A number of years ago, I wandered my way to Wyoming, then Jenny Lake at the Tetons finally south into Jackson Hole for a shower, shave and some sourdough flapjacks from “Jedediah's House of Sourdough”.
I liked the look of the town and decided I had had enough of my past week of camping and wanted to sleep in a place that felt like home, despite my distance away from everything familiar. I was not quite yet the tourist-repellant anti-social butterfly of which you are now familiar. I soaked-up the glam and kitsch of the town’s cowboy culture for about a day, then searched out a week-long apartment rental. I found a space located upstairs from a restaurant on the main downtown drag. Boasting a kitchen, wrap around balcony and VCR, I settled into my first brief stint of acclimating myself to an unfamiliar town’s local culture. I shopped at the local grocery stores; I drifted in and out of the used book sanctuaries. I attended an opening, one evening and an artist talk on another, at the small contemporary Arts Council that was doing its damnedest to promote something outside the realm of “traditional western” art.
Spent half-a-day in a used record shop talking to a guy about Leo Kottke’s duet album with Mike Gordon, titled “Clone”. I learned that Krispy Kreme donuts cost $12 for a glazed dozen (don’t ask how much specialty donuts were) because they are delivered fresh every morning to a small convenience store in Jackson Hole, Wyoming from somewhere 200 miles northwest in Idaho. I discovered that the dollar menu at fast food joints is really a $1.33 plus tax (it is the same in Santa Fe).I even visited a couple roadside flea markets and found that even the “junk” in Jackson Hole is over-priced. After a week of briskly cool mountain evenings spent on my private balcony, watching locals hide amongst tourists, I returned my apartment keys. I learned a few things about myself and traveling in that brief tenure: I could never afford to live very long in an over-priced tourist magnet of a town (I had to relearn that lesson in Santa Fe) and traveling somewhere to live like a local is so much more relaxing than walking around on an itinerary like a Japanese tourist. Hence, immersion travel was born…- DN