PART 4- Touristing Hard

Aaron’s second time skateboarding, ever.

November 11, 2017. 8 AM PST.

After our one-run debacle the day before, Aaron and I were on team “let’s go get breakfast, hit the skatepark again and then see some pretty shit instead of snowboard today.” We figured Fancy, Keith and Madison would create better snowboard content anyway, so we loaded up the Highlander once again and hit Mammoth Lakes just in time for The Goodlife Cafe to open. Our server – who I’d guess just switched from summer construction mode to waiting tables mode, worked with a quickness that ensured at least one of us got the wrong thing. (It was me – my Florentine Benedict came out covered covered in ham) but Aaron’s number 2 (a scramble with lots of stuff) was able to tide me over as we waited the 10 minutes for kitchen to whip me up a new one. When we left, the line was starting to stretch out the door and we patted ourselves on the back for the speed at which we were accomplishing things on a Saturday morning in a sleepy ski town experiencing its first Los Angeles influx of the season.

Next stop was the skatepark – on our previous trip the wind was whipping and my phone was dead, so I was excited to take some photos of other people rather than skating myself. Aaron and I wagered the over/under on how many people would be at the skatepark. He said less than two, I said more, and the loser had to buy lunch. I hesitated at the last minute and didn’t take the bet – but I should have! The park was poppin’ with a multi-generational vibe. Skate dads and their daughters who were ridiculously good, out-of-breath rippers from the beach of Orange county, and of course some scooter kids who were probably trying impressive tricks, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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I was logging clips of kids who ripped, while Aaron was talking to Kyle, who’s daughter very well could be the next big thing in skateboarding, about getting back into skateboarding as an old guy. The hype was real and Aaron asked me to go grab my deck so he could try to skate the park.

“Letting” someone I love skateboard is a real mental struggle for me. I’ve experienced the pain of learning (read: broken bones, bruises, scrapes, not being able to walk for a month, much less snowboard) and it’s hard to want that for another person. But Aaron is a grown-ass man, and even though I knew my loose trucks and skinny little girl board would not be the right set-up for him to cruise this park, I said, “fine, go get that shit yourself.”

The park was poppin’

Aaron’s goals for skateboarding were far less ambitious than mine, and after circling the sidewalk around the park a couple times, he was stoked. We bid a fond farewell to all our new skatepark friends and pointed the car North to Yosemite.

We saw scenery!

We drove for about an hour North of Mammoth, passing high desert on the right and majestic-ass mountain ranges on the left before hitting the pull off in the “gateway town” of Lee Vining. It’s about 18 miles up to the gate of Yosemite, which seems like a scenic drive until you actually get into Yosemite and see what good scenery really looks like. And since it’s the off season – but snow hadn’t started to fall yet – the pass was open and fee station was closed. Basically, the perfect recipe for enjoying this natural wonder with minimal other humans and no additional expenses.

Doing the actual loop, or hiking to Half Dome, or any other those things you should really do when visiting Yosemite would take six hours of driving alone. Considering it was about 1 pm by the time we made it there, and we had plans to reconvene with our crew for the ultimate snowboard party in Reno at 6, that wasn’t happening. But we did manage to freak out some Asian tourists by attempting to skateboard on some big flat rocks, and shoot pseudo-senior portraits alongside a bible-study group, as well as bond with a couple old hippies over how fucking amazing this place really was. It was there we decided to turn back – Aaron’s altitude-enhanced cold and bad back didn’t need to log any more cartime at 10,000 feet, so we agreed we’d seen enough.

Back on 395, we got up to cruising speed, and agreed to make it out of the mountains before stopping at some epic side of the road restaurant to refil our bellies. The town of Walker came into view, with a roadside BBQ place on the left side and a roach-motel that said “Bikers Welcome” – complete with lots of moto-themed decorations – on the other. It was clear we’d found our human-filling station. And just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any more perfect – we were legitimately-surprised by Kieth opening the door for us. The crew had not only beat us there – but they’d already researched the menu and the scene for us. It was LITERALLY the last day Mountain View BBQ would be open for the season – and although they were out of mac and cheese, you could get a variety of slow-cooked meats on top of any type of potatoes you wanted. Aaron opted for with a BBQ Beef sandwich with fries, while I went with the Texas Spud – a massive baked potato drowned in BBQ pork, cheese, sour cream and chives. They were both amazing and thankfully Aaron was there to clean both our plates.

