On July 27, 2013, in the late afternoon, Trish McGinity and I were married at the Holland Lake Lodge, in the town I grew up in. The Lodge was a favorite childhood place and getting married there, to the awesomest woman ever, was a glorious experience. There were several planned activities (e.g. horseback riding, rafting, golfing) the week before our wedding day, and many of our friends and family joined the fun. While we couldn't capture every smile, giggle, or loving moment, this is an endeavor to document our matrimony month, our wedding week, and the day we sealed the deal.
We started our month in Montana on Sunday, June 30th. We're officially calling it Raible Road Trip #18. We packed up our pets, raft and golf clubs and left Denver around happy hour.
We stopped for the night in Billings, Montana and arrived at the cabin the next afternoon. For the past 5 years, my parents have been building their retirement cabin, also known as The House. The House is a modern log home, still restricted in size by the length of the logs. However, it's 3 stories tall and has running water, toilets and a dishwasher. It's a really incredible piece of work and the most beautiful log cabin I've ever seen.
Last summer, Trish and I were the first ones to sleep in The House (because the upstairs floor had just been finished). This summer, they were finishing up a gorgeous covered porch and putting the final touches on their guest room. They'd also spruced up The Cabin and The Bedroom (a separate cabin originally built as a sauna) into clean and comfy guest accommodations. We spent the first hour after our arrival admiring all their hard work. Then we proceeded to unload our truck and moved in for the month.
The next two weeks were spent working on The House, rafting, fishing and having a rousing good time. On our first river trip on The Blackfoot (Russell Gates to Roundup), we saw bald eagles, caught Rainbow Trout and giggled with glee as we pounded through the Class III rapids. Hauling our raft up a 100ft super-steep takeout at the end was a challenging, yet memorable experience.
The 2nd week in July, Trish took a business trip to Boston and I tried to get my parents to act retired. We did a nice float trip along the Swan River (Piper Creek to Fatty Creek Bridge), but caught no fish. We took my parents' good friends, Mike and Mai, on the Blackfoot through Box Canyon. One of the most memorable scenes in Norman Maclean's excellent book, A River Runs Through It, takes place here (the movie was filmed on the Gallatin River) [source]. We started at River Junction in the mid-afternoon and and finished 6 hours later and 7 fish richer at Russell Gates. This is when I realized how terrible I am at estimating river trip durations in Montana. It's a good thing it's light until 10pm because we got off the river 10 minutes before dark. This wouldn't be the first time.
In mid-July, Trish returned from Boston. Abbie and Jack flew in from Denver and we celebrated my birthday with golf at Eagle Bend, in Bigfork. We taught them how to ride motorcycles (a.k.a. dirt bikes) and did another Swan River float trip near Ferndale. This time, we had 25 people in various floating devices and were lucky enough to see a moose and her two calves on the river banks.
That weekend, the kids and I went camping with my good friend Owen and his family. Trish stayed at The Cabin to relax and get ready for The Wedding Week. We camped at Hungry Horse Reservoir and quite the adventure getting there. After one of Owen's boat trailer's hubs blew up, we made a trip to town to get replacement parts. 3 hours later, when trying to fix the hub with new parts, we discovered it was the wrong size. Meanwhile, Owen's wife, Dana, had drove our kids (all 6 of them, plus a friend) to Hungry Horse to get a camping spot. To fix our "boat stuck on a trailer in the middle of Salmon Prairie Road problem", we used a floor jack to jack it up and push it to the side of the road. Next, we borrowed Dana's Grandma's pontoon boat and tried to find everyone else before dark.
The Budweiser was cold, the air was chilly, and the pontoon's engine was full-throttle as we drove 27 miles (43 km) across the lake as the sun set. We arrived 10 minutes before dark, much to Dana's relief.
A just-graduated-from-college crew arrived at midnight and camped right next to us. They proceeded to crank their music, run chainsaws and disturb the whole campground until 3am. We thought we could return the favor in the early morn, but they were up and on their boat by 7.
We spent the rest of the weekend fishing, boating, picking wild huckleberries, and marveling at our neighbors' stamina. I felt deep gratitude when Owen's whole family gave me all their huckleberries to serve as dessert at our Rehearsal Dinner.
That Sunday, July 21st, the kids and I return to The Cabin just in time to meet Trish's parents. Our first out-of-town wedding guests had arrived.
The Wedding Week
The wedding week festivities began with Trish, the kids and I all moving into the "Moose Roost" cabin at Holland Lake. Our view of the lake and the Swan Range was spectacular.
Trish's sister, Claire, arrived on Monday, as did her good friend Joanna. Abbie and Jack got to meet the new mouse-hunters at The Lodge, Up and Over. That evening, after even more family arrived, we all went to dinner at the Hungry Bear.
