Fall Colors in Grand Teton National Park

Fall has arrived, and although the weather has been hit or miss lately, the view continues to be spectacular.  Now we know why September is the third busiest month at Grand Teton National Park.  The colors are amazing.  The photos simply do not do justice to the colors.

As I was typing up this blog, I received a notification from Word Press, which is the site that I blog from.  It said today is the third anniversary of this blog!  I was not aware of that.  Amazing how time flies.  And thank you to those who have been following along on our journey.  September 30th will be our last day at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  It has been a great summer, and I will have more next week, wrapping up all of our recent activities and animal sightings.

This will just be a quick, picture filled blog, so enjoy!

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Quote for the day:  “Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” – Lauren DeStefano

Fire update, tourist time and graduation!

The road to Yellowstone National Park (South Entrance) from Grand Teton National Park has re-opened, thanks to the brave efforts of over two hundred fire fighters.  They spent a week battling the Berry Creek fire that had jumped over Jackson Lake and Highway 191/89.  The fire is still burning, but has been contained enough to keep the highway open.

We had a brief scare last week when a new fire started just 3 miles East of Luton’s Teton Cabins, on US Forest land.  It is believed someone had an illegal campfire which quickly grew out of control.  Because this fire was so close to homes and businesses, they worked to quickly extinguish this fire.  We watched several helicopters dump water on the fire, and they had it out in a few hours.  It made a few of our cabin guests very nervous though!  You can see the smoke and one of the helicopters in the photo below.

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Just 3 miles away

BOAT/DINNER CRUISE TRIP

Brad and Joanne, the owners of the cabins, surprised all of us with tickets on the Jackson Lake Dinner Cruise.  We only had a week to book the dinner though, as they were shutting down the cruise for the season.  The State of Idaho actually owns the water rights to Jackson Lake.  With it being so dry, the potato farmers have been requesting a lot of water this summer.  Apparently it was the farmers that paid for the dam on the lake many years ago, and in return they received the water rights.  They have been drawing down the lake at a rate of 1 foot every 5 days.  So we booked a Wednesday night cruise with Karen, Al and Jane.  If you look at the far left on the photo below, the water level is normally up to the trees.

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Jackson Lake marina

The boat leaves the marina and docks on an island close to Mount Moran.  The buffet dinner consisted of steak and trout.  The salad bar is served out of the canoe!

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a beautiful setting

We all enjoyed the boat ride over, as well as dinner.  I think Dan was still chewing in this photo!

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Jane, Karen, Al and Dan

After dinner we did a short hike up a steep hill and ha a great view of Mount Moran and the boat ramp on the island below.

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Mount Moran

FLOAT TRIP

A very popular “touristy to-do” in Grand Teton National Park is a float trip down the Snake River.  There are many companies that offer trips.  Barker-Ewing is the company that we recommend to our guests, as they will give them a discounted trip.  To reciprocate, Barker-Ewing gives all of the work campers a free trip.  We finally made time to book an evening float trip, and had a great time.  We would definitely recommend a float trip to anyone coming to the area.  Unlike whitewater rafting, this is more of a “lazy float” down an 8 mile stretch of the river.

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the boat launched ahead of ours

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having a good time!

We had good views of the evening sky over the Grand Tetons.

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Grand Tetons

And beautiful views down the Snake River.

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Snake River

We were fortunate to see plenty of wildlife along the way as well.

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a giant beaver home

Along with several beavers in the area.

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This beaver was busy carrying a tree branch!

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busy, busy, busy!

We saw quite a few bald eagles, and I was able to get a photo of one of them.

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a majestic bird

The highlight of our trip was seeing a mama and two baby moose.  Unfortunately, I was only able to capture a photo of one of the babies.  Mama and the other baby were too hidden from my view.

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Hello!

GRADUATION!

Back in June, when I was still wearing the boot on my foot, we were looking for things to do in the park that did not involve a lot of walking.  Karen suggested a ranger led talk on Menor’s Ferry.  During the talk, Ranger Casey mentioned the Junior Ranger program that they offer in the park (almost all of the national parks have programs).  When the Ranger mentioned the program was not just for young kids, but anyone “young at heart”, well that caught my attention!  One of the requirements of the program is to attend a Ranger led program in the park.  Check!

