partner, errrr, spouse, had the Wood Fire Grilled Salmon with Shaved Summer Truffles & Crispy Potatoes, French Beans, Hazelnuts, Creme Fraiche, Peppercress & Lemon. The food was beautifully presented, and tasted as good as it looked. In fact, the food stopped the two or three conversations that were going around the table; it was the first time our group had been silent since we all came together at City Hall. That probably says all that needs to be said about the food.

The came dessert, our substitute for wedding cake. I had the Warm Brioche Bread Pudding with Brooks Cherries in Syrup, Pistachio Ice Cream, Cherry Sorbet, and White Chocolate Absinthe Sauce. My spouse ordered the Triple Chocolate Napoleon Cake, Banana – Chocolate Streusel, Fleur de Sel Caramel, and Cocoa Nib Ice Cream. I preferred my dessert, but both were delicious. Both his dessert and mine had a plank of white chocolate with "Congratulations" piped on it.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes to my brother and his family, and the four of us took a taxi back to the Westin. My spouse and I were sleep deprived, so we escorted his parents to their room, wished them a safe trip the next day, and went to our room. We found a chilled bottle of champagne and a plate of strawberries and chocolate, compliments of the hotel manager.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The exhaustion helped us sleep, as did the champagne. We awoke at 6:15 a.m. after nine hours of sleep, hungry and ready to celebrate Independence Day. We went downstairs to Ducca, one of the Westin’s restaurants, for the breakfast buffet. At $22.95, it was not cheap, nor were its offerings extraordinary, but it was definitely convenient. The fresh blackberries and raspberries, along with the smoked salmon, were the highlights for me. While we ate, my best friend in Tampa returned my many phone messages, and I told him that I was now a married man. He congratulated me, and he told his girlfriend. He said that she was all dewy-eyed with happiness.

After we relaxed and got ready for the day, we went to Union Square and walked around for awhile. We get to San Francisco a few times a year, so we have done all of the touristy activities multiple times. However, we still enjoy exploring Union Square. We went into Borders and Macy’s to look around awhile and got smoothies at Jamba Juice. Before long, it was time to head for our “Honeymoon Activity.” We walked to Powell Street Station and boarded a Muni for AT&T Park. I had purchased two club seats for the Giants-Dodgers game. Our seats in Section 234 gave us a great view of the action from just outside of the leftfield foul pole. Our honeymoon lunch consisted of super dogs and Diet Cokes, followed by nachos.

I always forget that July in San Francisco can be cold but sunny, so I purchased an orange Giants hoodie to protect myself from the sun and the wind. Unfortunately, the Giants lost 10-7, but we were happy to see that our hometown Rays were pounding the Royals 11-2 to maintain their lead in the AL East.

After the game, we walked back to the hotel to drop off the t-shirt and stuffed Lou Seal my spouse had purchased for our one-year old nephew in Jacksonville. After a brief stop to catch our breath, we caught the F-line streetcar to Pier 39 to see the 4th of July fireworks. We didn’t realize until after we had boarded that the streetcar would only go as far as the Ferry Terminal and then we would need to take a shuttle bus to Pier 39. However, the shuttle made the trip along The Embarcadero very fast—not making any stops makes a big difference—and we were there quickly.

It was still a few hours before the display began, so we walked over to In-N-Out for our honeymoon dinner—double-doubles animal style with fries and Diet Coke. The In-N-Out at Fisherman’s Wharf is always busy, but today there was a line outside the door. Yet, we placed our order within ten minutes and found a table for two. Our order was ready ten minutes after that, and we enjoyed the delicious burgers. I love In-N-Out’s burgers, and I rarely take a trip to California or Las Vegas without at least one visit to an In-N-Out. A few years ago, another FTer proclaimed that In-N-Out was not nearly as good as Five Guys. We have had Five Guys in Tampa for well over a year now, and I consider it blasphemy to compare the overdressed burgers at Five Guys to In-N-Out’s burgers. In fact, my spouse will not get the burger when we go to Five Guys, just the hot dog. I will concede that the fries at Five Guys might be the best anywhere, but In-N-Out is the king of fast-food burgers, in my opinion.

I wish I could say that we stayed for the fireworks display at Pier 39, but by 8:30 p.m. we were weary for the wall-to-wall crowds and the realized the fog might limit the fireworks anyway. So we boarded a shuttle back to the Ferry Terminal and caught the Muni back to Montgomery Street station and our hotel. We were able to see a different fireworks display from our south-facing window and the one at Pier 39 on TV before turning in.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Once again, I slept very well and awoke before 7:00 a.m. I let my spouse sleep, because he had gotten a pretty nasty sunburn at the Giants game. My legs also got burned, but not as badly as his. We live in Florida, yet we are not sun-worshipers. I usually don’t get burned until the first daytime Buccaneers game during football season.

