Brilliant gold streaks slash through the crimson clouds and azure sky. Super-bright twinkling stars retreat into the night as another day dawns in Pinedale, Wyoming.
It is a spectacular view every sunrise or, as a friend once said, ”It's God lighting up the world.”
Soon the snow-filled, jagged white peaks of the Wind River Mountains, our real-life masterpiece, completes the stunningly beautiful scene. Purple mountain majesties, indeed.
I have lived in many scenic places across the country in my 64 years, mainly as an editor and sportswriter for more than four decades. Hawaii. Florida. San Clemente, California. Boulder, Colorado. Columbia, Missouri. Just to name a few.
But my favorite of them all is the small town of Pinedale, population 2,400.
Now it is also time for best wishes to my dear friends, your new publisher Noel Nash and his wife Dee Dee, as they begin a new adventure in Creswell, a town that sure sounds a lot like Pinedale.
Noel hired me in Gainesville, Fla., where he assembled the best sports staff pound-for-pound in the nation, especially covering the University of Florida.
I returned the favor by bringing him aboard at the Provo (Utah) Daily Herald a little more than a year before the 2002 Winter Olympics in the Salt Lake City area.
We planned the Olympics coverage, and Noel executed the over-achieving game plan and we won every award in sight for the then-prestigious Pulitzer chain publication even with much less staff and resources than the other Utah newspapers.
His hard work and accomplishments at every stop, especially The Dallas Morning News and ESPN, are legendary.
But my favorite pieces of my Pinedale pie (and yours, I'm sure) are its people. The true heroes of our proud country are not overpaid actors or athletes. They are you and you and you. Teachers and volunteers, first-responders and parents, doctors and nurses ... the list is endless. Stand up and take a bow.
It's also a great town for kids and seniors, the most vulnerable in society. No one messes with our kids or elderly. No one.
My love affair with Pinedale began over 10 years ago when I took the job as Editor of the Roundup. It was a crazy career move and I even interviewed here in frigid January, in the log house that was the newspaper's original home.
I especially enjoyed meeting so many truly nice people
There isn't much crime here, a salute to our law enforcement, and especially compared to my Chicago hometown. I would need to carry a portable rocket launcher there.
I have moved back to Pinedale for good after a recent dumb move to Mesquite, Nevada. Its motto? ”You will melt here in the summer.”
A recent visit to Southern California was enough to never go there again. Insane traffic, the stupidly high cost of living, filthy air and bleach-blond goofballs. Yuck.
I was going back to Pinedale where everyone knows your name.
Now you also have Noel and Dee Dee as your new friends and neighbors. And their daughter, Melissa, has been loving Oregon for several years now.
They are terrific folks in every way. Noel and Dee Dee are outgoing, generous and super-friendly. Be sure to talk sports or fishing with Noel and always bring your dog along to meet Dee Dee. She is the best ”pet person” I have ever met and has worked tirelessly at many animal adoption shelters.
I enjoyed watching Melissa grow up into a wonderful young woman, along with her brother Benjamin, another great ”kid.”
Let me quickly share a story about Melissa. One time when I was struggling and decided to leave Utah, she gave me a small statue of a Chicago Dalmatian. It was one of the then-little girl's prized possessions, but she wanted to give it to me to help me stay safe for my long trip home.
Now, almost 20 years later, it is in the front seat of my car and has indeed protected me in many, many vehicles.
That is the Nash family you will get to know. Chronicle readers, you are in for a treat.
And I will be there to visit Creswell someday soon and see your beautiful town. Just save me a seat at the Round Up bar for a cold beer.
Cheers to Noel and Dee Dee and to all of you.
Mike Fitzgerald is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected]