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Lazy Trail

by Richie
Lazy Trail

Colter Bay
Grand Teton National Park
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The beautiful thing about motor-homing is that you’re always home. Sleeping in your own comfy bed, a pantry full of favorite foods, clothes hanging neatly in a closet instead of crammed into a suitcase. And when you move from place to place, you never have to unpack.
Or, if you just want to have a lazy day and hang around in your pajamas, no one will argue about it. Today was one of those splendid slug days. Morning broke with a nippy 36 degrees, no reason to hurry out of bed. The campground was pleasantly quiet, so we lolled about with coffee and the Sunday New York Times ($7.50 at the gift shop, and worth every penny).
Around noon, we finally motivated enough to dress and walk a trail for about an hour. Then back to the coach for a wee snack and a nap. Later in the afternoon we took a bigger hike – really more of a slow shamble – around the Colter Bay Loop, stopping every few minutes to enjoy yet another superlative view of the Tetons.
Out on the trail, chubby-faced red squirrels sit low on pine branches and holler “Chat, chat” at passersby. Tiny grasshoppers with bright yellow wings give a loud Snap! as they fly – I called them snaphoppers. We’ve heard tell of bear, but have yet to see one. Probably because we’re singing loud cowboy songs as we walk – the recommended Bear Aware procedure.

Tomorrow we will travel to Yellowstone. We’ve been told that internet signal is very weak out there, so, there could be a delay in posting the blog.

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Colter Bay

by Richie
Colter Bay

Colter Bay Village
Grand Teton National Park
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Today we left Jackson and headed north to the far end of Teton National Park. Rich and Claire departed for home, and our friends Paul, Jane, and Frank are on their way to Yellowstone.

What makes the Tetons so extraordinary is that there are no foothills. The mountains heave skyward directly from the valley floor, making for fantastic views at every vantage point. This extensive valley is the “hole” in Jackson Hole. The valley is completely rimmed by mountain ranges, including the Tetons to the west. Indians found the hole so inhospitable they refused to go there in winter.

We are camped at Colter Bay, which is on the northern end of Jackson Lake. This is the best campground we have stayed at so far  – spacious sites set in a conifer forest at the lake’s edge.

 

Colter Bay is a destination stop in the park. There’s a large visitor center, a gift & grocery store, restaurants, and a marina. We had a lovely lunch here with our friends before they headed north.

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Pinnacles & Cowboys

by Richie
Pinnacles & Cowboys
Grand Teton National Park

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Four of us and the dog piled into a minivan and toured Grand Teton National Park.

First stop was the Rockefeller Preserve.  In 1932, John D. Rockefeller quietly bought all the open land leading up to the Tetons in order to save it from commercial development. His son, Laurence, recently donated a few thousand acres to the National Park, and this center was opened in 2008.

 

This magnificent structure is a contemplative center, meant to enhance your experience within the park. There are several rooms to wander, each presenting a different perspective. One of our favorites is the meditation room, in which the sounds of Tetons are played; rolling thunderstorms, trumpeting elk, eagle cries, and birdsongs. There is a large backlit mosaic of the mountain range, and on close inspection you discover with delight the picture is composed of 21,000 thumbnail images of the flora and fauna of the park.

A library filled with books and maps dedicated to the Grand Tetons is in yet another room of the Rockefeller Center. Off from the lobby, a full model of the valley shows all the hiking trails in wonderful detail. However, we won’t be wandering too far from the road, as there have been many bear sightings today.

 

We stopped for a picnic at Cottonwood Creek, where the views were outstanding and Shadow had a chance to splash in the cold mountain stream.

