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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Time Flies!

Here we are in our fourth week of work at the ranch already! The weather has improved a bit, but still rains almost daily at some point. I have a bad feeling this year will be a bumper crop of mosquitoes. Next trip into town I plan on finding a garden center and see if I can find some marigold and lavender to plant in pots around our site. I've read that they are natural deterrents to mosquitoes, so it's worth a try.

We are having a great season so far. Bookings are very strong for the season and the month of June is almost full...very few nights open in any cabin at this point. Our friends Steve and Teresa Heede, who we worked with at Chalk Creek Campground in 2012, arrived about 12 days ago and started work last week. Our last co-worker, Rhonda,  arrived this past weekend after having some travel issues, and has started her training this week. We seem to have a very good, hard-working crew this year, and we are all looking forward to a great summer season.

My training in the office work has progressed, and together with my co-worker Elaine, we are getting more comfortable with the reservation system and office procedures. Now that we have our full complement of workers, we will be spending more time in the office. Being short-handed, we had been working housekeeping each day as well as covering our office duties. I'm really enjoying meeting our guests, and helping them plan their activities while enjoying our beautiful Grand Teton National Park.

As many of you know, this is our second summer season here. Last year we had a great time, and had concentrated on exploring both the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, mostly through outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. There is so much more to still find here, not only in new hiking trails, but there is a ton of history here to learn. I will be trying to delve more into this facet of the parks, and look forward to sharing these studies with everyone. Not to worry, though, there will be plenty of hikes to share as well! That being said, let's get to some pictures :-).

Being that the town of Jackson is almost an hour's drive away, we try to be organized and just make a trip there once every two weeks for groceries. Once we got our first week under our belts, where it seemed as if we went into town every day (my tooth extraction, an appointment at the vet for Honey, Al's kidney stones, a bike repair), we've been pretty good. Our last trip to town was May 31( our days off are Sunday and Monday). We had taken a good walk around the ranch with the dogs, and planned our two week menu and made up a grocery list. Just before we were ready to leave, our co-worker Gale bounced over to see if we wanted to join her for lunch at Signal Mountain. We figured why not, and Steve and Teresa joined us as well. Well, it turned out to be a very good decision, as we saw a bear on the way!!
This gorgeous black bear was having a great time chowing down the multitudes of dandelions on the side of the road. 

After lunch, we headed into town, taking the scenic Park Loop Road, which was another good decision. Down at the Moose Visitor Center, we caught sight of this young bull moose having a snack in the willows along the Snake River; yes, we saw a Moose at Moose :-)!

One day after work, we took a drive into the park to historic Jackson Lake Lodge. This is one of the pricier places to stay in the park, with hotel rooms and cabins. Last year we ducked into this lodge to wait out a rain storm that cropped up before we had started kayaking down the Snake River. I was blown away by the beautiful atrium area of the hotel.
Jackson Lake Lodge was designated a "National Historic Site" in 2003. It's architecture represents a break with the traditional rustic style used by the national Park Service to that point. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who had previously designed the Ahwanhee, Bryce Canyon and North Rim Grand Canyon lodges, Jackson Lake Lodge combined these rustic styles with a modern, International style. 

The back side of Jackson Lake Lodge. These expansive windows show "the view" from inside:

The lodge was actually built around "the view", so that guests arriving here in the atrium are just completely "wowed" by the mountain vistas.

There's a fireplace and cozy seating group arranged in the two corners of the atrium as you enter. There are also two dining areas, one the famous "Mural Room", a fine dining experience with views of the Teton range while you eat.

There is also a display of this beautiful grizzly bear; he was legally hunted and killed in 1985, and was ultimately donated to the park for display and educational purposes.

I found the close-up view of the deadly claws very educational!!

My primary purpose in heading to Jackson Lake Lodge that afternoon was to embark on the short hike known as "Lunch Tree Hill". This spot in the park is special because of the significant event that took place here.

This story begins with Horace Albright, the first National Park Service Superintendent of Yellowstone, who was well known for his love of the Teton Range and his dream to preserve it along with the Jackson Hole valley. A fortuitous visit to the Yellowstone area by the Rockefeller family, recounted below, proved to be just what Albright needed to germinate his master plan.
"The summer of 1926 found John D. Rockefeller, Jr., his wife and three children, again journeying to the West.  After a visit to the Southwest and California, in July they arrived at Yellowstone for a twelve day stay.  Soon Albright was motoring his guests south to the Teton country.  The first day they picnicked on a hill (now "Lunch Tree Hill" adjacent to Jackson Lake Lodge) overlooking Jackson Lake.  Five moose browsed contentedly in the marsh below them.  Across the lake spread the majestic Teton Range.  It was a day and a view destined to have a lasting impression on Rockefeller."  
"The following morning they continued south towards Jackson.  Rockefeller and his wife were profoundly impressed by the Leigh-String-Jenny Lake region, but were appalled by the encroaching commercialism.  A rather tawdry dancehall seemed inappropriate, "unsightly structures" marred the road, and telephone wires bisected the Teton view.  Jackson Hole seemed destined for the ubiquitous uglification coincidental with unplanned tourist development.  Mrs. Rockefeller was particularly irate and asked if anything could be done.  Visual abuse led to verbal communication and soon Albright was sharing his ideas.  Returning to Yellowstone, they stopped at Hedricks Point, a bluff overlooking the Snake River which afforded a magnificent view in all directions.  It was here that Albright revealed the concerns of the Maud Noble cabin meeting three years earlier, and the plan to save not only the mountains but much of the valley spread out before them.  Although Rockefeller was noncommittal, he listened intently to Horace Albright's account of the efforts to save the valley." - page 45-46, Crucible for Conservation  
"When Rockefeller signaled his desire to purchase the whole northern valley, it was a remarkable turn of fortune. … Within a few days after receiving the material, Rockefeller gave his approval in a letter … to purchase 'the entire Jackson Hole Valley with a view to its being ultimately turned over to the Government for joint or partial operation by the Department of Park and the Forestry Department.'" - page 48, Crucible for Conservation
With Rockefeller's help, Albright's dream would eventually become a reality. (excerpted from NPS website)
The wildflowers are really showing up now, making it very colorful.

