Look what I found!

surprised cartoon invitation proposalWe’ve found ourselves back at the campground in the grove at the trailhead to Cohab Canyon where I proposed to René about a dozen years ago on our legendary motorcyle tour of the southwest.

We are just feet from where we tent camped. We probably would have moved if this big ol’ rig parked next to us at the time.

I also just found the following autobiographical early “web page code” and have hereby salvaged it from becoming internet detritus….

Surprised? I saved the cartoon shown for many years before giving it to the woman I knew would marry.

Marital Bliss

Sickening … aint it!


May 17, 1997, is a date sure to go down in history–the innauguration of this truly loving, caring, and trusting yet fun and adventurous relationship. Exactly two years (well almost … it was the 18th) from the day we met at the Gold Cane in the Haight, we will be joined by friends and family at Clint Eastwood’s very own Mission Ranch in beautiful Carmel by the Sea. Exchanging heart-felt vows in a not-so-traditional ceremony we wrote ourselves, we take our first steps together on this 60+ year journey together.

One might call me lucky to have found a girl that didn’t want a diamond wedding ring. (We are both actually very lucky.) But, can you really picture Rene wrenching on her bike, or diggin’ in the dirt with a rock on her hand? Besides, these bands have much deeper meaning than just two months’ salary. We picked them out at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and I actually purchased them here on the web from Da’oud Thompson. The design is a Tibetan dancing knot which,in short*, represents commitment in balance with individuality.

*The Long Version: The design symbolizes the maintenance of individuality in a relationship. The mandala is the dance of two who help each other to grow by being there to reflect as a mirror, the cords left free symbolize that individuality is not lost but enhanced by this union. The Knot is dancing in that it is fluid, not constricting but organic, alive and in motion, in tune with the forces of life, adaptable to new circumstances.

Anyway, if you find this boring, ask Rene someday about her $12 silver & turquoise engagement ring I bought at the Fred Harvey shop in Death Valley along with a six pack of Tall Boy Buds, after she left her bike on killing the battery. Oy, was that a 4th of July to remember. But hey, I figured if we could make it through that without killing each other, we could make it through anything. Have you ever tried push starting a motorcycle when its 124 degrees in the shade, while your girlfriend keep crying, “Just try it once more!”

But I digress, a couple thousand miles later (After I had asked her father for her hand in marriage at the Grand Canyon), at dusk one day, in the middle of CoHab Canyon (Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah) I gave Rene the Fred Harvey ring and a card I’d been carrying the whole trip. She just smiled that big beautiful smile of hers, laughed, then cried. Meanwhile, I was still waiting for an answer. She said, “You haven’t asked me.”

So I got down on my knee and proposed. Lightning struck, it started to sprinkle, then stopped, and the rest is history. I guess it was a sign that this match was indeed made in heaven. By the way, if your wondering who Fred Harvey is, he runs all the cheesey National Park gift shops where you can buy thimbles, spoons, sweatshirts, ashtrays, and in our case … engagement rings.

At left is a picture of Rene at the very moment I proposed. You see, I had it all planned out the whole trip. I was going to set up the camera, give her the card and catch that perfect smile on film. (As you can see, it worked.) I was just waiting for the perfect place. And this natural rock altar was definitely it! In the middle of nowhere like this (see picture above.) she just had to say yes. All the anticipation, however, made me sick. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I was so nervous waiting for the perfect moment that I couldn’t sleep and almost just proposed to her in the tent. I almost cracked when she started making jokes about how she would never buy anything from “Fred Harvey” again … I forget why. If only she new …


So … this is our view from the patio at Mission Ranch as we exchange rings and so much more on our blessed day. Don’t blink or you may miss the ceremony–no high mass here. Our focus is on the reception (AKA: Party of the Century) to be held in the barn right behind us. Rev. Pat will have the pleasure of marrying us. Don’t tell anyone, but rumor has it he’s a she. Yes, just watch for the look on my mother’s face. It was bad enough when she found out we weren’t using a priest. The short but sweet ceremony begins with Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here on guitar and mandolin as I walk up with my boys, Randy, Brian and Ari. Then Ave Maria (for Rene’s mother) as Rene walks up with her girlfriends and father. Then the fun begins as we accept offerings … Randy will give us coins (See table below.) representing prosperity so that we may never be poor. Brian will give us grain so that we may never go hungry. And Ari will give us wine–something to do with unity, sharing, or fruit of the vine. I forget … I just want to break the glass! A couple “I Do’s” and a “We Do” later, and it’s party time, as man and wife. Or, is it woman and groom?

