Summer 2017 ‘a bear-y good time’

We have finished our summer work camping job at Luton’s Teton Cabins, just east of Grand Teton National Park.  Dan feels the summer flew by, but I think it was just the right amount of time.  There was snow when we arrived in May, and snow when we left in October…a lot of snow!  We were the last ones to leave, as Dan was busy steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins. Although the weather was supposed to be 50s, we ended up with about 7 inches of snow!  It was pretty though!

IMG_3128It did make for an interesting drive over Togowotee Pass, at 9600 feet and a steep grade! And this is after they had “cleared” the pass!  Normally we like to leave early in the morning when we are in travel mode, but we had to wait until late morning for the road to improve.



We had another hard working crew this summer, and six of us will be coming back next summer.   Last summer, with my broken foot, we did not get to do as much hiking as we had planned.  This summer, we did many hikes, and even got our bicycles out.  The Tetons and Jackson Hole are very bicycle friendly areas, with miles of paved paths.


Dan and Al had a great summer fishing (and catching!) trout.  After a slow start due to the spring flooding, they were able to get enough to have a pot luck fish fry for everyone.  Al brought his inflatable Sea Eagle boat, and they floated down the river many times.  The boat folds up into a small bag, and is strong enough to hold both the guys, and all their gear.


The highlight of the summer, for me, was seeing (and experiencing) the Solar Eclipse.  You can read about that here.

A close second was watching a grizzly and her two cubs, feasting on berries.  (a special thanks to our co-workers Karen and Al for texting us when they spotted them in the park – about 2 miles from us).


We also had a bull moose run right across the road on our way back from the grocery store.  I have learned to always carry my camera in September, as the wildlife is very active.

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After we left Wyoming, we had a long travel day and stopped at the Cabela’s in Rapid City, South Dakota, which lets you stay overnight in their parking lot.  We were woken up very early to an alarm going off.  We though it may have been our carbon monoxide detector.  We both woke up in a panic, and started searching, only to discover it was our temperature gauge, which has an alarm clock.  We have had this for over 8 years, and never knew it had an alarm clock!  Apparently when we packed it up and put it away for travel, a button must have been pressed to set the alarm.


And 10 minutes later…we discovered it has a snooze feature!

Since we were up early, we just got on the road (it was 5 am), and watched the sunrise as we traveled east.

IMG_3144We are now back in Wisconsin.  Originally, we planned to be here a few weeks, then head down to Amazon in Kentucky.  However, our friend Mike’s bar and grill that we had helped remodel is not yet open.  He was very busy this summer with his landscaping business, and did not finish the remodeling.  So we are back helping him out, probably through Thanksgiving, and then we will head south for the winter.

Quote for the day:  “You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”  Joyce Meyer





My 31 day Sugar Detox (yes I survived!)

Instead of the usual RV related topics, I decided to share my experience on my recent sugar detox.

I have always had a sweet tooth, which I know was inherited from my mom.  Although desserts were for special occasions, there was always Hershey bars, candy and ice cream in the house growing up.  And  real Kool-Aid, the kind in the tiny packets you mixed with 1 full cup of sugar!  Of course, I  have a mouth full of cavities to go along with the sweet tooth.  Halloweeen was a time I look forward to, not because you could dress up in a costume.  It was the bags of fun-size candies, like Dots and Mild Duds, that were always on sale in October!

But after exercising and doing a lot of walking without seeing any results, I realized it was time to face reality, and change my eating habits.  I have met others that gave up sugar, and they all stated the same thing:  ‘the pounds just melted away.’  I was very skeptical.

I decided to start with small changes, such as giving up my beloved Diet Pepsi, and stop putting in Splenda and flavored cream in my daily cup of instant coffee.  I quickly discovered instant coffee tastes horrible all by itself.  So I splurged and bought a small 5 cup coffee maker, and now have “real” coffee.  What a difference in taste that makes, even without sugar and cream!

The Diet Pepsi habit proved to be a lot harder to break than I expected.   That’s when I knew I needed to just go all in on cleaning up my eating habits.  I purchased “The Sugar Detox” book by Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN and Patricia Farris, MD, FAAD, which offers an easy to follow plan on kicking your sugar habit.   I chose this book over others, because you eat “real food,” not just supplements and shakes.  You start out with a 3-day sugar detox.  Absolutely no sugar for the first three days, along with no fruit, dairy, grains or pasta.  You are allowed protein, nuts and specific vegetables.  You can also have 1 cup of coffee (black) and unsweetened tea as well.  No alcohol of any kind during the first three days.

