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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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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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