Sense of Place

Awestruck in Teton Valley

Story and Photos by Ryan C. Daley

Driving into Driggs on Scenic Idaho Route 33, I notice that the green sign still reads “Pop. 1660.” Though it’s been growing, we have no mall, no chain stores, no fast food, and not long ago the county added just its second traffic light. Neither state we border, Idaho and Wyoming (hence one of the area’s nicknames, “Wydaho,”) has a professional sports team, and the tallest building in a few hundred square miles is a mere twelve stories.

To me, the situation is the opposite: there is so much to do that we must learn to pace ourselves to it. It seems around every corner, I learn of somewhere else I need to hike, ski, bike, paddle, hunt or fish.  It’s overwhelming, actually—many lifetimes worth of adventure.  Travel aside, I often think everything I could ever need is right here.

My wife and I had moved to Driggs after one of those “it must be destiny” moments more than three years ago now. We had purchased a piece of land with a view of the Tetons and had plans to build a retirement home far in the future.  At thirty-three, and only six months after the purchase, I was offered an opportunity to take a job in Jackson Hole. Three months later we left Denver, our home of more than twelve years, and started building our forever home in Teton Valley about thirty years ahead of schedule. The only obstacle: taking a commuter bus forty-five minutes over a brutal and avalanche-prone mountain pass five days a week.  Some folks from Denver ask me if it was worth it. The truthful answer is, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I was meant to be here. If there is such a thing as a soul, it had been here all along—I merely had to come back home to it.

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