Sunday, October 09, 2005

My New Life.

As Signifying Nothing notes, a great feature of academia (if you can call the community college "academia," not that I'm disrespecting my place of employment) is the many recesses of various kinds we get. No actual paid holidays, but they have the effect of holidays.

My husband the darling historian (my adjective there may be roving, I'll have to get that checked) and I drove to Idaho, a place where my dreams are increasingly focusing. For instance, the nice folks who own the Grub Stake Market are thinking about selling it after 25 years in the biz, and I'm considering what my life might be like as a grocer to hunters, fishermen, and snowmobilers. (I'm thinking I'd sell homemade soup in the deli in the wintertime, and my line would be "Soup at Eleven, Till It's Gone." It gets catchier the more times you say it.)

We left the Salt Lake valley on Wednesday evening, with enough pre-trip errands and checklists that I thought my head might explode before I got a chance to chill. Because we left late-ish, we stayed in Pocatello, only 150 miles or so. That meant that the next morning, we had a chance to drive around in the railroad portion of Poky, and stop in at The Walrus and the Carpenter bookstore. It's a very low-tech place--the proprietor, Will Peterson, is a world-class whistler and a darn fine guitar player. Between the two of us we bought about $300 worth of books for only $110. Tons of great stuff, including three used Ruth Rendell mystery novels, purchased as I was inspired by a story in the NY Times regarding her newest book. After that, we were on to West Yellowstone.

West Yell has always been a trashy tourist-y place, in my experience, and that's largely because we always went there as a tiny break from our noble family cabin, to consume ice cream and buy crap at the dollar store. This time, we stayed, figured out a decent place or two to eat (tough going, I'm afraid). We went into the park and saw a herd of buffalo right by the side of the road, and I mean actually on the road (by=on, apparently). Also plenty of elk.

Largely, this was an experiment in finding out what the summer place is like when summer's over. It was a success, in my view: first of all, we had an entire national park to ourselves (well, more or less). Second of all, we had nice chats with people we wouldn't have chatted with, as we wouldn't have been staying in a motel in West Yell, since we would have been staying in our cabin, our cozy, nest-like little cabin that protects us from any conversations. Thirdly, we drove to Bozeman, MT, which is kind of a cool town. We drove a different way to Bozeman--up through the mountains past the Hell Roaring part of the Beartooth Wilderness--than the way we drove back to Island Park, past Norris and Ennis through the Madison Valley, all of which was revelatory. After all the times I've traveled to this region, to have discovered so much about it was a real gift.

The last night we stayed in a little riverside inn just down the road from our cabin. Hanging out by a river is amazing. It was raining and the sky was heavy. As we were bringing our stuff into the room, we saw several people on beautiful horses crossing the river, with their dog swimming alongside. They each said hello to us in turn, as we stood in the doorway to our room overlooking the river, as they stepped onto the riverbank. It felt like something out of another life.


  1. I love that feeling of discovering something new that's always been there. Your experience reminded me of our discovery of Mesa Falls just outside of Island park this past summer. We've been going to Rexburg several times a year for more than a decade and yet (in part because my father-in-law thinks anything over 20 minutes away is a "tough drive")we had only quickly hit Mesa Falls on our way to Yellowstone one time years ago and then had forgotten about it. What a magnificent view: spraying water, an eagle, and prey dangling from its claws. And it's amazingly like 40 minutes or so from Rexburg.

  2. Mesa Falls is so beautiful! We've managed to hit it several times so that you get the light hitting the spray in a full spectrum. Gorgeous.

  3. I want my new life to be as a cook at the Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT. I want to tend to the organic garden and grill trout and go backbacking on off days.

    There was this woman in Minnesota's northwoods who spent most of her life brewing root beer in a tiny place by the lake and the only people she sold the root beer to were hunters and paddlers and the like. Now she's dead and they sell the root beer in stores.



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