“I’m moving to Jackson”. Four words uttered under my breath in hushed, revered tones upon hanging up the phone.

Sometimes you don’t realize how ready you were to move until after the fact. After you’ve put your home-away-from-home in the rearview mirror for what can only be a final time. Sure, there have been prior attempts to flee, but this one will endure. It takes 20/20 hindsight vision to see the daily warnings; all treated with an agnostic point of view. Time spent researching other ski towns should be enough to raise serious red flags that one’s time is up – especially when one starts weighing which suits current needs and desires most adequately in a detailed spreadsheet. Then there is the inevitable arrival of the slow stroll into one of the few watering holes in town, followed by an even slower glance around the bar, with the ultimate realization that you really don’t just lose your girlfriend, you really do just lose your turn.

It’s a liberating feeling to leave all accumulated baggage at the state line. Thanks but no thanks; you can have all the gossip and rumors. I really don’t have any use for them anymore, nor did I ever, thinking back on it. I’m sure another scandal is right around the corner to keep all briefly entertained.

The all too familiar U-Haul truck parked in front and full, a symbol of adventure and new beginnings. My trusty 1997 Honda Accord Wagon with ski racks on top is hooked to the back, and my two enormous dogs comfortably waiting alongside all my worldly possessions. “Come on girls, let’s go to Jackson”. With that I did a final lap out of Winter Park, Colorado, the place I called home for so many seasons. The place that influenced how I view the world, through a valley-shaped lens, in case you are wondering.

Johnny Cash began to sing and strum, and close to 500 miles in my migration remained as I passed the Winter Park Pub. The flood of memories was so overwhelming and thought-provoking a small tear welled up. Machismo being what it is, the moisture had a brief shelf life before dispersing into my sleeve.

Some may have dreaded the prospect of the drawn-out drive. Not me. I made the conscious decision to enjoy the 9+ hours. I could not wait to soak it all in, let the mind wander on the past 9 winters in Northern Colorado; speculate on what the next years in Jackson held in store. I embraced the flood of memories as they passed through my mind in a kaleidoscope-esque slideshow. I relished the hours of solitude, secure in the knowledge of what they do for one’s soul. As tradition dictates when moving out of state, I got out at the Wyoming border to breathe in the high desert air and snap a photo of the welcome sign. I never forgot to smile. Turn right off of Interstate 80 into Rock Springs, WY - a place to feel grateful that you live somewhere else - and 2/3 of the voyage complete. Continue north. Never forget for a second how fortunate you are as a human being to have opportunities like these in life. Feel the excitement surge through your veins as you get closer and closer. Feel the anticipation clench itself in your stomach.

Never dread the journey, treasure it as something special, because it is.