Back to the journey towards 2 wheels now! After my Patagonia trip Ruth and were engaged and we needed work and a place to live. We applied and were hired by Pingree park. Pingree is CSU's mountain campus that is located at 9500 ft at the northern boarder of Rocky Mountain Park. It is one of the prettiest places on earth and it was a perfect re-introduction into society after 5 months of traveling in South America.
You don't just work at Pingree, you LIVE at Pingree. It is over an hour from Ft. Collins so all of the staff has housing up at the campus. Ruth and I weren't married but because we were engaged the staff put us together in a cabin called "The Farside." It was amazing. It felt like we were homesteaders in the 1800's. No electricity, no running water and nothing up valley from us. Our view was amazing and the solitude at night was brilliant. Life that summer was sublime.
Ruth worked in the front office and I was on the carpentry crew that was restoring an original homestead cabin that was built in the early 1900's. It was such a wonderfully simple existence. There was literally no cell service for 50 or 60 miles in any direction. We had access to the internet but only via a dial up connection on a shared computer. It was 1999 anyway so none of it worked well anywhere. I look back on it now with all of our devices and busyness and wish for more moments like that summer. We worked hard all day, ate dinner, played some SPIRITED ping pong in the common area and then hiked back out to the farside to do it all over again the next day. Our hikes back home often involved a bull moose in our way and completely black nights with only stars or the moon to light our way home. It was that summer that I would learn how to work with my hands from one of the greatest teachers. Tom Lorenz was patient, knowledgeable and firm. That summer I learned a trade that would earn me money for years to come. I still consider that to be some of the most valuable education I have ever received.
It was at Pingree that I became close with Pat Rastall. Pat would become my mentor and personal hero over the next few years. And interestingly enough he rode a dirt bike when none of my other friends or coworkers did. It wasn't some fancy new ride. It was a 1980's Honda XL185 that he had ridden around the state while he climbed all of the 14eeners in one summer. It meant a lot to him for a lot of reasons and I envied that bike and the stories he had with it. In the evenings after work Pat would invite a few of us over to have a pull up competition. It was ridiculous! A bunch of guys trying to out do each other on a pull up bar but it was fantastic too. We got stronger and we got closer. We shared stories and gave each other a hard time. No emojis, no "likes," just actual face time an camaraderie.
The summer was filled with outdoor fun, adventure and fitness. Ruth and I learned how to live with each other and our love grew every day. The staff was close and we shared more special moments than I could possibly put down here. Imagine all of the summer camp movies you have seen and it was that times 10! As the summer drew to a close, my wedding approached. We were getting married up at Pingree and we were ecstatic to share it with our friends and family.
We invited people from all over the country. Some of Ruth's family was traveling from the east coast and we had folks from California too. The day of the wedding came and we woke up to rain and gray skies in Ft. Collins. "Oh no!" We had contingent plans to move inside but that's wasn't the point! There was nothing to do but drive up toward the park. As we climbed higher and higher the clouds began to break up and dissipate. When we arrived at Pingree the sun was shining and the weather was perfect! God was showing us the first of many examples of how much he loved us. The ceremony was simple and beautiful. My grandfather was the pastor and a ton of family and friends were in the wedding and audience. It was even complete with a flower girl fist fight between sisters (Not kidding at all). We said our vows and celebrated with our guests and even had a moose stroll through campus just at dusk.
The wedding marked the end of the season for Pingree and the campus was closing for the winter. It was time for us to take another step towards adultdom (my word thank you). Of course we needed a honeymoon so we were going to prolong being real grown ups for a little while longer!
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