It is the game, not the call...

Christine, my wife, pulled a slick move and flew in two of my oldest friends for a couple of days.  I recently celebrated a birthday and she nailed her present to me.  I can't thank her enough for the best kind of gift.  Timeless experiences with your best buddies.

^They flew in on Wednesday night and we partied pretty hard at the Telemark Skier Magazine movie premiere at Brewvies in SLC.  The next morning we opted for a slow going day out on "Brown Sugar" with another old friend of mine, Ben Geiger.  From left to right is Ben, Ryan Schmaling, and Bryan Tournas.  Ryan, Bryan, and I go all the way back to early elementary school in Wisconsin.  They live in Phoenix, AZ these days, but our roots still run deep into the rich midwestern farm soil.  

^Glassy water is a good hangover cure.  

^Blue skies and sunshine are the prescription.

^I had to jump into the frigid water to show the boys how it is done.  Wake surfing in the Wasatch.  They weren't expecting to be surfing in the mountains, but then again I wasn't expecting them either.

^Bryan is figuring it out.

^Ryan and Ben keep an eye on his efforts.

^Surfing.  No big deal.  He is an athlete.

^Ryan picks it up like a natural.  Of course.  

^But then Ben makes it look really easy.  We polished off the evening with the lakeview off of Ben's back porch in Willard, Utah.  Some whisky drinks, and some knee high entertainment from Ben's youngsters kept our spirits as light as floating leaves on the cool wind.  The stars emerged over Willard Bay and served us the perfect night cap to a once in a lifetime type of day with the best kind of friends.  

^Sore calves from the all day surf session the day before, I threw the boys right into a 7-mile round trip hike.  Adams Canyon is a classic waterfall hike, and a good one for athletic out-of-towners.

^Chill spot.  Murphy is pumped, and the sun is shining down on our lifted spirits.  The planets all kind of lined up for us for a couple days.  It was really a perfect weekend.

^Ryan is stoked.

^One reason why.

^Another reason why.  Ryan is chilling under the sun soaked cliffs and taking in the 60-foot waterfall.  This is a special place, and I was pretty blessed to be able to share it with two people who have influenced my life in such a profound way.  Pretty cool moment.  I am glad I snapped these shots of it.

^Pour it out for our homies.  It was a flood of reflection in the mist of the falls with these guys.  We have come a long way since bike rides and kissing girls in the small town Wisco world of our youth.  We have endured life, love and tragic death together.  We have emerged out of the darkest pallbearer roles of our past to each strive for lives of inspired existence.  We have each taken the lessons of the hard knocks of loss to heart, and pursued lives of second chance.  

^In the mist.

^The album cover.  The woman that made it all possible in between the boys on the shores of Antelope Island out in the middle of "Big Salty".  Of course, Murphy is with too.

^Christine and I are creeping up on our first anniversary.  Although, I have known her most of my life she is still surprising me.  The boys love her too.  That actually speaks volumes.  To me at least.

^Bryan and I humbled by the light show finale.  This is one of my all time favorite sunset spots.  I am blessed to have been able to share a stellar one with some of my favorite people, and my dog.  The boys love Murphy too.  Big surprise.  Everyone loves Murphy.

^I snapped this one of Ryan and Bryan as the sun settled on our day and weekend together.  

^While driving across the causeway exiting the island, the moon and stars were rising over the Wasatch Range in front of me.  The sun was finishing the light show over the Great Salt Lake in my rearview mirror.  Ryan,  Bryan and I have a lot of experiences in the rearview mirror.  We truly grew up together.  I met Ryan at age 5 and Bryan at age 8.  We are three in a group of five from our hometown that has done it all together.  We are all very blessed to have each other as true lifelong friends in this chaotic world.  Each and every one of us has taken the lessons of our shared past, grabbed the torch we were given, and ran like hell with it.  Each and everyone of us is keenly aware of the fragile and fleeting nature of the human experience.  We have all chosen to pursue our short time here with reckless abandon.  The 5 of us all played sports together growing up.  In light of our hometown Brewers recent run for the NLCS, I will give you an old baseball analogy that explains. 
"I will not be walking across home plate with a clean uniform.  I will be rounding third base in full stride.  Uniform tatered, torn, and stained from a life of diving plays.  My pace will be driven by the motivation of errors and triumphs.  The play will be at the plate.  With no hesitation I will leap head first toward the imposing catcher.  The play will be so close that the crowd will hold their breath.  The silence and the perfectly executed head first hook slide will result in an uproar of emotion when the umpire animates and  proclaims his call above the lingering anticipation... "   

Back East...

A mission to see the east coast was finally realized.  Christine and I have never been up the North East Coast of the U.S. and it has been on our list for some time.  Our dear friends Bobby Schaetz and his new wife Jenna got married in Minneapolis.  That presented us with a perfect opportunity to put a whole "back east" trip together.  

