Rocky Mountain, Brights and Darks


By Andrew Belonsky

Eight months after giving up booze, the writer finds himself in his innocence's final frontier.

Photography by Andrew Belonsky.

I sat next to Stephen Price at dinner my first night in Jackson Hole. He owns Spring Creek Ranch, the resort that hosted a trio of journalists sent to experience a Wyoming winter, and I feared he'd spend the next few hours force feeding me a sales pitch. Instead, he spent most of the meal telling me about himself and his family.

Born in New Jersey to a school teacher mother and a father who sold millworks around New England, Price moved to Jackson Hole in 1990 and today, at 57, looks like Tom Skerritt's ruddier, gaunter younger brother, only with a bushier moustache. He has four children, including two 11-year-old sons adopted from Russia and a 4-year-old daughter; he admits to having a temper and he told me he once attended the same GOP fundraiser as Dick Cheney, one of the varied celebrities who have homes in this red state. Flaming liberal Harrison Ford is another.

Price is the youngest of three brothers, the eldest of whom was named Jonathan. In 1971, the year after he graduated from Georgetown University, Jonathan Price moved to Europe and eventually settled in what was then West Germany. It was while there that he came out to his family in 1984, fell in love and later found out that he was HIV positive. In 1991, Jonathan came to visit his brother in Jackson Hole. Local reaction to an HIV positive person was mixed. "It was a difficult time," says Price. "It was a time when people did not know much about AIDS. Some folks kept their distance, but others stepped right up. One in particular, an old timer wrangler, after I had told him my brother has AIDS, said, 'Stephen, people are people and we are going to make sure your brother has a good visit with you.'" A great time was had by all, says Price. Jonathan died one year later. He was 42.

Stephen teared up, "I still believe Jonathan and the others are out there, in the sky, so do me a favor: when you get back to your room, look up at the sky and look at the stars — because I can't." The brusque, weather-worn and vividly masculine man stopped before he straight up started crying.