Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jackson Hole Recon Mission #2


Jackson Hole was AMAZING!!

I was so nervous before leaving because this trip has so many potential things that could have gone wrong and completely screwed us up. Had our flight been delayed for any amount of time, we would have missed all our appointments on Friday. If we had to reschedule for Saturday, we wouldn’t be able to get any skiing in. And if we couldn’t ski on Saturday, then Sunday was going to be a really miserable day because we didn't have enough time and Ryan would be so disappointed. So we were praying for great weather and no delays.

Our flight to Jackson Hole was packed with excited skiers. We had a group of hard-core ski bums surrounding us who didn’t stop talking about all the different runs and difficulty of the mountain. I was excited, but growing more and more nervous about this adventure. I’ve only skied twice in my life…and both times were two weeks ago when Ryan and I went to Hidden Valley, the make-shift “ski resort” on a golf course about 20 minutes from our house. I had taken a private lesson both days and felt comfortable enough at Hidden Valley to brave the “big hill” and make it down alive, but I was by no means comfortable on my skis. I’m definitely not a “natural,” but I have strong legs from running and balance from gymnastics, so I was picking it up (it took me longer to figure out how to get off the chair lift safely than to actually ski). But I knew that Rendezvous Mountain was incredibly vertical and one of the most difficult mountains in the country for beginners, so my confidence was next to nothing.

We landed in Jackson Hole (right on time) to mild weather and cloudy skies. I was disappointed that the clouds were blocking our views of the Tetons and really hoping that this would clear up soon. We got our bags and rental car (a huge Chevy Suburban) and headed for the Lazy Moose. Seeing the Lazy Moose was the entire reason for the trip, so I was anxious to get there and make sure we had made a good decision on the wedding location. We met our wedding planner, Kathi Michel in Wilson and made our way up the road. As we pulled into the driveway of the Lazy Moose, we could tell that it was going to be spectacular. It was a gorgeous log home, sitting up on a hill, overlooking the valley and the mountains. We crossed over Fish Creek on a little bridge and made our way past a greenhouse and gardens. Of course, everything was covered by 8 feet of snow, so we were imagining what the place would look like.

Upon walking inside the Lazy Moose, I knew immediately that we had made the right decision. The place was GORGEOUS! It had such a warm and cozy feeling. It had all the Western charm we were looking for, but was still elegant and sophisticated. The owners, Robin and Cherrie, were absolutely fantastic and made us feel right at home. I’m more excited than ever about the wedding! Here are some pictures.

After visiting the Lazy Moose, Kathi, Ryan and I headed into town to do our tasting with the caterer and cake company. We sampled 7 hors d’oeuvres and picked our 5 favorites. Then we tried a couple of the entrée options. Everything was absolutely fantastic! And then the best part – CAKE! Monica from Jackson Cake Company brought us the most fantastic cupcakes. They were moist, delicious and had the lightest, most perfect icing I’ve ever tasted. Yum.

Next stop was Teton Village for ski rentals. The entire village was covered in snow and twinkle lights and looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale. The village is modeled after a Swiss chalet ski village and was picture perfect. We managed to rent boots, skis and poles with little difficulty and then headed to Jackson Hole Resort Lodging to pick up the key to our townhouse. Jackson Hole Resort Lodging was so fantastic – they gave us a complimentary 3-bedroom townhouse for our visit, in the luxurious Moose Creek section of town. Our place was unbelievable, with a private hot tub, garage, full kitchen, balconies, fireplace and gorgeous furnishings. And the best part, in the morning, we put on our ski boots and the lift was right outside our front door!


Saturday morning was spent on the slopes. It was a crystal clear and sunny day. We caught the Moose Creek lift and had a couple small easy runs down to the Village to pick up our lift passes. Unfortunately, my boots were so unbelievably uncomfortable that I could barely make it down the mountain. On the verge of tears, we switched out my boots for a different pair and all was well again. Ryan spent the morning with me on the green slopes. It took a few runs for me to feel comfortable again, but by that time, it was time to meet Kathi and Shawn at the bottom of the gondola for our scouting trip up the mountain.



It was my brilliant idea to see if we could have our rehearsal dinner on the top of the mountain. Shawn, from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has been working with us to make this possible. She’s been great about everything – being flexible with the menu, coming up with creative ideas, and working with us to make sure everything is perfect! We all boarded the gondola and took it to the base of the Headwall at 9,095 feet. Up there, they have a gourmet restaurant and a deli. Of course, the gourmet restaurant would be fantastic, but was WAY out of our price range. So Shawn suggested an outdoor Mountain-top BBQ outside the deli on the patio, overlooking the entire valley. Perfect!! We’ll have our guests ride the gondola up to the summit, then treat them to a BBQ buffet, with a bar and s’mores, followed by toasting and roasting. It’ll be such a great relaxing evening with our friends and family before the wedding.

Us at the top of the mountain.


