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.

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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!

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The bedroom is ready for the season!

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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.

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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.

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Upper Falls

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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.

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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!)

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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!

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Jonell, Jeannie and Dean

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

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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.

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Mama Bear

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Wait for me, mama!

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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!

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

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And ‘purple/green bird’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Elk in foreground, Buffalo in background

 

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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.

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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.

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We were surprised to find two bull moose together.

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

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

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

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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?

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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.

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May 14, 2018

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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September 8, 2018

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

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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