Back to work (2 months ago…)

I admire the people that blog consistently.  I am not one of them!  We are back to work for our fourth, and final, summer here at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  I think part of my delay in writing is due to the fact we have been in this area of Wyoming for 5 years now (4 here, and 1 summer in West Yellowstone.)  There are days that I feel I’m in a rut.  As beautiful as this area is, I’m overdue for a change in scenery.

We arrived here on May 4, and took a quick drive through Grand Teton National Park.  Many areas were still covered in snow, and the ice on the lakes was just starting to melt.

P1060049 (3)

After getting acclimated to the altitude, we started spring cleaning the cabins a few days later.  All nine of us work campers came back this year.  Brad and Joanne are wonderful people to work for.  Spring cleaning consists of a deep clean of each cabin, including wiping down all the woodwork with a damp rag, and then oiling each log with wood oil.  It’s a tedious process, but it keeps the cabins looking “new.”   Many guests are surprised that the cabins are 25 years old.   Dan works on the ceilings, as he’s the tallest!

img_2552

The bedroom is ready for the season!

img_2557

After working 3 days per week in our winter jobs, it’s back to 5 days a week, and a split shift on my office days.  Karen and I split the office – 3 days office/2 days housekeeping one week, and 4 days office/1 housekeeping day the next week.  Office hours are 8 – 12 pm and 3 – 7 pm.  Between 12 and 3, we are still available to answer phones and help guests with any issues/early check-ins.  Because of the long office schedule, we are paid a daily rate.  Dan refers to me as “the bread winner.”  Housekeeping generally starts at 9 am, and we can be done between noon and 3 pm, depending on how busy the cabins are.  Usually there are 4-5 housekeepers, and we can get through a cabin fairly quickly.  Dan does 4 days of housekeeping, and 1 day in laundry, washing all the linens, towels, rugs and rags.  He enjoys the variety.

As long as office duties are done (checking in guests, answering the phone, cleaning the lodge, watering plants, cleaning grills and helping the housekeepers on busy days) we can sit and read in the office.  I’ve caught up on a lot of magazines that I can get for free through Flipster on my local library’s website.  It’s a great app to use to read magazines offline.  Here’s a screen shot of my “bookshelf” on the Flipster app.

img_3174

We took a day trip up to Yellowstone with Karen and Al.  The overlook to the upper and lower falls at Canyon Village are now open.  It’s always pretty to see, especially with snow.  I’d like to visit Yellowstone in the winter someday.

P1060230 (1)

Upper Falls

P1060176 (1)

Lower Falls

We also stopped to watch Old Faithful.  I’ve seen it dozens of times, and was a bit amused when this couple in front of me immediately stood up to take selfies!  They spent the entire time taking pictures of themselves, and not even bothering watching the eruption!  P1060272

Dan and Al have had several successful fishing outings.  Soon we will be having an employee fish fry pot luck.

img_5634

And speaking of pot lucks, we just had an excellent lobster dinner, courtesy of Brad and Joanne.  They had lobsters, clams and mussels flown in from Maine.  Al did an excellent job cooking everything, and even gave the ‘newbies’ tips on how to crack open and eat lobster.  It was an excellent feast!

And speaking of food, my goal for the summer is to clean out our pantry.  I look like a food hoarder, and I need to work on that!  Since we arrived on May 4, I have not bought anything new for the pantry.  This is what our pantry looks like today  (and this is after 2 months of eating…still a long way to go!)

img_2689

Over the winter we accomplished the goal of eating everything in our freezer before buying new food.  So nothing in the freezer is older than 3 months.  We replenished the freezer again when we arrived in Wyoming, and will work on emptying that out again over the summer.  It’s a great way to try out new recipes.  But it’s also made me wonder “what was I thinking in the first place when I bought this?”

We are going to Alaska next summer, and have considered getting a truck camper.  It would be an exciting challenge to downsize even more.  We may even consider selling our beloved 5th wheel.  But we are not coming off the road, just changing things up.  And downsizing more will give us more flexibility.  Variety is the spice of life?  We’ll keep you posted on what we decide.  Just starting to look at what’s available right now.

We had some visitors already (we like visitors!!).  Dean and Jeannie stopped by on their way to Oregon, and we played tour guides for a day.  Our door is always open!

img_5716

Jonell, Jeannie and Dean

And we finally saw our first moose of the season (no porcupine yet!)

img_5777

Until next time, please stay safe!

