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

 

Back at my summer home!

Hello everyone!  It’s your favorite dog blogger, back after a long absence!

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Keeping my peeps informed!

Now that my parents have finished blathering on about all kinds of things that I didn’t get to see in Arizona and Utah, I thought it would be time to catch everyone up with the important stuff….me!  Although I enjoyed my time in warm and sunny Arizona, I’m happy to be back in Wyoming.  They have grass, and lot’s of it.  Arizona has a little too much sand for my liking.  And they have these tiny, nasty little plants with prickers that kept getting stuck in my paws.

We arrived back at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming on May 4.  The weather was cold and rainy for most of that month, but has steadily improved.  My parents are here to work, and I’m here to run around, off leash, on 100 acres of grass!  Here I am in action….the cabins that my parents work at are way off in the background (I’m not allowed in them).

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WooHoo!  Back on grass!

And once we round the corner of the property, we get to look at this view every day!

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Wait for me!

Since we didn’t go back to Wisconsin this year, my parents had to find a new doctor for my annual wellness exam.  They found a nice place in Jackson Hole, Spring Creek Animal Hospital.  The doctor was very impressed with my overall health, and said my heart and lungs are very strong!  It’s all that playing and running around that I do.  I haven’t had any problems lately from my back injury.  The doctor wants to have my teeth cleaned, however.  After 12 years, I guess I could use a little cleaning, but my parents are worried about the anesthesia, given my age and petite size.  They haven’t decided what to do.

I did make a new friend here in Wyoming, a tiny bald kitten named Butters.  I’m not sure why he’s bald, and I’m not sure why they call him Butters.  My mom thinks he looks like Yoda from Star Wars.

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Butters

Butters parents (my parents co-workers) were going home for a family event for a few days, so Butters stayed with us for five of the longest days of my life!  When they first brought him over, I was not too happy about sharing my home with him.  Then my mom walked in with his food…yummy!  I tried my best to get at it, but I was shut out.  And, Butters gets canned food twice a day…I only get canned food once a day.  Darn cat.

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yummy cat food!

Apparently Butters was not happy that I was trying to eat his food, as he got revenge on me by sitting in front of my own dog food.

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payback from the cat

No matter what I tried to do over the five days, Butters wanted to join in, whether I liked it or not (mostly not).  If I sat at the door watching outside, Butters joined in.

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I like to relax on my mom’s lap with a blanket in the morning when she is enjoying her coffee.  Yep, Butters joined in.

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I was okay with this at first, but when the bald cat decided he wanted to crawl under the blanket with me, well, you can tell by the look on my face I was not happy!

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Go away Butters!

Even when it was time for my canned food, exactly at 5 pm, Butters wanted to help me out.  I finally had enough of him, and growled, so my parents had to pick him up and keep him away while I was eating.  Nobody messes with my canned food!

When I tried to play with my toys, Butters kept butting in (maybe that’s why he’s called Butters?).  You can tell by the look on my face that I’m not happy.

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don’t mess with my toys!

I don’t understand cats.  What’s wrong with just sitting on the couch to look out the window.  Why do they feel the need to hang on to the window instead?

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And what’s wrong with this picture?  Sheesh!  It’s my house, my bed!

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It was a long five days, but I survived!  Stay tuned, I hope everyone is doing well!

Quote for the Day:  “In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Pratchett

 

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

Another week to go in Wyoming

I would like to say that it’s hard to believe the summer season here at Luton’s Teton Cabins is almost over but when you wake and it is a brisk 17 degrees outside, it just slaps you in the face and reminds you to start packing up the 5th wheel!  This has been a very busy month, as the cabins are full of guests, enjoying the active wildlife and fall colors in the park.

We have also had our own visitors as well, which we always enjoy.  Mike and Sue, our good friends from college, drove out from Wisconsin for a short visit.  Makena enjoyed showing them her favorite off-leash walking trail!

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Gary and Julia, Dan’s brother and sister-in-law, also flew in for a few days to visit.  It was Gary’s 60th birthday!  He informed us that we have to stop referring to this time of the year as the “newlyweds and nearly-deads” and add in the “empty nesters” as well!  We scheduled a float trip down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park, and they both enjoyed the relaxing 8-mile evening float.

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60 and still going strong!!

With both Mike and Sue, and Gary and Julia, we did our best to play tour guides of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.  With only limited time to explore, we did hit the high points.

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Jenny Lake at GTNP

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Grand Prismatic Hot Spring at YNP

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Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon at Yellowstone

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Old Faithful at YNP

Of course, it is Wyoming, and late September, so it’s not unusual to encounter a quick snow storm at Yellowstone!

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Both Mike and Sue, as well as Gary and Julia, took some time to enjoy the beautiful sunsets that we get to watch right here at Luton’s Cabins.  With the cooler nights, we have been getting a lot of colorful ones.

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We always enjoy having visitors, and are more than happy to show off “our parks” to others.  We have already committed to coming back to Luton’s next year, as well as everyone else that works here.  Brad and Joanne said this is the first time that all their employees will be returning the following season.  They are such wonderful people to work for.  So if you will be out in Wyoming next summer, let us know!!

Dan and Al have been busy fishing this summer, and have caught their limit many times.  We have had two potluck meals with everyone where they grilled the fish. These are native cutthroat trout – they look like a rainbow trout with the exception of an orange line under their mouth.

