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Winter Wonderland Wedding

26 Feb

The West has won my heart but a 5-day trip back to NYC and upstate New York reminded me of the many good things the East has to offer.

Last weekend I traveled east for Silke and Ryan’s Winter Wonderland Wedding. Perhaps two of the neatest people in the world, Silke and Ryan are two people with whom I’ve shared many hours of fun, laughs and general great moments in life.  Their wedding weekend was nothing short of magical.  Perhaps it was seeing all my dear friends from New York or the beautiful rustic setting of the Full Moon Resort but simply put this was a very special weekend.

The weekend began with a bus ride from NYC to the Catskills with about half of the wedding guests.  Upon arrival at the Full Moon Resort we were greeting with warmth in the form of hand-crocheted buffs and hats all lovingly made by Silke herself.

After settling into our rustic cottage accommodations we made our way to the Barn for “Una Noche Mexicana”.  This was a festive evening filled with mariachi music, dancing, and pinatas all in the Mexican tradition.  Many of us took turns whacking, smushing and batting at the traditional party piece but it was not match for us overachievers as we quickly discovered the candy inside!

The bride taking a stab at the pinata!


Waffles giving the pinata a run for it's money!

Shin showing the pinata who's boss!

While it was hard to top the Friday night pinata party, Saturday was just as unique!  The wedding guests were treated not only to a beautiful ceremony and reception dinner but also to a proper Scottish Ceilidh (Ryan is a proud Scotsman so we knew we were in for a treat).

We danced the night away in proper Scottish Ceilidh style well past the stroke of midnight.

And to celebrate with the newlyweds in true style we braved the crisp Sunday morning cold for a celebratory 4-mile run.

Congrats to Silke and Ryan and many thanks for hosting such a marvelous weekend.  Best of luck to you both (and to all you newlyweds or longtime-weds) as you live your lives together.


Wild Wyoming

25 Oct

A Wild Wyoming Hunting Adventure

This past weekend my aunt and uncle invited me to their home in Wyoming.  New to the west, and this being the first time in my life that I’m within driving distance, I couldn’t pass up a family visit!  There was of course some incentive – good company, good food and good fun – but also, my uncle Ed said he would take me Elk Hunting!  Yes, that’s right, happy-tarian me went elk hunting.  I can honestly say though, after my experience, I can see why people really like hunting.

Initially, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Mountain Man Uncle Ed.  Luckily, Ed’s theories on hunting can be described as glorified hiking with a rifle. Knowing that, I figured I could handle anything Wyoming or Ed threw at me.  So, on Saturday we set out from the house at 5:45am after Ed fixed homemade oatmeal with raisins and blueberries, two cups of tea for me and a pot of coffee for him.  It was 38 degrees and rainy, not your perfect hunting weather, but we headed to the first of two hunting spots for the day.

The rain was relentless when we reached the first trailhead, so we left the rifle in the car and headed out for a short hike to see the sights.  Atop of the mountain behind me (above) is where we would have gone weather permitting.  Being hunting season, Ed and I were both decked out in brightly colored clothes so as not to be mistaken as elk ourselves.

Thoroughly soaked from our short hike, we climbed back into the vintage truck and drove to the second hunting spot for the day.

After a beautifully scenic drive we reached a lovely nook of trees in rolling hills near the old mining town of Morgan, WY.  Luckily, the rain finally stopped so we grabbed our gear and headed out.  This is where hunting and hiking converge because we meaned through gorgeous pine trees, aspen groves and summited a bald mountain top.

Gradually, we began to recognize the signs of animal life throughout the forest.  Ed pointed out not only the scat of moose, elk and deer but also where the moose had eaten the bark off of trees.

The elk poop has the tiny divot at the top (pictured above on the left) while the moose poop was round and larger (pictured above on the right).

With so many signs of animals, we could help but get excited that we might see an elk or a moose.  As we walked, Ed pointed out fresh elk scat – a true hunter knows when it’s fresh and when it’s a month old.

Our glorified hike truly turned into a hunting trip when Ed saw fresh bull elk tracks in a nearby pile of mud.  Ed’s excellent skill as a hunter shown when he followed the elk tracks through the forest and not five minutes later we actually saw two, huge bull elk.  I was stunned while Ed was already down on one knee looking through his scope.  The elk were faster than us both though because just as Ed knelt to aim, the two elk too off down the hill.  As the elk ran, so did we.  Ed took off at a sprint and newbie hiker-turned-hunter me ran after Ed!  As fast as we ran, the elk were faster but it was truly exhilarating.  At one moment, Ed turned to me and said,

“Can you smell them?”

And yes, I could.

I’ve never experienced a more distinctive waft of animal in the forest.  But just as quickly as I noticed the scent, it was gone, fleeting just as the elk themselves.  Alas, we didn’t “get an elk” but seeing elk, smelling elk, and seeing more elk scat than you could imagine, I consider it a great first hunting experience.  The peaceful meandering through the forest, combined with the brief kick of adrenaline when we actually spotted the elk was a unique combination of energy and balance.  Some folks hunt with 4-wheelers or horses or tree stands but I like Ed’s glorified hiking approach the best.

Back home with my Aunt Theresa, we recounted our day’s encounter over a tasty pot of moose chili (seriously good).  I wish my Uncle Ed luck as he searches for this year’s elk, perhaps I’ll be with him when he does.