Funny thing about Jackson Hole. It is so magical in so many ways. The local population was right around four thousand people when last I looked, with over seven thousand hotel rooms within Jackson Hole proper. (Mind you, that is from memory so may be off a tad, but seems about right as best as I can recollect)
The billionaires have run a great many of the multi-millionaires out as they bought up all of the best lands and made it too expensive for all but the most absurdly rich to live there … yet they rub toe to toe with the common joe on a routine basis as well. I have seen rednecks and cowboys dancing with people of a variety of colors and gays and lesbians and super-rich and super-poor … all out dancing on the same dance floor and nobody caring at all who or what anyone else was … as life should be.
I have met famous actors and rubbed elbows with the super rich on horseback, in chance encounters and even in some of the art shows and other Western festivals I attended. As such, it is easy to imagine that there are some fair to middlin’ shin-digs in town from time to time … some big goings on … or fancy foo foo parties in case you missed it.
Now if there is anything nearly as important to the locals as the wildlife, it is the fishing. Jackson Hole was, at the time, home to a major International Flyfishing Tournament that brought in some of the most prominent names (in one of the most obscure sports) ever to be televised.
Being the Guest of Honor or Grand Marshall at the grand opening was no small affair, and in one particular year back in the nineties, the opening ceremonies were to be conducted by none other than former Presidents of these independent but united States of America, Jimmuh (The Peanut) Carter and Gerald R. (I am not that other guy) Ford.
Another funny thing about Jackson Hole … is when you work and build a reputation as a good hand with one locale, many others will hire you … and at the time, since it was not yet hunting season and the fishing season was … obviously just beginning, I happened to be working up at the local Ski stables … up at Snow King Stables for those who have never been there.
Now for those who have never worked there, the Stage Coach that runs around the park downtown is also owned and operated by Snow King Stables … and the horses used by the re-enactors in the gunfights, are provided by … drumroll please … Snow King Stables.
(I have seen far too many of these reenactors try to mount one of my horses backwards to call them cowboys by and large, though there are always exceptions too)
The Stage Coach, being so much a part of downtown Jackson Hole, was also used as part of the procession … to transport the Grand Marshall to the local opening area where the first cast would be made in accordance with whatever additional pomp and circumstance that they could come up with for such an event. In this case, that meant that the stage coach would be housing both former US president Gerald Ford and former US president Jimmy Carter … or so everybody thought.
One morning, some month or so before the event, I had a guy stinking of Quantico come in and ask for a two hour ride.
I asked him why they were bothering to send anyone out to check on me when they still had a complete dossier on me based on previous work I had done, and even locally with my work with them in the recovery of the C-130 off the Sleeping Indian.
He tried to pass it off as if he was on a routine witness protection detail.
In one of the most expensive hotels in one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the nation. I asked him if he was aware of the fact that the word “Gullible” is not even in the dictionary … and invited him to look it up … just to see if he was even half as gullible as he presumed me to be … at least at first.
I actually found myself liking this guy, despite the blatant lie he had told me about the reason behind his presence there.
During the course of the ride, I had discussed how keen the horses were and why they were such a valuable tool and how they could keep you alive in the woods.
In one of those moments that could never have happened had it been planned, we were discussing this when my horse had apparently noticed some commotion off in the woods. I pointed it out to the secret service agent at about the time a White Tail Deer came out from behind a brush. I noted that we would never have seen it had it not been for the horses, and I further informed him that, while the White Tail are very common in Quantico, they are a very rare and almost magical occurrence in Jackson Hole … and the magical thing goes back into Indian lore which I will not get into here, but … this ultimately took the conversation in the direction of hunting … and firearms.
I pointed out that he already had a large list of arsenal available from our conversation back when Clinton had been in town … our conversation with the Secret Service, not with this agent in particular.
Ultimately, this turned in to a conversation about the nine millimeters they carry, the +P+ ammo and the lack of real penetration … and he had to go and ask about my little pocket pug .44 Special … and I had to go and humor him with the truth … and one thing led to another.
What do you mean it will pierce grade three military kevlar he asked?
While I got in trouble for being back late on that ride, I had booked a full day ride with him before he left … though we would certainly not spend all of it in the saddle.
He ended up asking if there was some place we could go light off a few rounds, which of course he knew I had a few locations … and yeah, one of them was within a couple of hours riding distance … and sure, I would love to go shoot … but I only had a few “toys” with me at the time … as the long arms tended to make the “dudes” (or City Slickers) nervous … and the boss to some degree as well.
The only thing he really had any interest in at all was my little pocket .44 Special. He even had the decency to bring an older, Grade 3 Military Kevlar Bullet Proof Vest with him, wanting me to make good on my claims about being able to penetrate such a defensive measure … which I did … with ease … with the first shot … and with each and every ensuing shot I made … and then he did … numerous times … much to his delight I should note.
Another funny thing about Jackson Hole, sometimes the Grand Marshalls just do not show up. I cannot for the life of me figure out why not, but Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford never showed up to ride in our stage coach for the flyfishing tournament that year.
Let us know what you think please!