Part one of Taking a Bulleit features Arizona desert photos. It starts with the newly bearded jawline of my dear brother, Jason. He and I flew together to Arizona in February of this year. We met our father, his wife and good friend of mine, Sheri, and my favorite little dude in the world, our five-year-old brother, Kane, shortly after landing in Phoenix.
This was my third time in Arizona, I’ve had family there my whole life. It’s always been my favorite state and… now that I think about it, it could be my favorite place in general. The lightness of the atmosphere is so refreshing, not to mention the miles of dusty mountaintop views in every direction.
The main motivator for the trip, not that one was needed, was the celebration of my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. I was understandably excited to see her for the first time in about five years. I was blown away at the revelation that my father and his siblings would all be in the same place for the first time in thirty years.
The airport is about forty minutes from where my family lives. Some of our other destinations also required mileage to be covered. To no one’s surprise at Glass Duffle, some of my most cherished time on the trip was spent on the road. We laughed so hard in that car. I wish so badly that there was a dash cam capturing the shenanigans.
My aunt (pictured) put together a lovely party for the beloved guest of honor (pictured). My uncle (pictured) gave a tearful toast. Tearful on my part, too, to be clear. There’s a level of emotion involved with all things “family” that nothing can touch. It’s in moments like the one seen here, where every person in the room is feeding on the same energy, the same love, that the power of family is truly felt.
We managed to find a mountainside we had scaled on our previous trip, and stopped to recreate some photos. I’ll admit that I haven’t mastered the camera + hike yet. Having it swinging at my side or strapped on my back didn’t make crawling around on ledges any easier.
The “Bulleit” in the title of this post refers to Bulleit Bourbon. It’s up there, shining in the header of this page. At the conclusion of day three of this trip, my Bulleit riddled body laid motionless on the ground as a cloud of Arizona dust rose around me. More on this in part two.
My father’s siblings weren’t the only family in town. We had upwards of twenty familiar faces and laughs to revel in for the weekend. In my aunt and uncle’s backyard is where the best catching up, cigar smoking and pilsner drinking occurred. I could listen to my Dad and his brother tell stories for hours on end.
Everyone stayed for different lengths of time, going in different directions when their boarding groups were called. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with loved ones I don’t see often enough. They’re all just as cool as I remembered. Experiences like this recharge an internal battery that you’re only aware of when it’s low. I’m fully charged.
Part two of Taking a Bulleit will cover the third day of our visit. On day three, we drove to Old Tucson Studios, where Western films have been shot for more than seventy years. Previews of part two will be up on Instagram in the coming days, from my own account and from the Glass Duffle account.