Following graduation from the University of Virginia in May of 2012, I immediately packed up the car and headed west. What was initially intended as a four month summer break before entering the so called “real world” has now become a 14-month break– a little something I like to call “staycation.”
It’s safe to say my parents have been a little concerned about my line of work out West– cleaning toilets, folding t-shirts and handing out wetsuits does not require a college degree (so they like to remind me). I keep explaining to them that I am fully aware of this and that I am simply working to support my staycation before I commit myself to a full time career.
This summer I’ve gone on staycation with both locals and tourists, allowing me to experience a wide variety of summer activities. I kicked the summer season off with a moonlight rafting trip down the Snake River (ask our guides why it’s called that). I unsuccessfully went fly-fishing in Kelly, successfully jumped off the cliffs in Kelly, went for a not so refreshing dip in the Granite Hot Springs, tubed down Flat Creek, did some disco dancing at the Coach and some bluegrass dancing at the Wort, hiked to Goodwin Lake for a quick dip, got down at Targhee Fest, sailed on Jackson Lake, drove over the Pass for a huckleberry milkshake, kayaked on Lake Yellowstone, played disc golf in the Village, poached a hot tub or two, went up the Gondi for some margaritas and fried mushrooms, and enjoyed some tasty wild rice pancakes with my mom followed by a ride through the Big Kahuna on Barker-Ewing’s scenic/whitewater Breakfast Combination trip (my personal favorite). While my list might seem long, these excursions are just a sampling of the many activities Jackson has to offer.
Being endlessly enthused about the place you live and being able to go on so many adventures without having to travel far is a wonderful thing. This past winter, for instance, I went paragliding off the Tram during my lunch break. I don’t think most people can admit to having done something as cool as that in the middle of their work day. Every season continues to offer new challenges for even the most experienced athlete. However, regardless of expertise, the impressive Teton Range physically and mentally challenges hikers, climbers, and skiers ranging anywhere from novice to expert. So, even if this is your first time in Jackson, I hope you will not be fearful of exploring these beautiful, humbling mountains.
I won’t be here forever, but I’m not ready for my staycation to end yet– there are too many mountain trails and ski slopes that I have yet to conquer. I hope you enjoy your time here in Jackson amongst the river rats and ski bums, and I invite you to keep coming back, as there will always be new adventures waiting for you. – Maria Wyllie