Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 1969 - 70

Theme ~ My 50 Years in America 

After getting my divorce in Idaho, I decided to move to Jackson, Wyoming for the winter. I had visited the area a few times during my stay in Idaho Falls and felt it would be a good place to go and heal after all the trauma of 1969. 

Located in western Wyoming, Jackson Hole is a valley that sits at an altitude of around 6,500 feet, bordered by the Teton Range to the west and the Gros Ventre Range to the east.  The Snake River runs through the valley and Jackson Lake is its largest lake. 

I met these two in Yellowstone and gave them a ride to Jackson and a we became good friends after that. Here Linda and her boyfriend check out Jackson Lake.

A popular tourist destination, Jackson Hole offers skiing in the winter, dude ranches, hunting, wildlife sightings, and wonderful scenery with many photo opportunities the rest of the year. The National Elk Preserve, home to the world's largest elk herd, is located in the valley. 

I lived there from November 1969 to the end of February 1970 when Jackson was still a very small town. Back then, hippies from California had migrated to the mountains and lived in trailers spread out around the edges of town. Cowboys worked on the large ranches outside town and as guides for hunters in the fall. There was a lot of animosity between hippies and cowboys, much of it having to do with Vietnam; many cowboys had served in the war, while many hippies had done their best to avoid being drafted. Long hair was another, but much sillier, issue.

Writers, artists, and photographers were also drawn to Jackson Hole. They were more my kind of people and I made some new friends. Then there were the locals, who owned or managed restaurants, motels, gift shops, art galleries and grocery stores. 

This is where I lived, just to the left. We were often surrounded by packs of dogs.

And this was the cutest dog of all. I still remember him, flying through the snow, so happy.

I made friends with a young women and shared a trailer with her. Then I got a job as a waitress in an Italian restaurant on the main street. I had never been a waitress in my life, so I had to learn fast. It was pretty scary at first, particularly breakfast with all those darned eggs: Up, over easy, this way and that, phew!  I did other things too in order to make money. Once, I cleaned a wealthy woman’s refrigerator. Not much fun, but as I drove up to her gorgeous home on a clear and sparkly winter’s day, her entire yard was full of moose.  A sight I will never forget.

I lived in Jackson from the beginning of November to the end of February, so I experienced fall and winter there. We often hiked in the forest, where the mountains were reflected in clear lakes and the sounds of the rutting season were all around us, as moose, elk and big horn sheep clashed horns, fighting for their right to mate. 

With winter came snow and harsh temperatures ~ I remember very, very cold nights of minus 25 - 30F (-32 to -34C). Being Swedish and having lived on the East Coast, I was often approached by California kids to drive their cars on snowy roads and up hills they had no idea how to navigate. I always enjoyed this, sort of gleefully. 

The ski resort, which was new then and I imagine much smaller than it is now.

We often drove out to Teton Village, the newly built ski resort, to sit and drink cider or hot chocolate by some huge fireplace in the great room of one hotel or another. Other times we’d drink beer and dance with cowboys at the Silver Dollar bar in town. 

Looking back, I know my experiences in Jackson Hole helped me heal after my divorce. Nature more than people, I think. The incredible Grand Teton mountains, stretching their rugged peaks toward the sky; millions of stars above as I walked home from work on cold winter nights; packs of dogs following me around, sniffing for treats; riding with cowboys and seeing big horn sheep clash horns high up in the mountains; crossing a river on horseback as it began to snow. 

After I went back to Princeton, I knew that some day I would live in the West. And less than two years later, I was on my way cross country in a VW Bug with a nice guy from Philadelphia. More about that trip later in the A to Z. 

The Teton Range

Source: Wikipedia for photos other than mine. 

Note: While there are thousands of gorgeous photos of Jackson Hole and the Teton Range on the Internet, I decided to use my own. Very old now, but meaningful to me.


Some of you commented on my need to go to Idaho to get a divorce: In 1969, only two states, Nevada and Idaho, granted no-fault divorces after a six-week residency. You could also go to Mexico ~ that was it. I talk about this in my post about New Mexico, 1969, which comes before what you just read, chronologically. In that post, I will also share how my friends, Bill and Anne, a wonderful couple, much older than I, helped me get to the  western United States. 


  1. I've always wanted to visit Jackson Hole. Someday!
    I can imagine nature was very healing. I know for me that would be much more beneficial than being around a lot of people.
    Love the photo of the dog bounding through the show!

  2. Wonderful True Adventure - Thank you.
    My Grandmother enjoyed thinking about the Grand Tetons and was constantly painting them. She had stacks of canvas - all of the mountains - using different color schemes.