Quote for the day:  “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Roy T Bennett

 

Wildlife in the Tetons

As we continue on our journey to our winter job, I thought I would share some final photos from the Tetons, of our animal sightings this summer.

We have had good success this summer in seeing many birds and animals in Grand Teton National Park.  I wasn’t able to get pictures of everything, as I did not always have my camera with me.

Our first trip into the park, May 14, resulted in success when we spotted a black bear, and then saw two very small cubs running several yards behind her.  The cubs were hard to see, as they kept darting in and out of the woods.  One was brown in color, and one was black in color.

P1010955 (2)

Mama Bear

P1010971 (2)

Wait for me, mama!

P1010964 (2)

Another cub

Brad and Joanne, the owners of Luton’s Teton Cabins, own several horses.  One day on my walk around the property, I sensed something behind me, and turned around to see the horses sneaking up behind me.  Maybe they thought I had carrots or something in my pocket.  Sorry guys, no food!

img_1923

I’m not a ‘bird nerd’ so I’m not sure what these birds are.  I call this one a ‘yellow bird’

img_2008

And ‘purple/green bird’

img_2015

I tried all summer to get a picture of the Mountain Bluebird.  They are very jittery birds, and this was the best I could get.

P1020019 (2)

On an outing with Erin, one of our fantastic coworkers, we spotted a grizzly roaming around the side of the highway.  I only had my cell phone with me, so it’s not a good picture.

img_2109

 

Elk, pronghorn and buffalo roam about five miles down the road from the cabins.  Some days there are just one or two, other days, a large herd of them.

P1020010 (2)

Elk in foreground, Buffalo in background

 

P1020049 (2)

Hello, Mr Buffalo!

In the spring, you will see a lot of “red dogs,” which are the baby buffalo.  They like to run around and play.

P1020193 (2)

P1020081 (2)

Thanks for posing for me in front of the Tetons

We always warn our guests not to stand near the fence to take pictures of the buffalo.  People don’t realize that the buffalo can easily jump over fences.  They may not look graceful, but stay out of their way!

Our biggest highlight, was “Moose-a-Palooza” when we found 10 moose in the Gros Ventre Campground when our friends Mike and Sue were with us.

P1020662 (2)

We were surprised to find two bull moose together.

P1020682 (2)

The one laying down on the left, had a “lady friend” hiding in the tall grass behind him.

P1020694 (2)

Eventually the one on the right laid down and started “chatting” with us.

P1020719 (2)

You’ve seen those “share the road with cyclists” signs…in Yellowstone, you have to share the road with buffalo!

P1020782 (2)

Unfortunately, the one animal that I have been specifically trying to find, continues to elude me….the porcupine!  Karen and Al must have felt sorry for me, as they surprised me at our last employee potluck meal with my very own porcupine!  I guess this will have to do for now.  I wonder if they have them in Arizona?

P1030142 (2)

Thanks Karen and Al!

Quote for the day:  “I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like, and I can’t say the same thing about people.” – Doris Day

The ever changing Tetons

The advantage of spending the summer in one area, is getting to watch the seasons changing.  This year, I made a point of taking a picture of Mount Moran from Oxbow Bend, every few weeks while we were here in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.  It’s interesting to see how the mountain changes.   I took these photos with the same camera, and did not edit them.  Our first view this year was on May 14, 2018.  The mountains are still snow-covered and the Aspen trees are starting to bloom.

P1010919 (2)

May 14, 2018

 

By June 6, the mountains still have snow, but everything has greened up nicely.

P1020002 (2)

June 6, 2018

By the end of June, the snow has continued to melt, and the wildflowers are starting to bloom.  The trees seemed to have turned a darker shade of green.

P1020534 (2)

June 28, 1018

By the end of July, a small amount of snow remains on the peaks.  The skillet glacier on Mount Moran is more in view.  The locals refer to it as the Jimmy Hendrix guitar.

P1020556 (2)

July 25, 2018

The fires from California started to bring a haze over the mountains in August.  The view is not as “sharp” as July, as a result of the haze.

P1020572 (2)

August 14, 2018

 

We had our first winter storm watch of the season on August 28, at altitudes above 9,000 feet.  So the next day, we ventured into the park to see the tops of the mountains with a fresh coat of snow!  The snow cleared out a lot of the haze, which brought the mountains back into focus.

