The Wedding at Cerro Gordo was initially shared on my original website at Recently the ghost town of Cerro Gordo suffered a devastating fire which destroyed the American Hotel where our ceremony took place. It has been on my list of things-to-do to overhaul the original page in favor of better layout and graphics. This seems like an excellent time to do so in honor and remembrance of a good site gone down. Additionally, I have expanded the original blog with some backstories about finding Cerro Gordo, planning the wedding, and histories of Cerro Gordo and the American Hotel.


A Wedding

Cerro Gordo wedding

Our wedding invitation belied the strange nature of the affair to follow. We didn’t want our friends to suffer the extreme temperatures of the desert below, so we invited them to join in our celebration at an extreme 8,000 feet in the Inyo Mountains. (What is a 13 mile dirt road that winds a tortuous route up 5,000 vertical feet to friends such as ours?)

Cerro Gordo (Spanish for Fat Hill) is the site of a nineteenth century silver mine that fueled the development of Los Angeles as a major port city on the west coast of the United States. While the silver is largely gone, the spirit of the place is not, and we invited our friends to come ready to celebrate that spirit.

Cerro Gordo, American Hotel
The American Hotel overlooking the Owens Valley

The American hotel is the oldest standing hotel in California, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, (those big guys in the background), and it looked every bit its age. It has a commanding view of the Owens Valley and the dry lake bed below. We were the first people to be married here since Lt. Arnold Wapelhorst married Lulu Lewis in 1875. As such, we asked our guests to come in period costume.

We had all we needed for a great weekend:

Cerro Gordo, American Hotel
Our hosts, who prefer to be known as ghosts.
(Shawn, Jody and Mike: the owners of Cerro Gordo).
(Shawn is Mike’s son, who inherited Cerro Gordo after the passing of Jody and Mike. He eventually sold the town to a speculator who wanted an epic AirBnB, but neglected to account for the fact that the town has no adequate source of water)
An irreverent Reverend
 (The Reverend “Sweet Dick” Richard Spining, who is responsible for our finding Alaska as a new home. Another dearly departed friend)
A bride
(The lovely Carolyn, who informed me after the wedding that I had misspelled her name as Caroline on the wedding invitations. MY BAD!)
A groom

A Best Man

Good music (?)

A Bridesmaid

A photographer (Gordon Wilson of Damn Foolishness Productions, dearly remembered)

Good music? Not everyone would think so. Loud music anyway. We were lucky to lack an organ in the hotel. This was not to be a standard affair, and nothing resounds off the purple heather like the pipes! (The pipers were a father/son team from Bishop. Turns out Dad is a lawyer, and had previously represented out good friend and catering coordinator “Turtle” Jim Hay, when he was sued by the BLM for removing his adopted burros from Saline Valley when he moved to Keeler).

And lots of interesting friends (apologies to those who did not make the cut, and those who did and wish they hadn’t):

Click here for the gallery of other nefarious characters and enhanced (bigger) photos of some of our guests

Federico hombre
Darling daughter Rena
Jill & Sophia Ann
Mother-in-law Midge
Dave & Delirious Donna
Paula, Brother Russ, Robin
Big Bad Bill
Guitar Frank & Penny
Mr & Mr Carver, Mark & Turtle Jim

The Ceremony

With the active ingredients the ceremony commenced:

Wedding at Cerro Gordo

Everyone in the hotel could hear the wedding procession approaching!

Cerro Gordo wedding

Now what’s holding up those gals now?

Hold on Hoss, we’re coming! (Lady deserves to make an entrance).

Cerro Gordo wedding

OK, now we can get serious!

Sealing the deal with a kiss!

Cerro Gordo wedding

What are we gonna do for fun now?

OK, but for now, let’s eat cake!


And party a little too hardy?

Click here for the gallery of additional photos and enhanced (bigger) photos of our soiree

And so the partying, and the rest of our lives began. This ceremony of marriage did indeed turn out to be one for the books! Many thanks to the many of our friends who made the harrowing trip, helped us rock the mountain all weekend long, actively participated in the staging of the show, and have been such a source of love and laughter through all the years!

Cerro Gordo wedding, American Hotel

Extra thanks also to Brother Bob and Gordon (Damn Foolishness Productions) for volunteering to photograph and video the affair. We also provided disposable cameras for any guests to use and return to us for cameo shots, which turned out to be a great idea. And extra thanks to Laverta (Cake Lady) for performing the miracle of not only building our cake, but getting it up the mountain in one piece.

Extra thanks to Ross and Candy, who travelled 1,000 miles and worked their tails off to dress up the digs, along with Mark and Christine, Rena, Paula, Russ (3,000 miles!), and countless other hands who pitched in to schlep chairs, tables, flowers, food, blow up balloons, and whatever else seemed to need doing.

Special thanks to our good friend, the Reverend Sweet Dick, who encouraged us to write our own vows. (For what we were paying him, I don’t blame him for wanting us to shoulder the burden.) We showed him: we ended up writing most of the ceremony! It worked: there weren’t many dry eyes in the house. (So what marriage ceremony ever did elicit a dry eye?)

We invite you to visit one more page and share the vows that we shared on our special day.

The wedding vows

Click here for the expanded Cerro Gordo Wedding gallery

Some backstories about finding Cerro Gordo, planning the wedding, and histories of Cerro Gordo and the American Hotel.