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Kirby: Seeking but not finding peace in the Tetons

By Robert Kirby

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jul 15 2014 07:39 am • Last Updated Aug 11 2014 10:34 am

My wife and I needed some alone time, so we went to beautiful Jackson Hole for the weekend. Big mistake. Huge.

The idea was to decompress from grandkids, deadlines and yard work. We’d spend three days walking through the woods, seeing the natural wonders of the Tetons, eating great food and shopping.

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Jackson Hole seemed like the perfect place for that sort of thing. It had been years since our last visit. It was time for another.

Unfortunately, the entire world had the same idea. It was Jackson’s centennial birthday. To celebrate, the town sent invitations throughout the known galaxy. Most recipients RSVPed in person.

The idea of getting away is to avoid stress. Maybe you’re the kind of person who finds a mob of people mindlessly wandering in 270 directions at once relaxing. I am not.

I personally believe that large groups of confused people are why God lets us have plagues, napalm, volcanoes, nuclear weapons and the occasional meteor.

There was just such a situation in the middle of Jackson. Vehicles (including a traffic-jamming stagecoach) and people (none of whom appeared to know where the hell they were going) crammed themselves into and around the park for … something.

We didn’t stick around to find out what. We raced out of town at the reckless speed of 2 mph and 200 cpm (curses per minute).

We drove around the mountain to Teton Village, where a tram ride to the top of the mountain looked like the perfect thing to calm me down.

It should have been a pleasant ride to the peak. Instead, about a hundred people were packed into a gondola about the size of a business office.

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Two seconds after liftoff, a toddler had a meltdown because its mother wouldn’t — as near as I could tell — let it lick the window. The screaming reached the level where someone could have easily snapped and done something rash.

Note: This in no way implies that mothers are irresponsible because their kids scream. I understand that having kids — especially a dozen of them at one time — is tough.

But I also understood that if I tied a rope to the screamer’s ankle and dangled it 50 feet below the gondola, none of the rest of the passengers would testify against me in court.

Before I could find some line, we reached the summit. At 10,500 feet the view was spectacular. It should have been calming to the jaded soul but it wasn’t. We were hostages from which money could be extracted.

We paid about 10 bucks for a bottle of water and a prefab waffle with chocolate sauce smeared on it. This was not the gourmet food we had in mind.

Back at the village we opted for a leisurely drive around Lake Caribou. Surely we would find some great scenery to soothe our spirits.

We didn’t. What glimpses of the Tetons we managed to get were between the butts of crawling motor homes and fifth wheels.

We pulled into a turnout for a break and a look at the lake. There we discovered that there’s some international law that says if you take a picture of one Asian couple, you have to do the same thing for the other 125 people on their bus.

That did it. We turned around and went to Idaho, where we stayed in a budget motel, ate junk food, walked around downtown Driggs (population 1,672, counting us) and had a great, relaxing time.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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