Four hours later we arrived in Reno. Hungry, tired, cranky and ready to kill each other once again. Our plan was to attend the snowboard-social-event of the season and enjoy some drinks and good company before retiring to our pre-honeymoon suite at a TBD hotel. However, before we could go out in public – Aaron wanted to stop back by the Outlet mall and get a clean shirt or two. As I don’t particularly care for shopping when I need something, and HATE IT when I don’t, I opted to sit in the car and work on my Insta story while he got what he needed. I did a quick parking lot change (less socially acceptable than at a ski area lot, but whatever, it was dark) and then got to work trying to choose the best of the content-overload I’d shot that day to make a quick story so that I could tease the premiere party and it would make sense in the timeline.

Aaron won this stop – he told the Banana Republic cashier about our plans to we the next morning and the whirlwind of a trip we’d be on and it seems she may have “forgotten” to charge him for the most expensive item he bought (a $15 sweater!)

When he got back in the car, fresh as a daisy, I was still swearing profusely at Instagram, my iPhone and the Ghost of Steve Jobs for making the simple act of sharing photos with the people not as easy as I wanted it to be. Aaron quietly navigated us to PigNic Pub and Patio for the party. Before we even made it inside, we found Tim Humphreys, Nial Romanek, Johnny Brady, and Dakota Whitaker out front enjoying a legal spliff, which was just the medicinal bump I needed to enter a room full of people I know and greatly enjoy.

The welcoming crew – Johnny Brady and Nial Romanek.

After some quick catch up, I told Aaron I was going to venture inside to try and secure a beer. A risky- proposition because through the doors I found nearly all my Reno snow-homeys. Christine Savage was in the bar queue and I soon had two Modelo Especial’s in my hand, but delivering them back out front well, that was gonna be the hard part.

Tim and Hannah Eddy were hanging out in the corner with their new book “Split the Difference” for sale. Gray Thompson was making the rounds, handing out hugs and spreading the vibe for “Board the World.” The Boreal cat-crew (Lane Knaack and Joey Leppien) were posted up at the bar, and Smokin’ Jay was shouting loudly at me about that one amazing time we’d shared at a Hookah bar in Germany. A shit ton of shit was being raffled off to benefit nature and Project Snow. The stars of Too Hard (aka Powanoia aka our Mammoth crew) had secured the best seat in the house for watching the videos playing on a screen. And a bunch of people I didn’t know filled in all the gaps. The only notable people missing were Kai Ujeski and Danyale Patterson, who assured me hours earlier they were “just about to leave their house.”  

The party felt like the best house party ever. All my friends, jammed into a cool space with chill patio zones in the front and back. The drinks were affordable ($3 cans of Modelo were the go-to) and the bartenders were on it. I ordered two whiskey gingers, expecting shitty whiskey and a splash of ginger ale, and instead got craft cocktails with shitty whiskey and actual ginger beer. Those two drinks were enough to milk while the organizers wrestled with technology in order to get Too Hard to play on the big screen. The video was sick, duh, but it really wowed Aaron, who now got the fact that not only was our Mammoth crew fun to talk shit with, they actually fucking kill it on snowboards too.

All this excitement, weed and booze had made us sleepy and maybe hungry again, and we decided to dip out before getting to see Tim Humphrey’s movie “Uncaged,” or waiting for Dangy and Kai to arrive. After all, it was nearly 8 pm and we had a wedding to plan and execute before our scheduled appointment with the Boreal marketing team at 10 am the next morning.

As anyone who knows her could have guessed, Dangy texted “Where u at” right as we crawled into bed at the Nugget Hotel Casino.

PART 6 – WEDDING

November 12, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

We woke up at 6 am in our totally adequate room in the less-nice wing of the Nugget. I’d told our wedding party, including Maid-of-honor Madison, Wedding Planner Fancy, photographer Joey Leppien and Second-angle photographer/best man Kieth to meet us at the Chapel of the Belles (Reno’s oldest chapel and also the home of the original drive-thru chapel) at 9 am sharp, where we’d be dressed and ready.

