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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.

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As could only be expected from a road trip, something “went wrong” immediately. Once I had finished packing the Subaru hatchback I tried to take picture of my packing job (just my stuff alone practically filled the entire car – I have no idea how multiple people go on car trips together!?) and the camera battery died. So, instead of driving straight to the highway to get this trip started I had to pit stop at Freddy’s (and coincidentally ran into Katie P. from high school). While this all could be quite frustrating, considering I was already several hours behind schedule, it was easy to take it with a grain of salt. Isn’t that what a road trip is all about? Wait, isn’t that what LIFE is all about? Spontaneity. Problem solving. Opportunity. Making lemonade. Hence, wrong in parentheses above, perhaps these are all just life’s little quirks where things are actually going “wrong” in order to steer us toward the “right.” Well, speaking of steering, I finally got on the road and ended up driving for about 8 hours that day¬† and covering around 450 miles. At Coeur d’Alene (where I had planned to spend my birthday evening) I thought, “Hell, let’s go further and check out this Priest Lake, Steve (Willamette buddy) told me about.” How much further I would have to go on a hungry stomach I didn’t realize.

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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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