Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Even though you’d find it hard to believe, I am not employed by the Jackson Hole Visitor’s Bureau. It just happens to be one of the most beautiful places on earth! That’s why Karen and I have to make a regular trek out for our Rocky Mountain fix. Snuggled right up against an edge of Yellowstone National Park, this rugged little western town, carved right out of the 1800’s, boasts an elevation of up to 10,450 feet and population of much less. It serves as home to at least a few celebrities including but not limited to Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock, Dick Cheney, and recognized trial lawyer Gerry Spence (remember the OJ trial coverage?).

What’s the big deal, you ask? Check out a few of these pix to answer that question. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on earth. The mighty Grand Teton rises well over 10,000 feet into the air, towering over the tiny valley (aka the ‘hole’) where Jackson residents call home. We stayed at the Spring Creek Ranch sitting high upon a sliver of a mountain range across the hole from Mr. Grand. What a refreshing way to decompress for a few days!

We hadn’t gotten the suitcases unpacked til we spotted some neighbors sitting out on their back porch, enjoying all the splendor of their vista. One of the guys had on an orange and white tee shirt pitching the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Within 10 minutes, we were down on their deck, new friends to hang out with for the next few days. I guess when your blood runs orange, you can find you some good friends just about anywhere!

Robin and Rodney King along with their brothers/sisters in law Robin and Wayne Atkins, had come all the way from Knoxville, Tennessee, for their summer getaway. There is usually instant bonding between fellow Vols fans. This was no exception. We bounced around the city with them for a couple of days, soaking up the low humidity, cool breezes, blue skies, and comfortable temperatures. Karen even talked one of the foursome, Rodney, into joining her for the #1 reason for coming to Jackson Hole, paragliding off the Tetons! Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think there might be something wrong with your thinking when you take a running start with a backpack on, and jump off a 10,000 foot mountain. But Rodney and Karen were ready.

Bright and early the next morning, six of us were on our way up the mountain gondola to the top of the vast mountain peaks. Rodney and Karen had signed their life away with a disclaimer acknowledging the potential to lose life or limb. The rest of us had our minds set on home made waffles advertised as the best in the Hole. The thought of that wonderful treat made our mouth’s water as we ascended the mountain side.

The forces of Mother Nature cannot be over ruled. The skies were sunny and blue, but the winds were too choppy. After waiting a few minutes, their ‘instructor’ aborted the mission, postponing their launch til the next morning. Rodney and Karen were both disappointed, but we’re comforted in the fact that they got their bellies full of wonderful homemade waffles. Never could any of us remember being able to play in the snow on the morning of July 3!

The pinnacle moment of the trip might have been the splendor of standing on the rim of a mountain gazing down into the Hole, some 5,000 feet below. Just as the sky became pitch black, the fireworks spectacle began. What a breathtaking thrill it was to be able to look down and watch the wonderful display of fireworks as they exploded high in the skies for those in the valley!

The next morning proved to be equally heartbreaking, as we repeated our journey to the base of the mountain, only to have hearts broken again with wind gusts that were too unpredictable. But when your instructor says ‘No’, there is no arguing. Mother Nature wins every time. There will be another time. Another day. Great friends. Great memories!