I met Bud this past week while cruising along Highway 191 in Jackson, Wyoming.
He was the only other companion, besides a moose here or there, that my friends and I came across during our picturesque drive along this scenic mountain road'and he strangely seemed almost more at home there than our furry friends.
We ran into Bud cruising around in his old, beaten down maroon Subaru wagon, while traversing down to the river. Bud was coming back up and his car died right in front of ours.
He noticed the University of Wisconsin sticker on our car and wondered in amazement what we were doing way out in Wyoming. We told him we had driven out for spring break and were skiing at Jackson Hole for the week.
He proceeded then to tell us that he had spent several years of his life working at Snow King, a smaller, local hill in town, and that he had once dated the daughter of the owner of Jackson Hole. He said that she had dreads at the time and was a snowboarder, and that when her dad found out that some local ski bum'several years his daughter's senior'was sleeping in his guesthouse, that that was the end of that.
We, unfortunately, did not have a story as interesting as his to come back with and so he drove on, wishing us luck and hoping we enjoyed our stay in Jackson.
Our next run-in with Bud occurred a little further down the road at a hot springs we had stopped at to test out the temperature. Bud, this time coming from the opposite direction from where we had first seen him, recognized our car and quickly pulled over.
He asked us what we were doing and then told us, really only half jokingly, that he would jump in too but was afraid he would get the water too dirty. Then, cracking a Bud Light, he went on to inform us that he had just the day before quit his job as a ranch hand and so was now officially retired.
He said an argument with his boss over whether or not Atlanta was in the central time zone prompted this bold career move and then asked us if we got high.
Bud seems to have lived quite the interesting life. He claims to own a plaque given to him by the Secret Service for his help during a recent visit by Jackson resident Dick Cheney, and in the same breath, also insists that Jackson has the best jail cells in the state (much nicer than those found in his native city of Cheyenne).
Peering into Bud's wagon I was able to spot among the clutter a tent, a sleeping bag and a bag of clothes.
He probably had everything he owned inside that car and he was probably content with how much room still remained.
I don't know if I will ever fulfill my life-long dream of becoming a ski bum, and if I do, I guess deep down I really hope I don't end up like Bud'drunk, possessionless and content spending my time telling tales to college-aged tourists'but in a weird sort of way, it's a type of life to admire.
We did end up seeing Bud once before heading back towards town and it was on a flat stretch of road where his car was coming towards ours. We did not stop to talk to him this time but instead honked and waved.
Bud held up his right hand in acknowledgement, beer can and all, and continued back into the mountains, enjoying the fruits of retirement.