Spectacular

So I lied. Er, misspoke. Failed to correctly predict the future.

Contrary to my assertions in the previous post, this entry does not come from anywhere near the left coast. Or any coast, for that matter. I’m sitting in the shade of a mountain lodge in Wyoming, staring across at something … spectacular. Yeah, “spectacular” – for all that I pride myself on a comprehensive knowledge of the English language, I can’t dredge up any other word that comes close.

Yesterday, pretty much the moment Andy, er, Miranda came off the 10 hour flight from London, we threw her in the car, drove to the Palo Alto airport, and crammed her in the back of the Deb for a four hour flight to Wyoming. Well, Driggs, Idaho, actually. But from there, we caught a ride to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the 2011 “Renaissance Weekend” (http://www.renaissanceweekend.org/).

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack in that last paragraph. But yes, a serious on/over the road roadtrip. Devon up front with the maps in her lap, kids in back plugged into their respective entertainments, and off we went, 740 miles over and across the glorious American west. Up over Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake, out across the red-ochre-brown-yellow sands of the Nevada deserts. North into the lush green of Sun Valley and Burley, Idaho. Over the sinuous running mirrors of the Snake River, reflecting summer sunset clouds. Over the gentle curve of Swan Valley, then down, softly down into the early evening shadow of the Tetons, snow covered shark teeth tearing at the sky in impossible angles.

It really was a glorious mural of the American west, a small, small reminder of how broad and beautiful this country is.

It was hard not to keep shaking Miranda awake (it was 4 am in London by then) to show her – “Look! Plummeting canyons! Look! Snowcapped mountains!” There’ll be other times – at least, there will if we let her sleep enough not to hate the adventure this time around.

The adventure (speaking of adventures) continued once we were on the ground. We’d picked Driggs because we didn’t have to cross Teton pass to get there, and it was only 45 minutes from the Jackson Hole Lodge. Given that the Jackson Hole airport, on the other side of the aforementioned shark teeth, was a 15 minute ride from the Lodge, I figured it was an excellent compromise. I’d called Bill, of Driggs Taxi, who agreed to meet us at Driggs Field and drive us over the pass.

Problem came to light when we called the Jackson Hole Lodge to let them know we’d arrived. “Ummm, could you spell your name again?” They’d never heard of us. They’d never heard of Renaissance Weekend. “Perhaps you’re looking for the Jackson Lake Lodge?” they offered.

I looked over at Bill, as we rolled through the darkness. Jackson Lake Lodge? He whistled. “Ahyup, that’s a lovely place. But it’s on the other side of the valley, about an hour and a half away.” We continued in silence a few moments, while I mentally recalculated the cab fare.

A couple of phone calls later, we’d confirmed that we were heading for the Jackson Lake Lodge, and Bill called his buddies back home to tell them that he’d be a couple hours later than he’d expected. With – this part was unspoken – an extra $100 or so in his pocket. It was a small price to pay to bring the long, long day to a successful conclusion.

And it was a lovely ride, with AC/DC playing softly in the background; the kids slept and Bill cheerfully gave us a full history of the valley, regaling us with who found/stole/fought what/whom/when, and indicating silhouetted mountain tops in the darkness to prove his points.

By 11:30 we’d arrived, gotten everyone checked in and tucked in, and it was time to try to lull myself to sleep in preparation for what promised to be an eventful weekend. Wide. Awake. Sigh – but of course.

Anyhow – just a short note right now on this “Renaissance Weekend” thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with dressing up in frocks and saying “Forsooth!” while eating bad food. The Ren folks describe their events as “the grand daddy of ideas festivals”, bringing together “CEOs, venture capitalists & entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates & Pulitzer Prize-winners, artists, educators & scientists, astronauts & Olympians, judges, diplomats, social entrepreneurs & non-profit leaders, change-makers of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street & Main Street, professors & priests, Republicans, Democrats & Independents.”

The participants “address the urgent questions of our times and essential issues of human experience” though panels, lectures and roundtable discussions. Everyone participates, and the fun thing is that the participation is intergenerational – families are strongly encouraged to bring their kids as full participants. There’s a separate kids track for the younger ones (“Everything you wanted to know about space food” and “Introduction to Arabic Letters”), but everyone participates, and kids are encouraged to interact as much as they can with the adults and adult topics. Both Miranda and Jeremy are panelists in discussions tomorrow.

Anyhow. We’re here. The people are brilliant. The natural beauty is spectacular. And we’re so. Damned. Exhausted. [heads back to room for nap]

[Argh – realizing that I don’t have time for a nap; I’m on another panel in 45 minutes: “Summarize your South Pole adventure in three minutes or less.”]

One response to “Spectacular

  1. Pingback: Julie | David Pablo Cohn·

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