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Lawyer Vacations: Big Sky Country

October 24, 2011

This post is the first in a series on one of young lawyers’ favorite topics–vacations. This is also the blog debut of Matt Laver, financial secretary of the Young Lawyers Division’s Executive Committee.

If you are anything like me, i.e. a young attorney beholden to the billable hour, then there are only a few things that you really think about during the course of your work day. I no particular order, I consider the following: what will I eat for lunch, should I go to Starbucks, what work absolutely needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow, what will I eat for dinner, and when am I going to take a vacation.  

bear sign 

I am fortunate enough to work at a firm that encourages its employees to take vacation and get that much needed separation from a demanding profession.  Recently, along with two friends, also active members in the YLD, we traveled to Idaho (that’s right, Idaho) for a week.  We rented a house in the tiny town of Tetonia, located approximately 35 miles from Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Despite the short geographical distance between the two cities, it’s actually close to an hour and a half drive because they are separated by a mountain rife with treacherous curves, steep inclines and even more severe declines.  In fact, when we picked up our rental car, the salesperson warned us the only way to get down the mountain safely was to drive in second gear while riding the brake.  

Idaho, Wyoming and Montana border each other and are home to amazing national parks, most notably Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  Flying into Jackson Hole, the horizon is etched with the Grand Teton mountains which are a mass of grey/white/blue peaks capped with brilliant white snow.  This is a amazing sight, especially if, like me, you are born and raised in a metropolitan area. In my case, it has generated a sense of trepidation towards nature and the outdoors.  Needless to say, the Tetons presented me with a visual unlike anything I had ever seen before.     

Yellowstone National Park is interesting because there are so many different terrains within it.  At one moment, you could drive through green forest landscapes, and then suddenly, you find yourself in dry, desert-like conditions.  The park is so spread out you have no choice but to hop in the car and drive to see it properly, and even then, you cannot cover the breadth of the park.  In terms of rare animal watching, our best sightings occurred when we woke up pre-dawn, armed ourselves with coffee and a full tank of gas, and hit the road.  We were rewarded in short order when we had to yield to a bison . . . in the middle of the road.  That same day, we were also lucky enough to see a grizzly bear, along with two wolves, enjoying the remnants of a bison carcass.  
Buffalo on road
On the day of our pre-dawn wake up call, we were exhausted by 11am.  Naturally, we decided to drive 250 miles north to Bozeman, Montana.  Without question, heading into Montana was one of the most remarkable drives I’ve ever been on.  “Big Sky Country” doesn’t really make sense until you see it for yourself. Add in empty roadways and 75 mph speed limits and you are close to heaven.  We only stayed in Bozeman for a couple of hours, far less than the driving time it took us to get there, and I don’t think any of us questioned the decision.

My worst moment of the trip was the final hike we took in Yellowstone.  Walking past a sign advising that we were hiking through bear territory, I didn’t realize the real concern would be the incessant mosquitoes.  I have never been swarmed like this before (and I say this as someone who has been attacked by a cloud of bees), and foolishly did not have any sort of bug spray.  I like to think that for each of the million bugs that bit me on that day, I managed to dispatch at least half. Lesson learned, pack bug spray.
Big Sky Country
I am now back from the trip, and once again spending my days billing, drinking coffee and planning future meals and vacations.  But my trip to Big Sky Country is one I’ll never forget. For those of you who are also considering a getaway, I recommend Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

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