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I had my personal best today for the fastest campsite pack-up yet. I’m down from two hours to one. That may seem like a long time but includes my developing ritual of morning chat with the neighbors, hot cup of tea and saying good bye to the lake, river etc. It was a quick drive down to Jackson Hole for breakfast, where par for the course with the entire trip destiny seemed to be fueling my engine. As I parallel parked on main street (which becomes the main run of the ski slopes directly behind “downtown”) just two blocks from the center square, I looked up to see a breakfast restaurant AND a cigar shop across the street (cigar will come into play later in the trip and may very well be the determining factor to my ever present feeling of a destined journey).

Breakfast of Jackson Hole's "Tin Shed"

Breakfast at Jackson Hole's "Tin Shed"

Turned out third time was the charm for breakfast. In a quest for a shorter line, I asked a local for where to eat besides the two overflowing places on the main streets. I was directed to go down a side alley, where I walked into a strong feeling of deja vu. Wait, wasn’t I here last Sunday? Hipsters, new age techno music, scrambles, side patio…this place is eerily similar to North Portland’s Tin Shed (except that you get a quarter of the scramble for four times the price). While it’s known as Shades Cafe in Jackson Hole, henceforth I will think of it as the “Wood Shed.” I stayed for an hour eating and reading my book on life design. For a moment I actually forgot I was on a trip and just enjoyed Sunday morning brunch like a local. Now, that’s what I call transcendent tourism!

Tourist trap bear attack!

Tourist trap bear attack!

I continued the luxurious morning by satisfying my guilty pleasure for tourist junk shopping. I entered a store with more wildlife than Yellowstone: mountain lions, deer, bears, jackalopes! Well, I’m skeptical that last one is actually an animal, I mean, seriously, what evolutionary purpose would antlers serve for a rabbit? They don’t battle for mating – everybody knows rabbits are sluts. While I don’t necessarily think I’ve seen them in their natural habitat, it has been amazing the variety of wildlife I have seen from spitting distance on this trip. (If you don’t know, I’m actually a pretty accomplished distance spitter, so that’s about 15-25 feet away.) A black bear, elks, deer, crows, magpies, blue jays, bison, rabbit, chipmunk, pig and a baby billy goat, which I’d have to say was my favorite.

It’s too bad that I wasn’t destined to visit Jackson while my Willamette friend was still here, that being said I feel like this trip and visiting these places has been many years in the making. But, why now? Well, there are several specific reasons that spurred the trip, including a window of opportunity from commitments, i.e.: work, school etc., but that still doesn’t answer the question, why now? That I can’t answer. But there does seem to be some significance to the places I’m passing through: some blasts from the past, some new to the present and some alluding to the future. From what I can navigate, destiny’s map seems to only appear to us with a trail of the past leading to “you are here.” For now, I happen to know I’m destined for Salt Lake City, so I make a quick stop at the cigar shop and then steer the Subby down the long road south to Utah.

DISCLAIMER: Considering I’m two weeks into the trip, clearly I’m not in Glacier anymore. Starting this travel blog I underestimated how much internet access I would have, how much energy I would have left after days of exploring and how much time it takes to upload and blog. Speaking of time..

Still a little shaken from the Swinging Bridge I made it back to my car with a growling stomach. No wonder I was hungry, my phone said it was 2 p.m. Curiously, I had left the camp site at 9:30 a.m. and had only traveled 50 miles. Surely, the three-quarter mile hike hadn’t taken 3 hours? Had it? Something was fishy, but since I was apparently behind schedule I hit the road and cruised to Glacier National Park. When I got into West Glacier, I stopped at the Montana Vortex to take pictures. Clearly, this was not the only vortex I had entered. How was time flying by? Checking my phone again it was 2 p.m. And then it hit me, time zones! My “satellite” oriented phone was futilely trying to keep up with time. Hence, I have come to rely upon my internal clock and asking locals.

With a snow advisory for the evening, I set up camp at Sprague Creek (a 20 tent site) and then took off to tour Going to the Sun Road and Logan Pass before any potential weather. If I had to describe the word immense in an image, it would be the glaciers that even dwarf 500 foot tall waterfalls that miraculously spring from their rock faces. While it’s summer, it is still shocking how little snow comprises these “glaciers” (I am still not clear if that term includes the ice or the ice and underlying rock). Glaciers are known to move achingly slow, yet their recession has been stealth. This is how global warming hits home, which was reinforced by the park ranger presentation I saw that night at Lake McDonald Lodge. Now, if we could only bring everyone here, so they could truly understand the immensity of the environmental shift/crisis we are undergoing.

A moment at Avalanche Lake in Glacier.

A moment at Avalanche Lake in Glacier.

I fully entered the vortex of the outdoors on my hike to Avalanche Lake. Nature truly is a different world. A world where time seems to become irrelevant. If it’s still light out, what does it matter if it’s 11 a.m. or 3 p.m.? I was easily sucked into the timelessness of the present moment along the trail. One moment paused to look for a place to take a leak. The next moment I’m staring at a mama-sized black bear 75 feet down the trail. Run? Photo? Stay? Talk? Shouldn’t I be more scared? Something is wrong when my immediate thought is to get closer for a photo of a WILD animal, when just yesterday a bridge scared my pants off!

We parted ways and I eventually made it to the serene lake. Now, this is what I picture Eden like. How could you not “be present” in this world? That is all there is – a series of moments – unlike my life at home. Isn’t it amazing that we let our lives be dictated by this abstract constriction we created, called time? It has been hard to turn off that calculated, proactive, “efficient” part of my brain on this trip. I could only spend 30 minutes at the lake before needing to head back, check out of the campsite by noon and head to Missoula. Unfortunately, my human, time-constrained schedule beckoned.

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26 was a defining and adventurous year for Julie Williams, a Portland, Ore.-based communications consultant.

This blog chronicles Julie's crossing of the quarter-life threshold and coming of age on her solo road trip across seven Western states from Aug.-Sept. 2008.

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