Valerie and I got married on August 5th, 1989, at an outside chapel in the Snowies called St. Alban’s Chapel. We had lived in sin for 13 years before that day. Dad married us, and the reception was held at the UW Camp just outside Centennial, WY. Mike Hurwitz – an amazing cowboy singer and songwriter who now lives in Alta, was living in Centennial at the time and we asked him to play… so he did. He wasn’t famous around Wyoming at the time, just a struggling artist… but since, he has become Wyoming’s Cowboy Voice, now that Chris Ledoux has crossed the Divide. He has several CDs out, his latest is Chrome on the Range… some of the best western music to come down the pike.
Anyway, last Sunday, we go down to Thermopolis to the annual Wedding of the Waters Pageant at Hot Springs State Park, which commemorates the joining of the Wind River with the Big Horn River (same river; long story) and the treaty whereby Chief Washakie of the Shoshone Indians gives the Gift of the Smoking Waters to us, the Whiteman. I’m sure you’ve already guessed by now who happened to be playing music in the Park.
It was a wonderful day, meeting up with an old friend from Lander and his new gal – his longtime wife who was one of Valerie’s closest friends passed away last year. Just think, we got to dance an anniversary dance to the same guy who gave us our wedding dance some thirty years before. Another mystical and magical and unexplainable event in our lives together.
I first met Valerie in the Brick Bar of Roslyn, WA in 1974 (they later filmed the TV Show, Northern Exposure in Roslyn, featuring the Brick Bar). There were two people in the bar when I walked in for the first time: The bartender, a man with long hair and beard, and a woman at the jukebox playing Sweet Home Alabama, over and over again. Her back was turned to me … she was wearing a homemade quilt skirt with a white floral blouse. I was quick to find out they were hooked up at the time… over the next few months, we became friends before I headed back to Wyoming in the late fall.
A couple years later, I’m drinking whiskey in the Buckhorn Bar in Laramie when Valerie walks out of the Whole Earth Store situated across the street in my line of view. At the time, it was the first and only health food store in Wyoming.
She tells me she’s looking for a place in the hills to live for a while – she needs to get away from people and society for a spell. I oblige, seeing as how I know of such a place – not too far from the Bridger Creek ranch I was working at the time… I had taken a few days off work to go down to Laramie (or up… Laramie is around 7.000 ft. elevation.
Last year, Valerie and I are traveling through Washington State and stop in Roslyn to have a drink. We go into the Brick and see it ain’t changed much. Valerie goes to the restroom and I ask the waitress where the jukebox is. She says they ain’t got one… they got internet radio music and can’t request a song. I’m bummed – I want to hear Sweet Home Alabama.
We have our drink and get up to leave… Sweet Home Alabama begins playing over the speakers.