A City Guy Goes To A National Park
Years ago I had a friend who lived right next to an ‘L’ stop in Chicago. I asked him once, in between trains running past his kitchen window, how he could live with the noise. “You don’t even notice after a while,” he said.
I have to be honest, there is something comforting about the deafening noises of urban life. I actually thought I would miss them while in Wyoming.
While preparing for the @American_Latino Expedition, I started thinking about duality. A lot of Latinos have to live dual lives. Maybe it’s a case of being Spanish dominant at home and speaking English exclusively outside the home. Another way we exhibit duality could be in how we behave at home in our neighborhood and how we act at school and work. After visiting REI to get outfitted for the Expedition, I wondered about another example of duality. Are there men and women who live in big cities, but can’t wait to escape into national parks, lodges, and campgrounds on the weekends?
And could I be one of them?
The day after my first night at Togwotee Mountain Lodge I joked on social media that I had survived without being eaten by a bear. A friend replied and said that I watch too many scary “cabin in the woods” type movies. She’s right. For a lot of us in the inner city, our perception of spending time in remote areas comes from film and television.
“Are you OK?” asked my youngest sister on a daily basis via text without a hint of irony. The thought that I would meet some kind of tragic, violent end was ever on the minds of people back home. It seems silly, but for many of us who know nothing but the inner city, rural and wild areas seem scary and full of danger. And the reverse might be true for people visiting big cities who are from remote areas.
The reality is that the Togwotee staff talked to us about animal safety and I felt safe. In fact, I didn’t see so much as a squirrel down by the cabins the whole stay there. The closest that I can verify being near a bear happened in a shop just off the main square of Jackson, Wyoming.
Mornings at Togwotee were my favorite because as I would walk the gravel path up to the main lodge from the cabins, the sunrise would cut through the pines and make the whole place feel magical. Turns out I didn’t miss the deafening noises of urban life.
Up at the main lodge the staff greeted us with warm smiles no matter the time of day we showed up. And once again, my favorite time of day was breakfast where I’d load up my plate with bacon and biscuits ‘n gravy.
On the last day of #ALEx14 we were treated to a horseback ride through some trails around the lodge. It was my first time on a horse even though I have an uncle who raises horses in his backyard in Compton. If you’re ever visiting Grand Teton National Park, take a horseback ride at Togwotee and ask to ride Pete. I only wish I had the opportunity to hike the trails around the lodge because they were filled with the flora and signs of fauna I went to Wyoming hoping to see.
But I now have a reason to go back and visit Togwotee. There wasn’t anything about this place that I didn’t like. Even the laundry room was quaint.
While I didn’t come across any other Latinos at Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (outside of National Park Service Rangers), I know there are others out there.
Are you a Latino that lives in a big city, but counts the days and minutes until you can head out into a national park?
Find me using the #ALEx14 hashtag and tell me about what your life is like, I’m eager to know more about this.
Get to know more about Ramon Gonzalez by clicking here.