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Okay, folks!  It’s finally here…a blog recap of our 10 day trip across the country to celebrate weddings for family and friends.

Let me take you back to last Friday…

We woke up super-early to head to the airport.  Carolyn was a brave soul and after 2 practice runs on previous days, carted us to the airport.  The first time we left, things were going well.  That is, until we got about 5 miles from home and Wade realized that he forgot his golf clubs.  No prob…we had time so we turned around and made it to the airport and through security in plenty of time.

We met Bob and Nancy at the airport and watched an episode of “Breaking Bad” on the plane and when we landed in Salt Lake City we had just enough time to grab a breakfast sandwich and catch our prop plane to Sun Valley.  That flight is something that I could probably do without.  I felt like a puppet on a string.  When we were flying into Hailey, Idaho there are mountains on either side.  They are so close that you feel like you could reach out and touch one.  It makes for tedious take offs and landings, according to the flight crew. 

We landed and took a shuttle to the resort where John and Lauren and Steve and Marilyn met us in the lobby as we checked in.  The resort was so beautiful.  It was quaint, charming and had a very old feel to it.  The hallways were lined with historic photos of all of their famous guests; Ernest Hemingway being one of the most renowned.  Ketchum is actually where Hemingway died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound so his life is woven thickly into the Sun Valley story.  The bottom photo show the last letter he ever wrote.

It was exactly what I expected and almost a little creepy…like the Stanley hotel in Colorado.  We got to our room and unpacked before heading out on a 1 mile walk to downtown Ketchum. 

On our way, we passed three beautiful black horses.  I went over to the fence to pet them and they weren’t that interested.  I picked up a handful of grass and took it over to them.  Just as I opened my hand to feed the horse, the wind blew and took all but 3 blades of grass with it.  When the horse saw my pitiful offering, Wade and I could feel the disgust.  He was done with me.  I vowed make things right at some point down the road.

The “city” of Ketchum was very cute, with plenty of locally owned businesses showcasing local art, music and food.  On this day, we stopped at Wise Guys pizza and were treated to the most delicious pizza that either of us had in a long time , if not EVER.  I got the margherita and Wade had the “Wise Guy,” which was a meat lovers delight.  We caught a shuttle back and got showered and dressed for the welcome dinner that the Santore’s were hosting at a restaurant called, “Cristina’s.”

I didn’t want to be rude so I left my phone at home.  I have no pictures, but it was beautiful.  We ate, drank and mingled on a covered patio.  The tables were decorated with wildflowers, candles and grass covered animal statues.  There were some great toasts; my favorite of which was my brother’s best friend, Clint.  At one point he said, “John called me and told me that he was vegetarian and that he sold his Xbox…I was really worried…”

By the time dinner had ended, I was exhausted and the mountain cold was starting to set in.  We all shared a bus back to the resort and settled into bed for the night.  Wade had an early tee time in the morning and I was on a mission to get right with those horses. 

Saturday morning was beautiful.  We were both a little nervous about the weather, but 36 degrees in Idaho is not like 36 degrees in Texas.  Wade wore shorts and a polo with a long-sleeved sweater on top for golf and I wore shorts and a sweater for my jaunt downtown. As I walked, I snapped some photos and I came across this tree…

I stopped and got to pet the horses.  They still didn’t seem too fond of me, but I wasn’t going to give up that easy.  After all, I still had several days in Sun Valley.  After breakfast, tea and some reading, I walked back to the resort and got a shot of the famous Sun Valley Shed on my way.

After the previous day’s long bouts of sitting on airplanes, sitting on buses and sitting at dinner, I was craving some good stretching.  I got back to the hotel and ran into my mother.  We sat and talked outside of the symphony, which happened to be right next to the cottage where the Santore’s and John & Lauren were staying.  As we were sitting there, I noticed several people walking with yoga mats to the symphony lawn.  Being the nosy lady that I am, I got up with my mother and followed them.  Come to find out, it was a donation based Yoga class! 

I gave my donation and Yoga’d it up.  It was called “Sun Valley Snow Salutation” and it was beautiful with the mountains as a backdrop:

It was the hardest class I’ve down and the afternoon heat didn’t help.  I made it an hour and fifteen minutes, but the class was actually 2 hours!  After yoga, it was time for a nap.  Wade returned from a great round of golf and we grabbed lunch.  By this time, we had to start getting ready for the wedding.  The shuttle was going to pick us all up at 3:45 to take us to the Galena Lodge.  The wedding ceremony was to be in the Galena Meadow, a short hike from the lodge. 

The bus ride was very scenic!  It took about 30 minutes and we drove up the mountains to the lodge.  The lodge was adorable and the wedding décor matched it perfectly; quaint, rustic and natural.  There were drinks before everyone started the 10 minute walk to the meadow down a dusty trail.  As we Wade and I came around a corner on the trail, the ceremony location was beautiful.  There were about 60 chairs arranged in front of a beautiful mountain, in a meadow that looked like a fairytale was about to happen.  Hats and parasols were provided for the guests to shade everyone from the sun and the sight of them sitting there, in that meadow, made me feel like we were in a different time.  It was so simple and so perfect.