P1020581 (2)

August 29, 2018 after our first snowfall of the season

 

On September 8, the leaves were starting to change in the park, but not yet in the Oxbow Bend area.  The bushes on the right have started to turn, however.  It was a late afternoon photo, with haze over the mountains, from a new fire 60 miles south of the park.

P1020601 (2)

September 8, 2018

By September 19, the leaves on the Aspen trees were turning yellow, and the haze was not too visible.

P1020981 (2)

September 19, 2018

Fall has arrived in the Tetons, and the park is bursting with visitors for the wildlife and colors.  On September 25, the color in the bushes on the right has faded, but more trees are showing color, and with the cool nights, the mountains are clear.

P1030101 (2)

September 25, 2018

On our last day of work, October 3, we made one last quick trip through the park.  The final “green” trees, have turned yellow and orange.  The leaves on the trees to the right, have mostly fallen off.  The ducks and geese are migrating through on the way south.

P1030138

Good-bye Wyoming!  See you next year….

Quote for the Day:  “You are not in the mountains.  The mountains are in you.”  – John Muir

Back to work and a little fun in the Tetons

First off, I just want everyone to know that Makena did gain some “freedom” on the Fourth of July!   We took her out, off leash, for a walk on the 100 acre ranch where we are working for the summer, Luton’s Teton Cabins.  She was ecstatic, and did very well running around.  Then she spent the rest of the day napping!  The next day she was walking just fine, no pain from her running around.  So that is a good sign, although we do keep her in the kennel a/k/a “jail” when we go to work. Hopefully the vertebrate in her back are fusing together and she will continue to improve!!

Woo-Hoo!!!

We have been working at Luton’s Teton Cabins since mid-May.  This is our third summer at the cabins.  As we watch the rest of the country suffer with the high heat and humidity, we are happy to be running a space heater at night, when it dips into the upper 30’s, only to warm up into the 70’s during the day.  Although this week it has been in the 80’s for three days now.  We had to turn the air conditioner on for the first time yesterday!

I continue to split my time between the office and cleaning the cabins.  Dan has added the job as “laundry guy”  on to his cleaning duties.  One day a week he is in charge of doing all the cabin laundry.  He enjoys the variety, and has mastered the art of folding fitted sheets – Grandma Joan will be proud!

Our friends Karen and Al are back for their fifth season, and Shawn and Erin returned for their second season.  We have two new couples this year and all together, we have a great, hard-working, drama-free crew.  It makes for a pleasant working environment!

Since this is our third summer, I don’t plan on spending much time talking about our jobs.  You can do a search on our blog, under Luton’s Teton Cabins if you want to learn more about what we do.  Or you can always write a comment or send an e-mail.  The owners, Brad and Joanne, are wonderful people who reward their employees for doing a good job.  It makes it easy to keep coming back.  (and the weather and view is nice too!)

P1010914

View from the cabins

We have been trying to get out on our off days to do a little bit of hiking and sightseeing.  Last fall, the park service in Yellowstone added a new overlook to the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the prettiest and largest hot springs in the United States.  We made an early trip up to Yellowstone to check it out, before the park became overrun with tourists for the summer.  It was spectacular.

P1020420 (2)

We also hiked over to nearby Fairy Falls, about a four mile round trip hike from the Grand Prismatic.  When we arrived, there were eight people already at the Falls.  When we left, there were over three dozen people arriving, so we time it perfectly!

P1020490 (2)

We did some hiking with Karen and Al on another one of our off days.  It’s hard to take “bad photos” when you are in the Tetons.  Al was quite jealous of the people on the boat!  The rivers are a little murky and very fast right now, so Dan and Al have only tried fishing once and they had no luck – although they say the conditions should be improving very soon.

DSC05186

It’s hard to believe it’s July already.  This summer is going by fast.

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE

I do have a very simple piece of advice for anyone staying at a hotel/cabin/B & B, or any place where there will be housekeeping done.  Do not leave your toothbrush right next to the sink!  No matter how careful we are, the odds are pretty good that your toothbrush could end up with a small amount of overspray from a cleaning chemical, if you leave it uncovered near the vanity/bathroom sink.  Just something to think about next time you are traveling…..!