On Tuesday, Trish took a crew hiking to Holland Falls, followed by horseback riding with Swan Mountain Outfitters.
Meanwhile, I took my sister, Aunt Mary, cousins and Jack on a trip down the Blackfoot. Our 6-hour float turned into an 8-hour long haul because of low water and lots of rocks. Nevertheless, we caught a trout, saw a bald eagle, shared lots of laughs and arrived back for dinner around 11pm. We had great timing since Trish said she'd start worrying about us 3 minutes before we pulled up. We had our first late-night campfire by the lake to welcome late-arriving friends.
Wednesday brought us a beautiful day of rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead near Glacier Park. We had 35 people spread out over 3 rafts and 3 kayaks, guided by Montana Raft Company. A glorious time was had by all!
That evening, we rushed back to the Swan Valley for dinner at my parent's place. As usual, our rafting trip took longer than expected and we had a caravan of cars driving up our front road around 8pm. My Mom (and friends) prepared a delicious bouquet of culinary options and many folks got to see The Raible Homestead for the first time. We continued our campfire-by-the-lake until 2am, with a full moon.
On Thursday, we held a golf tournament at the Double Arrow Golf Course. Since most folks had joined us for rafting the day before, the turnout was low. However, we still managed to have a great time and I really enjoyed golfing with my Dad and his brother, Jimmy. We had a great time eating Pitchfork Fondue at the Hungry Bear Steakhouse that evening.
Friday was a Lake Day, where we rented WaveRunners and spent the day playing in the water.
The Rehearsal Dinner was late that afternoon, followed by another after-party at the lakeside campfire. The picture below of Trish and Chris (our wedding officiant) is one of my favorites.
The late-night campfires created some of our fondest memories, mostly because we were hanging out with our best friends in the world. Those people that took time out of their lives to celebrate with us will always hold a special place in our hearts.
On the wedding day, we slept in to rejuvenate our bodies. I got to start the day with a massage while Trish headed to The Gordon Ranch (where her family was staying) to get ready. Cindy Koder, an amazing woman and hairstylist, went to work with all the girls' hair. I slipped in for a trim in the early afternoon, then headed back to the lodge to get ready.
Chris Caldes was our wedding officiant and did a fabulous job of creating the ceremony and adding her own spin on things. For the wedding party, I had Jack as my Best Son, my buddy Clint (from the time I almost slept in a snow cave) as my Best Man, Trish's brother Matt, and my soon-to-be nephews, Michael and Jamie. Trish had Abbie as her Maid of Honor, her sister Claire as her Best Woman, my sister Kalin and her nieces, Morgan, Shira and Julia. We had our awesome friends, Jen Hussey and Jason Barton, do readings that brought many smiles and tears.
The picture below of Trish and her Dad is one we will always cherish. In particular, we like how Christian (the owner of Holland Lake Lodge), is in the background making sure everything is OK. Christian and Karen (the wedding coordinator at The Lodge) were amazing in creating the perfect wedding experience for us. Trish likes to call them Angel #1 and Angel #2.
Chris began the ceremony with "Mawwage", immediately bringing a round of laughter and smiles from everyone. She spoke beautiful words about us and our story, and then our mother's lit kerosene lamps (like I grew up with at the cabin) in memory of our grandparents and Trish's Aunt Ellen Thomas. For our vows, I had a surprise in store for Trish. She read hers first, with heartfelt words and a very touching portion where she made promises to Abbie and Jack.
My surprise was that I'd written Trish a book. I based it off all the blog posts about our travels since we met and assembled it into a hard-cover book using Blurb. I composed it while she was in Boston in early July, completing it in under a week, with lots of late nights involved. It resulted in a splendid 162-page book, appropriately titled "The Good Life, Volume I". I started my vows with words from the last page of the book, and finished with words I'd written earlier in the day.
One of the fun moments during the ceremony was when Chris asked me if I took Trish as my lawfully-wedded wife. I croaked out a barely-audible "Yes", followed by a loud, could-be-heard-across-the-lake "YES!". Trish reciprocated with an equally loud affirmation and we were pronounced husband and wife shortly after.
We rowed away in our raft as our first married journey. It was smooth, blissful and fun - very similar to how we'd like our marriage to be.
The reception after the ceremony was a blast. Abbie brought down the house with her Maid of Honor speech, saying that Trish was "loyal, smart, pretty, funny ... oh wait, that's me". The DJ provided a great selection of music, we got almost everyone on the dance floor and Trish and I got to show off the moves we'd learned in preparation. Every time we peruse through the reception pictures, it brings a wide smile to our faces.
We ended our wedding day with lots of congratulations/goodbyes, yet another lakeside campfire, and friends like no other. It was truly a memorable day and I couldn't be happier to be married to the lovely Trish McGinity.