We also had these symbolic silver coins made at the Ren. Fair … another long story, if you care to get into how Rene thought we should just get the bronze ones, or how after “all that” they made neckalces instead of coins and had to redo them.
QuetzalCoatl (The Feathured Serpent)
The Eagle who ruled Heaven opposed the Serpent, who represented the life sustaining waters. They resolved the conflict by becoming the Bird (Quetzal) Snake (Coatl), One god of Earth and Sky.
(Aztec)
The Triskellion
The thrice repeated use of the double spiral shows trinity of mind, body and spirit.
(Celtic/Nordic)
Love Magic
An example of runic magic made up of a combination of classic runes, designed to create change. (Nordic)
Elemental Spiral
All of the elements are seen in the spiral, with the triangle of mind, body, and spirit at the center of it all.
(Peublo/San Ildefonso)

Special Thanks
This story would not be complete without mentioning a few names. Griff helped get me the Job at FWB in San Francisco–finally making my move from Sacramento possible. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted and replaced by Kris Krall (aka “Spoonie”). But all of the credit should go to Spoonie himself, for he is the one that set us up. It’s a rather complicated story–that I am not going to get into–as to why he wanted me to start dating Rene. But let’s just say “Thank You.” for all of this is his fault. (Spoonie in his Tech Support days.)


Back to our personal main page.

12 Responses to “Look what I found!”

  1. Aww…Jim you big romantic sap. I just want you to know that what I said to you on your wedding day (minus my slurring) still holds true…”you better be good to her”. I was just doing my job as bridesmaid and martini holder for her. But I want you to know I couldn’t have personally picked a better partner for you. I am always so amazed of the life you two have made together. I know if Matt and I attempted to journey across the country in one vehicle with George…one of us would be in an unmarked grave somewhere in Utah…ha ha. You should both be so proud of the life you have made, what you have seen and where you are going. I love you guys and raise my glass to just how amazing you are.

    And Rene….stop crying…..you big sap. I miss you guys.

  2. I love this post. Such humor and sentimentality all rolled into one. The description of the wedding is sweet. Oh, and being an amateur mandolin player myself, I must admire your choice of wedding music. Ten years down, congratulations. I wish you many more. The Elemental Spiral from Peublo/San Ildefonso is beautiful. Just seeing that icon brought back such memories of being at San Ildefonso with my sketchbook.

  3. As one of “Jim’s Boys” I can vouch for the “Party of the Century” part of the story. Jim, I still carry the Scottish flask you gave me and it’s full of, um,what’s that… oh ya Scotch(Glemnorangie) this time.

    Rene, well I remember how the party ended 🙂

    You guys rock, reading these stories just makes me “Wish you were here”. But hey, no more swimming in a fish bowl for you two!

    I’m busy renovating the Chalet again and I hope to be done in time for this years whopping 2 week vacation…

  4. so much about you two seems oh so delicately meaningful – lovely

  5. Mike and Cindi June 1, 2008 at 8:16 pm Reply

    …your picture of the Mission Ranch reminds me of where I asked Cindi to marry me also. If you look in the distance of that photo, you see Point Lobos State Reserve on the horizon. So when I went down on one knee and she said yes, we took in the long view towards, Mission ranch. Small world sometimes, eh..!

  6. made your “suegra” cry !

  7. A great story! May the rest of your years together be as beautiful as the ones you’ve already shared!

  8. eres un llerno bueno y guapo !

  9. … and the adventure continues. You only have 50 more years to go to reach the 60+ marker.

    Good thing you have this blog to keep track of your hyper-active lives. I don’t know how you guys keep all these stories straight. Add about 50 postings together and you’ll have a terrific book.

    Peace and congratulations …

    May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. live. work. dream. | Full Time RVing Sabbatical Lifestyle Blog | Love Letters From the Heart for Valentine's Day - February 14, 2010

    […] PS: Remember this? […]

  2. Watching Fall Colors while Visiting Yellowstone National Park in October - October 18, 2008

    […] I knew I just had to take that trip alone. I sensed that my life was about to change forever, and it could be my last chance to prove to myself that I could survive a solo trip on my […]

  3. Cohab Canyon Photos and Video of Fremont Trail Deer - June 2, 2008

    […] « Look what I found! 02 06 2008 Cohab Canyon 12 Years Later Posted by: Jim in Campsites, Best of, Attractions, Boondocking  Email This Post […]

Leave a Reply