^Bobby and Jenna's first dance.  Cheers to the happy couple and both of their families for a fabulous weekend, ceremony, and party.  We had such a good time.  We usually do when we get together with the Schaetz clan, and I am excited for Jenna's official induction.  Cheers!

^Then Christine and I were off to Boston for a couple days.  Christine comes from a long line of firemen so when we saw these boys hanging out in front of the firehouse we jumped at the chance for a photo opportunity that her family would appreciate.  

^We stopped into Cheers for lunch, and got caught up in some conversation and drinking with CJ the Boston local, and some fun women from California.  Our bartender, Andy, was a blast.  We sat with these folks for lunch, and ended up hanging out for four hours just rapping and laughing.  It was a real treat for to have some good conversation and laughs with some real down to earth folks in the cradle of the country.

^Andy pouring up some "Jellyfish" shots.  Cheers, at Cheers!
^The history in Boston is so rich that it is literally around every corner.  Christine and I walked the Freedom Trail from start to finish, despite a four hour detour at Cheers.  It was really inspiring to see these places.  The balcony of the Old State House were the Declaration of Independence was read to the citizens of Boston was really cool to me.  It had construction and high rises all around it, and yet it still stood there with a truly magical presence.  

^These quant old streets were very charming, and I was eating it up.

^Bunker Hill.

^U.S.S. Constitution, and the Boston skyline.  Very cool place, and very good times.

^Next, we rented a car and drove up the coast to Bar Harbor, Maine.  Here we found more great people, and more beautiful country.  One afternoon the rain came in.  So, Christine and I cozied up to a small Irish pub in Bar Harbor called Leary's Landing.  Rob, the bartender, hooked us up with some wings and hospitality.  The jubilant atmosphere and music put us right into our place.  We shared some drinks and conversation with the Woodworth's, an adorable Irish couple from Florida, who entertained us with some classic stories and all around goofiness.  Real people in real beautiful places.  It doesn't get much better then that.  Big cheers to Rob, the Woodworth's, and the Irish bar patrons that we had way too much fun with.  

^Bar Harbor, Maine is home to Acadia National Park.  I always try to mix in some nature into our trips.  We like to get a well rounded experience.  Needless to say, Acadia provided.  This park was far beyond my expectations.  The fall colors were in bloom and the scenes were breathtaking.  

^Bridges, waterfalls, colors, and my silly wife in one of her classic picture poses.  Classic Acadia.  Classic Christine.

^Waterfalls and foliage.  Beautiful.

^One hundred plus year old bridges that have stood the test of time and nature.  I stood under it, inspired.

^Timer photo.  Going on the mantle.

^Fall in full.  Amazing place to experience fall.  Truly breathtaking.

^Busy beaver.

^Captivating colors.  Tranquil place.

^Big ocean views from Champlain Peak.  The hikes were very unique in the rocky oceanfront environment.  One of a kind sort of place.  

^The coastline is riddled with little rocky islands, peninsulas, and bays.  One of the most beautiful places that I have seen.  I have seen a lot of them now, and it never gets old to come across another.  We were blown away at the sights of it all.  Honestly, we took over 300 pictures on this trip.  It just seemed that at every turn we were being blown back by more then just the salty winds of the Maine coast.

^Blown away.

^Yet again.

^Lunch break.  Looked like a good spot for one to me.  

^And to the right of my lunch rock.  My lovely wife, and more ridiculously views.  Soak it all up.

^A large cruise ship leaving Bar Harbor.  Acadia's "Sand Beach" in the foreground.  Spectacular.

^Christine, the photographer, getting down to business.  We were like kids in a candy store as we traversed the ridge across three peaks.  Natural surprises around every bend in the trail.

^These rocky peaks were like no other environment I have ever experienced.  Up, over, under, around, and all over on the rocky trails was a real treat.  Very unique.

^Christine's photo of me through one the cairns that marked our way.  The trail was so rocky in some places that these small stacks of rocks were the markers to navigate the way along the ridge. 

^As I let Christine run up ahead so I could snap this photo, I had a real "how'd I get here" moment.  I get these a lot, and mostly because I seek them out, but this one was precious none the less.  We were nearing the end of what was an inspiring and blessed trip.  The view of my beautiful wife in the foreground of one of the most inspiring views and environments that I've seen in a while was the perfect cocktail to stimulate my soul.  I am very grateful for all the people, places, sights, sounds, smells, and spirits that all came together to give Christine and I a trip of a lifetime.  Once again.  From the Schaetz's, to CJ from Boston, to Irish Rob and the Woodworth's, to the history of Boston's Freedom Trail, and the beauty of Bar Harbor and Acadia,  we were truly blessed.