Ryan skied down the mountain from the summit, and I took the gondola back down with Kathi and Shawn. We met at the bottom for our next run: my very first blue slope! At first I was doing really well. Not completely great, but confident enough that I wouldn’t die going down the mountain. That is, until Ryan accidentally took me down a black diamond slope. Yep, I was done. After a number of bad falls, backward somersaults, losing both skis, nearly breaking my arm and fighting back the tears I finally made it back to the blue slope. Needless to say that Ryan was in trouble. I sent him on his way to do the hard stuff himself, while I went back to the bunny slope to nurse my wounded pride and confidence. And although the bunny slopes helped, there’s nothing like being out-skied by a bunch of 4 year-olds to make you feel like such a loser. However, overall, it was a really fun ski adventure. That’s a hard mountain! I just hope that next time we do this, I’m a little better and can enjoy and appreciate it more.


The rest of our weekend was relaxing and enjoyable. We were absolutley exhausted, so we didn't do all that much. We had a wonderful dinner at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar on Saturday night. We spent Sunday shopping in Jackson (Ryan had to hit the fly fishing shop) and driving around Teton National Park looking at the mountains and for wildlife. We ended up seeing a couple coyotes, a ton of elk, a deer and two moose. It was such a great trip; we were not ready to leave. Fortunately, we’ll be back soon! And who knows, maybe we’ll just pack our bags and move to the mountains one day!



Me with two moose in the background

The Tetons

Adios Jackson Hole!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wedding Update

Hello! As we're getting closer and closer to July, I've been getting all kinds of questions about the wedding and how things are going. And my only answer right now is...we'll see after this weekend! Tomorrow Ryan and I head off to Jackson Hole for a weekend of wedding-related activities. We're planning on (1) seeing the new venue; (2) picking a ceremony location; (3) picking table decor and china/glassware; (4) meeting with the florist to discuss bouquets, boutonnieres and decorations; (5) having a tasting with the caterer; (6) tasting and designing the wedding cake; (7) seeing the rehearsal dinner location; (8) picking the rehearsal dinner menu; (9) touring the lodging arrangements; (10) and possibly meeting with the judge that will marry us. And if there's any downtime at all, we're hoping to hit the slopes! Whew! What a weekend!


I'm pretty excited and very very nervous about this trip. With the way our wedding luck as been going so far, I have no idea what to expect. As a lot of you know, we've had some rather unfortunate news with our wedding venue and it's been a pretty crazy few months trying to get it all figured out. If you remember, I flew out there last May to check out locations for our wedding. I wanted something cozy and rustic, but elegant with spectacular views. Ideally, I wanted an outdoor spot for the ceremony overlooking the Tetons, an indoor place for the reception (so we wouldn't have to tent), and somewhere closeby where we could get ready or stay. Enter Crescent H Ranch. It was a a former Orvis fly fishing lodge with ten little rustic guest cabins, each named for a native or renowned trout species, a gorgeous lodge for the reception and a meadow overlooking the mountains for the ceremony. It was in our budget and even had a fly-fishing trout theme. PERFECT!


However, seven months later, the nightmare began. The planner at Crescent H called us and said that the owners of Crescent H received an offer to sell the place to some of the local homeowners around the ranch. The ranch was not for sale, but the potential buyers asked how much they would accept for the place and then matched it. The buyers wanted to privatize the ranch for their own personal use…meaning that if the deal went through, the new buyers would not honor any of the contracts for next year, including ours. Ahh!! They said they would know whether the sale went through in three weeks...would we wait? If we didn't want to wait, they would give us our deposit back and we'd have to find somewhere else. Begin total panic and chaos mode.


Right away we realized that we still wanted to have the wedding at Crescent H, if that was an option, but we also had to start looking at other places. Unfortunately, there were no places that I visited when I was out there back in May that I loved nearly as much. Other places were nice, but didn’t have all the things we wanted or were way out of our budget. Our wedding planner starting working overtime to see what else would be available that weekend (so we wouldn't lose the deposit on the photographer, band, etc.). Needless to say, this made me so mad b/c I had my pick of all the places in May when I went (b/c I was so early), but now all kinds of places were already reserved.


Our wonderful (and very patient) planner advised us to relax and remain calm…there was still a chance that either the sale wouldn't go through (for some reason) or that maybe the buyers woudl have a change of heart and would honor the contracts for the summer and then privatize it later. We just didn't know. When the time finally came, we got a call from the ranch that the owners had extended the deadline to the end of the year. More waiting. We still weren't ready to pull out, without having a back-up location and it was the holidays, so we just decided to keep waiting.


In the meantime, we happened upon another little rustic ranch that might be a back-up place to have the ceremony and reception. My photographer shot a rehearsal dinner there last year, and I fell in love with the pictures. As for style and elegance, it was probably even more spectacular than Crescent H. It didn't have the fly-fishing theme or the cabins on the property, but was really beautiful with horses, a bar with saddle stools, big hearth stone fireplaces, elkhorn chandelieres and and outdoor lounge area. Very cozy and western. Of course, it's more than we had originally budgeted (and would require a lot of additional charges that we weren't considering) but it was available on our date and beautiful. Hopefully we could work something out.


