America has long been one of those places I’ve had a real obsession with and yet, until now, explored very little of. I’ve been to L.A a handful of times, the same with New York, but have barely spent anytime in the thick of this vast country. Blame cinema or growing up on a diet of Americana books and TV, but I’ve long dreamt of roaming America’s wide open planes and seemingly infinite roads, reenacting scenes from The Horse Whisperer and just about every Clint Eastwood movie as I went. I know, I’m one big walking cliche at times but sometimes the best things in life are cliches for a reason.
So when the opportunity to do just that this Autumn came up thanks to a dream project with Olympus cameras (more on that soon), I realised there was no better time than now to make it happen rather than putting it off to that distant ‘one day’. I was aiming to be covering four states in a week combining flying and driving to fit it all in. Starting in Wyoming, followed by a brief stopover in Arizona, up and over the border into Utah before heading back across Arizona and finishing up in Colorado, all in a whirlwind 8 days. First up was Jackson in Wyoming, one of those places that prompts such an overwhelming positive response in people when I told them I was going, I was excited to see what all the fuss is about. Jackson’s one of those quintessential original Wild West towns complete with everything you want to fulfill that cliche dream. Cowboy bars with burgers served in baskets and old saddles as stools, entire stores dedicated to cowboy hats, boots, crystals and salt water taffy, cabin-esque motels and a smattering of new-wave bakeries and delis for hot ciders, sandwiches and eggs. But it’s really what surrounds Jackson that keeps people coming back for more… The landscape here was breathtaking, so much so that even a ‘basic hike’ the hotel recommended to us one morning, more a ‘local’s hike’ they said, was beyond stunning. Just keep your bear spray handy…
We were lucky enough to get to stay at Amangani, one of the original Aman properties, just outside Jackson with views reaching over the valley below. Just like every Aman property, there’s that overwhelming sense of zen with clean lines and minimalist design, but fused with local touches like an abundance of timber, hides, locally-made beauty products and Native American artifacts from the surrounding area. The hotel manages to feel cavernous and cosy all at once with minimal and warm perfectly-formed rooms with a Clueless-esque remote control fireplace I became slightly obsessed with. The surrounding nature made me want to spend all my time outside, whether that was in Amangani’s hot tub as the temperature plummeted to zero degrees or out riding over Spring Creek.
Coming back to the cosiness of Amamgani every afternoon and having a locally-sourced supper by a roaring fire (I am living for these cliches) made braving the cold and not feeling your feet for a few hours oh so worth it. I’m a summer-lover through and through (writing this in the Maldives which is kind of hilarious and ironic) but there’s something kind of relaxing about being busy somewhere cold and getting that satisfying kind of cosiness back indoors that sends you into a coma-like sleep every night. Coming off the back of one of the busiest month’s I’ve ever had, at the end of which I felt like I might be about to self-combust, I can find it hard to just switch off and lie horizontal on a beach without some kind of slow unwind first. My mind takes longer to decompress these days and thus walking, roaming, riding, playing pool and swimming in a steamy pool (and a fair amount of dosing off in front of Netflix) made me relax without letting me get all up in my head too much. Anyone who deals with stress in a similar way to me might get this… Anyone who doesn’t might think I sound like a lunatic.
Long story short, Jackon instantly got under my skin. I loved this little creative hub with its Wild West and trapper trail roots, beyond beautiful scenery and plenty to keep you going both inside and out. As with every place I go to and really, really like I rapidly started imagining upping sticks, moving there and becoming that person that hikes every morning and has a whole portion of wardrobe dedicated to thermals. Not likely to happen, but always a sign of really, truly loving the spirit of place for me at least.
We were treated to 7 inches of snow on our last morning and went out for a guided nature drive in the hope of seeing buffalo, bears, wolves and more… Wolves are pretty rare in Grand Teton National Park, better to head to Yellowstone, but we did get to see a bear stuffing his face as he prepped for hibernation. Needless to say, we instantly connected. I’ll be back to see wild wolves one day (always been a dream) but it was pretty special so see a brown bear in all his snacking glory. We also saw bison, buffalo and moose on our travels too and with an amazing guide in tow, even the smallest speck was spotted from miles away and primed under a little pop-up telescope.
I think it must be the child in me but there’s something insanely relaxing about being driven round in a warm car whilst doing nothing but looking out of the window, especially when out of the window looks like this… The light changed from that cold, blue dawn over snow to bright, warm sun that made all the autumnal tones pop, even under a blanket of white. It really was the most beautiful morning and made me feel festive a good two months too early.
Black puffa jacket | H&M
Cashmere hoodie | Vince
Fleece hat | Urban Outfitters
Fleece grey hoodie | Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses | Rayban
Brown hiking boots | Danner at Free People
Cat eye sunglasses | Adam Selman X Le Specs
Grey jeans | Citizens of Humanity
Blue jeans | Re/Done
Khanki jumper | Nili Lotan
Beret | Urban Outfitters
Swimsuit | Matteau
Cream jumper | JW Anderson X Uniqlo
Brown jeans | Aritzia
Furry loafers | Love Stories
Blue suede bucket bag | Simon Miller