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Meet the man behind the mustache

How many people do you know who have played pro baseball for the Mets, survived being mauled by a bear, and wear a mustache that puts Tom Selleck’s to shame?

I only know of one. His name’s George Ruf, and he’s our maintenance man. After a recent Tripadvisor review described a “memorable mustachioed gentleman” working at our motel, we at Flat Creek Inn decided it was time for a little employee spotlight.

Stop by our motel on any given day and you’ll spot George wearing a beaten-up baseball cap and well-worn tool belt, entertaining guests with a quick wit, booming laugh, and ever-ready repertoire of stories– all delivered in a distinct New Yorker accent. Between making friends with every traveler passing through our gas station, George oversees the motel’s maintenance and renovates rooms to give them a classy and rustic feel. He’s a man born out of his time, an undercover Daniel Boone who somehow mashes up the stereotypes of the rough mountain man and the smooth-talking car salesman. Raised in the heart of Queens, New York, George earned his expertise as a contractor building bridges for the government before moving on to the oil fields in the Dakotas. George’s God-given grit and savvy street-smarts allowed him to thrive in the oil fields’ rough conditions.

I wasn’t kidding about George’s baseball career. Baseball was all George did growing up, he says. As he grew older it became his livelihood. After years playing in the Minor Leagues, George signed with the Mets as a catcher in 1970. George played only one year with the Mets, but one year was enough to give him an experience many only dream of, not to mention the ability to name-drop like nobody’s business.

And yes, George was mauled by a bear. While hunting near Cody, Wyoming, five years ago, he stumbled upon a 600-lb grizzly bear that decided he was a threat. The bear covered 50 yards in what seemed like a split second and attacked with its claws and teeth, leaving scars that are still visible. In a point-blank act of self-preservation, George fired his gun as the bear stood snarling over him. He spent a brutal night next to the bear’s carcass recovering from shock before mustering the energy and strength to drag himself to his truck and drive himself to an urgent care center in Cody. It was a sobering experience for George the mountain man to recall but a thrilling experience for George the storyteller to share.

Bear mauling aside, George eventually decided that his days of working the oil fields were over. He moved to Alpine, taking a job in Jackson as Flat Creek Inn’s maintenance man. In 2013 he married his wife Heather, and in 2014 Heather began managing our convenience store. Heather is an outspoken, charismatic woman who greets every customer in the gas station with a friendly “Howdy!”. The same TripAdvisor review that hailed our “memorable mustachioed gentleman” declared Heather and George “a dream team in hospitality.” As the motel’s business slows down in the fall, they work together as guides for–you guessed it– bear hunts. So stop by sometime. Step into our convenience store, have a hot dog, and meet our mustachioed maintenance man and his equally memorable wife. You won’t be disappointed.

This is George. Following is a painting of his father, George Ruf Sr., that hangs in our lobby.

In retrospect, the poor  bear didn't stand a chance. Look at George. His mustache alone could have overpowered the bear.

In retrospect, the poor bear didn’t stand a chance. Look at George. His mustache alone could have overpowered the bear.

Full disclosure: Okay, so this isn't actually George Ruf Sr. It's a painting of a random mountain man we've got hanging in our lobby that nevertheless bears an eerie resemblance to George. Who knows? Maybe it could be his father.

Full disclosure: Okay, so this isn’t actually George Ruf Sr. It’s a painting of a random mountain man we’ve got hanging in our lobby that nevertheless bears an eerie resemblance to George. Who knows? Maybe it could be his father.

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