Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Portela-van den Raadt Wedding

I have coached American football for a very long time and I truly believe that the greatest honor that I can ever receive from a former player is to be invited to that very special event in their life, their wedding day.

Thus, in January, when Laurie and I received an invitation the wedding of Robin Portela to John van den Raadt, our QB in France last year, in Granite Bay, California, we dropped everything on our social calendar to be there.

The question was, where is Granite Bay, California? As it turns out, Granite Bay is a city located just East of Sacramento. It is only a seven hour drive each way from Camarillo.


But, we needed a plan . . .


We decided to break the drive up to the wedding into two easy parts. Part one would have us driving a leisurely four hours to beautiful Fresno on Thursday.

We opted to stop along the way in the quaint city of Exeter where and old Wing-T coaching buddy of mine and his wife, Bill and Pam Corliss, reside.

We had not seen or talked to them in years but at our lunch together none of the four of us had skipped a beat. It was so great to see them both!

Due to my advancing years and being way to far into the moment, I completely forgot to take the usually obligatory photo of them for this blogpost.

What was I thinking???

Near our outstanding lunch
spot in Exeter 

Exeter loves murals
as much as Lyon does

After some shopping in Exeter, we headed on our way North, but were detoured by the City of Kingsburg which bills itself as Central California's Swedish Village.

We coached and lived in the Skåne region, the South of Sweden, in the city of Hässleholm for about seven months in 2010. WE HAD TO STOP.

That's a Viking

I think I see a Swedish Connection

 Laurie, what time is it?

We indeed found a good coffee shop with delicious Swedish pastries known as fika.

Oh, the wonderful memories that this town brought back to us both.

 Rafer Johnson
1960 Rome Olympics
Gold Medal Decathlete

He grew up in Kingsburg.


We then had a good night's sleep in Fresno after a hearty Trip-Tip sandwich at Fresno's Dog House Grill which came highly recommended by our friend Koreen FitzGerald.

She was brilliant with this culinary call.

After breakfast on Friday, we made a quick stop at the Fresno State University's American football office to see if they were having a Spring Football Clinic this year.

They are not.

1992 Freedom Bowl Trophy

The game was played at Anaheim Stadium and our family was in attendance. This trophy reminds all of the Bulldog Nation of arguably the greatest moment in Fresno State American football history.

Fresno State 24 - Southern California 7

We finally arrived at our hotel in Roseville after an easy three hour trek. The hotel was located only about ten minutes from the wedding's church in Granite Bay.

That brings us to our next really fun event.

It turns out that the 2013 coach of Switzerland's Thun Tigers, Skip Albano, and his coaching pal who recently retired, Mike Lynch, both live in the greater Granite Bay/Roseville megalopolis.

Skip, a six year veteran of EuroBall having coached in Austria and Italy, as well as Switzerland, did a great job leading the Tigers last season. Mike wanted to pump the two of us for as much information as possible as he and his wife, Judy, try to decide if a season coaching American football in Europe is the right thing for them.

Skip, George and Mike

Mike and Judy invited us to their incredible hilltop home to dine with them and Skip and Jan Albano.

Skip, Jan, Judy and Mike

We sat down for a great three hours of good wine, great cuisine and interesting stories.

Mike and Judy passed the first test of living in Europe with flying colors . . . enjoying slow, conversation filled dining. 

 Skip, Jan, Laurie and George

As you may recall, I coached the Thun Tigers in 2012. Every time that I have moved on to a new EuroBall team, I feel as if I had left my children behind.

After Friday night's dinner, I knew that Skip and Jan had taken care of the kids last season.

Laurie and I had met four new wonderful people to be sure.


After putzing around for most of the morning, we headed over to Roseville's Barnes and Noble bookstore to have a coffee and a light repast.

I almost bought this tome

I almost bought this one too

From the small world realm, we ran into Mike Lynch at the bookstore who was pouring over maps and information on France for a possible trip later this year.

He recommended a spot in nearby Rocklin for breakfast on Sunday. More on that later.

On to the wedding!

First, if there are two people getting married who are more universally loved than these two I would be shocked.

The wedding itself was simply beautiful. The positive energy in the church for these two was great indeed.

Red Velvet Wedding Cake

I felt the positive energy here as well.

 John's Mother Beth

 Table 25 was ROCKING!!!

We were assigned to this table with fellow rabble rousers by Providence I'm sure.

Laurie, John, Robin and George

High Energy Robin and John's 
entrance into the reception

They entered to the song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" so Robin did.

Beth watching John and Robin's
First Dance

Mr. and Mrs. John and Robin
van den Raadt

What a great event!

Next up for the newly-weds is another season of EuroBall as they soon depart for Innsbruck, Austria where John will lead one of the best American football teams in all of the continent, the mighty Swarco Raiders. 


We were going to drive straight through to Camarillo in one long, seven hour drive. It turned out to be a traffic free drive.

But first, we needed proper sustenance. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, is it not?

 Mike Lynch's highly recommended
Granite Rock Grill in Rocklin

One thing we learned on this trip, if Mike Lynch recommends an eating spot, GO THERE!!!

Reading Is FUNdamental

Sigma Force was at it again in a good thriller that revolved around yet another round of Vatican secrets.

Will they ever end?

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