OK, so this is the wedding post I told you I'd do. I figured I'd get it all out in one post so that I could let you read it all or not.
The wedding was held in Coeur d'Alene, ID. Some of my family is there, and that's where I graduated high school, so I consider that my home town. We had about 50 people show up; family, friends, you name it. My wonderful wife constructed her own wedding dress.
Here, let me say that again, for those of you who won't believe it. My wonderful wife constructed her own wedding dress, including at least forty hours spend sewing beads onto the entire thing BY HAND. She was fed up with the offerings in all the bridal shops and she decided that she could do a better job on her own. And you know what? She did. She looked magnificent. Radiant. Stunning. She was a fairy-tale bride walking down the aisle, and it was because she made her own frigging wedding dress.
Me, I learned how to tie a bowtie. And got my shirt dry-cleaned. Guys have it so much easier in the "get dressed for the wedding" department. Suit, shirt, tie, good shoes.
The ceremony took place in the church that I grew up in. The church was built in 1910, and if it was any larger it would be a cathedral. It has a one-of-a-kind Black pipe organ from 1924 located in the choir loft, and the music it produces rolls through the church like a wall of sound. The organist is a master, able to play anything. He also happens to be my old band director. Small world, eh?
The ceremony itself was short, sweet, and to the point. The reception was great, with more food than I could imagine, wine, dancing, and good company.
And the honeymoon... well, we just opened a map, found something that looked interesting, and drove there. Any town larger than 1000 people, we just kept driving past it. We found the best cafes, greatest views, and even better people. There's actually a few places I want to mention by name. I'll do that later.
The traveling itself was nothing short of breathtaking. The mountains were in their fall glory, carpeted in greens and golds. Every time we turned a corner, our jaws hit the dashboard. I don't think I can describe it all, and I know that the pictures I took can't even begin to come close. Idaho and Montana both left the wife and I stunned. In Idaho, you're IN the mountains, all the beauty is right in front of you. Once you cross into Montana, the mountains spread apart, leaving you breathless from the sheer enormity of it all. It was the difference of a Mozart piano solo vs. one of his orchesteral pieces. Both are beautiful, both are different from each other, and both leave you breathless. It was time well spent, to say the least. I had knots in my back that I didn't even know existed until they started to relax. And the people we met were the salt of the earth. Just flat out good people.
Needless to say, it was a sucess. And now, here's a few of the places that really knocked me out.
Red River Hot Springs, Elk City, Idaho: It's in the Bitterroot Mountains, quite a ways out. It took us all day to drive there, and it was worth every mile. The springs themselves don't have any real pools, so a small resort was built up around them. It's about as far away from civilization that you can go, while still being able to take a hot shower in the morning. But the only reason there's a hot shower is because they pipe the water in from the spring! They have a few nice rooms in the main building, and then several small cabins situated away from the pool. The water from the springs is piped down to one main pool, a hot tub, and can also be piped into several single tubs for those who would like a bit of privacy. The place is run on gas lights and a generator that powers up batteries. I was able to catch the last two Yankees-Redsox games while we stayed there. The prices are reasonable, and there are several campgrounds close to the springs for those who want a bit more wilderness and less expense. The wife and I stayed at a campground the first night, and then rented one of the cabins the second night. The second night, we were serenaded to sleep by the wolves howling on the mountains. The manager of the resort and her son are both pleasant, hard working people who are trying to repair years of neglect caused by the previous manager. She had two locals who came up on a regular basis to help her fix the place up, aided by coffee and copious amounts of food that she provided. The wife and I spent quite a bit of time just soaking in the hot tub, and just as much time chatting and drinking coffee with the people in the main building. One old goat cheerfully informed me that he used to be a contracter in Viet Nam, building foxholes for all the GI's. When I raised my eyebrows at him, his buddy (the town's Mr. Fixit from what I could tell) said "Yeah, foxholes, and he built 'em with a B-52 from way up high." Apparently, the guy flew bombers in Viet Nam. And built foxholes for GI's, hundreds at a time (wink wink). All in all, I'd could spend twice as much as I did and still call it a good deal, not only for use of the hot tub, pool, and location, but the good company that I found myself surrounded by. There's a sad note attached to the hot springs, but that's for a later post. Just know that I'll be back at that place whenever possible. It was the perfect start to the honeymoon.
The Wild Onion Cafe, Elk City, Idaho: Holy crap, the food. The cook back in that kitchen could embarass most of the restaurants in Seattle. I expected good food, but wow. Just wow. They had a better beer selection than most the restaurants in Seattle as well. Steak cooked just perfect, and I'm talking tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Fried chicken hand battered and seasoned so damn well that I damn near ate the bones. Fried onions that should carry a "Warning: May Cause Uncontrollable Salivating and Addiction" lable, they were that damn good. Three kinds of hand-made-that-day soup that was so good you were licking the cups it came in. Service was out of this world. Total cost for two huge, perfectly cooked meals (including soup), a beer, and the wife's tea, before tip: $23.00 Needless to say, we left one hell of a tip.
The Homestead Drive-In Cafe, Whorley, Idaho: The very first restaurant we stopped at. Homemade soups, lick-the-spoon good. Fresh food, nothing fancy, but damned good all the same. Good service, my coffee cup never was empty. Total cost for two huge meals, plus coffee and tea, before tip: $14.00. Everything was so good that we handed the waitress a $20.00 and told her to keep the change.
Stevi (pronounced Steve-EYE) Cafe, Stevensville, Montana: The wife and I met with old friends who had moved to Stevensville, and we had breakfast Saturday morning at the Stevi Cafe. Oh, wow. They almost had to roll me out the door. Huge portions, all of it fresh cooked and homemade. Italian sausage, pancakes, country potatos, eggs, buscuits and gravy, enough food to fill a grizzly bear. All of it wonderful. And a waitress who was so busy that I never saw her standing still. Hell, half the time she was a blur. She apologised for her "late" service, even though she got to our table faster than the average waitress in the Puget Sound. When my coffee was empty I'd set it on the edge of the table, and it would be filled before I could blink. Total cost for three huge meals with coffee, plus enough left over to fill a take-home box, before tip: $22.00. Again, we left a big tip.
Those were the places that stood out on our trip. Sometimes, when you find things that good you just have to sing their praises. If you ever find yourself near any of those places, make a point to stop in and give it a try. You won't be dissapointed.
So... any questions? That should about cover the whole matrimony stuff. Oh, those of you in back decrying me as un-romantic for not publishing every sordid detail can just kiss off. It was MY wedding and honeymoon. If you want sordid details, have one yourself! Now then, back to your regular ragings.