They made it.

The days and weeks preceding the holidays were a time filled with stress for he and his lovely wife, not to mention the two little walking barometers in the house. The excitement and anticipation of their trip back to America notwithstanding, leaving his kids for two weeks wasn’t something he was looking forward to. The logistics of taking them along on such a significant voyage simply didn’t work out and they stayed with their wonderful auntie as well as assorted grandparents. He had something extremely important to do. He had to introduce his wife to his old life.

The day of departure finally came, and his sleepy brother-in-law arrived in the pre-pre-dawn hours to ferry them to the airport. The nervousness and excitement felt by both he and his wife was ratcheted further up the scale for every mile and milestone that they crossed. Her first trip in a major airplane, first visit to another state, first trip out of the country, and the not-even-remotely-small item of meeting his family.

The camera clicked as continually as her excited jabbering, and a new t-shirt, refrigerator magnet, or nosepicking tool was garnered in each new locale. It took a bit of convincing, but his wife’s urge to take numerous photos in the airport security line at LAX was quelled in favor of a single token shot of the back of Stifler’s head, simply for novelty’s sake. The truly photoworthy subjects at their final destination, the Rocky Mountains, promised to hold still longer and be more willing to be immortalized digitally while almost certainly attracting less attention by security personnel.

A true whirlwind of introductions followed, as his new wife met everyone from his old hockey team to his mother’s co-workers. The only respite that Colorado offered was a luxurious two day stint in Steamboat Springs, where one of his oldest and closest friends, Wilbur and his fianc? TMac, gave him Le Grande Hookup via his connections at the mountain’s dining establishments, as well as his fianc?’s managerial position at the Sheraton Hotel.

After a day spent bopping into and out of each and every shop that virtually screamed, “Tourist Crap Here!” and purchasing at least one item in almost ALL of them, his wife was treated to her first hockey game. The Good Guys lost, heads were moderately hung, and his wife and TMac inebriatingly cheered on the Zamboni driver like they’d been partners-in-crime for years. The post-game dinner was Mexican fare that pleased the Aussie to no end, and the beers (as well as the shot of Patron) loosened her tongue to the point of mentioning that she’d never had a margarita.

Looks of shock and surprise were quickly replaced with fiendish grins as the entire troupe journeyed to a place suspiciously known for the best margaritas on the planet. Many of said best were imbibed, and as he and his wife drunkenly stumbled into their incredible hotel room, they saw that there were not only flowers from TMac, but a note from the concierge… sitting on top of a bottle of champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries. The note involved something along the lines of “Happy Honeymoon!”

They stepped onto the balcony for a smoke amidst the Winter Wonderland, and his wife happily commented to him that they were indeed on their honeymoon. How did they not KNOW?

The answer, “Because this is too perfect to be planned,” became readily apparent. Then, BOY did they honeymoon.

Two days, sadly, was not near enough time. The fact that it snowed the entire time gave his wife her first taste of the frozen white stuff in all it’s champagne-powdery glory and didn’t dampen the visit at all, instead giving TMac a chance to forge a deep bond with his new wife. Much beer was consumed and though the margaritas created gargantuan hangovers, leaving was difficult. The promise of a return trip in September for the wedding certainly made things easier.

The march North across the windy wasteland of Wyoming gave his mother and wife plenty of time to grow even closer, though it also gave his wife ample time to rename the state, “Why-oming,” after passing through small-seemingly-pointless-town after town and nothing else in-between.

Montana was reached safely, and the whirlwind continued, encompassing family, extended family, adopted family, and countless friends. A wedding reception was thrown in their honour, and they were indeed honoured by the sheer amount of beer, food, and love present.

He’d shown her his home and almost all of his favorite people and places, and they took to the trek south heavily laden with gifts and a firmer context and appreciation of their family. A different route through high mountain valleys and along winding rivers actually answered the question of, “Why-oming?” with the answer of “Majestic Beauty, idiot” and his mother and his wife, the two most important people in his life, grew ever closer.

Their final day had come, and while it seemed both too long and too short, their adventure was drawing to a close. The trip’s quiet tears for achingly missing their two little ones were replaced with the prospect of the coming months to be spent apart from those that grew so incredibly close in such a short amount of time. Bittersweet, it was both wonderful and heart-wrenching, and it was time to go.

Her first actual plane rides had proven her a champion traveler considering they involved a combined 45 hours in a smallish seat next to her snoring and flatulent spouse, but her relief was tangible when they started their decent for home.

Though their little ones were still visiting their grandparents, they were happy and content while quietly ringing in the year’s new seconds with his parents-in-law and a bit of champagne. Beautiful and sincere resolutions were shared over what proved to be a slight excess of alcohol, and the combination of such with international jet-lag made lunch the following day with their rellies interesting.

On the first day of the New Year, they decisively collapsed at roughly 8 pm, and found themselves sweeping through their house at 5:30 am unpacking and sorting the last of their trip’s bounty. Though neither voiced it out loud, it was highly evident that they were tidying their “nest” in anticipation of their brood’s return, even though his wonderful sister-in-law had cleaned the entire house while they were away.

The delight that he felt upon finding some of his children’s Christmas toys brought instant heart palpitations (knights, horses, and castles often do) followed by nervous shakes and sweating when he realized that he had to wait until his children were home before he could play wi… ahem… instruct the kids on how to properly assault a castle using ladders, a catapult, and a dragon.

The little ones returned, tiny arms gave gigantic hugs, and the castle was indeed mightily assaulted. After the dragon’s fire had subsided, he reclined contentedly across the couch with a look of serenity and happiness across his face and comfortably watched the kids tear through their gifts from the States before sighing heavily.

“You sound like that’s the first time you’ve taken a breath in two weeks,” his wife commented amusedly.

Because of the hustle and bustle he hadn’t noticed, but she was right.

It’s good to be home.

Squint and you can see the Opera House

She got ALL the window seats...

I honestly had to fight the urge to tell him how much Bulletproof Monk sucked.

She didn't eat the yellow snow regardless of the obvious temptation and that it might have been Lemon-flavored

Majestic Beauty... and the mountains ain't bad either.

The Hole's favorite fishin hole

My valley

High Mountain Lake

Wind River Canyon

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