Friday January 20, 2012
Wow. I did a synonym search for different words like awesome, amazing, brilliant, terrific, etc.… I was unable to find one to use in the subject. Today was one of the most unique, interesting, and amazing days of my life. I have been lucky enough to do some fun things and see some beautiful places. I think today takes the cake. The drive I had today from Vail to Jackson Hole ran the gamut of emotions. Today’s drive was the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the dull and boring cross-country drive. Today was what I had envisioned and hoped for when I imagined driving around the Wild Wild West. Today I officially felt like I was driving through the west.
It started leaving out of Vail as scary and treacherous road conditions. For some reason the possibility of poor driving conditions in the winter mountains slipped my mind. This lasted for the first couple hours, until I got north of Steamboat. I originally got on the road just before sunup. My first experience of this trip that encompasses mountain driving was Colorado route 131. The scenery was beautiful and the setting perfect. I felt like I was driving back to the 1800’s. I passed through small towns and for a while road parallel with a mile-long locomotive carrying nothing but coal. It was moving along on the ridge above me. It felt just right. The strangest things I saw were the horse farms. It was just above 20 degrees outside and none of the horses were wearing blankets. This goes against everything I have ever been taught.
The scary driving passed. I was helped by an insightful quote from the thoughtful Jimmy B, “Raise your right foot and repeat after me, I will take my time and get there when I get there.” That fit the situation perfectly. Before I knew it the sun had come up and I was driving in the most glorious, sunny, beautiful day. I was in areas where there was not a snowflake to be seen on the ground. It felt like the horizon and sky went on forever. I swear I could see 3 states over at one point. There was a point somewhere in Wyoming I followed a school bus with kids on it for about 100 miles. It was around 11am, and this bus was on a mission heading directly north. We passed no schools or bus stops. I finally got around the bus and have no idea what happened. All I could think of was a school bus driver went mental and there was an abduction underway.
After I sped away from the school bus kidnapping I am pretty sure the GPS had me get off an incorrect exit. I just looked at the map and it definitely did. But I got to know a road called Superior Cutoff Road very intimately. This road was 20 miles of nothing but dirt and gravel with ruts a Volkswagen could get lost in. Taking the wrong…long…scenic route is just part of the adventure. At least that is what my travel guide Bradford said. I agree completely. At different points of my gallivant down Superior Cutoff Road I almost fell off a cliff, thought I was going to get shot by a rancher, had to yield to giant flocks of sheep crossing the road, chased by the sheep herding dogs, almost got Deliveranced, and pretty sure I stumbled across a moonshine still. A few pictures here, but even better is a collage of videos here. I was in no hurry and enjoyed seeing everything I saw including signs for different towns that read, “Elevation 6893 Population 220”. I allotted 2 days for the drive, even though I knew it would not take nearly that long. I planned to get to Jackson Hole sometime Saturday. The drive went so smoothly that I was here and checked in by 5pm. There were a couple times that an hour passed without seeing another vehicle.
The last hour of my drive up through Jackson and into Teton Village was without a question a snow-covered thing of beauty. Around every corner was another picturesque mountain peak, valley, or meadow of pure white, untouched goodness. The Tetons seemed to jut out of the earth as if they were left there by accident. There was no gradual incline. It looks like a right angle on the surface of the Earth.
I truly have never seen so much beauty as I did on today’s drive. This was what I hoped for. For every one of the amazing things I remembered about today I am sure I forgot 2 more.