January 5th finally comes along and we hear from Crescent H...they owners extended the deadline AGAIN. Now the buyers had until the end of January. At this point, we were through. The owners were obviously doing whatever they could to make this sale happen. And even if the sale didn't go through, what was to keep this from happening again in a few months, when it was too late to find another place? Our confidence was completely shaken. We had to move on and find some place else. So, we will not be getting married at the little fly fishing villa we fell in love with. However, our back-up location looks so amazing, and we are in the process of getting everything finalized to proceed as planned. The new place is called the Lazy Moose Ranch. It is also located in Wilson, Wyoming, in between Jackson and Teton Village. Although it doesn’t have the fly fishing motif of the original location, my photographer and wedding planner both say that the Lazy Moose is even more beautiful and elegant. We cannot wait to see it!!!


Talk about stressful! I thought we were going to avoid a lot of the stress and drama of wedding planning by having a destination wedding. Wrong! I can't believe I haven't had a nervous breakdown yet. Anyway, my fingers are crossed that everything will work out in the end for the best (everything happens for a reason, right?!). I think we'll love the new place - I promise to take lots of pictures!




Here is the website of the place:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

30…and feeling it

As you might know, a few weeks ago I turned the Big 3-0. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe, the girl that recently got carded for being old enough to sit in the exit row on a Southwest flight (you have to be at least 15 years old) is now double that age. But, just because I might not look it, doesn’t mean I’m not feeling it and the significance of it.

Those of you that know me well know that I love birthdays. A birthday is an entire day that is all about you (although Ryan would say that I think every day is all about me). But most importantly, birthdays involve my four most favorite things in the world: (1) getting cake; (2) getting to see all my friends; (3) getting my way for the whole day; and (4) getting presents. Wow, do I sound spoiled! :) And, of course, this year was no different in that respect. Ryan surprised me by getting us a suite at the Four Seasons and arranging an elaborate dinner party at Sleek in Lumiere Place with my closest friends, followed by a night in the casino. It was a blast and I had a fantastic time! However, despite the killer party, the realities of turning 30 took some time to get used to…this birthday was a little harder to swallow than most.

No matter which way you slice it, turning 30 is a significant milestone birthday. Unfortunately, I haven’t done all that well with milestone birthdays in the past. To me, “milestone” birthdays (18, 20, 21, 25) have felt more like the end of an era than the beginning of another great year. On each one I've done a whole lot of moping and no small amount of soul-searching, trying to figure out what I've done, who I am and where I'm going. And I’m always amazed at how silly and naïve I now think I was at the previous milestone birthday, reflecting on all the things I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown since the last one.

On this milestone birthday, I finally realized why I felt so mournful and worried about turning 30. I was grieving for the memories and times I was leaving behind and worrying about what the next year (and decade) would bring. Each milestone birthday (and each birthday for that fact) is the end of something - the end of another year of memories and achievements. The next year is unknown and can be pretty terrifying. At 18 I was sad to see the end of high school and scared of leaving my friends and moving to college. At 20 I was sad to see the end of my teens and nervous about “becoming an adult.” At 21 I was sad to leave behind all the memories of college and worried about what I was going to do after graduation. At 25 I was sad to leave law school and terrified about finally entering a career that would last the rest of my life. And now here I am at 30, not just mourning my 29th year, but sad to leave behind my entire 20s, a decade of having fun and just figuring out who I am. By the time you turn 30, you’re supposed to have it all figured out…right? Hmph.

However, there are some things I have figured out and lessons learned in the last few years that I would like to pass on to you and future generations:

  1. Hard work pays off – whether it’s dedicating time to studying for exams or training for a marathon, any job worth doing is worth doing well
  2. Laughter cures everything – seriously, everything . . . surround yourself with people that make you laugh
  3. Money doesn’t buy happiness – however, it sure helps to buy a lot of other pretty things that can temporarily make you happy
  4. Don’t compare yourself to any one else – chances are they’re either lying or you’re not getting the whole picture about their life. Just be grateful for what you have and feel free to lie to others about just how great your life is.
  5. Quality is more important than quantity – translation: 1 pair of Gucci shoes is way better than 5 pairs of non-Gucci shoes. (see also #3 above)
  6. The more I am just myself, the more people seem to like me – go figure!
  7. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – then add vodka and call your girlfriends to bitch about those goddamn lemons and who the hell do they think they are, anyway
  8. My parents aren’t as stupid as I thought they were – actually, they might even be able to teach me a thing or two if I’d just be patient and listen
  9. I don't have to be friends with people who make me feel bad about myself – life’s too short to waste it trying to impress people who are just trying to impress other people
  10. My favorite place in the world is at home on the couch, snuggled up with my dog, my cat and my Ryan – absolute heaven


And I truly believe that even though my 20s were great, my 30s are going to be even better. There are still so many things to experience, see and do. During this next decade, I plan to marry the man of my dreams, start a family, make new friends (and keep the old), read more, travel more, challenge myself in new ways, and somehow (if it’s even possible), become a better person. I’m hoping my 30s bring me inner peace, grace and patience…and if not, at least more lemonade.

Sara, 30