However, when I started googling what we’d actually need to do to make this a legal thing I learned two things: 1) We needed to go to the county clerk’s office (which opened at 8 am due to it being Sunday and Veteran’s day weekend) to get our marriage certificate and 2) Chapel of the Belles didn’t open until 10am that day.

With nearly two hours to figure out somewhere else to tie the knot, we decided to get ready and go grab breakfast somewhere by the county clerk’s office. Aaron was driving and I was assigned to pick the place, so when I saw the yelp ad for Peg’s Glorified Eggs, my previous Reno breakfast experience a couple years back – returned to me. This place had the best Huevos Rancheros I’d ever had. They came on a huge skillet with mac salad, fruit salsa, beans and rice. Aaron got the Loco Moco – a hawaiian classic of similar girth to my Mexican staple.  It turns out Guy Fieri can be right, and even though the little spray-painted head that marked this as a restaurant featured on “Diners Drive Ins and dives” had long been painted over, I’ll give him some props for finding this spot.  The service was quick – the staff was friendly, and as an extra bonus, the address was 420 – a perfect wedding day for a casual cannabis enthusiast such as myself! Not only did we get full in a hurry, we also noticed that Aaron’s Stinky Socks x Third Eye co perfectly matched my Pendleton wedding dress. We signed the check at exactly 7:55am and  headed to the government HQ and acquire our official wedding license.

It’s kind of scary how easy it was to sign up for our legal lives together. The woman helping us was a pro – she didn’t flinch when started laughing hilarious at rule #2 on the sheet (You can’t marry anyone who is closer relation than a second cousin) and made sure we triple checked the spelling and address info on this legal document. Aaron put down his card for the total bill of $60 and by 8:15 we were ready to coordinate the rest of the wedding.

Instead of Chapel of the Belles, we’d found Chapel of the Arches. It was tucked between a long-ago-closed pawn shop, and a full dumpster parked in the valet parking section of the casino next door. At 9 am on a brisk and sunny Sunday morning, only the most motivated panhandlers had secured their spots, and most of career-bums were still sleeping in the nearby park.

Our wedding party had sent it the night before – and woken up in Kings Beach and Truckee only a few minutes before 9 – but they still managed to arrive by 9:10, just the time that Aaron and I had decided on which room in the chapel we’d prefer to say our ‘I Dos.’ Madison brought a date named Andre ($4 and ready to pop!) as well as some concealer for my zits. Fancy and Madison wore cute black dresses that amazingly enough, managed to coordinate perfectly with my dress. Joey looked so dashing in his Carhartt button down that I didn’t even hesitate to hand him my Canon 60D to shoot our photos and Kieth was really ready. Not only was he looking good, but down to give the other Kieth Rutherford (an actual wedding photographer) a serious run for his money.

Before our guests were permitted to join us, our officiator (we’ll call him Reverend Reno) took us aside to ask us if we’d like a prayer.

“No!” we exclaimed in unison, and with that, things got under way. I didn’t want to walk down the aisle (ain’t no one got time for that) so Aaron I stood at the podium facing each other as the wedding party was seated and the ceremony began.

“We’re gathered here today … Blah blah blah blah blah … You can smile, you know,” Reverend Reno said as I chewed on my lips. My mind raced about the gravity of the words I was about to say, but at his urging, I let it all go and cracked a smile.

Aaron stood across from me grinning the whole time and grabbed my hands as Rev Reno occasionally said things that required responses. Amidst the blur of traditional bullshit, he asked if we had any family in the room. I glanced back at my friends and we all nodded in unison.

“Snowboard family!”

Aaron smiled and reach out to pat my stomach. “Also, she’s three months.”

The awkward pause was real for about 5 seconds before I rubbed my stomach and exclaimed, “It’s a burrito! Geez! Did you see the size of those huevos this morning!”

In the name of not being sarcastic assholes, we opted for the pre-written vows and said our I Dos. As the words “you may kiss the bride” were looming near, Aaron leaned over and gave me a kiss.

“Hey!” Reverend Reno said, “Not yet!”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Aaron interjected. “She’s my wife and I’ll kiss her whenever I want.”

