Valley Locked

Feeling locked into the hole that is Jackson is a common situation come spring. The need to escape and see new environments and strange faces is most poignant as the winter season dies down and spring-like signs begin to emerge. I think that this may be one of my longest stretches ever of being here without escaping to the east coast, a bustling city, or a climbing adventure. Life takes on a different flavor with a child, for sure, but I am realizing this is not to be used as an excuse for inaction. In fact, travel is more important than ever. I am not just referring to grand trips abroad with tons of planning and forethought...These trips are definitely important, especially in order to expose yourself and your family to different customs, cultures and people, but even day trips an hour away add new perspective to life. This past weekend we treated my parents to a day spent at Turpin Meadow Ranch. A remote destination down Buffalo Valley Road, just a little ways past the turn-off to Moran, Turpin Meadows offers a feeling of escaping, even though the towering Tetons are still the backdrop. The meandering, now frozen Buffalo River winds by small, updated cabins and a larger lodge that houses a cozy fire, an amazing kitchen, and ski rentals for the variety of cross-country travels on the grounds. Laidback, quiet, and food that rivals anything found in Jackson, it was hard to just do a day-trip. I wanted to stay for a week. Jamie and I wanted to be the ones running the place in fact!

Just driving away from familiar town, north into the Park where the sky opens up and the snowdrifts grow, felt refreshing. The rest of your life gets put on hold in new environments because your senses take center stage and bask in the discovery of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Pulling Sam in the Burley on three miles of groomed track, sighting wolf tracks and hearing the birds chirping, surrounded by Ponderosa pines and dazzling blue sky. A warm, crackling fire and friendly hosts, homemade goodness on the tongue, the smell of real food being cooked. The slowness of pace, the simplicity of action, food, conversation. The quiet of being in the woods. I came back to Jackson rejuvenated because I had experienced something new, with my family, and turned off parts of my brain that are really automated (and not always helpful) in my familiar surroundings.

The weekend reminded me of the importance of getting away. How doing so reminds you of who you are at the core and allows your imagination to open up to what you can aspire to be. We will be back to Turpin Meadows, maybe in a new season so we can experience it anew. But the take away message is to explore, be curious, get out of dodge, and bask in the newness of experience.

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Yesterday Jamie's grandfather passed away. He was a sweet, thoughtful, soft-spoken and intelligent man, nimble and deft with his hands and mind into his eighties. Seeing him look at little Sam and Sam back at him the other weekend, Sam motionless in my arms as he took in the great man before him, was a special moment now stained in my memory. Happiness that they were able to see each other one more time, peace allowed to enter and fill the hospital room despite the beeping machines and sterile smell. The power of the cycle of life and death so present, the birth into this world with delight in all that is new and fresh and the departure from the world with delight in all that has occurred and the richness of having lived a good life . The flexibility of little bodies bending in yogic-like postures juxtaposed to the feebleness of a chest that has risen and fallen a million times over. How scary it must be to be so innocent and small in this vastness and how frightening it must be to leave this earth, knowing that you will no longer see familiar faces, do routine things, be a human being anymore. Frank made Sam a toy chest that is decorated with animals from this region: the mighty moose, the elegant elk, the delicate deer. Our little guy will know his great grandfather through this work of art, and we will all treasure it as the years go along, filling it with toys.

Live life to the fullest. Everyday. Be honest and truthful and hardworking. Give love to those that you love as well as to those who you don't know. Cherish each moment.