Out on the Razzle in America

United Kingdom
Freelance writer, literary graduate and minor lad. In America for pleasure, not business. I've never been before, so I thought I should. Should I have done it all at once? Can it all be done at once? Only one way to find out...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Jackson Hole, into Utah

Jackson is a lovely ski resort, almost surrounded by a curve of mountains, forming its titular 'Hole'. Wooden boards line almost every shopfront, and covered walkways shelter the sidewalks moving out from the central square and its four arches composed of shed Elk antlers. It's very western and almost painfully cool, an image exaggerated by the numerous boutiques, art galleries and pricey restaurants that cannot serve local elk because the law forbids the sale of wild game in restaurants, which serve Canadian farmed elk instead.

Nowhere is more Jackson-Holey than the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, a fantastically kitsch establishment on the square that manages to blend tourist nonsense with actual quality: saddles replace barstools, (they don't rotate, so you only face beerwards); cases contain the stuffed remains of local wildlife, including two mountain lion that frame the dancefloor; the rearing form of a grizzly bear bears a plaque remembering the story of C. Dale Petersen, one of only two men known to have killed a bear without the use of weaponry. Apparently, after encountering the already rattled creature, Petersen and it became engaged in a scuffle, whereupon he forced his hand down its throat, and bit its jugular. It having passed out, he clubbed it to death. Not a tactic I'm planning to try, but each to his own.

Continuing southwest, we moved towards the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City, home of mormons in suspiciously short skirts and the fantastic Polygamy Porter, its label showing a carousing group with the slogan "why have just one?". As for the faith, they use the words journey, trial and promise in a manner that is almost retro Old Testament, while the emphasis on family unity and hard work in the face of adversity is pretty understandable given the location they chose for their city, which smacks of tiredness and resignation in hindsight, considering California was in their path.

Mormons are terribly nice, in an inoffensive, evangelical way. I don't find any of the religion any more difficult to believe than any other brand of Christianity. It is clearly a rehash of ancient, particularly old testament ideas, branded rather clumsily by archaic haths and believeths that litter the early scriptures and points to a backward-reaching attempt at self-justification. The questions as to why there is no alternative record for the lost tribes of the americas, or indeed any record here, and as to why it took a european to discover the lost scriptures, remain awkwardly unanswered. Is it any more difficult to believe that angels spoke to a man two hundred years ago than it is to believe that it happened two thousand years ago? Not for me. The religion itself as well though, is not for me. The porter meanwhile, is another matter entirely.

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