Mandi + Pete – Day 1

When another photographer asks you to photograph their wedding, the question sets off a chain reaction of thoughts. Here are a few of mine:

  • “Yes.  Hell yes!”
  • “Wow, Pete must think I am a decent photographer.”
  • “Man, I hope I don’t mess this up.”
  • “All of your peers will be judging, watching, look at the baby, look at the baby!  Ahhhhhhhhh!”  (Old School reference for those of you not in the know).

Eventually all of this inner chatter fades away, and you just have to do the job – shoot how you want, capture the moment, work hard – and the rest will fall into place.  I mean, if I couldn’t come up with some nice imagery from a place as beautiful as Crested Butte, Colorado, then I might as well pack it in.  But I would have to get there first, and that’s a completely different story.

After the rehearsal, we snuck a little time to ourselves for a few photos.

I don’t know if you’ve ever flown in-between mountains before, but it’s a fairly riveting experience (and when I say in-between, I really do mean in-between.) From Denver to Aspen, it’s a short hop of about 30 minutes.  Topping out at 26,000 ft for a few minutes, your plane descends quickly, and passengers are faced with 14,000 ft. peaks scattered in every direction.  You bank left for 140 degrees, and line up the short runway with those peaks now at what seems like eye-level.  Your ground speed is something you can fully recognize with objects zipping by.  How close?…

Off to the left is the Smith Ranch, and it looks like, oh yes, they’re having butterflied chicken breast with baby red potatoes seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic, coupled with a nice glass of Napa Pinot Grigio.  And look!   The creme brulee is about to head into the broiler for the caramelized sugar crust.  Mmmm, delicious – if only my palms weren’t sweating and my stomach wasn’t in my throat – I would hop on over and invite myself in.

Crested Butte - Just over that small hill...

Once back on solid ground (think huge grin) I secured the car and was on my way.  But where exactly was my way? Thank goodness for google maps and the iPhone.  “Hmm, just 30 miles and about 2.5 hours,” I thought to myself, “well, he did say it was over a pass partially via dirt road, and that it would take a while.”  So off I went in my rent-a-special, no 4-wheel having, sub-compact death trap.  Along the way the sun was setting, and I stopped to take a few images.


As I decidedly put the camera down for the last time to reach my goal uninterrupted, I started to make good time. Arcing left, then a hairpin right, around the bend… dead end.  Uh oh.  Only one option: hit it.  I raced back and once in cell reception, called the hotel for directions.  I told the front desk person what had happened and what road I was on. She replied, “Oh yeah, don’t take that road.  Your iPhone is wrong.”  Thank you.

With new directions in hand, a full tank of gas, and operational headlights (they will come in handy later) I set off over two mountain passes.  Paved roads are a marvelous thing.  I don’t know if everyone realizes this.  It’s like the difference between having to go fishing for you food, or heading over to the market for salmon or cod, depending on what mood your palette is in.

The Valley.

It is now pitch black.  The moon is obscured, there are no street lights, and I am in a National Forest.  And so I drive.  I drive for over an hour, twisting and turning, listening to the very occasional anti-lock brake system lurch on while stones flick under the wheel wells, accompanied by a “something is catastrophically wrong” beeping noise when I lose control.  Damn, hasn’t Chevy heard of drifting?

Have you ever noticed when all hope is lost, that’s when the sea-change occurs?  And so it was that my dirt road ended, not with a crescendo of rumbling, but with a silent transition to pavement, a welcome sign, and a 15 MPH speed limit sign (did I mention the choir of angels?)

Keeping smooth transitions in order, let’s now head back to our regularly scheduled blog.  Enjoy the photos!

Start of one of the most famous Mountain Bike trails in the US.

Start of a beautiful thing.

Crested Butte in the background.

The place to get your morning cup of joe.

Rehearsal Dinner Venue.

Pete's sister and niece.

"Pops", making some last minute notes for the speech.

With the surplus of technology, anyone can now put together a montage of embarrassing childhood photos. Mandi and Pete enjoying it.

When the sun goes down, there are only a few things you can do. This is one option.

Strong and from South of the Border. Maybe not such a wise choice.

Down the hatch!

Thanks for the memories... or lack there of.

So, some good times were definitely had.  Join me for the wedding in the next post.

Until then, see you down the road.


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