In modern times, this prearranged meeting known as the “First Look” has become a special moment in weddings. This is usually coordinated with the photographer to find a somewhat secluded, private space that the couple can meet. Often the groom has his back turned towards the bride as she walks up to greet him. Once the two meet they share an intimate moment that can be beautifully captured by photo + video.


One of the added benefits of having the First Look before the ceremony is that you now have the opportunity to take photos together. Many times the couple will choose to also take family and formal photos in this time period so after the ceremony they can go straight to the reception or cocktail hour.


Another benefit of having the First Look is that it’s highly unlikely you will be late to your ceremony as you’ve already been dressed and ready well before the start time.


Always good to have a Plan B.

Because Ash selected a Connecticut-based photographer (she schooled East Coast), two months ago I travelled to Silverthorne & scoped out potential wedding shot locations.  Sapphire Point: snow-capped peaks, frozen Lake Dillon, short hike, ample trailhead parking.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Quick ride UP to Sapphire Point to check out snow conditions (bride would be hiking in a dress).  Same trail, same ample parking but with 30 folding chairs in our spot.  Appears on THIS hiking trail, at THIS particular spot, May thru October, one can pay $110 & reserve OUR spot for a 2-hour window thru recreation.org.  Trail is not restricted from hiking but the overlook – key for pictures – no longer available.  Are you kidding me?!

2 hours to secure a new spot – and tell the bride, day before her wedding.  BIG father-of-the-bride moment.  No worries, I’ve got this.

Private dirt road on the drive to Wilp Manor (the Wilpiszeski’s home rental), found my Plan B.  Rustic farm equipment, wooden fence posts against a HUGE mountain backdrop – mountain pics, #1 criteria of the bride.

Plan A – my Sis & family would drive to Sapphire Point while the photographer is doing ‘First Look’ pics at the wedding venue.  She’d physically hold our spot assuming there is not a 2nd wedding conflict.  Plan B – rustic farm & mountain.


Wedding Day.  Morning jog along the Blue River, running high from snow melt.  Spent the day in nearby Frisco with family.  But most important: no rain, no snow, no clouds – only SUNSHINE on Ashton’s BIG day, her WEDDING day.

  • 3pm:  stayed tucked inside the venue, while bride & groom had their ‘First Look’ moment.
  • 3:15pm:  got the call from Sis, going with Plan B.
  • 3:45pm:  Bride, Groom, Maid-of-Honor & Best Man – all piled into my Prius.  Photographer to follow.


Everything happens for a reason.

What I didn’t know (because of yesterday’s inclement weather) – Plan B’s wood posts fenced in a horse farm.  Sunshine bounced off snow-capped peaks.  Springtime Aspen hued multiple shades of green.  Breathtaking, absolutely perfect.

More perfect?

Add 2 dozen elk.  Just WOW.



Wedding Day ELK!



4 weekends marathoning – this Saturday: kick around, do laundry?  Heck no – road trippin’ SD: “Great Places, Great Faces”.

Ended Friday work week with my final father-daughter dance lesson.  Too far/too late to reach South Dakota – but how ‘bout Lusk? [Wyoming of course 🙂 ]  Small but clean digs, free buffet breakfast.  Short hour-half drive to Custer State Park, car-dodging buffalo by 9am.  FAAANNNTASTIC!  Native to the U.S.A, our American bison – BIG, STRONG, MASSIVE.  Personal fave of the animal kingdom.

20 minutes west thru Custer, 20 minutes north to Crazy Horse Memorial.  Had heard mixed reviews ‘bout the Monument.  Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear commissioned the project in 1939 – Crazy Horse’s massive 87ft face wasn’t completed ’til 1998.  Current work is focused on Crazy Horse’s hand, finger & his horse’s mane.  Timeline?  Long after my life span.

Paid an extra $10 to school bus-ride near the base of the Mountain.  Felt a bit nickel-n-dimed but WOW – gotta say, being so close to something so massive, was well worth the $$.  Wrong time to be short-sighted with cash.  Once completed Crazy Horse will rival nearby Mt. Rushmore.  Sculpted to ‘honor the culture & heritage of all North American Indians’.   Just WOW.

Didn’t leave the Memorial Museum for almost 2 hours.  LOVE LOVE LOVED!  Native American artifacts, photographs, sculptures, paintings.  Completely unexpected.  WELL WORTH GOING!

Wait, wait – the day’s not over.  Next up: Mount Rushmore.  Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt & Lincoln – literally carved IN the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Short-hiked up-n-down the Presidential Walk.  Fave spot?  Rushmore’s ‘Walk of Flags’ entrance.  Every state, every U.S. territory represented.  Left beaming USA pride.  Bought an ice cream recipe’d by Pres. Thomas Jefferson himself ❤

Sleeps in historic Deadwood.  Dinner above the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was killed, tomorrow visiting his marker.




After three days of rain, woke Wednesday to SUNSHINE.

Skipped my morning run, opting for an afternoon harbor trek in nearby Oamaru.  Easy coastal drive on New Zealand’s Highway 1.  Cool morning temps.  Rural, flat.  No traffic, landscape void of the Island’s Southern Alps.

right, Moeraki Boulders.  left, Trotters Gorge.  1030am – how ‘bout both?

One hour rainforest jaunt toward the Gorge.  After multiple days in ‘civilization’, GREAT to be outside again & hiking.  Sounds of cicada, giant ferns wet with moisture – LOVE LOVED this morning.  Cave explored, then rental car’d another 2 miles north to the Boulders.  $5 in an ‘honest’ jar, then descended on Koekohe Beach using stairs created by the gift shop.

The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast of New Zealand between Moeraki and Hampden.  They occur scattered either as isolated or clusters of boulders within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in a scientific reserve.


Local Māori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.

Wonder of nature.  Like giant fossilized sea turtle eggs, pushed up/eroded from the sand.  Precisely spherical, randomly dropped/isolated on NZ’s Pacific shore.  Walked an hour up & down the beach – enjoying the ocean breeze, soaking up Vitamin D.

whatta sunrise – WOW!

Lunch & an ice cream bar, then road-warrior’d 45 minutes further to Oamaru.

Hotel check-in, harbour-walked past old rotting bridges covered with sea birds – to tonite’s adventure destination: Oamaru’s Blue Penguin Colony.  Purchased our VIP tickets (worth every dime) – laced up/got my afternoon run on.

Penguin Crossing sign (don’t see THAT every day), then switchback’d UP, UP, UP.  Climbed Cape Wanbrow Reserve, trail-ran high above Oamaru – WOW views of the mighty Pacific below.  Last long run before Saturday’s Kirikiriroa Marathon.

Dusk.  Nature guides kept eyes on the ocean while ‘paying customers’ quietly huddled in a small outdoor amphitheatre (unfortunately, no pics allowed).  Pods of 6, 10, 15 small penguins banded together, beached, then waddled uphill past our premium seats.  Man-made boxes constructed on shore would act as the birds’ evening home – returning back to the ocean early pre-dawn.  WOW WOW WOW!

South Island, super sad to say goodbye.  Glaciers, waterfalls, rainforest.  Jetboated the Waimakariri, cruised Doubtful Sound, climbed to the top of Larnach Castle & witnessed magic – the world’s smallest penguins returning home after day-fishing the Pacific.

Next up: Hamilton, on New Zealand’s tropical North.



Koekohe Beach, NZ



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