One major advantage of working remotely, of course, is that you no longer have to deal with this.
(I have the impression that the word “telecommuting” has fallen out of favor. Nobody wants to think about commuting, even in the context of avoiding it.)
It’s always a jolt to return to a city while traveling somewhere, and have to encounter the reality of rush hour. There’s nothing novel about it. I did this for quite a while back in the day, on the Long Island Expressway and in New Jersey.
It was worth it at the time. I loved my job.
Then I found myself lucky enough to do a job I could love without ever having to hit the brakes. Out here there is rarely any traffic to speak of (except during total eclipses of the sun and the high summer tourist season). Once during eclipse week I actually had to wait several minutes to take a left turn onto Horse Creek Road. Shocking!
“I think I’ll just slip into traffic,” my husband (that native New Yorker raised in Manhattan) will intone as he pulls onto the highway, with not a car in sight. It’s rarely difficult to catch a picture like this one, which I snapped from the passenger seat as we were heading toward town.
Nearly all the roads out here are two-lane, but I’m not at all nervous about passing. You don’t have to wait long until absolutely nobody is in sight coming the other direction.
The trade-off is that often we have to commute away for errands, such as visiting the county seat, going to a medical specialist, or shopping at a big box store. The larger towns are more than an hour away. So we do have something of a commute now and again.
This seemed a burden at first, but I’ve realized that my neighbors take it for granted. You have to go “down county” on Thursday. Big deal. I used to take the subway to the Bronx to see my ophthalmologist. Took just as long on the subway, and let’s not even talk about that view.
It can actually be a pleasure to take the drive down county, someone reminded me the other day. It’s nice to see how the view changes in different light as you cross the reservation.
I like to listen to the Native American station from Ethete, and rest my mind on thoughts of the people who crossed this plain long before my kind of folk did. How did they see these vistas?
The landmarks pass, just as they did in New York City. Not 14th Street, 34th Street, Times Square, crowds and noise and subway tiles, but Red Rocks. Crowheart Butte. Antelope there. Fort Washakie. Miles and miles of grass and sage and sky.
Now and again we have to head over the pass to Jackson, where we can’t avoid contending with traffic. Some people like Jackson. I think of it as something I have to endure, now and again. The compensation is eating at a Thai restaurant for a change.
The destination is a grind, but the journey is a reward. There’s the Pass in autumn, with morning fog rising from the slopes.
Again, observe the traffic.
I keep my eyes glued to the sides of the road for wildlife, but rarely see any. (More likely closer to home, I’ve found.) But neighbors told me there are grizzlies that hang around out here. I’ve seen their pictures on Facebook.
A few miles along from here, the vista opens up and you see those Tetons, which so many people travel so far to admire. (They’re the white stripe at left in the image, sunlit beneath the winter clouds.)
Personally, I prefer our own Winds and Absarokas, but it’s always pleasure to see these peaks looming up as we head to Jackson. We drive into the tangle, accomplish our errands, and head gratefully back toward Moran Junction, hoping not to encounter another jam.
What’s causing this slowdown? Ah, there’s a moose over there and people are pulling off and pulling out their binoculars.
As my husband would say: High-class problem.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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