We busted open the doors to the Chapel of the Arches, to pop back into the reality of Reno. A few more bums had woken up and were excited to take pictures with me, the new bride. The sun was so damn bright I wished I was wearing shades. We resisted the urge to jaywalk in front of a cop (I’m a married woman, now!) and went to the park one block away. A huge metal art piece reading “Believe” was the perfect setting for some photos and our official cake ceremony. Aaron and I stood side-by-side and I impatiently waited to open the second cookie while my media team got into place. We cracked the cookie and Aaron read the fortune aloud.

“A man who hurries cannot walk with dignity…”

“…IN BED!” I added giggling harder than my inner 15-year-old would have at not only the joke, but the fact that I’d rushed the shit out of this entire wedding and it couldn’t have gone better if I’d spent three years planning it.

For our final wedding mission, we headed a quarter-mile up the street to the official Arch of Reno to pop the bottle of Andre and get some more pictures of the whole wedding party. Along the way we passed a couple of young, attractive panhandlers (who clearly didn’t know about hand jobs) and asked for change, saying they were just trying to get a beer.  

I dismissed their requests quickly by gesturing at my outfit, “I don’t have any pockets! I just got married!” They smiled, and said, “true!” as we scampered off.  Once we made it to the Arch, we piled out into the median without even slowing traffic – it’s almost like the city of Reno plans on people taking pictures there – and got some more epic shots.

Making beggars happy!

I was buzzing around trying to figure out how to get one of the entire wedding party when a man who looked to be in his late 60s-80s offered to take a photo of all of us. Street smarts told me handing my IPhone to someone on the streets of Reno may be a bad idea, but I was sure my new hubby could take him down, so I walked over to hand him my phone.

I set up the exact shot I wanted, showed him how to press the button and went back to join the crew.

The old man fumbled with the phone – turning it off twice before saying, “Maybe I’m not the right man for this job.”

I ran back over and set him up again – this time showing him exactly where to hold his hands and how to press the top button vs trying to see the one on the screen. “Just hold it down!” I said. “I believe in you.”

PART 7- HONEYMOON

November 12, 2017. 10 AM PST

With a successful 45-minute wedding and photoshoot, we were amped and ready to get the honeymoon going! We’d loosely planned a reception at Boreal, and Aaron successfully avoided hitting two deer on the 30-minute drive up I-80 before we’d even pulled into the parking, nabbing the perfect marketing-office-adjacent spot.

Aaron headed off to find a restroom while I dropped in to chat with the Boreal Marketing team. Tucker hooked us up with passes, intro’d us to Sam and Brianna, and connected us with official Boreal photographer Jake, who agreed to shoot a couple more wedding photos for us with some snow cats at props. Though the idea of taking a couple laps did sound easy and fun, changing out of my wedding shoes and into snowboard boots pre-12-hour drive did not. So we passed on snowboarding, gave the Boreal crew a sixpack of Authentic Portland PBR, and opted to get back on the road.

With one quick pit stop to change and pee at a scenic rest area, we pulled into the In and Out in  Auburn for our first lunch together as a married couple at noon. Aaron’s sister used to live in Auburn and he wanted to get a couple photos of me in the gold panner, as well as maybe enjoy each other’s company in Old Town. He knew my photo ADHD would be satiated and he was right!

More importantly, I decided it was time to make it official and make my new husband buy me up some jewelry. Our first stop was one of those random oddities shops that sells crap your weird aunt buys you when she goes on vacation. This seemed like a plausible option for buying a wedding ring, so I walked up to the girl at the counter and asked if they sold any cheap rings. Surrounded by knicknacks and gag candy, she just shook her head, “No, but you might try the Silver Store – it’s right across the street.”

Now Silver sounded a little bourgeois for me – I was thinking plastic – but I figured hey, you only get married once, so fuck it! Aaron escorted me across the street to find exactly the sort of shop I was looking for, with a sales lady keen and ready to help us. I quickly explained the situation.

“We just got married and I need a ring. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t want anything fancy. Basically just looking to spend the least amount of money possible to have an everlasting symbol of our love.”

She sort of laughed, rolled her eyes and said, “OK, well, do you know your ring size?”

I told her 7ish and she walked me straight to the other side of the jewelry case, where the options for simple silver bands were plentiful. She then pulled out the thinnest silver ring I’ve ever seen. “This one is $12,” she said.

