Caleb and his groomsmen pause for a "Best Boxer Shorts contest" on our deck, while Best Man, Justin, grabs one last handful of cheek from the betrothed. From the left, Nick, Justin, Caleb, Nate, Tom, Matt.
Deep breath. Okay, the "Big Fat Italian-like" wedding is in the books, a celebration that played out over several days. Oh the food and drink... back to back to back buffets at the Secret Garden capped off with lethal desserts... culinary excess that just about landed me in the hospital one night, though I suppose it could have been the beverage progression from beer to wine to margaritas...
Most of the Johnson side of the family showed up, including my older/smarter brother, Dan, his lovely wife, Elaine, nephews Darin and his wife, Tracey, and MOAB... better known as Maia, Owen, Anita, and Brent. It was a marvelous reunion, and I appreciate the effort made to get to Lovely Ouray!
The Johnsons seem to have a keen appreciation for the art and nuance behind all beverages fermented, including, but not limited to, hops, grapes, and cacti. Nephews Darin and Brent specialize in beer snobbery, describing microbrews as if they were fine French wines, "...I detect a subtle citrus undertone... short of fruity and yet moderately hoppy... to the edge of bitter, but not overdone, which makes for a smooth transition mouth to gullet. Lord, I have so much to learn...
I believe it was the fermented cacti (commonly known as tequila) that inspired a blathering monologue roast of son Caleb at the rehearsal dinner. I've been granted absolution, thanks to a renegotiation of the wedding gift, a new sum that was agreed would also count for absolution of dance floor antics of which I have only fuzzy memories. Judging from the photos, what felt like John Travolta in the moment, more resembled Pee Wee Herman. What can I say, just another intoxicated old fool taking a last stab at glory days through a psychogenic haze of beer, wine, and tequila.
|"Roasting" the Groom at the rehearsal dinner.|
|Caleb and groomsman Nick... Cooking something up :)|
|My Bro Dan, nephew Brent, and yours truly.|
|The Real Thing|
|May I present Mr and Mrs Johnson!!!|
|From the left, Kelli's parents, Jim and Joyce, Kelli, Caleb, Caleb's mom, Elane, her husband, Bill, Mark, and Bobbie. Note I even got a haircut for this affair... should last a good year! :)|
|Grampa Jim and Shea... Kelli's niece via her Sister, Morgan.|
|The Bridesmaids and Maid of Honor... and Caleb, giving his blessing :)|
|The bride and groom getting down on the dance floor|
The day after... Still Smiling
Dear Kelli and Caleb, I must say, it was a smashing wedding... a home run! You two make such a handsome couple. I wish you both all the best and happiness, for you have earned it.
Live long. Live hard. Dream big.
|A pre-wedding pedal up to Pleasant Valley Overlook...|
In the vacuum after such a big wedding and celebration, Bobbie and I took a quiet stroll up Oak Creek Trail to relax and draw a deep breath. It's hard to believe the difference a few days can make this time of year... from corrals of aspen glowing like thousand watt torches, to bare branches stripped of leaves by a vicious wind that ushered in Ouray's first legitimate snowstorm of the season. Beauty to Beast, kinda like me.
When Autumn's leaves fall, so, too, does my spirit. Leaves on the ground signals the end of a glorious Rocky Mountain summer hiking season. It's like I'm the spoiled rotten two-year-old supermarket brat stalled in a checkout line... the gimme more kid that grabs for all the glittering impulse items.
Fall was truly spectacular this year, a seasonal sensory kaleidoscope that danced a jig on every single receptor in my body. If I could just freeze the season in place, that time when "every leaf's a flower," extend Ms Autumn's radiant sun as it arcs low across our colorful, peak-studded horizon. I'm with George Eliot, “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
Bobbie and I worked hard to realize our dreams; we all do. We are fortunate and grateful to have lived to see most of them bear fruit, especially the one at the top of the "bucket-list, which was to quit jobs and embrace the freedom of (semi) retirement. We have roamed coast to coast/border to border, experienced the physical and cultural wonders of America. I recall with fondness and gratitude the year we chased Ms Autumn from Bar Harbor, Maine to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, living months on end in a perpetual vortex of color. After surviving a couple recent brushes with the Grim Reaper, I've taken to sporting a "Life is Good" ball cap as a daily reminder to appreciate every single minute, every single breath, all the nooks and crannies we've found, the good friends made, and the luck of landing in Lovely Ouray.
I write this column from a boondock camp in The Klondike, an area that borders the fins and bobble-heads of Arches National Park in eastern Utah. A surreal vista of red rock monoliths silhouette against a fiery sunrise. The scene stirs the coals of my wanderlust, re-enflames my spirit to not waste a minute... to explore and venture out amid the natural wonders that are within easy reach of Lovely Ouray. Ms Autumn may have all but departed the San Juans, but she is on the rise here; Rabbit brush, top-hatted in ocherous yellow. Deformed cottonwoods—caught in a life and death struggle against dry-wash aridity with limbs drooped and twisted like boneless chicken wings. They resemble gnarly-barked ghouls and remind me that life is tenuous.
Utah extends Ms Autumn's visit. She renews my spirit like a shot of brandy after a sumptuous feast, and reminds me that Life is still Good.
|One of my Panorama shots enlarged to 16" X 60." Shooting south from near the summit of Mount Abram.|