As we were leaving Jackson Lake Lodge, we had a really special moment. I was looking along the sides of the road as I always do, and spotted an elk across the pond. Now elk are pretty much a dime a dozen around here, but out of the corner of my eye I thought I spotted a smaller head. We turned around and looked closer, and realized there was a baby there, and closer inspection showed that it was very recently born. 
It was curled up o the ground, still wet, and mom was busy cleaning it off. We watched for about 15 minutes, completely by ourselves, as cars whizzed past without stopping.

Mom was encouraging the youngster to stand up, and after several wobbly attempts that ended with falling back down, we had success.

the youngster stayed standing, and even found the right end to start feeding from! By now, there were several other people that had stopped to see what we were taking pictures of, and soon we had a full-fledged elk jam on our hands. A ranger soon arrived for traffic control, and we headed on out, happy that we had been a witness to this new little life starting.

The weather had started improving, and when our weekend rolled around we took the dogs out for a long hike from the ranch. 
We have about 3/4 of a mile on a trail on property, then we cross the creek and head up into the hills and ridges beyond, which is back in forest and park lands.

Our bosses Brad and Joann were also enjoying the day with a trail ride. They bought a new horse this past winter that Brad is training for pack trips.

The dogs had a great time, although Casey does like running free on the ranch property a bit better. Being that there is a danger of running into wildlife out here, we keep him on the leash...and have our bear spray with us!

I think I'll wind up this post with our short hike at Colter Bay, the Lakeshore Trail, on a beautiful sunny day.

This 2 1/4 mile figure eight trail starts out on a service road behind the Colter Bay Visitor's Center.

It follows the shoreline of Colter Bay with great views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range.

The trail heads into the forest for awhile.

The bend of the top of the figure eight loop breaks out into a glorious view of the Teton range. It's a good thing we weren't looking for a quiet, scenic spot for lunch, however, as several school groups on a field day were camped out back here! It was good to see kids out enjoying nature.

The balsamroot wildflowers are in full bloom.

heading back on the second loop of our figure eight trail showed us vistas to the northeast, towards Yellowstone.

Finally circling back towards the end of the trail, with views of Mount Moran. 

So, that's a little of what we've been up to. We went to Yellowstone last weekend, spending the day with Dan and Jonell Anderson, who are working at a gift shop in West Yellowstone this summer. We had a great day at Old Faithful Geyser basin, and I have a ton of pictures to go through so I can get a post written about that. We are really busy at the ranch, at full occupancy now for the rest of the month. And we are hoping to go on a white water rafting adventure on Monday. So there should be more exciting stuff for me to write about very soon. Thanks for hanging in there, and have a great day!


  1. You sure can't beat the scenery for your summer!

  2. Those are just gorgeous pictures Karen. What a wonderful summer you are having. I am very envious of your being in/near the Tetons, one of my very favorite National Parks. We owe the Rockefeller family a great deal for other parks as well. Luckily they were willing to share their wealth in those times.

  3. Glad things have settled down and you are enjoying your time off, as well as your work. You have seen the most amazing wildlife and the summer is young:o)) So beautiful and will enjoy seeing more of the beauty!!!

  4. I think this is one of your best posts that I have seen. Great scenery and seeing that precious new baby along with your activities drove in the home run! Can't wait for your further adventures!

  5. I think this is one of your best posts that I have seen. Great scenery and seeing that precious new baby along with your activities drove in the home run! Can't wait for your further adventures!

  6. Very nice post! Beautiful pictures! Keep enjoying.

  7. Beautiful- good job spotting the fawn. The mamas keep them very close.

  8. You are in one of the most beautiful parts of the country for sure!

  9. Have a great summer! Yellowstone is full…all lodges/cabins/campgrounds. When folks show up without a reservations, we are sending them outside the park. This usually happens in July & August..NOT June! It's going to be a crazy summer!

  10. Nice photos! Makena would love running around in the field. We are thinking of driving over next week. I will keep my eye out for a moose. Enjoy your whitewater rafting trip!