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

Meanwhile, back at the cabins

It’s hard to believe that we have been here two months.  Time has really flown by!  Being in such a peaceful setting, with very pleasant weather, is good for the soul.  Since school has let out, the 14 cabins have been at 100% occupancy almost every night.  Work has been very busy, but we have managed to get out and do some fun activities.

My particular job duties have changed slightly, as I am now in the office 3 days a week, and 2 days in housekeeping.  These new duties started before I broke a bone in my foot, not as a result of the injury.  The office work is a split shift, from 8am – 12pm, and then back again from 3pm – 7pm.  However, from 12 – 3pm, I still am responsible for answering the telephone,  assisting guests that have locked themselves out of their cabin (seems to happen at least once a week), or guests arriving before the 3pm check-in time.  When the owners, Brad and Joanne, put in the 5 RV sites behind the cabins for the work campers, they also put in telephone lines.  So I have a regular land line telephone  in the RV to answer calls from 12 – 3pm.  Because of the unusual hours, I now get a flat daily rate of pay, instead of an hourly rate.

The office person is also responsible for cleaning the main lodge, daily cleaning of the BBQ grills, assisting housekeeping on busy days, watering flowers, and emptying the quarters from the coin-operated washer and dryers.  The job keeps me busy, and I really enjoy interacting with the guests when they check in, and helping them plan their trips to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

To give an overview about what this work camping job entails, I will refer you to a post that Karen wrote in June of 2014, her first summer here at Luton’s Teton Cabins, in which she went into great detail on the job duties.  click here to read the post.  Needless to say, the cabins are immaculate!  I have cleaned more ovens this summer, than I have in my entire life!

Chuckwagon Dinner

We have a good crew of work campers, and the nine of us all went to the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner and show one night.  Brad and Joanne, upon hearing that we were all going out together, surprised us by paying for everyone’s tickets.  We all had a great time at the Chuckwagon show.  We had been to two chuckwagon’s in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but this one was far and away the best one we have been to. The show and the food were awesome!

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our work camping crew

On the way down to Jackson, we were amused to spot this sign by the road…!

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too late!

Those of you that have been following the blog for a while know that we like to visit craft breweries (always good to support the local businesses!), so we made a trip down to the Snake River Brewery in Jackson on our day off.  It is  Wyoming’s oldest brewery (started in 1994), and they have a not very catchy slogan “our river runs through your liver”.

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cheers!

We did the sampler tasting of their beers, and deemed them to be “okay”.    On the way back “home”, we stopped by Mormon Row in the park to view the structures that still remain from the early settlers to this area.  Location, location, location!

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Quote for the day:  “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grizzly, Moose and Eagles…oh my!

Before I broke a bone in my foot, we did manage to get in two small hikes in Grand Teton National Park.  And we were rewarded with plenty of wildlife sightings!  Before we even got into the park, Karen and Al spotted this Osprey in a tree.

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For our first hike, we went to Hermitage Point Trailhead in Coulter Bay, and opted for the short 3.5 mile hike around Heron Pond and Swan Lake.  It was a relatively easy hike, with beautiful views of the Tetons (actually, there is no bad view of the Tetons!).

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We had some nice views of Mt Moran, which contains what is called the “skillet glacier”, but the locals refer to it as Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar glacier, based on the shape.  The more I stared at it, I started to see a profile of a face (might be the high altitude!).

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What do you see?

Karen, Al and Dan quickly spotted a Bald Eagle in a tree, and it must have taken me 5 minutes before I could see it.  Karen was able to get a nice photograph of the Eagle.

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We also saw a few sandhill cranes, ducks and geese on this hike.  Later that night we went on another short trip down by Shwabachers Landing, and found a very active beaver in the water, along with evidence of his recent tree trunk trimming.

DSC_0607 (1)DSC_0644 (1)The next day we went on another hike with our co-worker Jane, and literally ran into a fox crossing our path.  Fortunately, he/she ignored us, but it did startle us.

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We also spotted a coyote off in the distance.

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But the highlight of our day was spotting our first “wild” grizzly bear.  I will pass along a tip for spotting a grizzly….when you see this:

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bear jam!

Make sure you pull over, because something exciting is lurking nearby!

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The park rangers did an excellent job at keeping traffic moving, and keeping the tourists from getting too close.

After I broke my foot, I was relegated to looking for wildlife from the car, and not on a hike.  Fortunately, I was finally able to cross ‘bull moose’ off my bucket list of animals to see in the wild.  This young man’s antlers are just starting to grow, and still have the velvet on them.  Again, Karen had her nice camera with her, and got some excellent photos (Dan’s worried this will cost us money, as I have been looking at new cameras online!).

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Hello Mr. Moose!

But the photo I was most surprised with (and one I took!) was of the bee that popped into the picture I was taking of a flower.  I really didn’t notice the bee until I was looking at my photos later on.

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We hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Quote for the Day:  “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”  – Anatole France