 

Jenny Lake was just up the road, and our last stop for the afternoon because a sudden storm blew over the Tetons. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in a matter of minutes, and we dodged downbursts all the way back to camp.
Evening found us at the rustic delights of the Bar J Chuckwagon. This long-running dinner theater is so entertaining that we visit every time we’re in Jackson. Steak dinner is grilled on site, and in a clever bit of orchestration they serve 700 folks in about 20 minutes. The Humphrey family of singing cowboys, a.k.a. the Bar J Wranglers, put on a show of music and comedy, and have some of the best harmonies I’ve been privileged to hear.
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The Four Winds

by Richie
The Four Winds

Jackson, Wyoming

Our band of intrepid travelers were scattered about today. Rich & Jane drove 50 miles north to fly fish the Salt River. Paul & Frank rented mountain bikes and trekked around Jackson’s fabled trails. Tim, Mom and I went shopping downtown.

Downtown Jackson is built around the town square, with a park in the center famous for its arches of elk antlers. Dad remembers in the early 70’s when that’s all there was to the town – antler arches and a valley full of elk. Times have changed, and now there’s stores, restaurants, and hotels aplenty.

The Alaskan Fur Company will sell you a pricey beaver coat, or next door you can buy a cheesy souvenirt-shirt for $12. The Silver Dollar Saloon has a long bar with real Morgans encased in the top, or you can sit on a saddle while you sip a sasparilla at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. A stagecoach ride will guide you around town.

 

We lunched at The Granary, which sits atop a high mesa. The views of the Teton mountains are excellent from the dining room. Today there was a visible line of wildfire smoke hovering above the valley floor. We’ve all been taking sneezing fits off and on.

In the afternoon, the dog and I went adventuring through an exclusive golf course community located across the street from our campground. The houses were stunning, and Shadow and I had a good long walk, occasionally trespassing.

 

 

 

 

 

The whole troop convened downtown in the evening for some late shopping and steak dinner. I returned to look at a turquoise necklace that had caught my attention earlier in the day, and my folks decided to purchase it for me as an early birthday present. Thank you, thank you!!!

 

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Snake River

by Richie
Snake River

Jackson, Wyoming

It was a relief to be settled in camp and not have to drive 400 miles today. We’ll be at this spot for a few more days.

Woke to a chilly morning – 40 degrees. Three of us took a float trip down the Snake River. Even though we were prepared with jackets, it was quite cold sitting in a big rubber boat under cloudy skies.

The Snake River is running swift this week. It’s fairly shallow and very clear, and you can see the large round river rocks on the bottom. We floated a tame section, not white water, but small rapids were present throughout. I was fascinated by the swirling patterns on the grey-green waters. A smoky haze from wildfires in Idaho is still lingering about the Tetons, so the view was not as clear as we have seen it in previous years.

We spotted half a dozen bald eagles, and flocks of funny merganser ducks who swim the rapids with ease. Beaver presence is evident also, with many half-chewed and fallen trees.

Bald Eagle
Ducks

 

Beaver Lodge

We caught up with the parents, Rich and Claire, in the afternoon. There are now seven intrepid travelers in our Wild West expedition, and one big dog. This evening we all enjoyed a chili supper at the cabins, including Shadow who got pot-lickins’.

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Jackson Hole

by Richie
Jackson Hole

Jackson, Wyoming
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Our Mantis Mascot

After 1500 miles of heading due west, we finally turned north toward the Grand Tetons. Another long high desert valley was traversed, and we stopped at Landers Cut-Off where remnants of the Oregon Trail are still visible. On a warm and windy rise, the soft sand of the old trail sifted into my shoes. Nearby were the bleached bones of a former antelope.

Oregon Trail
As we pressed further north, the terrain changed dramatically. We plunged into heaving foothills and followed the verdant path of the Hobart River.

 

Mid-afternoon we set up camp at Jackson Hole Campground on the Teton Village road and celebrated with some frosty local beer.

This campground caters to large motor coaches, and hoo boy there’s some big-uns here this week. We are the peewee of the group.
Giant Fifth Wheel with Porch
Prevost Bus with Custom Trailer

There’s also ultra modern cabins for rent here, and our friends Paul, Jane and Frank have joined us for the long Labor Day weekend.

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