 

Quote for the day:  “Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy.  To do nothing and have it count for something.  To lie in the grass and count the stars.  To sit on a branch and study the clouds.” – Regina Brett

 

 

Settled in for summer!

After we left Wisconsin, we stopped in Minnesota for a few days to visit Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia.  We originally planned to stay at a local county campground, but it was booked up solid for the weekend.  Julia had met us out at the campground, and Dan rode with her to a private campground a few miles away, to check for availability.  They had not been answering the telephone.  I stayed behind with Makena in the truck/fifth wheel.  They were able to get a spot for us.  Turns out there was a Harley festival going on, so everything was pretty booked up and the gal in the office was too busy to answer the telephone.  I drove the fifth wheel all by myself, to the campground.  I have driven it a few times before, but never by myself.  Now I just need to stop looking in the rear view mirror!  I met up with Dan at the campground, and he had me back into our spot.  Never did that before!  But he provided excellent guidance, and I feel a little more confidant now.

Gary and Julia are now grandparents for the first time!  Their daughter Carmen and husband Luke stopped over with Simon, who is now two months old!  Welcome to the world Simon!

IMG_0859 (1)

napping with Uncle Dan

We had a nice time visiting with everyone, and headed towards Custer, SD to visit with friends and former co-workers.  The best part of working for Amazon, is the people we meet.  And we have been able to meet up with fellow Amazon Camperforce everywhere we go.  Although I forgot to bring the camera along for a few meals, we met up with Linda and two of her co-workers in Keystone, where she will be working this summer at a gas station/convenience store.  The next day we met up with Bob for a good meal at the Alpine Inn in Hill City.  We were joined by our friends and former co-workers at Crazy Horse Phil and Rudee, and both Margaret’s that we had worked with.  They have both since retired.  Bob will be working this summer at Crazy Horse and has been very impressed with the fact it is more than just a mountain carving.  You can look back in our blog to the summer of 2014 to read more about our Crazy Horse experience (or type Crazy Horse in the search box on our site).

The next night we managed another get together, and our friends Chery and Dick also joined in.  We were happy that Bob could join us again, as it is always nice to meet fellow work campers.

IMG_2431 (1)

Dick, Phil, Jonell, Bob, Rudee and Cheryl

We hope they all have a wonderful summer, and will certainly meet up with them again!  Since we had a long drive from Custer to Moran, WY, we left very early and had a pleasant day of driving.  We knew we were getting close to our summer “home”, when snow started appearing out our window!  Yes, 65 degrees, sunny and snow!

IMG_0908 (2)

We arrived late afternoon to Luton’s Teton Cabins, and were met with hugs from the owners, Brad and Joanne.  Wonderful people to work for!  Co-workers Karen and Al had arrived a few hours before us, and we met another new co-worker, Melissa.  There will be two additional couples coming this week.  Dan and I start on Monday, May 15th, and we are excited to get back to work again.

Most of the snow at the lower elevations (we are at 6800 feet) has melted, but the Tetons are exceptionally beautiful this time of year.

IMG_0951 (1)

We have already seen a moose, fox and Makena has been keeping an eye on a gopher that is just outside of our fifth wheel.  We are looking forward to another great summer!  I will post more on our jobs once we get started for the season.  This is our view for the summer, from the cabins.

IMG_2438 (1)

Quote for the Day:  “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neal Donald Walsch

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind!

I have a lot to catch up on with the blogs.  We have been very busy the last few weeks, with visitors, wildlife sightings, packing up the rig, working 8 days in a row, and driving back to Wisconsin.  I will split this up into several posts.  First up:  visitors and wildlife.

September is a beautiful time to visit Grand Teton National Park, as the colors are changing, and the wildlife are very active.  It is the third busiest month in the park, and the weather can be hit or miss.  We had some visitors of our own, Mike and Sue, friends since college, drove out from Wisconsin to visit.  Mike was going elk hunting in Idaho, so he was only able to stay for one night, but Sue was able to spend several days hanging out with us.

