Monday, August 17, 2009

Revisiting My Old Life in the Wilderness With Judy C.

AT LEAST ONCE A SUMMER, I love going back to the cabin of my heart in the wilderness where I spent six to seven months each year for a decade living, working as a fishing guide and sorting myself out, after far too many years in the city. Where I came from, I knew everybody and everyone knew me. Here, nobody knew who I was, let alone, cared. I knew I'd have to make it on my own, by the Grace of God, or else go back. Recently divorced with my children in college, I made this radical move West where I had literally been dragged by friends a few years earlier to go on a fishing pack trip with them into the Wind River Range, out of DuBois, Wyoming. From the minute I landed in Wyoming, I knew in the depths of my soul part of my destiny would be here in Wyoming, and my intuition certainly proved correct.
The cabin I bought in 1987 from the original owners from Salt Lake City who'd hand-built it 50 years earlier as aone-room cabin with sleeping area, kitchen, dining and living space and a billion dollar view. Fortunately there was a tiny little bathroom in the middle of the cabin. Later the original owners added a glorious sunroom, a loft and back bunk bedroom for crowds who didn't mind sleeping in one big room together. They also added a wonderful little outhouse down the hill with glass windows for viewing the awesome scenery. There was a canister of lime and a large stack of National Geographic magazines if you wanted to linger there in quiet repose.
For a decade I lived, loved--yes, I fell in love and just to be clear---it was with a man--- then ultimately fell out...mercifully for both of us-- worked and learned to stand on my own two feet. Some would say I learned to stand too much on my own two feet, but that's another story. I cooked on a propane stove, got my water from an untreated year-round spring through gravity flow, had grizzly bears, moose, sand hill cranes and coyotes come to my door. And yes, I had tons of house guests. What an adventure! And guess what, I had no daily newspapers, TV, cell phone or computer. Because of grizzlies, I had to transport every jot and tittle of trash (the first five years) 13 miles to the Moran Post Office bear-proof dumpsters. The nearest decent---meaning a grocery with green vegetables and fresh salmon---was 43 miles away---one way. I learned to make very good lists.

Over time, I turned it into one of the cutest cabins in Jackson Hole, adding skylights, great enlarged windows that opened, an outside hot tub with a stunning view of the Teton and various fabrics, leather and lace touches. Before I left, people who were doing a coffee table book on log cabins across America contacted me and came and did a photo shoot which they included in their beautiful book. Then I had a film crew arrive to do a shoot of me as a fly fishing guide---that's a lot for someone who was at the time media deprived.

I lived the life fully for ten years and when it was time to end this chapter, I had a good cry, put it on the market and sold it in a week, never looking back, though my children have often told me they wished I still had it. But it was time to move on. I had a small bidding war for it when I put it on the market. But in the end the guy who'd worked and made his fortune at Goldman Sachs (I left the city when I started believing my own BS!) in New York and left with a pile of money out-bidded everyone else. He told me he wanted to buy the house and EVERYTHING in it just as it was. He asked me to leave all the accoutrements except for my toothbrush. I refused. But let him have plenty to keep the flavor of the West as I had experience it.

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Some of my friends today who never visited me there would not believe my life in the wilderness and how wonderfully hard it was. It may have seemed glamorous, but it was filled with challenges and took perseverance that at times I didn't know I had. I'm grateful to God that I live to tell the stories.

It was wonderful recently having Judy, a friend from DC and now also with a beautiful second home in Jackson, drive out to the Buffalo Valley and Turpin Meadow with me and revisit the adventures of the cabin. It's not in as good condition as when I left it, but it still thrills my heart and soul with every conceivable emotion when I come back and walk around amidst the fireweed. Yet, life has inexorably moved on for me and the chapters now unfolding are just as wonderful and adventurous---if not more so---just in different ways.

8 comments:

gcotharn said...

Love the recent posts, including this one.

Webutante said...

Thank you Greg. I needed to say this as a parting shot, and love the fact that I learned the lessons, grew tremendously and have never regretted moving on with my life.

Pam said...

How fun! An outhouse with glass windows - that's real "uptown"!!

mRed said...

I believe you inserted a reference to moving on? A parting shot for the return east or...?

Webutante said...

mRed, I think at about year 9 I had learned enough about myself to know I was never going to move to Jackson Hole full time---even a great love couldn't keep me there and he wasn't moving to Tennessee. My father's health was beginning to fail and as the older daughter I had a visceral sense that one chapter was ending and another about to begin which would take me more back to the SE. I did buy another house in town which I stayed in for 2-3 months a summer, rented 9-10 of the other months and then sold the the JH Affordable Housing Trust.

While I still go to JH every summer and have an absolute fun/friend/exercise/fishing fest,
I still consider the bulk of my life now here in the East. After all now I have a little G-Boy of all things in New York City....and I can hardly wait to see him and his new little tooth soon.

I know, too much information. Thanks for listening....

jAne said...

simply a lovely word picture depicting pieces of a puzzle called life. :o)

jAne
tickleberry farm

Webutante said...

thanks for coming by and reading, jAne...

Stacie said...

Wow..thank you for that revealing peek into your life...I knew I liked you, but now, I REALLY like you!