At 8:00 a.m. we went down to Ducca for the breakfast buffet again. Everything had been picked over: the berries were gone, the pastries were gone, and only flavored yogurt remained. I asked the waiter for a bagel and some plain yogurt. Before I finished my salmon—I can easily eat $22.95 worth of smoked salmon—my spouse said he was going to go back the room for a nap. I told him that we didn’t have any plans. He knew I wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Terminal, but it was open until 2:00 p.m.

I got back to the room and let him sleep awhile. In the meantime, I caught up on emails and watched some TV. A little after 11:00 a.m., we were finally ready to leave the hotel, and we took the Muni from Montgomery Street to Embarcadero. We didn’t even make it to the Ferry Terminal before we found stuff to buy from the stalls that were set up near the Hyatt Regency. I bought a couple of Obama buttons, and my spouse bought a couple of funky Haight-Ashbury t-shirts, one for himself and the other for our one-year old nephew. If you get the idea that we are spoiling the nephew rotten, you’re onto us!

At the Farmer’s Market, we did a lot of looking but not much buying. I used to buy olive oil from one of the vendors before the TSA decided it was a threat to air travel. We did get a couple of smoothies, a few nectarines, and some raisins. Then we walked back to the station to catch the Muni for the Castro.

We are probably the world’s most boring gay couple. Our idea of fun during the honeymoon was a baseball game. And our favorite things to do when we go to the Castro are to visit some of the shops, particularly A Different Light bookstore and The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) store.

After some shopping and a stop by the ATM of the robbed-within-the-past-few-minutes Bank of America branch on Castro Street, we decided to have lunch. We weren’t sure what we wanted, and we wandered off Castro Street onto 18th, passing Thai Chef. We had not had Thai food in awhile, so we stopped there. My spouse saw the coconut milk served in the coconut and knew what he wanted to drink, and I wanted Thai iced tea. Then we ordered our entrees: Pad Thai with chicken for him, and Green Curry with chicken for me. The food arrived within five minutes, and the waiter thanked us for waiting. Ha!

We did some more window-shopping after lunch, and took the Muni back to Powell Street and Union Square. We wanted to see if Borders had any books about City Hall, but no luck. So we walked back to the hotel and relaxed a bit before dinner.

As with lunch, we weren’t sure what we wanted for dinner. Nothing fancy, and preferably something quick because of our early flight home on Sunday. We walked to Metreon and took a few minutes to decide among the choices there. We settled upon the Firewood Café. He got Pizza Margherita, and I got the pizza special with artichokes and chicken, along with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Beard Papa for cream puffs.

Back at the hotel, we had a fun night of eating cream puffs, packing our bags, and watching TV before turning in early.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The alarm went off at 3:00 a.m. It was time to get up. I made some coffee and let my spouse catch a few more winks. We were out of the hotel at 4:15 a.m. and in the hotel car to the airport.

Flight #1
American Airlines 1646
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 6:20 a.m/12:10 p.m.
Actual Departure/Arrival: 6:15 a.m./12:01 p.m.
Seats 6E and 6F

Flight #2
American Airlines 1326
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 3:10 p.m/6:25 p.m.
Actual Departure/Arrival: 3:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.
Seats 5E and 5F

The ride to SFO was quick, as was check in at the kiosk. The first class security line was empty, so we found ourselves with through security about 30 minutes after we left our hotel. Incredible. Unfortunately, none of the Peet’s Coffee shops was open, and the Admirals Club didn’t open until 5:30 a.m., according to AA.com. We camped out in front of one of the Peet’s, got some caffeine when it opened at 5:00 a.m., and walked toward the gate. As we walked, I noticed someone walking into the Admirals Club. It was open. When I mentioned to the AAngel at the desk that I was surprised to see them open, she said, “We just changed it a couple of weeks ago.” I told her that AA.com had not gotten the message, she thanked me for the info and made a note of it.

Boarding started promptly at 5:50 a.m., and we pushed back from the gate a little early. I was disappointed that there were so many clouds and that our flight plan took us to the east after takeoff, because there was no chance to take pictures of the city from the air. I guess the hundred or so pictures that I have already will have to do! I had the omelet and a few Bloody Mary’s for breakfast, and my spouse had the pancakes. He said that he always forgets how bad pAAncakes are until he gets them, but he never knows what kind of omelet they are serving.