We managed to give them a brief tour of GTNP, including a stop at the now peaceful String Lake.  During the summer months, this is a very popular area for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boards.

mah039631

Dan, Jonell, Sue & Mike

We went up by Jackson Lake, and were shocked by how much the lake has dropped since we saw it a month ago.  It should be a good crop of potatoes this year, as Idaho has taken plenty of water from the lake! Idaho has water rights to remove water from the top of Jackson Lake and due to the lack of rain they took a considerable amount this year.

dsc03956-1A short drive north of Jackson Lake brought us to the Berry Creek Fire area.  It was sad to see acres of burned forest land, but it will be interesting to watch this area rejuvenate over time.

dsc03959-1During our drive through the park, we spotted a lone female moose.

dsc03972-1Along with a large heard of pronghorns, including a mama with two hungry babies!

dsc03985-1dsc03980-1dsc03981-1

After Mike left the next morning, the three of us headed out to a short 4 mile hike to Taggert Lake. GTNP has so many excellent hiking trails, and the views never get old.

dsc03990-1After our hike, we starting driving around and noticed a number of cars pulled off the road, but we could not see what they were looking at, so we pulled over and walked about 100 yards to where the crowd was standing.  And we were glad we did!  At first, we just saw a head of a moose pop out of the willows. But then mama came into full view, followed by a pretty good sized baby.  We watched them for a while until they walked back out of view.

dsc_0443-1dsc_0445-1dsc_0457-1dsc_0464-1

Dan and Sue spotted a bull moose on the way to the airport the next morning, but it was too dark to get a good picture.  So on our next day off from work, we left early in the morning to see if we could spot him again, and we were in luck.  He was still hanging out down by the airport.  The pictures are not the best, as it was early morning, and he was pretty far away.

dsc_0513-1

I did remember to turn around and take one shot of the mountains while we were watching the moose.  You can see the airport on the left.  Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport located within a National Park.

dsc_0527-1

We drove over to the same spot we saw mama and baby moose the prior week, and there was no one around (people that is), so we pulled over and started walking along the river.  Dan was about 30 yards ahead of me, when I saw him jump up and quickly start walking backwards.  Turns out he practically ran right into mama and baby moose, as they were on the opposite side of the river!  Dan was less than 10 yards from the mama moose as she looked right up at him as she was eating some vegetation. Did you know more people are killed by moose than bears?  I managed to take a quick picture of mama moose peering up at me, before we both walked away to a safe viewing distance.  I just love the expression on her face!

dsc_0533-1

We walked away from the moose to a safe viewing distance, and both of them got up and started grazing.  The baby was very curious, and would look over at us.

dsc_0560-1

We capped off our moose-filled day by having lunch with our friends Tom and Ellen.  Ellen’s daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter were visiting with them up in Yellowstone, and came down hiking for the day in the Tetons.  It was a great way to end a wonderful day!

dsc04004-1

It was a busy, but great week with visitors.  We started packing up the fifth wheel and getting ready for our last stretch of work.  (that will be for the next blog)

Quote for the day: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

 

 

 

 

 

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!

dsc_0590-1dsc_0591-2dsc_0594-1dsc_0605-1dsc_0610-1

dsc04003-1

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.

image

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.

DSC03864 (1)

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!

DSC03871 (1)

a beautiful setting

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

DSC03872 (1)

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.

DSC03879 (1)

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.

DSC_0305 (1)

the boat launched ahead of ours

DSC_0314 (1)

having a good time!

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

DSC_0336 (1)

Grand Tetons

And beautiful views down the Snake River.

DSC_0331 (1)

Snake River

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

DSC_0400 (1)

a giant beaver home

Along with several beavers in the area.

DSC_0428 (1)

This beaver was busy carrying a tree branch!

DSC_0421 (1)

busy, busy, busy!

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

DSC_0376 (1)

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.

DSC_0390 (1)

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!

DSC03763 (1)

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.

DSC03773 (1)

Enter a caption

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!

image

an official Junior Ranger

image

taking the oath

image

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!

DSC03808 (1)

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.
DSC_0790
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.
DSC_0785
After our stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin, we headed towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, to see the Upper and Lower Falls.
DSC_0812

Upper Falls of Yellowstone

The Lower Falls were just as spectacular!

DSC_0821 (1)

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.

DSC03836 (2)

DSC_0851 (1)

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

DSC_0876 (1)

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!

DSC03820 (1)

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.

DSC03825 (1)

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.

DSC03754 (1)

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.

DSC03748 (1)

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

DSC03751 (1)

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.

DSC03794 (1)

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!

DSC03799 (1)

No view out this altar!

DSC03796

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

DSC03797 (1)

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.

image

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

image

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!

image

 

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