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I had a bit of an adventure with a wasp nest.  Makena was out on her leash and got stuck under one of the jacks on the fifth wheel.  When I crawled under to get her unstuck, I came face to face with this bowling ball sized nest!!  Dan has had an allergic reaction to bees in the past, so it was my job to get rid of this thing.  I waited until the morning when it was in the 30’s, so the wasps were less active, and used an entire can of wasp spray, plus I had a shovel to scoop up the nest and throw it into the creek behind our 5th wheel.  Now we look under the slides every week to make sure they don’t rebuild!  It’s one of the disadvantages of being in the same place for a long period of time.

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We are ready for new adventures, and look forward to hitching up and heading south next week.  We will have about 10 days to get to Yuma, Arizona, where we will be working at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.  It will be our first time working at a campground.  With all new adventures, I will have more to blog about.

The other morning, the moon was setting West behind the Tetons, as the sun was rising in East.  It made for a colorful morning photo.

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Quote for the Day:  “Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall.  It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.  Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” – Sharon Draper

 

Exploring the national forests

While Grand Teton National Park offers many excellent hiking trails for all levels of abilities, we have decided this summer to spend more time away from the crowds on the trails of the US Forest Service.  The trails, while still being well-maintained and most have vault toilets near the trail head (something that I prefer), are seldom used by the tourists.  If you only have a limited amount of time in the park, most visitors will do the “popular” park trails.  But if you have more time in an area, or want a more “serene” experience, then check out the forest service trails.

Our first hike, with our co-workers Shawn and Erin, was a trailhead behind Togwotee Mountain Lodge, at an elevation of 8654 feet.  Brad, our boss and life-long resident in this area, recommended this trail to us, and said it’s “about 6 miles,” and “all downhill.”  Since this was going to be a one-way, downhill  hike, we left one vehicle down near Turpin Meadows, and took the other car up to Togwotee.

The wildflowers were in full bloom, which made the hike extra special.  Even the vault toilet at the trailhead was surrounded by flowers.

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The Grand Tetons, about 45 miles away, are peeking out over the forest, with wildflowers covering the hills.

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Erin, Shawn and Dan, on our “downhill” hike…

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We made it down to the river.  You can see where we started, by the red X in the photo.  Dan checked his elevation app that he has on his phone, and it said we were down to 6800 feet, from the 8600 feet when we started.

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But once we made it down to the river, we realized the trail did not follow along the river, but instead went straight up a hill.  Brad and Joanne don’t go hiking, they take their horses and go riding in the forest.  That should have been our clue when he said it was all downhill…..!

So off we went up a steep hill, only to realize once we were at the top, there was another one we had to climb as well!  It was a bit of a struggle, as I checked my Fitbit, and we had already hiked over 6 miles.  Once we made it to the top of the second hill, Dan’s app read 7800 feet.  But we could finally see the end in sight.  In the photo below, our car is where the red mark is.  Only a few more miles…

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All together, the “6 mile, all downhill” hike that Brad recommended, was 8 1/4 miles, with 1800 feet downhill, followed by 1000 feet uphill and another 1000 feet downhill.  When we mentioned to Brad about the uphill portion, he said “oh yeah, but it’s only 20 minutes,” to which we replied “if you’re on a horse!”  But the spectacular views, and seeing the wildflowers in full bloom, was well worth it.  And we were the only ones on this hike.  We had the forest to ourselves!

BROOKS LAKE/JADE LAKE HIKE

Dan and I spent another one of our off days taking advantage of another forest service hike, at Brooks Lake, which is part of the Continental Divide Trail.

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The loop trail starts at an elevation of 9100 feet, and is relatively flat for the first 1/2 mile.  Then you climb 700 feet in one mile, which may not sound like much, but when you are starting out at such a high elevation to begin with, it really gets your heart rate elevated. We had to go up and over the tree line in the photo below.

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We took it slow, and stopped several times.  Dan asked if I wanted to turn around, but this time we knew that once we made it to the top, the remaining five miles would be relatively easy.  After 40 minutes, we finally made it to the top.  Then it was just a another mile until we got our first view of Upper Jade Lake, which was spectacular.

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The trail gradually descended down to the lake.  The wildflowers were just past their peak, but still pretty.

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We had to cross over the river between upper and lower Jade Lake, and the trail wound around lower Jade Lake.

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The trail crossed over the river two more times, before going out into a meadow for the last mile of the trail.  I managed to make three of the four river crossings without a problem.  On the last crossing, one of the rocks that I stepped on moved, and down I went into the river!  The water was cold, but it was so hot out, it was actually refreshing.  And on a positive note, I discovered the hiking “fanny pack” that I use, is waterproof, as everything inside the bag was dry.

Since the last mile was out in the open, I was able to dry out a little on the way back to the truck.  We had a nice view of Brooks Lake on the way back.  Our truck was parked on the other side of the lake.  I usually bring a change of shoes/socks when we hike, but from now on, it will include a complete change of clothes!

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WORK UPDATE

We continue to be busy at Luton’s Teton Cabins, at least for another week.  Then we enter the “change-over” of the summer, when kids are back to school, so the family vacations end, and the “newlyweds and nearly deads” begin their vacations.  We will have about one week when our occupancy is light.  It will be a much appreciated break, as our cabins are full for the month of September.  The downtime will give us time to clean and prepare the truck and fifth wheel for our trip to Arizona for the winter.

Quote for the Day:  “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir