12 August, 1999 . . . landing at the VVR . . .

Vermilion Valley Resort

Butch & Peggy––owners

Jessica & Maryann––daughters

Kevin “Special K” Speed . . . cook

Tiny––the singing chef

Dave Mau––cook, photograher, restauranteur . . . 

Sarah––the waitress

Tina––the teary waitress

James––the boat driver and Rose, his girl. 

Stoney and Lester––the man, the myth, the legend. 

My pages are almost dry––my boots are still holding water and here I am at the resort, hungry as hell. 

I’ve been washing a lot of dishes which seems to be  the only way to keep sane, out here. 

I’d work from six a.m. to closing if I could––anything to pass the time––not that I am really bored––I just like the place, the people––all the people on the page. 

I keep looking at the lake and the mountains beyond. 

So many peaks up there. I doubt if I’ll ever get close to them, but there they are, like so many waves, frozen in time. 

Some bald, no most bald . . . and yet for the dreamer, for the person willing to walk and climb and risk, there’s always the top or the near top, like Donahue––not the top-top––that would have been foolish, but the near top, just high enough to claim it for myself for a moment. 

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I still remember that first night (officially my second time at the VVR) getting on the boat and James, the driver giving me a cigarette––the cold ride across the lake and then meeting Butch and Peggy. 

First thing they did was give me a trailer and told me to get cleaned up––DRY––and then come in for dinner. 

The food has always been great at the VVR, but this night was especially great as I felt as though I’d been rescued from the wild weather.  Butch also gave me a bottle of Jack Daniel’s as a sort of welcome gift––then there was the nightly gathering of everyone out at the fire pit––the tall-tales and the sad, drunk ones too––all great. 

The fire ring is still there at the VVR, but without Butch presiding and the colorful characters he seemed to attract, well . . . there’s a little something missing in my heart––but I keep coming back each year to try and find it. 

Mostly, these days, I get off the boat and head straight for the A-frame to find Lester and a few shots, a few stories, a few memories. 

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