Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
Pete and I made it a challenge to come up with different ways to make our living doing the things that we loved. It wasn’t terribly difficult because we already loved our work—performing and marketing. If we wanted to go to Italy or France, we’d book a concert and go. If there was a family reunion on the west coast, we’d book shows around the family events. But our piece de resistance was when we figured out how to combine a concert, a teaching camp, fly-fishing and a trip to our favorite spot in Montana. The result was the Pete Huttlinger Guitar & Fly Fishing Camp in Livingston, MT.
Here it is, the random pop culture reference regarding Livingston—“Livingston Saturday Night” was a great Jimmy Buffett tune featured in the film Rancho Deluxe, starring Jeff Bridges (who still lives in the area) and Sam Waterston. Rancho Deluxe was filmed in and around Livingston. A classic film!
We had two hugely successful camps in 2014 and 2015. I don’t label them successful because we made money. They were successful because we made a bunch of new friends, played music in a gorgeous location for a week, had great food, got to fly fish on the Yellowstone River for a day AND we made some money. Both years were amazing and special, and the planning for 2016’s camp was well underway when Pete died. I immediate cancelled the camp, and as far as I was concerned it was cancelled forever!
It didn’t take long though, before previous attendees started writing and telling me that I should consider continuing with the camp. I couldn’t even entertain the idea, but like many things I couldn’t consider, or ever thought I would do again, I did it.
For ten months I solicited students, hired caterers and fly fishing guides, booked hotels, and sweet-talked two amazing guitarists into being instructors. Last Sunday we all converged at a Livingston hotel and celebrated the launch of the third Pete Huttlinger Guitar & Fly Fishing Camp. It was a casual get-to-know each other cocktail party that was part reunion, part introduction, and I was nervous. There was no entertaining and funny Pete to act as emcee and host for the evening. Any welcoming speech would be left up to me. So I thought through it, wrote it out by hand and rehearsed it. It took only 20 seconds and I delivered it with only one stoppage for tears. I definitely wasn’t entertaining, but hopefully I made my points.
Classes, which started Monday morning, were held for three days at a beautiful ranch just outside of Livingston, and I was fortunate enough to have a small apartment right there on the grounds. I woke up in my room on Monday morning about 6am. Folks started arriving around 8:30am, so I needed to be ready for them, but I woke up and immediately went into panic mode. Panic mode lives in my mind and sounds some like this:
Holy crap what have I done?
What was I thinking taking this on?
It will never be as awesome as when Pete and I did it together.
I don’t want to get out of bed.
I’ve made a terrible mistake.
This will never work—how can I get out of it?
All of that went through my mind in about 30 seconds. I couldn’t get a deep breath. So I lay there still made myself take several very deep breaths. I thought to myself, maybe even out loud, “What are your options? What else would you be doing? How else will you make a living?” And the answer was…
In less than a minute I popped out of bed and lunged into the day.
The camp was a huge success. Spiritually successful, and at this point, that’s what I need most. By the end of day one I was already committed to next year. After three days of guitar playing and one full day of fly fishing, my heart was full and happy and energized. So, thank you…
Jeff, Stephen, Bud, Amy, Miles, Bob, Jim A., Joe, Steve B., Steve W., Debbie, Bronson, Mindy, Bruce, Holly, Rick, Don, Andrew, Rex, Jim B., Janel, Logan, Anni, Mark, Frank, Karen, Bill and Charlie.
See you next year!
I love to read your comments. Do you talk yourself in and out of things as you work through grief?