Before we could cross a small bridge to the seating area, the wedding planner stopped us and said that we were supposed to be seated with family.  She gave us some specific directions that John reiterated later.  Naturally, Wade and I interpreted them differently and that resulted in some good laughs.  We were instructed to NOT WALK DOWN THE AISLE.  We were supposed to go up to the aisle and take a right.  I was thinking, “go right up to the aisle run and make a 90 degree turn,” while Wade was thinking, “slowly veer right from our point of origin.”

It led to some subtle tugging and firm whispers of, “COTY, GO RIGHT!  GO RIGHT!”  We both got such a kick out of it.

When everyone was seated, there was a sound of jingling bells coming down the trail and it was Lauren riding in on a wagon pulled by 2 horses. The ceremony was done by Lauren’s uncle and it was fantastic…just perfect for them.  We were all overwhelmed when Cowboy Poet, Ron Parish rode into the meadow on a dappled horse, dismounted and recited a poem that he wrote just for them.  Like I said, it was a fairytale!  After the ceremony and pictures, the family hitched a ride back on the wagon and that was really neat.  There were about 20 of us and the horses had to really get going quickly to build the momentum to get us up the hill and around the corner.  Their names were Molly and Mindy and they were half sisters who had never been apart. 

We arrived back at the lodge in time to sit down to a beautiful and delicious dinner.  The Cowboy Poet even made another appearance and recited another poem:

John and Lauren mingled with their guests and looked so genuinely happy that there just aren’t words to describe it:

I am so happy for them and I just feel like they are a perfect match.  I’m very proud of my brother for the way he handles himself and for finding and keeping a girl like Lauren.  Our family is blessed to have her!

After dinner, we took the bus back to the lodge.  I don’t know if it was the food, the emotions, the change in altitude or a mix of all 3, but I was not feeling well.  I was the first person off the bus and practically ran to the room.  As I was sprinting toward the entrance of the lodge, I could hear Dr. Santore yelling, “Coty! Wait!  We have your Ice Show tickets.”

Apparently, Wade dealt with that while I got rid of the delicious wedding cake that I had eating only an hour prior.  After brushing my teeth and changing clothes, Wade and I made our way down to the Ice Show, which was really cool.  There were some heart-stopping moments and I probably don’t ever need to see another one because I don’t know if I can handle the stress of that, but it was awesome. You can kinda see the rink and our amazing seats in the background of this photo:

The next morning, we walked into town for breakfast and enjoyed the morning reading and drinking tea/coffee.  On our way back, I fed the horses a legitimate amount of grass.  They were starting to warm up to me.  We arrived at the lodge just in time for a brunch at the Santore’s cottage and enjoyed spending time with the newlyweds, who were just exhausted!  After brunch, Wade and I rode bikes to an 18-hole putting course at the place he had played the day before.

It was pretty sweet.  It was modeled after St. Andrews and I couldn’t think of a cooler place for Baby Graf’s first golf experience.  Once that was done, we went to Dollar Mountain to ride the gondola with my dad.  I’m glad we did it and we got to spend some quality time with him.  Our gondola ticket got us free ice cream and we also stopped at Wise Guys pizza for dinner.  Still delicious!

That evening was opening night for the Sun Valley symphony.  We sat on the patio of the Santore’s cottage to take it in.  It was lovely.  The weather was perfect, the music was clear and it was a great way to wind down from a busy couple of days.  After the symphony, we sat on a patio with my dad and we had a great chat.  He was leaving the next day so we really enjoyed the quality time with him.

On Monday morning, we went to brunch with Bob and Nancy.  We headed to a café called “Moose Girls” and it was incredible.  Wade had a 2PM tee time with my brother and Dr. & Mrs. Santore.  Bob, Nancy and I rode along and it was awesome.  I got some really great pictures and we even saw deer:

For dinner that night I just bought a tuna wrap from a local place (again, delicious) and Wade had Wise Guys pizza (again, delicious).  We ate with Bob and Nancy.  When we got back to the hotel, Nancy came to our room to play cards in the Sun Valley Phase 10 Championship.  We had such a great time!  I haven’t laughed that hard in a while (until we went to Ohio, but I’ll get to that in due time).

On Tuesday morning, Wade and hiked the Valley View trail.  It was a short and fairly easy hike, but pretty much all I was up for.  When we got to the top of the hill it looked like we were basically on a tee box.  Upon further inspection, we were:

I thought that was pretty neat and the views were spectacular:

Again, we had lunch at Moose Girls café and read in the town square.  When we got back to the hotel, Wade took a nap and I went to the pool to continue my reading.  It was a very relaxing day.  We had been planning to meet John & Lauren for dinner at 7:30, but baby Graf was hungry so we went to dinner at 6 and hung around until everyone else arrived at 7:30.  It was a Mexican food place called, “Despo’s” and it was incredible!

We finished the night bowling in the lodge’s underground bowling alley.  It was a throwback to the 40’s and 50’s and we had a blast.  I won.  That’s the most important takeaway here.

Wednesday was our last full day.  We walked into town with a bag full of carrots.  We stopped and fed those horses and guess what?!?  They loved it.  One of them was extra into the carrots.  He reminded me of the horse version of Mack.  He was not into sharing at all.

We ate a Moose Girls…again and took naps.  We chatted with Nancy and played a couple more rounds of cards.  Wade and I went to bed early that night because we had to be at the airport for 7AM flight…

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