I held tight to my daddy’s arm as I walked fifty feet down the satin-lined aisle. I stood beside an equally nervous Sheepdog and we both swore before God and our witnesses that we would ride it out through the good, the bad, and the ugly, forever and ever until we are parted by death. Then we had a ginormous party. It was a record-setting 96 degrees outside, well over 100 if you considered the humidity. It was our wedding day. And it was exactly twenty years ago.
This past weekend Sheepdog took me on a semi-surprise anniversary trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to celebrate our milestone. I say “semi-surprise” because Sheepdog knows better than to try to take me on a vacation that I knew nothing about because I could not possibly prepare for such a trip. I needed to know where we were going and what we would be doing and who was wrangling the entropy at home. You say “control issues” and I say “practical preparedness.” Whatever.
Now, it may be June according to the calendar, but it is still winterish in Wyoming. It was cold at night (low 30’s) and barely got up into the 70’s during the day. It was a little too brrrrr for my liking (my “liking” being anything having to do with the warm beach), but it was indeed perfect weather – and a beautiful location – for hiking. So, after we took pictures with a moose on the side of the road, had a spectacular couples massage and some hotel room sex, we hiked the crap out of that place.
On the best day of our trip we hiked well over 11 miles, with a good 2,500 feet of vertical climbing. Sheepdog calculated that for me on Strava… all I knew was that my hamstrings felt like we had hiked all the way back to Georgia. We were in Grand Teton National Park, so we started off walking all around Phelps Lake, which took about three-and-a-half hours, including lunch. Next we drove 15 miles north to Jenny Lake, which we first crossed by boat. Then we hiked up to a spot called Inspiration Point, back down the mountain again, and around the lake back to our car.
When we returned to the hotel, we were exhausted but rejuvenated. That one day of hiking in the woods together was incredibly meaningful and turned out to be more than just a day to us. It was actually representative of our first twenty years of marriage in so many ways…
* A mile on flat land is not too strenuous, but a mile uphill can mess with your head.
* A turkey sandwich made with love by your husband tastes better than almost anything else you can dream up.
* Sometimes the road signs will say “Rough Road” or “Frost Heaves.” The best you can do is be alert and hang on tight for the ride.
* Every once in a while you may cross paths with a girl who tells you she is going to jump into the lake naked. It is okay that Sheepdog listens for her splash, as long as he is still walking by your side and holding your hand.
* Occasionally you may also run into a boy hiking in just his underpants. Discussing what you think will happen when he runs into the naked girl can provide lots of entertainment and giggles.
* The weather may be too hot or too cold or somewhere in between. Pack lots of options, and don’t complain about how heavy the suitcase is.
* Bringing kids on the trip will change everything. Sometimes you need to leave them at home with your sister.
* Nobody likes a whiner, even if you get jammed in the leg by an unyielding tree. Be tough.
* Someone has to lead and someone has to follow. Don’t be greedy about your position. Share the responsibility. But always let the man drive.
* Wear good shoes.
* Bring a book, but be sure to put it down sometimes so you can talk to each other.
* If he carries all of the water, she will be able to carry the camera. Nobody gets thirsty and everything is documented, so everybody wins.
* You may think that you only like beach vacations, but the mountains just might surprise you. You’ll never know until you try something new.
* You forget the pain of the climb when you see the view from the top. Especially if you are seeing it with someone you love.
“In the name of God, I take you to be mine, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.
I give you this ring as a sign of my vow and with all that I am and all that I have I honor you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”
Happy 20th Anniversary to my Sheepdog. Thanks for sticking it out through all of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It has been an incredible and inspiring hike. Let’s keep going.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…