Banff – Larry Butler

October 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

“Holy Fuck Larry T Butler!”
“Holy Holy Fuck!!!”

When I climbed out of the Grand Canyon on Bright Angel Trail that day in April 2010, I walked over to a nearby bench that had a comprehensive view of the BAT exit and I sat down to wait for my compatriots, and to call my friend Larry T Butler. I had just had the most fantastic backpacking trip ever, and I was letting Larry know that we were coming back in two years, he, myself and whoever else from our crowd that we could bring along.

How do I know Larry? That is where it all starts. I first met Larry on the 10th floor of Towers 4 at West Virginia University in 1977 when, before my own classes had begun at Penn State Altoona, I had driven the 3.5 hours to Morgantown to visit my longtime friend Christopher T Regan who was at WVU. Classes started earlier there, and Chris already had a circle of friends established, and Larry was on the edge of becoming one Chris’s close friends there.

Fast forward to Christmas, when I drove to WVU one weekend to pick up Chris, and an Altoona Native Harry Rosenthal to bring them back to Altoona. I still had finals to take, so the plan was simply drive down drive back however, the 73 beetle I was driving blew a valve coming out of Morgantown, and we limped back after 10 miles into the backcountry where as I recall, we stopped at a house just off 68, and against good advice I knocked. I was greeted by a man with a 12 gauge shotgun, and I said my apologies, and I left. That is what White Privilege buys you because if I had been black? Bamm. Anyway, back to Morgantown where the adventure began. Larry had some big ass gas guzzler of a car and could just fit Harry, Chris, and myself in with him, Melanie and at least one other person. Larry transported us as far as Cumberland Md, where Harry’s mother drove down and brought us to Altoona. I finished my finals, and then Chris and I caught a train to Newark, bus to Montclair, and then after a night of sleep took my Dad’s Truck and drove all the way to Morgantown, attached the Beetle and drove to Altoona. I took my last final and we broght the Beetle home. Oops, I got off talking about Larry.

Larry and his brothers are the originators of The Mill Trip, but Larry is the real the reason the trip still exists. The mill was there before we had kids, while we raised our kids, and is still there for us now that our kids come there. Sure it was a weekend of alcohol debauchery, but it was our weekend of alcohol debauchery. We all matured over the years in age, taste, preference of beer, preference of food and we all grew to love this weekend together. I look forward to next year. Larry is a big part of that.

Larry is the director of Lakes Management (or some shit like that) for The Reston Association. Never heard of The Reston Association? Look it up. Larry has been with them for a long time and is an institutional member that helps Reston be the place the residents want it to be, and it was in that capacity that he has brought others into the fold of both The Mill and our backpacking trips. Greg May, Jim Kirby, and Ed are a few of the regulars that I have met through this association with Larry’s association.

Larry is an excellent applicant of the age old influence of pressure known as “peer” pressure. Looking over and seeing that your glass is empty Larry will Always ask “Hey Eric, want me to get you another beer?” Damn! Last time I bring a transparent glass. “Sure! Fill er up!”.

Larry loves tradition, and if old traditions die off, he is happy to indoctrinate new traditions. Beer tasting is a tradition now at The Mill. Though we can’t wander like we used to, we still do get for occasional walks in the woods. Our range is limited but we make the most of the terrain we have before us.

Larry is married to Melanie Smith Butler whom he met at WVU, and later married and together they raised Drew Butler. Larry and I have been backpacking since the late 80’s. It started out as usually two trips a year. One late fall early winter, and another late winter early Spring. We loved that time of year because we would have the woods to ourselves and despite the cold, fire always makes the cold bearable. We had some great trips together, but I always wanted a bigger trip to look forward to. Fortunately, Larry let me plan big, and now I think we have total buy in to a week long backcountry experience.

Did I mention that Larry likes Beer? Not just beer, but good craft beer. After I first brought down my IPA recipe in 1991, there was a beer rennasaince at the Mill and it wasn’t long before we had 7 different home-brewed 5 gallon kegs. One of the ultimate ironies one year was having to throw all the kegs into the creek to keep them from freezing because of the cold that year. Larry was a brewer.

We start a Mill Weekend always with a trip to a Brew Pub somewere near or on the way to The Mill. Food and drink.

We have had some good times together Larry, and I have made some good friends because of you, and I look forward to our future endeavors together.


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