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Ranger Casey

The booklet that you have to complete has various activities, geared to different age groups.  All Junior Rangers have to complete various activities, from a hike in the park, to viewing some of the historical structures.  For the older kids (and the “young at heart”) there are additional math and science related activities.  (it’s always about math!)

After our ranger led program, I was reading the booklet and commented to Karen, Al and Dan that one of my activities is to pick up litter in the park.  So they all obliged and threw trash down on the ground for me to pick up!  (ummm….thanks?!)  So I studied up on the booklet, and worked on it over the summer.

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Once I got my boot off and was able to do more in the park, I continued on the program.  Last Wednesday I finally “graduated” and went back to the visitors center for my Junior Ranger oath and badge ceremony!  Al played the ‘pomp and circumstance’ graduation march on his Apple watch!

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an official Junior Ranger

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taking the oath

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my “official” badges

I would highly recommend this program to anyone.  It really forces you to take the time to learn a lot more about the park that you are visiting.

 

Quote for the day:  “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Visitors and Fires

For the past 6 weeks, fires have been burning all around us, but have not had much impact on us.  Things changed yesterday, after 20-25 mph winds started in the afternoon.  A small fire that was burning in a remote area of Grand Teton National Park jumped across Jackson Lake and spread over 5 miles.  The main highway from GTNP to Yellowstone National Park is now closed.  They had an emergency evacuation of Flagg Ranch and Lizard Creek Campground this morning.  The fire is about 20 miles from our location, and it is not headed our way.  However, with another afternoon of high winds expected, who knows what will happen.  I think the most popular website in the state of Wyoming right now is Incident Information.  You can click on that if you want to keep up with the fires in the area.

Work continues, but at a little slower pace this week.  This is a “transition time”, as we switch over from families with school-age children, to couples and families with toddlers.  By September 1st, we are back to full occupancy, for almost the entire month.  So we are enjoying our ‘calm before the storm’ which hopefully won’t involve any fire related issues!

FAMILY VISITS!

Our door is always open for visits from friends and family, and we have had two visits this month.  Our nieces, Carmen and Jasmine, were passing through on the way to Tacoma, Washington, and stayed overnight.  Jasmine, who graduated from Pharmacy School in May, has accepted a pharmacy position in Tacoma, Washington, and they were moving her stuff out west.  Makena was excited to have visitors!

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Carmen and Jasmine

After they left, Dan’s sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Doug drove out from Wisconsin to visit with us for a few days.  On their way out, they stopped in Custer, SD and met up with our friends Phil and Rudee at Crazy Horse, as well as visiting Mount Rushmore.  We were able to switch days with another couple at work, so we had three full days to play tourist.  We forgot how exhausting it is to be a tourist!  We were able to cram as much as we could in a very limited time.  There is just too much to see and do in three days.
Can you see Yellowstone in one day? No, but you can see a few of the highlights if you pack a lunch and plan on a long day visiting.  We discovered an Elk happily licking the salty grass right inside the West Thumb geyser basin. It is always fun to see wildlife up close.
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We have heard there has been an unusually high number of broken toilet seats in the park this year, due to visitors from countries not familiar with our bathroom protocol.  So I was a bit amused to find this diagram in a porta-pottie in the park.
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After our stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin, we headed towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, to see the Upper and Lower Falls.
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Upper Falls of Yellowstone

The Lower Falls were just as spectacular!

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Dan, Linda and Doug at Lower Falls

After a quick picnic lunch, we headed over to the Midway Geyser Basin, home to the most beautiful geyser in the world, (in my opinion), the Grand Prismatic Geyser.

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And no visit would be complete without a stop at Old Faithful!

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Old Faithful

We spent another day touring the Grand Tetons, seeing wildlife, and then we drove down to Jackson.  We walked around the town square and stopped in at the Famous Cowboy Bar for a cold beverage.

DSC03822 (1)Since all the barstools are saddles, Doug opted to recreate the cowboy on the bar’s roof!

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ride’em Doug!

Doug and Linda discovered when you are out West, anything goes for a vehicle.  You never know what will be parked outside on the street.

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Although the time went by way to fast, we did enjoy having Carmen and Jasmine, as well as Doug and Linda stop in for a visit.  Our door, wherever it may be parked, is always open!

Quote for the day:  “Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before  vacation?” – Zig Ziglar

Going to the Chapel…

Located within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park are two chapels, both of which are open daily to the public.  Both offer services on Sunday for park visitors and area residents, during the summer.  And weddings are held at both chapels, with a special permit through the national park service.

