Randomly recieving a phone call from Edelman, the prestigious, global PR company for the state of Texas, can be a good or a bad thing. The phone call I got last Thursday was a VERY good thing. They were calling to let me know that Peter Guttman, an award winning travel journalist and esteemed photographer had a desire to shoot West Texas for his upcoming book and his number one selling app. Would I be willing to show him around Abilene?

I don’t think you can imagine how quickly I said yes. I was so excited I think my lisp may have actually come back. “Yeth!” I exclaimed. And I got to work setting something up.

He was to stay in Sweetwater Saturday night so he could spend a lot of time with the experienced rattler wrangler who agreed to show him the ropes. I was to meet him at his house Terry Browder provided him with at the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses. I waited anxiously all weekend to hear from him. I had of course googled him and was excited to hear his stories, have him answer my questions and show him proudly around my hometown.

As I drove up to pick him up, he was standing outside his car with his camera. I gave him an (probably overly excited) wave. He motioned for me to roll down my window and I obliged.

“Howdy, Mr. Guttman! Welcome to Abilene!”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Peter. I want to get some shots why the sun is good. Can I get you to park and pose for me on the porch?”

Um. Well. What? Of course I had a good laugh until I realized he was serious. What does one say to an esteemed journalist whose works have been published in the likes of National Geographic, Time and Vogue? Whose books have won more awards than Adele has Grammys?  Whose iPad/iPhone apps are the number one selling travel apps, ever?

You say, “Uh. Sure.”  That’s what you say.

Once we got the mess of having me in front of the camera out of the way, we started out on our Abilene adventure. This world traveling journalist, who has honestly shot in over 200 countries, asked specifically if we could see the stars at the Paramount Theatre. He had remembered hearing about them years ago and wanted a chance to photograph them!  Unfortunately we couldn’t get in that night, but we did manage to take some amazing sunset shots of the marque. We also stopped at the T&P Depot for shots of stopped train and unique downtown shots until it was time to go to Perini’s in Buffalo Gap for dinner.

We arrived a little early and Peter had the opportunity to make friends with Barbadilla and explore Perini Ranch. Debi, her husband Mike Schultz and Dr. Russell Dressen met us for supper so Peter could experience a variety of us West Texas folk. Peter showed us some of his work from all over the world; I must say we were all so fascnicated. Did you know there is an actual resort that allows giraffe’s to stick their neck in your living room? We didn’t. It was simply amazing. The same man who shot that, shot all over Abilene.

On the drive back to Abilene, Peter couldn’t believe the stars! “What they say is true! The stars at night ARE big and bright!” he said. He actually had me pull over, got out of the car and took pictures of an Abilene nighttime sky…the same sky you dream under. The next day we got the opportunity to spend time at the Paramount and Frontier Texas! for a bit.  We even had breakfast at the Dixie Pig, Abilene’s oldest eatery. Always having been fascinated with people and stories, Peter enjoyed watching other patrons from his stool. “There is just a different vibe here,” he said. “You can just tell the people are so kind.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Peter was the most gracious guest; so happy with the food, the conversation and Abilene in general. This New Yorker was so genuine in his joy for experiencing all cultures: whether it be a primitive tribe in a far away land, a long-celebrated rattlesnake wrangler or even a hardworking wife and mom who is a bit obsessed with her hometown.

Peter, we loved having you and you are welcome back anytime!