The Last Best Place

Posted in Orlando, Fla.

I was 1 of 45 photographers selected to participate in Collective Quarterly magazine’s first photography workshop ever. It was held in the mountains of Montana at Chico Hot Springs Resort, also known as “The Last Best Place.” In the short time I was there I couldn’t resist sharing a couple stories I found out of curiosity.

There is something special about Chico. 

Vera worked at Chico as a housekeeper at the age of 14. She went off to college, but eventually returned to Chico. Today she is the manager of the gift shop. It’s not uncommon for people, like Vera, to leave only to return at a later point in life. Vera says that’s because there is nothing like the sense of family that exists among the employees at Chico. For instance, there was a time when Vera’s father broke his leg while riding his bike. His colleagues at Chico chipped in to purchase him a custom bike to prevent future injuries. Her parents, also employees of Chico, met and married on site. So it was only fitting for Vera to marry her husband in the same place. Especially because her husband proposed via helicopter landing in the parking lot right outside the gift shop!

Ruth Ann worked the front desk. E.R worked the saloon. They fell in love at Chico, I mean, who could resist E.R’s pick-up lines of “do you play golf?” and “do you swim?” He called her “doe-eyed,” she thought of him as “the infamous E.R.” Well, they spontaneously married on site and they’ve been together for 15 years since. Ruth Ann was servicing a wedding at the resort, when she called E.R. “The Justice of the Peace is here, can you be here at 1pm?” and just like that, they married under this tree. Then, they got back to work!

© Sarah Espedido, 2018 | All Rights Reserved.