Our pilgrimage to here led us south from Yellowstone National Park, heading down the John D. Rockefeller Highway toward Grand Teton National Park. The cool, clear blue sky and the dazzling colors of the early-adapting aspen and cottonwoods took my breath away. For over thirty years, it has been a sacred ritual for me to visit this part of the country. This year, it was seeing the northern shore of the deep blue of Jackson Lake and beyond it, the lush grey-blue of the Grand Tetons, sideways from this line of sight that brought on the tears of gratitude. No matter how many times I have come here, the intensity of witnessing the power and majesty of God’s creation is always new. And the paradox is that for all the surprise, there is simultaneously the calm and peacefulness of knowing that I am at home.
It has always been one of our dreams to drive to Wyoming and over the years, we lamented the constraints of time that stood in the way. As we rounded the Lake this time, it occurred to me that we had actually done it – we had driven to the Wyoming. We were entering Grand Teton National Park, camping for the first time in the Park, pulling into Dornan’s in Moose to buy wine, but this time in our own truck, with New Hampshire plates, in our new easy rhythm.
On this trip, one of the things I wanted to do was ride the bike trail that was built in the Park. It stretches from Moose to Jenny Lake and was built, in part, as a memorial to 13-year old bicyclist, Gabriela Axelrod, who died there in 1999 after being hit by a car. The bike trail is a beautiful memorial to a life cut too short and to her family and the activists who saw it through. We got to take two bike rides along its beautiful route.
We have been enjoying the campground where we have been visited by the locals – a bull moose; a cow and her calf; and pronghorns. Between the New Hampshire plates and the Airstream, we are meeting some great people. From the predictable parking lot chat, “Wow, you drove all the way from New Hampshire. Have you been here before?” to the really captivating, being on the road has been a gift.
At the Gros Ventre campground (where we have settled in for 8 days) we met a couple traveling in a Casita travel-trailer with their two young children. Mom and Dad have taken a leave from their jobs (both are physicians) to travel around the country with their kids, visiting national parks. He was from Abbeville, Louisiana, a place we will be visiting in October, and had lots of great suggestions for places to eat and visit and hear Cajun music.
The day they left, a couple pulled in with a 34-foot Airstream. He came over and introduced himself to Peter and we did easy, relaxed Airstream talk. We connected with him and his wife and spent a couple of days talking about music, and life, and travel, and wine, and campgrounds, and the hang-gliders on the top of his tow-vehicle. It turns out that he is an experienced hand-gliding instructor and she is a professional tow plane pilot at the first hang-glider park in the world, in central Florida. We’re going to keep in touch and hopefully catch up with each other down the road.
We’re settling in to life here on the road. It’s easy being in a somewhat familiar town, like Jackson, Wyoming. We’ve been hiking in the Park, riding bikes, shopping at our favorite grocery store, discovering a new coffee shop, and meeting up with town friends at a favorite restaurant. We just learned that we were able to snag two tickets to a sold-out concert (thank you to the ticket holder who turned in her tickets!) at the Arts Center featuring Taj Mahal and John Hiatt and we are really looking forward to it. We’ve seen each of them separately in concert over the years back in Keene, but this is happening because we put our names on a waitlist with no expectations and it just happened. It really doesn’t get any better than this remarkable life.
Thanks for coming along.