The Eclipse

When we started working at Luton’s Teton Cabins last year, we were told that an eclipse would be occurring in August of 2017, and that all 14 cabins had been booked since 2015.  The first cabin was booked in late 2014.  I thought who are these crazy people who booked years ago, just to watch an Eclipse?  Well last week we had the pleasure of meeting 60 or so wonderful people that stayed with us for a week.  It was absolutely fun getting to know our guests, and experiencing our first total Eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017.

Brad and Joanne, the owners of the cabins, decided to host a cook-out for all the guests the day before the eclipse. One guest Nelson Arnstein, a Nuclear Medicine Radiologist, put on a slide-show (with actual slides) from an Eclipse he viewed in 1999 on a cruise ship.  He also talked about what we will experience during the Eclipse, and emphasized the best thing to do is just observe all your surroundings during totality.  It was very informative.

DSC04524 (2)We did not have to leave the property to view the Eclipse, as we were in the zone of totality.  All of our guests stayed on-sight and set up their telescopes, cameras and lawn chairs early in the morning.

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First contact occurred at 10:17 MDT, and it was exciting!  Only a few of my actual photos turned out, as I did not have a solar filter for my camera.  This photo was taken with our cell phone through the lens of one of the telescopes.

img_2973Several of the telescopes were set up with a camera attached to them, taking pictures every minute from first contact to last contact.  I took a photograph of the telescope and what the image on the camera was taking.

Almost to totality!

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Our group of fellow work campers!  From left to right:  Melissa, Erin, Shawn, Jodi, Al, Ken, Karen (behind Ken sitting on the fence), Joanne, Brad and Dan.

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At 11:36 am, we reached totality, which lasted 1 minute and 56 seconds.  During the 20 minutes or so before totality, there was a significant drop in temperature, and the winds started picking up.

During the time of totality, I was trying to observe as much as possible, but two minutes goes by pretty fast.  There was one planet, I think it was Jupiter, that was immediately visible to the naked eye.  But then I heard many people yell “turn around and look at the mountains”, and it was an amazing “instant” sunset over the Tetons!

And just like that, there was a bright flash of light, the “diamond ring” effect,  and we had to put our glasses back on.  Totality had ended, and cheers erupted from all the guests.  Personally, it was an amazing experience.  There was a lot of hype surrounding this Eclipse, and it completely lived up to the hype!

Last contact occurred at 1:00pm MDT.  Bye-bye moon!

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We had one large group from California, with many astronomers and photographers.  After the eclipse was over, they popped champagne to celebrate a successful viewing (Dan and I joined in!).

 

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The website for the cabins has a live webcam, which you can rewind up to 4 hours.  Later in the afternoon I backed it up and took a few screenshots of the view just prior to totality, during totality, and the end of totality.  You can see how the view changed.

This photo is 5 minutes before totality.  The sky was getting dark.

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This is right at totality, 11:36 am.  There was a small plane chasing the Eclipse that flew over.

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Just two minutes later, it was the end of totality, and we had daylight again.

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It was truly a special experience, one that I will never forget.  The next total Eclipse that will occur in the United States will be on April 8, 2024, starting in Mexico, going through parts of the United States, and into Canada.  The totality is expected to be over 4 minutes!  I can’t wait!!

Quote for the Day:  “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato

 

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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