Let me get this straight right away: I realize Jackson is not representative of Wyoming. Back in the ‘80s, when I first visited the town, it was a relaxed sort of place that just happened to have the benefit of being very close to some spectacular scenery, which included two national parks. There were no fancy hotels such as The Amangani and The Four Seasons, no log McMansions, and no celebrities (though Harrison Ford might have cashed his Star Wars checks by then and possibly come here). The shops were still pretty much low-key, the restaurants fairly basic, and there was an air that keeping its western identity was what Jackson wanted to do. Well, times have changed and Jackson is not Pinedale.
But what is the western identity here? What is Wyoming? For a while, every time I wrote friends that I was going to Wyoming, Google would strategically place in my side borders advertisements for land or home sales in Wyoming. Most of these were ranches being broken up into subdivisions. Now I hear stories of big corporations and wealthy businessmen buying up ranches to run as playgrounds, polo ponies replacing cutting horses, and the old family ranches being driven out land rich, cash poor when it comes to inheritance tax.
Jackson, with its fancy art galleries and over-priced alligator boots, has, I guess, found a way to survive. Yet few of the people I meet are, like myself, from around here. When my daughter flew in one year from Bogota, Colombia, sixteen hours and three flights, the taxi driver who collected her late at night was from…Colombia. It’s a changing world and Jackson—and Wyoming—is adapting the best way it can. And we’re still enjoying the scenery.