Now, I’m not fancy, but even I knew a ring like that wouldn’t pass along the ‘I’m taken, asshole’ message I was going for. I looked at Aaron and asked, “What’s my budget here?”

“Well, are we getting ice cream, after?” he asked with a totally straight face, and set my budget at $23.

The lady tried again, this time with a ring that was $21,  but I dunno, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. My hand gravitated towards a slightly thicker band with a bit of embellishment on each side. “How much is this one?” I asked.

The lady pulled it out and did the mental math. She hesitated slightly before breaking the news. “$31.” She looked at Aaron who was still showing little emotion and said, “She picked it – I’m not even trying to upsell you, but if that’s what’s gonna make her happy…”

I looked at Aaron with a smile and said, “If I can get this one, I’ll cover ice cream.” He finally broke his facade and said, “Ok dear, whatever you want.”

Our next stop with the ice cream place, but it turned out Aaron didn’t even want ice cream after all, so we got back on the long road home. We drove back up 1-5, going much faster and with a lot fewer curves on the drive down. We stopped a couple times – once for Wendy’s frostys in the central valley, where I was able to sweet talk the kid behind the counter into letting us get half vanilla/half chocolate frosties. Another time at the Olive Pit, a cheesy roadside attraction that is basically just a fancy gas station selling all the olive and olive-bi-products you could possibly imagine. I got a bag of almonds and a magnet that looked like a Cali licence plate which read “Olive You.” And at dusk we consummated our relationship in a trainyard somewhere near Lake Shasta. Our final California experience was a stop at All Star Liquor, where we scored $260 worth of top shelf booze for $160 and left patting ourselves on the back on a honeymoon well done.

As we crossed back into Oregon, the first rain drops we’d seen since we left Oregon three days earlier spattered the windshield. We discussed what should be our first dinner as a man and wife. Ok, it was an easy decision and as we pulled into the Taco Bell in Ashland, we were both in agreement we just wanted to be home.

We walked into the restaurant to find no one. No one at the counter. No one eating food. It was a stark contrast from All Star liquors, where 5 dudes in santa hats had nearly tackled us trying to explain all their promos, but it felt good to be back in Oregon. About five minutes later, a nerdy dude came out carrying a cash drawer and apologized for the delay… he turned out to be more of a Taco Bell concierge than cashier, and we dropped some insider knowledge on upcoming menu items which may or may not include Pop Rocks while we waited for our delicious “Mexican” food.

When my Mexican pizza and Aaron’s Nachos Bell Grande were delivered, the thrill was gone. We ate in silence both wishing Portland was 5 hours closer. And as we got back in the car around 7 PM, arguing over who would take the next driving shift, because neither of us wanted to, it was pretty clear the honeymoon was over. But what a 14-hour honeymoon it was! We pulled back into our driveway at 11PM, in plenty of time for Aaron to wake up and go to work at 8 the next morning.

OFFICIAL BUDGET

Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel: $145
State of Nevada Marriage Licence: $60

GAS: $222.33

Wedding breakfast: $31.58
Wedding lunch at in and out: $10.65
Rehearsal Dinner at nugget $39.54

Honeymoon dinner at Taco Bell: $9.20
Happy hour burgers $33.48
In and Out meal #1: $10.65
Lunch at Robertos: $50.11
Gas Station chicken: $16.25
Breakfast at Goodlife cafe: $37.45
King wah Klamath Falls Chinese food: $29.75

Lift Tickets: COMPED
Three Nights at Mammoth Mountain INN: COMPED
One Night at the Nugget: $108
Illegal Dog Charge: $300

Wedding dress: $80 on sale at Pendleton outlet in Manchester, VT
Aaron’s tux: $25.96 (including one free shirt)
Helmet $65.55
Gloves $65.50
Olive Pit Honeymoon Souvenirs: $21.04
Two pairs of Converse Shoes $73.03
Wedding Ring: $32.18

TOTAL: $1476.25

Somewhere around Lake Shasta.

I’m definitely not planning to do it again – but if I did, I wouldn’t change a damn thing! Thanks again to Mammoth Mountain, the Rutherfords, Joey Leppien, Boreal and of course my maid of honor Madison Blackley for the best damn wedding/honeymoon/opening weekend road trip I’ll ever experience.

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