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Saturday, June 14, 2003

Joy in Jackson

What a change Jackson was from the poverty by which we were surrounded just the day before. If you’re not a millionaire, forget it, Jack. Actually, they have a saying here: “The billionaires are driving out the millionaires.” My old Buddy, Ed, and his wife, Harriet, are two among a small and hardy group of non-millionaires who manage to squeak out an existence in this playground of the rich.

Not five minutes after we arrived, Ed, with the extra-keen observant sense of the pilot and writer that he sometimes is, pipes up with, I’ll bet you guys are in the mood for some good food.” Man, you go that right.

We piled into their SUV (naturally, everyone has one here) and drove north up the Hole for about fifteen minutes, straight toward the Grand Teton. We pulled up to a joint called Dornan’s and walked inside. There, curving behind the large L-shaped bar was an eight-foot high picture window with a backdrop so overwhelming that it almost made you faint when you entered the room. We were nearly at the base of the immense mountain, and the back-bar window perfectly framed it in its entirety. I could imagine becoming an alcoholic just by sitting at this bar and watching the color and light changes of the mountain throughout the span of entire days.

Oddly, only two people were at the bar. The reason soon became clear. The weather was pleasant and there was a large deck on the roof of the place with lots of tables. I’ve never had a lunch in a more spectacular setting. And to add to my pleasure, they must have flown in fresh romaine and other high-quality salad greens from California. I ordered a huge salad and vacuumed it up like a refugee from a concentration camp.

As day grew into evening, we gathered ‘round Ed’s dining room table for some barbecued lamb. Ed and I were tossing down vodka martinis and feeling no pain. Ed and Harriet’s son joined us and Ed uncorked some old Zinfandels that he’d been holding onto for just such an occasion. “No locals get this stuff,” he proclaimed. “Only my old drinking buddies.”

Needless to say, we were soon in our cups. Our respective sons got quite an earful as they listened to their glassy-eyed dads trading stories about the early days of drugs, rock, protest, etc. Then, feeling no pain themselves, they began to pitch in with stories of their own. It was a great bonding moment. When my sons were infants, I used to fantasize about someday being able to knock back some booze together and trade stories. Now it was actually happening and it was better than the fantasies.

Of course, we couldn’t look a drink in the face the next day and instead, rented North by Northwest. Jon had never seen it and we had just been to Mt, Rushmore, so it was the perfect choice. I’ve seen this flick at least six times and it holds up beautifully each time.

We got a good night’s sleep, bid a fond goodbye to our wonderful hosts, and set out for the final leg of our journey. In forty-eight hours, we would be eating California food again, sleeping in our own beds, and, in my case, enjoying the embraces of my dear and sorely missed wife.

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