I had an interesting conversation in the hot tub the other night. The woman I was talking to lives here and was very interested to find out my "story." Mostly the story about how I ended up in Jackson Hole. My simple answer is always: "Broken engagement and I decided I was tired of being responsible." Both true, both also very vague. The next question is always, "but why Jackson?" That to me is the answer. Jackson Hole... it just made sense.
But WHY JACKSON?
Jackson is surrounded by mountains. Beauty on every corner. Friendly people (for the most part). Jackson is a playground year round. And when the going gets tough in Jackson, you're not too far from some other really cool playgrounds. All of these very rational reasons to choose a place to live.
The funny thing is I had never been here. I had not really even seen pictures so much... I didn't move out here with a group of friends. The only real thing I was going on was that Lola said I would love it here. Lola is a friend of the families; I barely knew her personally. It all just fit together. I was moving to Jackson Hole. I would stay with Lola for a month or so and get a job and make friends and make a life. I did.
However, tonight I started to get the impression that maybe Jackson Hole is the one doing the methodical choosing of her residents. There are some interesting stories about how people ended up in JH. I know a guy whose van broke down here twenty-five years ago. I know a woman who was planning on moving to Oregon, made a pit stop here and stayed, Uhaul in tow. I get the feeling that this area- whatever you want to name it- is a magical place that chooses its residences with careful planning.
Jackson Hole is a vacation spot for most people. Tourism is our biggest industry- Jackson brings in 3 to 4 million people a year, yet has a population of roughly 8,600 (town limits). How is it that more people don't just stay?
My only guess is that it has to to with the type of people. The people that visit range from cross-country, RV-driving retirees to families of six to young professionals to spring breakers. (I'm going to generalize and stereotype here) A lot of tourists, in the winter months especially, are über rich professionals from back east. I'm willing to bet that the money is what keeps them in their home towns. The money, the glitz, the cars, the wardrobes, the fancy restaurants (which we do not lack here, but you get my point). The "city folk" stay in the city because it's what they need to survive.
Those of us that end up in Jackson Hole, are polar opposites to the "city folk." Speaking for myself, and quite possibly the rest of the population of this valley: We need big spaces, open air, mountains, fresh air and water... we need adventure!!
I think that this valley knows that in some way... it draws people like me, and Josh and Brandi and Scherba and Steiner and.... it draws us in. There is some mystical, cosmic force. And I am GLAD it found me!