CHAPEL OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

Built in 1925, this is an Episcopal Church, affiliated with St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, WY.  It was built to provide local ranchers and residents a place of worship without having to make the 12 mile ride into Jackson, which was a treacherous trip at that time, before automobiles and roads were commonplace.

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Chapel of the Transfiguration

The cozy chapel seats 65 people, and does offer additional outdoor seating, weather permitting.  They do have a Christmas service, but you need your cross country skis, or snowshoes, to make it to the chapel.  The roads to the chapel are closed in the winter.

The window behind the altar offers a spectacular view of the Tetons.

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I think it might be hard to focus on the sermon, when you are staring out at this view!

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CHAPEL OF THE SACRED HEART

Built in 1937, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic Church, affiliated with Our Lady of the Mountains in Jackson, WY.  It is right on the shore of Jackson Lake.

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Unlike the other Chapel, it does not take advantage of the views of the lake, as there are no windows overlooking the lake.  My guess is the Priests want you to pay attention during Mass!

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No view out this altar!

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The chapel holds 115 people for mass.  The stations of the cross are very simple plaques.

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stations of the cross

AND A WEDDING TOO!

Well I can’t have a post about the chapels, without putting in some wedding photos!  The step-sister of our boss was getting married on Sunday, and they had the wedding on the grounds of our cabins.  I was working in the office that day, and fortunately all of my check-in’s for the day had arrived.  Many of our guests noticed several people all dressed up, and I mentioned there would be a wedding in the early evening.  They  all commented on what a beautiful setting it would be for a wedding.

Since all my office work was technically done, I decided to be a ‘wedding crasher’, and attended the small family wedding.  It was a nice ceremony, and Brad gave away his step-sister.

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Despite the clouds from a recent rainstorm, it was a beautiful backdrop for a wedding.

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ATTENTION BIRD NERDS

One final note, when I was out watering the planter boxes by the cabins, I noticed this small bird, or a large moth, pollinating the plants.  I have never seen this type of bird/moth before, so if anyone knows what it is, let me know!

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Quote for the day: “Faith makes all things possible.  Love makes all things easy.” – Dwight Moody

 

Road Trip!

Another couple asked to switch one of our off days, which resulted in us having 3 consecutive days off one week.  So we took advantage of the extended time off to go visit our friends Tom and Ellen in West Yellowstone, Montana.  We had an excellent time (despite not being able to do too much with my foot) and were able to get together with our former co-workers at Madison Crossing  from last summer.

Tom and Ellen had everyone over for a nice dinner, and Makena was on her best behavior helping Tom in the kitchen of their 5th wheel!

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The food was delicious, and it was great to catch up with everyone!

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Diane, our former co-worker, had everyone over for a campfire at her house.  It was an enjoyable evening, meeting new friends, and catching up with our old friends.  It’s one of the best things about this RV lifestyle!

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Of course, no visit to West Yellowstone would be complete without a visit to the local Packers bar, Bullwinkle’s (Packer fans are everywhere!)

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giddy up!

 

It was a quick, but enjoyable 3 days, and we hope to do it again so we can get together and do some hiking in Yellowstone, Montana, or Idaho.

On our way back home, we decided to take the scenic route through Idaho, and come over the Teton Pass, across the mountains.  Since Idaho is famous for potatoes, and potatoes are the main ingredient in vodka, it would only make sense to stop in at the Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs, Idaho on our way back!  We did a short tour of their facility, and sampled a few of their spirits.  We both agreed their regular vodka, was excellent.  Probably the best we have ever tasted.  Their other spirits were ‘okay’.

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The finishing pot

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fermenting pots

The Teton Pass through the mountains is a beautiful drive (as long as you are not towing a 5th wheel, which we were not!).  It has 10% road grades, and many people that work in the city of Jackson, drive this pass everyday.  Housing prices in Jackson are crazy expensive, so many folks live in Idaho, and have a long, but scenic, daily commute.

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The city is officially called Jackson, but the area is called Jackson Hole, as the early settlers described the valley between the mountains, as the “hole”.  The city is off in the distance in this photo:

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I would not want to drive this every day.  Many times, the pass closes in winter due to storms.  It snowed here on July 11!  The locals said that made summer officially 21 days this year!

Quote for the day:  “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yates