After the 3 days are up, you progress on a four week plan.  Each week, more categories of food are allowed, which provides natural sugars.  No processed foods of any kind are allowed during the entire 31 days.  The focus of the book is on sugar.  This is not a “low carb” diet.  Good carbohydrates, such as those found in beans and whole grains, are okay.

The book provides some recipes and has a daily meal plan, including snacks, that help out with keeping you on track.  The first three days are the hardest, and by the third day I felt lethargic and had a bad headache.  According to the book, this is normal.  I did not have any cravings, and I feel that is due to the fact I already stopped drinking diet soda, and had been drinking coffee without additives for a week prior to starting this.  Otherwise I would have been miserable!


Once the three day detox is up, week one begins. You can add in foods with natural sugar, in limited amounts.  One apple per day is the only allowed fruit during week one.  One serving of dairy is also allowed, such as 1 ounce of cheese (who eats just one ounce?!), 5 ounces plain yogurt, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese or 1/2 cup of low or full-fat milk.  Skim milk, along with other fat-free products are never recommended, as they generally have higher amounts of sugar to replace the fat that was removed.  One glass of red wine is permitted, but only three times per week.  More approved vegetables are allowed in week one (the book contains detailed lists of what can be eaten each week), as well as a one ounce serving of seeds, such as pumpkin, chia or flax.  I mixed chia seeds in a cup of  plain yogurt for one breakfast.  It did take some getting used to the taste!  No flavored yogurts allowed.

Dan and I did go for a 6 1/2 mile hike with multiple elevation changes up to 600 feet during week one.  I was surprised at how exhausted I was during the hike, and had to stop and rest several times.  This was not normal for me, as I have no problem hiking or walking a long distance.  It made me look forward to starting week two, when more food choices would be added back in.

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all smiles at the beginning!

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a perfect day for a hike

For the first 10 days,  we had been eating a lot of chicken, shrimp, pork, lean beef and fish, along with vegetables and salads (they provide a recipe for sugar free salad dressing).   I never felt hungry, and did not have any cravings for sweet things. By the way,  Dan was not doing the sugar detox, but did eat whatever I made for dinner, and had “healthier” sides to go along with his sandwich for lunch.  But he stills drinks one can of Mt. Dew at lunch and a sugar bomb cafe mocha for breakfast! (he has since switched to regular coffee, which saves 20 grams of sugar.)


More vegetables, such as peas and cooked carrots (raw was okay prior to this) are allowed.  Two servings of dairy per day is allowed as well.  But the big addition was more fruit!  In addition to one daily apple, you can have 1/2 cup of berries or cantelope.  Red wine remains at a maximum three servings for the week.

This may sound very restrictive, and at first it is.  But knowing that you start to add foods back in, it really makes it easy to follow.  I would always look forward to Saturdays, when a new week started!


Hello Chocolate!!

Starting the third week, you can add in 1 ounce of dark chocolate (62% cocoa or higher). I discovered I did not even need this much chocolate. Just one bite was plenty satisfying.

Also added in week three were grains: quinoa, barley, oatmeal. One serving per day. No rice, cereal or bread yet.

Red wine is increased to a maximum 4 glasses per week.

Dairy was increased to two servings per day.  I have been trying out different brands of plain 2% fat Greek yogurt. There is certainly a difference in creaminess and tartness. Greek style has almost double the protein and about 1/3 the sugar than regular plain yogurt. I have been trying out Fage brand lately, which I really enjoy.  I put 1/2 cup of blueberries and one tablespoon of chia seeds in it.

Energy wise, I am feeling better. However, my sleep has been poor this week. I wake up after 4 hours, and I cannot get back to sleep. I am not sure if this is related to this sugar detox or not.


The finish line is in view! Added in this week, is whole grain bread, cereal and brown rice, limited to one serving per day.  Wine is increased to a maximum 5 glasses per week.

My energy level was back to normal, and I had no sugar cravings.


I never felt starved or deprived on this sugar detox. The fact you continue adding in foods, makes it easier to follow than a very restrictive diet.

I think the biggest help for me was quitting diet soda and drinking black coffee before I started this.  Otherwise, it would have been more of a struggle at the beginning.  In just 31 days, I ended up losing 8 pounds, and 3% body fat.  And I stopped exercising during this time.   So yes, the weight does “just fall off!”


My goals are to  continue to avoid diet and regular soda, although to be honest, water does get boring!

Making simple changes: brown rice instead of white, whole grain pasta (Barilla brand tastes good) instead of white, and whole grain bread instead of my favorite white bread, which stays soft and squishy for 2 weeks.

If you’re interested in cutting down on sugar, I would definitely recommend this. It’s only 31 days out of your life, and it gets easier each week!