After landing at STL, we had about three hours to spend at the STL Admiral’s Club. We were able to watch most of the Wimbledon men’s final on TV and keep up with the Rays-Royals game via the www. At 2:30 p.m., we made the short walk to gate C-2 to see that the flight to TPA was delayed until 3:20 p.m. There was a plane, there was a flight crew, but the FAs were on a delayed flight. Boarding finally started at 2:55 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m. we were ready to go. We sat for a long time after pushback, but we were on our way before long. This was a “Refreshments” flight: beverages, mixed nuts, and warm cookies in F. The pilot announced that TPA was having rain showers, and that we would land at 6:40 p.m., about 20 minutes late.

Unfortunately, by the time we crossed the Florida panhandle, those showers had become storms, and TPA had stopped all takeoffs and landings. We were put into a holding pattern off the west coast of Florida. The pilot explained the hold would last about 40 minutes, with another 10 minutes to reach the airport, so we would land in TPA at about 7:25 p.m.

We flew around in circles for over half and hour, but the storm never moved. Finally, the pilot announced that we were being diverted to Orlando to refuel. The storm was massive. I think we had descended to 25,000 feet or so while we were in the holding pattern, and the tops of the clouds were way above us in the distance. They were probably well over 60,000 feet high. We flew through the northern part of the storm toward MCO. We finally flew out of the clouds somewhere a little west of Lakeland and flew over Lakeland, Winter Haven, and Kissimmee until we turned north, flew west of downtown Orlando to Winter Park, then turned east and approached MCO from the north.

The fact that we were being diverted to MCO alarmed a few people who thought that we were staying there. The pilot had to repeat that we were just landing to refuel and that no one was leaving the plane. Well before we landed, the pax in 4A was already on his phone, explaining that he had to be in MIA tonight. When we landed at 7:40 p.m., an AAgent from MCO greeted the plane and paged the pax in 6A. She was also headed to MIA, and they had rebooked her through MCO in case we did not make it back to TPA in time for the 8:10 p.m. TPA-MIA flight. The guy in 4A went ballistic, explaining that he was going to MIA too. The AAgent said that she had to check with her manager, and Mr. 4A said, “I don’t care what your manager says,” grabbed his bag, and followed her off the plane.

At 8:05 p.m., we pushed back again and were in the air very quickly for the 18-minute flight to TPA. It was still raining heavily, but we landed safely and reached the gate at 8:32 p.m.

We were happy to be home again, better late than never. We felt the same way about our new status as spouse and spouse, hopeful but realistic about how many storms we will have to weather in Florida before the state finally recognizes us as a married couple.

Last edited by Flying Buccaneer; Jul 7, 08 at 1:30 pm
Flying Buccaneer is offline  
Old Jul 7, 08, 3:18 pm
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Let me be the first on FlyerTalk to say congratulations to Mr. and Mr. Flying Buccaneer!
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Old Jul 7, 08, 3:24 pm
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Best wishes to you and your husband!
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Old Jul 7, 08, 4:16 pm
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Congrats!!! Sounds like a nice ceremony...^
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Old Jul 7, 08, 4:34 pm
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Congratulations to you and your new husband! Thanks for sharing your trip report with us! ^
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Old Jul 7, 08, 4:41 pm
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Wishing you a long and happy marriage. Congratulations.
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Old Jul 7, 08, 7:08 pm
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Congratulations! We just got back from a short trip to the Bay Area - good choices for food (boulevard rocks!).
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Old Jul 13, 08, 11:34 pm
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I wish you every joy together - and glad you had fun in the City Of Our People I know I'm fortunate to be able to live here.

Boulevard REALLY is all that. What a brilliant choice.

Mazel tov -
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Old Jul 14, 08, 2:50 am
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Congratulations on your marriage. ^
Thanks for the super trip report.
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Old Jul 14, 08, 9:09 am
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Old Jul 15, 08, 11:17 am
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Congratulations, Mr. and Mr. Buccaneer!
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Old Jul 15, 08, 1:28 pm
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Thanks everyone for your kind wishes!

We are looking forward to our Labor Day trip to back to San Francisco. We bought the tickets when we thought we were going to get married that weekend, so we figure it will be the perfect place to spend our nearly-two-month anniversary.
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Old Jul 16, 08, 12:15 am
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Sweetest report of the year

Congratulation, and I enjoy every bit of your report!

Wish many many more sweet trip reports to come, Mr. and Mr. Flying Buccaneer!

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Old Jul 25, 08, 5:06 am
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Mazel Tov

Well done - my partner and are will celebrate 15 years of happiness next week. we had a commitment ceremony on our 10th anniversary and maybe one day when same sex relationships are recognized in Australia we may do the legal stuff.


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Old Oct 28, 08, 9:49 am
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Best Wishes.
Fellow TPA couple here celebrating 6th year, leaving for SFO November 6th for 4 nights for our long weekend away.

Central Tampa here, what about your guys,
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