    She would enjoy your story - and photos.
    love & love,

  3. A yard full of moose is a sight I'd never forget either.
    I drove out West with my father-in-law and we stopped in Jackson Hole, checked out a bunch of sights. Beautiful spot. I can understand how the area could help you heal.

  4. i much prefer personal photos over the internet ones, and i would have loved the OLD Jackson Hole over the New one. and really would like the 1887 Jackson Hole... when i came to FL in 1984 and filed for divorce i had to be a resident for 6 months to get one. i could have gotten one in Georgia in 30 days if i went to the county where we got married, but since i might not have survived going there i opted for the 6 months here... and so glad i did, while waiting i met Bob and we have been married for 28 years

  5. The landscape of trees/water/mountains/trails all helped to heal your soul, Inger. I love your photos because I know they are yours which makes your recounting of your tail that much more real.

    What beautiful country! No wonder you loved it there and your soul was very grateful.


  6. It sounds like an amazing place! I love your photos. That dog bounding towards the camera made me laugh, what a cutie!

  7. looks like a great place to hubby was born in Thermopolis....

  8. When I saw the dates that you lived there, my first thought was that winter in Jackson is bitter cold. It is such a beautiful and majestic place; the perfect place to heal. You chose well. (and thanks for the no-fault explanation)

  9. Yes, Jackson is quite beautiful! Once again, thanks for sharing!!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  10. I can almost smell the crisp, cold, clean air!

  11. Hi Inger, I liked this story about Jackson Hole. I wanted to do what you did when I was a teen.(travel around the US, and see the sights)Then, life intervened and I decided to head to New Zealand via Canada. Never made it that far, got to British Columbia and declared it HOME.

    I came to Canada from Georgia, and have never looked back. The west coast suited me perfectly. I found the south humid, and too hot, I need the cool north and its green old forests. I love the oceans and mountains! (former flatlanders are easily impressed by height)

    I hope you'll create a tab with all these adventures in the US after you're done with the A to Z, Inger. I did that with my Paris posts from last year. Just a suggestion, but I'm sure others would love to hear about your adventures.

  12. Oh Inger I LOVE YOUR PHOTOS no need to use others they are awesome. What a great time you had I can imagine those memories stick forever. I am enjoying them thank you for sharing. Hug B

  13. it sounds like a great place to spend a winter - at least one. :) the clash of cultures, though, at that time must have been something...

  14. What a fascinating post. Thanks for sharing your photos and memories.


  15. What an interesting place and time!

  16. Inger, you are such a brave woman to have made that broad journey from Sweden and across a huge America. You should/have to write a book, just describing exactly what you said here.

  17. A-J have been fascinating--can't wait to read the rest!!

  18. I much prefer your photos to stock internet photos. Thanks for explaining the need to go to Idaho for the divorce.

  19. Personal photos, I think, are better, because they are "you." Sounds like a fascinating place to spend a winter.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

  20. I love seeing your personal photos. One day I'd like to visit Jackson Hole. But not in winter.

  21. Kul att du bott på lite olika ställen , över hela landet ju. Häftigt med de äldre bilderna.
    Nu skall vi få upp mott +15 grader varmt på sö vi har ännu mycket snö i trädgården.

  22. Nature does heal - both body and spirit!

    and I LOVE YOUR PHOTOS! No need to use anyone elses - seriously.

  23. My parents visited Jackson Hole and I hope to someday. I like your old personal pictures.

  24. Inger, your photos are much better than anything you could find elsewhere. I am enjoying learning about your life. Cannot imagine the winter weather!

  25. Fascinating!
    Jackson's Hole has grown, but it's still a beautiful place.

  26. Such a cool story. I love your photos. What beautiful country. I've been through Jackson Hole in the summer and it was amazing. Winter there in 1969 sounds so awesome with the snow dogs and everything.

  27. I just cannot get over what an interesting and adventure filled life you have had.

    Gumption, you are filled with gumption.

  28. I doubt I would have ever left Jackson Hole -- from looking at your photos! xo

  29. Just found your blog, and I'm glad I did. We love love Jackson Hole! We live and travel full time in our RV and we spent all last summer up there camped by the Gros Ventre river. We will be staying there again this year, and Idaho too. I will be back to visit you blog.

  30. What a brave woman you are, Inger! Are all Swedes this tough!! lol
    What magnificent country that is too! All those experiences you had there and to think that this wouldn't have happened if you stayed married!!! A positive comes from a negative situation....all balancing out, I'd say.
    great post and photos Inger. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Hi Inger .. you were going through rather a lot - but this is a live and learn time isn't it .. and you seem to have been able to make friends and were able to join in with all the activities ..

    ... and I agree waitressing is a 'fun' job!!

    Cheers Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


Related Posts with Thumbnails