Mountain Town Monologue

When I think of the idyllic mountain town, my mind strangely wanders to a place that I have never been: the Alps. In dreamy moments, like when the Powerball jackpot exceeds a few hundred million dollars and I find myself wondering what would I do if I won?, my answer is buy a little chalet (okay, a big chalet…truth be told, a castle) in a high mountain village tucked away in the Alps surrounded by the range’s iconic peaks.

Although the Alps remain the stuff of dreams me, I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the U.S.’s great mountain towns; and, of all the places I’ve visited, Jackson Hole stands out from the rest as the quintessential mountain town. With the iconic Tetons as a backdrop, a world-class ski resort, and the classic mountain town Main Street, it’s no wonder Jackson Hole attracts so many skiers, climbers, and outdoors enthusiasts. (In my Powerball dreams, I make sure to set aside a few million for a condo in Jackson Hole, you know, for when the castle gets dreary.)

Strangely, my most recent trip to Moab may have shattered my belief of what the dream mountain town looks like. While the sometimes-snowcapped La Sal Mountains comprise part of Moab’s skyline, neither snow nor mountains crack the top 10 things that first come to mind when thinking of Moab. In fact, Moab couldn’t be more different than my idealized Swiss village or Jackson Hole. In fact, Moab is probably more like the moon or Mars than either of the aforementioned places, as the landscape is characterized by its reddened earth, strange rock formations, and towering walls.

In spite of this, Moab—to me—might just be the perfect mountain town. Lying at the base of two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands), and mere miles from a handful of incredible state parks and recreation areas, Moab is a hub for everyone from base jumpers to climbers to hikers to tourists. More so, it also attracts dirt bikers, off-roaders, and a whole other subset of people that I am not even sure how to characterize. What makes the town special, though, is the way all of these groups manage to coexist. Moab is the type of place where it doesn’t matter what you did during the day, as long as you return that evening dusty, sunbaked, and shaking the sand out of everything you wore and used during the day.

Moab is the type of place where you’ll find a two-thousand dollar truck with a five-thousand-dollar bike in the bed, parked behind a brand new, lifted pickup truck outfitted with thousands of dollars of off-road accessories. It’s the type of place where you sit down for dinner and find yourself admiring the gobies on the hands of the person sitting across from you. Most of all, I am convinced Moab is the van life epicenter of the universe; I’ve never seen a higher concentration of pimped out vans anywhere.

Moab might not be the picture-perfect mountain town, but if I ever win Powerball, I could see myself spending some time there. Of course, it would have to be in true desert style—an Airstream with an old Tacoma pickup. (And a really expensive bike!)