Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

My 2015 Summer Wrap-Up…

Phew! What a RUN! Where are we, September?? Already??? Well, listen, better that we’re now nearing the autumnal bliss I always crave and thrive on…rather than being stuck back in the perspiration-drenched doldrums of late-July. Fall, of course, is my most favorite time of year. Halloween and scary movies, pumpkin-y things and falling leaves. BRING IT. Bring it, I say.

Before we set the clocks back an hour, however, I’d like to wrap-up a few loose summer-y things of note. Bear in mind, I HATE summer. I hate summer and I hate heat and I hate the sun. Well, that’s not true. I mean, I worship the sun as a star* and I know the grapes on the vines need it and I realize we’d all be dead without it and my astrological sign IS Leo, after all, but…I dunno, man, that big, bright thing in the sky can be a real DICK when it comes to making me SWEAT and PANT and HEAVE in grave discomfort. LOOK, I JUST CAN’T DO HOT WEATHER. As it is, my air-conditioning at home just broke down twice in a week because I was running it too cold.

Which brings me to:

The Grand Canyon

So back in June, at the ass-end of our Las Vegas sojourn, the wife and I decided to make it a point to see the Grand Canyon on our way back home. We’d take a couple of extra nights, check out historic Route 66, and hit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World with exploratory gusto. Nic had been to the canyon before years ago on a cross-country trip with her brother, but I had actually never seen it. I barely knew the damn thing was in Arizona. But I made it. I finally made it. And I’ll be honest with you. It sucked.

The Grand Canyon SUCKED!

Now don’t get me wrong. It WASN’T the Grand Canyon’s fault that it sucked. Not at all. It was the PEOPLE who caused it to suck. AND the fact that it was a 107 degrees there. Oh, that didn’t help at all. I mean, had I KNOWN that Summer was the very worst time of year to visit the Grand Canyon – the very HEIGHT of heat strokes and tourists – I would have never agreed to such an adventure. But I did. Because I’m an idiot. And I was too excited to see the Grand Canyon. All I wanted to do was stand in silent awe before something greater than I. 


I mean, WHAT is it, man? What is it about people that they can’t keep their mouths shut when witnessing nature at it’s finest? At least enjoy a meditative moment of reflection before blurting out, “Hey, Garth!! Take a picture of me in front of the canyon!!!”

Oh, Garth.

Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of Nic and I standing before the Grand Canyon. But I SWEAR this was taken by a couple after they asked me to take one of them. And I was whispering the WHOLE time, if even uttering a word.


Look, I’m all for capturing those precious moments, but there was a LOT of unnecessary yammering going on at the views. People would NOT shut up. Most of them were too busy looking for the SNACK BAR. So I felt kinda bad for the Grand Canyon. Because it was so much more about snapping selfies and posting on social media than it was about taking a quiet, reflective moment to think about how truly slight and insignificant we are as a species. Then again, I guess for most people, that isn’t the most “fun” thing to think about when you’re at the Grand Canyon.

The worst thing about our day at the park was the fact that we were forced to board these awful SHUTTLE BUSSES crammed with humans. On again, off again, on again, off again. Up a hill, down a hill, up a hill, down a hill. It was the only way to get around on this particular side of the rim! And all the shuttle drivers seemed really cranky, too. Well, no wonder, there were just TOO MANY PEOPLE to negotiate. And they packed us in like sardines with sunburns. Listen, I’m there to behold a spectacular 1-mile-deep / 277-mile-wide GORGE, not to suffer the tortures of some random dude’s ASS in my face.  

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Is it any wonder THIS was my most favorite posted sign of the day? I was picturing EVERYONE getting too close to the edge and falling off.


Hey, I was just impressed someone was able to get a damn mobility scooter up there!


There was a point where I somehow managed to talk Nic into getting away from people and hopping a rail so we could find a little spot to meditate in. Once we settled at the base of a cliff, far from the faintest trace of human voice, I managed to pull out a cheap bottle of uncorked red and two plastic cups from my backpack to raise a toast to what the Pueblos deemed “a holy site”. That was perhaps the highlight of the day for me. That is, until I started to feel the canyon magnetically pulling me TOWARDS it! As if it was asking me to sacrifice myself and take the leap! The truth is, I have a pretty debilitating fear of heights, and had probably pushed it by sitting so close to the edge. I just wanted a quick siesta, but instead found myself crawling away from the cliff on all fours in fear for my life!

The Grand Canyon Wine Co.

Much more fun than our full day at the Grand Canyon was the 90 minutes or so we spent at the Grand Canyon Wine Co. in Williams, Arizona. I had learned all about the AZ wine scene from the kickass documentary, “Blood Into Wine”, which chronicles Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan and the production of his Caduceus Cellars titles. We’re talkin’ stuff made in desert conditions!  

Grand Canyon Winery is producing stuff out of the Verde Valley and we just thought it was all delicious. And SUCH a cool tasting room, too. We were well-taken care of. They also make craft beers, if that’s more your speed.


After our tasting, we hit the main drag in Williams (Route 66!) for dinner and a CARICATURE! Yup, if you can believe it, it was the very first time Nic and I had ever had ourselves immortalized in cartoon form by somebody other than me.


It was done by a Phoenix-based artist named Gary Drysdale and we totally hit it off. Turns out he paints, too. I think he nailed it!

MK and NL caricature

Oh, Grand Canyon. Love you, mean it. I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us. Perhaps some other time. Like, in the DEAD OF WINTER. 

The rest of the summer came with an unexpected trip to the hospital, the completion of a horror-themed screenplay I wrote with my dear buddy, Brett…some really enjoyable voice-over gigs…and a brand-new video I made that you might wanna check out and share called “TONY SOPRANO meets THE GODFATHER”. All in all? I’m ready for Fall!

WINE PAIRING: Go with the Grand Canyon Winery’s 2012 Voyager, for sure. “Brave. Unapologetic. Voluptuous!”

*Thank you, Sheri Strahl, for reminding me that the Sun was a star, not a planet.