An arch of white antlers stood at the town square of Jackson Hole
. Personally, I didn't know what to make of it. Antlers to me meant hunting and death (shrug)
. It blends in with the cowboy theme of the city, alright. It stood against a beautiful backdrop of mountain ranges -- a welcome sight for someone like me who has lived for quite a while in flatland Chicago. Fortunately, the arch had a sign that says it has stood there since 1960. But most importantly, it says that these antlers came from the National Elk Refuge
nearby where local boy scouts pick them from bulls who shed their antlers each spring. Oh geez -- they were naturally shed by the elk! What a relief! I thought elks were intentionally killed just to make these arches. That would be a very stupid idea, in my opinion.
It's hard not to notice the large neon signs of a cowboy-themed restaurant which is just across the arch of white antlers -- just at the time when I was questioning myself about what I eat and even contemplating on going vegan. Please do not get me wrong. I am not to judge the choices
people make when it comes to what they eat on the dining table. I guess I have just come to a point in my life when I realize I am very blessed to be able to enjoy food, cooking, and baking. Having said that, I start to wonder where do my ingredients come from? I got myself to read books and watch documentaries about this matter. I learned about how they "unfarm" cows and chicken. I learned about how these animals are breed and treated quite unnaturally these days that most of them grow up and never step on grass and feel the sunshine on their back.
We had dinner in a place aptly named Cowboy Bar. As expected, beef and bison steaks take centerstage in this restaurant's menu but, my friend and I decided to split a dish of panfried fish. I didn't want to think about where they got their fish at that point, but at the moment, I was not in the mood for red meat. I smirked at what was written at the bottom of the menu: “We Fry Foods and Cell Phones in Peanut Oil”. I consider myself one of those people who do
not have a problem not carrying a cellphone at all times. I think it is healthy to disconnect from urban life from time to time. Now that we are in the country, I am starting to enjoy the disconnect, and just be outdoors.
We passed by a small green store named Jackson Mercantile. Just when I was trying to disconnet from the hustle and bustle of daily work, it reminded me of my company's name - the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Ofcourse, it is just a store, but as I peeked inside, I saw the usual magnet souvenirs, huckleberry jams, postcards, and the like. But what caught my attention was the number of stuffed wild animals inside. I do not mean stuffed toys; I mean taxidermied animals. You know, like those in a museum. Then again I think about the meat we eat, and I ask myself why do we humans have to use animals to sustain ourselves? Is it really a kill-or-get-killed kind of world? Despite these, I really do not seek a definite answer. I just let these experiences make me more aware.
Our beloved ring fighter Manny Pacquiao
is in an important match so we walked around
town square and approached the very few sports bar and grill in the area. We asked if they had the boxing match on screen, even if we have to pay, but unfortunately, they don't. Not surprisingly, they know who Manny Pacquiao
is! Back at the hotel, we scoured the internet and found a webcast that froze every 10 seconds. It was worth the trouble, ofcourse he won the match!
Today is pretty amazing. It does not happen everyday to be in four states in one day! First, I took off from Chicago, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. We met up with our friends from there who also came from Manila, Philippines and Toronto, Canada. From the airport in Salt Lake City, we rented a car that took us to Jackson Hole, Wyoming via Idaho. Pretty neat! .. and this trip is just getting started...
Grand Teton National Park (and Taoism)
Despite the rain, we drove for an hour north to the Grand Teton National Park. We drove round and round the park to start our wildlife sightseeing adventure. We easily found the elks which were easy to spot with their antlers and white butts. We saw a bison
from afar but we were most stunned by the sight of a moose which didn't seem bothered by us. He chewed his food as we took pictures of him.
As we continue to drive around and see these beautiful animals, I start to think about Taoism
. I am not a Taoist but I appreciate its central concept of living in harmony with the natural world. Taoists believe that prior to how we live to day, we used to be able to communicate with animals and live in total
harmony with them. I like that. I really, really like that. I know I sound like a kid, but a big part of me wants to believe that. The society that I know now have come to disconnect from the natural world, even disrupting the natural habitat of plants and animals who have been on this earth long before we did. This thougt saddens me, but atleast I have this chance to enjoy nature, and the small choices I can make everyday to lessen my negative impact to nature.
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