Quote for the day:  “If God hadn’t meant for us to eat sugar, he would not have invented dentists. ” – Ralph Nader




Winding down in Wyoming

Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the flooding in the southern states afterward.  And now we have been reading about Hurricane Irma, soon to be hitting Florida.  Add in all the forest fires raging in California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana and it has been a devastating month for millions of Americans.  Our only impact here in Wyoming has been hazy skies and poor air quality.  If only there was some way for the rain in the South to make its way to the northwest, it would solve some of these problems.

Our season will be coming to a close at the end of September, but we have been keeping busy.  Labor Day weekend means the end of families with school-age children.  Now our visitors are what those of us in the tourism industry refer to as the “newlyweds and nearly-dead’s.”  Luton’s Teton Cabins continues to be full, until the last week of September.  At that time, we will start winding down, and begin fall cleaning.  All the linens and curtains will be removed from the cabins and cleaned.  Joanne will strip and wax the linoleum, and Dan will shampoo the carpeting.  As with our Spring cleaning, it is an efficient process.  The cabins are  open this year until October 10, but all of us work campers will be done by October 1st.  Brad and Joanne, the owners, will handle the cleaning of the few cabins that are rented after the 1st.

In the meantime, we have been out on a few hikes.  Tom and Ellen, our friends working in West Yellowstone, Montana, came down for a visit.  Next year, they will be working at a gift store in Skagway, Alaska.  We will miss seeing them in the summer, but are looking forward to hearing about their adventures in Alaska.  That is definitely on our list of states to visit…hopefully soon!

We did a short hike out to Taggart Lake with them.

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Tom, Ellen and Dan

Here’s our Sound of Music photo!

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The “hills are alive!”

We also went hiking on our off day with co-workers Karen and Al.  Last year the trails to Hidden Falls by Jenny Lake were closed for renovation.  Most of the trails have now opened, so we were finally able to do that hike.

We made the short trek over to see Hidden Falls.

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There was a group of people learning how to rock climb.  It was entertaining to watch, but not something I would want to try.


Then we had a lengthy upward hike to see Inspiration Point, which overlooks Jenny Lake.

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On the way back down, we saw a two-toned bird, later identified as a Stellar’s Jay.  That was our “wildlife” highlight!

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After we leave Wyoming, we will head back to Wisconsin for a few weeks, and then head down to Kentucky to work at Amazon for our fourth season.  I’m not looking forward to working there again (too boring), but it is a great weight loss program for us!

Take care and stay safe everyone!

Quote for the Day:  “Most anyplace one lives is essentially dangerous.  There are floods in the Midwest, and tornadoes.  There are hurricanes along the Gulf.  In New York you get mugged.” – John Gregory Dunne


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!


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!


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.


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


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


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


Cousins come a callin’

First off, thank you for all the wonderful comments, e-mails and telephone calls from our last blog post.  It really meant a lot.

Dan’s cousins, Roni and Jodi, made a long road trip from the Twin Cities to come out and visit with us for two days.  We tried to pack as much as we could in the short amount of time they had, and we think we succeeded.  The only thing they were not able to check off their list was seeing a grizzly bear.

We spent the first day on a quick tour of Grand Teton National Park, trying to stop at some of  the highlights: Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain, String Lake, Jenny Lake, Lupine Meadows, The Chapel of Transfiguration, Schwabacher Landing, etc…

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Dan, Jodi, Roni


After seeing some of  the highlights, we stopped in Moose for a little pizza at Dornan’s.  While sitting outside we were briefly entertained by a fox walking near the deck.

DSC04474 (2)The next morning we headed up to Yellowstone, making a few stops in the Tetons to view a herd of Elk,

P1000307 (2)followed by a mama and baby moose!

P1000363 (2)And no morning is complete without a stop at Oxbow Bend, with the low-lying clouds covering parts of Mt Moran.

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Yellowstone was pretty busy, but Roni said she had “positive vibes”, especially after our wonderful start to the day.  She was right, and we never had issues finding parking spots!  Our wildlife sightings continued, with an Osprey in a nest,

P1000516 (2)and a lone buffalo taking a nap along the side of the road!

P1000500 (2)The cousins were impressed with the view of the Lower Falls.

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I think Roni and Jodi may have a new future career in the park service!

P1000472 (2)No stop to Yellowstone is complete without a visit to Old Faithful.  It was Roni’s first time seeing the geyser go off.  Despite its name, it did not erupt until 25 minutes after its scheduled time.  The crowd of thousands was growing very restless, and a lot of cheers erupted when it finally went off.  Roni said it was worth the wait!

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Although their visit was very short, we had a wonderful time and are thankful Roni and Jodi decided to venture out west to see us!  Our door is always open for our family and friends to visit!

Quote for the day:  “Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins.” – unknown