I really can't believe how fast time flies. I think subconsciously I realized it's been a while since I last posted, but I really was genuinely shocked when I logged on and saw it has been close to a month!
We are having an incredibly busy summer out here in the Tetons. The 100th birthday of the national Park system has really drawn in a lot of visitors, and Yellowstone National Park is totally slammed. So much so, that we haven't been up there once yet this summer. What's up with that??
We have been keeping ourselves amused, even without visits to one of our favorite playgrounds in the country. Our days off go by very quickly, but we have done a few things that are new to us this year. Actually, Jonell being restricted by her broken foot has forced us to slow down and tour some of the historical parts of the Grand Teton National Park. This is a good thing :-)
The Menor's Ferry Historic District and Chapel of the Transfiguration have been on my agenda for a while, so one beautiful Wednesday we all took the drive down to Moose for the Ranger-led presentation.
The Chapel of the Transfiguration is owned and operated by St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson. It was constructed in 1925, saving the settlers in the area the 12-mile ride over rough roads to church each week.
This is the view behind the altar; I can think of no better place to marvel at God's work here on earth. It was designed to frame what is known as the Cathedral Peaks of the Tetons.
The church continues to have services every Sunday in the summer.
We then headed down to the Menor's Ferry Historic District, which is along the Snake River.
The wildflowers are lasting quite long this season.
This is the homestead of William D. Menor, who came to the valley in 1894 and took up residence here beside the Snake River. Rivers are important transportation routes, and the Snake River was a natural barrier that divided Jackson Hole. Most settlers prior to 1900 lived on the east side of the river. In dry months, the river could be forded safely in several locations, but during periods of high water, it was impassable. Bill Menor saw an opportunity, and built the original ferry and cable works, charging 50 cents for a wagon and team and 25 cents for a rider and horse for passage across the river.
Today's ferry and cable works are replicas of the originals.
Another historic building in the area is the Noble Cabin. Menor sold the ferry to Maude Noble in 1918, who promptly raised fares to $1.00 for autos with local plates and $2.00 for out-of-state plates. She moved her cabin from Cottonwood Creek to this site when she purchased the homestead.
The historic value of this home comes into play with the beginnings of the park itself. In 1923, a group of local residents met with Horace Albright, then Superintendent of Yellowstone National park, to discuss their concerns over commercial development in the area. With more tourists coming to the area, more facilities to serve them were popping up. Commercialization of the valley was threatening to destroy the scenery and wildlife habitat, the very things people were coming to see. The meeting took place here in this cabin, where the concerned citizens felt that some sort of preserve was necessary to retain the character of the valley, and decided to seek a wealthy individual who might be willing to buy private land to donate to this preserve.
In 1926, Superintendent Albright met with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and aroused his interest in saving the valley. Through the newly-founded Snake River Land Company, Rockefeller provided money to purchase private land for future donation to the federal government. Despite decades of local opposition to the expansion of Grand Teton national Park, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. persevered and donated 33.000 acres to the park in 1949.
The current general store is the original homestead cabin of Bill Menor. Started in 1894, he added to the building in 1895 and 1905. Part of the building housed a store for items such as flour, tea, sugar, canned foods and some clothing. The store, ferry and a blacksmith shop provided a means of income, in addition to the subsistence living Bill Menor practiced on his homestead of 149 acres.
It was very hot the day we took the tour, so afterward we relaxed on the porch with some old-fashioned sasparilla sodas. Jonell is also excited as she is starting the "Junior Ranger" program in the park, working through the book to earn her special Centennial Junior Ranger patch. Stay tuned for the ceremony after she receives her patch :-).
This brings us into our next adventure the following week. Our friends John and Carol Herr were in the area, and we have always wanted to hike in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. There is a guided ranger hike every morning, and we decided it was high time for us to see what it was all about. You must arrive fairly early in the morning as they do limit the amount of people who are in the area at any one time.
"The trees, the animals, the streams, the flowers, preserved as much as possible in their natural state of beauty, will in turn help preserve our most precious resource -- the human spirit."
-Laurance S. Rockefeller's remarks at the dedication of the Jackson Lake Lodge, June 12, 1955.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. had retained over 3,100 acres around Phelps Lake as a family retreat. This land, known as the JY Ranch, was passed down to Laurance S. Rockefeller, who eventually arranged for the transfer of 2,000 acres to the park. In 2001, he announced the gift of the remaining 1,106 acres to the American people to become a part of Grand Teton National Park.
Our ranger-led tour was very interesting, and we were the only five people on the tour (John's daughter Jen, who was visiting from Florida, joined us). Our ranger, Kathy, showed us this tree, and that we could tell it had been used as a scratching post by bears, some quite recently! The wide, gray marks are the old scratches; the skinny, brown, weeping slashes are recent marks.
The trail followed Lake Creek through the forest and sagebrush meadows. We made several stops to talk about nature and it's role in our lives; what is important, and how we view it.
Clearing the forest area, we came within view of the mountains.
The escorted hike ended here at the "Wow" spot, so named because people arrive at Phelps Lake and go, "Wow!"
The water is clear and cold, and this is a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
We decided to continue around Phelps Lake for a short while.
On the way to what they call Huckleberry Point, there are boardwalks across the wetlands. The wetlands provide an important function to the Preserve's ecosystem by preventing flooding and filtering the surface water. Wetlands provide food, cover, and nesting sites for a multitude of song and migratory birds.
Being that we hadn't brought our lunch with us, we decided to head back to the Visitor Center. We took the Woodland Trail back, giving us a three and a half mile hike altogether.
We crossed the eastern end of the lake and headed back up the Woodland Trail. We saw plenty of birds and flowers along the way.
Lupines by the cascades near the Visitor Center.
We really enjoyed the hike through the Preserve, but more than anything it was special because of sharing it with our friends John and Carol. They share our passion for this country and its natural areas, and one can't ask for more than that. They will be back this way in a couple more weeks and we look forward to doing more hiking and some kayaking as well :-).
On the home front, we have been doing pretty well. As I said in the beginning, we've been very busy at work. My blog was actually started last week and finishing it became delayed as we needed to work an extra day. I have been quite active in the office and have met some very nice guests. I truly enjoy talking to them and helping them plan their activities to ensure the best vacation experience. The staff as a whole is working very well this year, and we have been having a good time with a few potluck dinners and card games during the week.
A not-so-good item to talk about is our refrigerator. Long-time readers will probably remember that we have been having a recurring issue with our Norcold 1210 refrigerator. Each summer for the last three years, it has decided to have a hissy fit and stop cooling. We thought we had it licked last year when it was discovered that the baffle had been installed wrong. It was not to be as about three weeks ago it stopped cooling once again. We are very fortunate that we have access to a fridge here at the ranch, but we decided to fix the problem once and for all. I don't want the uncertainty of not knowing if the fridge is going to have a fit at a most inconvenient time, and take a chance on losing a whole lot of food! We researched several options: replacing the cooling unit with a new Norcold unit, installing a residential fridge, or installing a new, Amish-built cooling unit. After much discussion, measuring, and writing to different RV'ers that we know who have had the issues, we decided to go with a new Amish-built helium cooling unit. I do not have pictures of the install, as I wished to stay out of the way, but yesterday Al, Brad, and Dan spent the day and got it done. So far, it seems to be doing pretty good! I'm very proud of these guys.
That's about it for now. Life is moving along, we have a little less than two months left here, and we should be getting some new interesting adventures to write about soon!