Welcome to our Adventure!

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!
Homer, Alaska

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Life on the Ranch

We have been here on the ranch for almost six weeks now, and have settled into a regular routine. We are having a very strong season already, probably due to the 100th birthday of the National Park system and of Yellowstone itself. The increase in visitors has also led to many publicized stories of visitor misbehavior, many of them sadly ending in fatalities, both for wildlife and humans. There have been two human fatalities in Yellowstone, both due to carelessness. One woman was struck and killed by a car as she walked into the road, trying to get a picture of an eagle. In the other fatality, a young man in his twenties wandered far off the boardwalks in an active hot spring area, and fell into one of the thermal features; needless to say, there were no remains to recover.  But the one tragedy that really breaks my heart is the death of our resident celebrity grizzly bear 399's cub of the year, nicknamed Snowy because of his unique white face. Snowy was struck and killed by a vehicle late Sunday evening, along with another sow black bear about an hour earlier. I so wish people would heed the speed limits and slow down to enjoy our parks. How can you see anything when you're speeding through the park??

We've been very busy here at work, and enjoying our down time on our days off. It's been a while since I've talked about the work we do here, so I thought I'd show a little slice of daily life for any new readers I may have.

We are now in our third summer working here, and it still holds its magic for us, believe it or not. When we first set out on the road six years ago (six!!), we firmly believed we would land in a different spot every summer, as there are so many interesting and beautiful areas of the country that we still have to discover. We held to that formula right up to our fourth year, and when we were invited back for a second season, we promptly said, "Yes, thank you!"  It's hard work, but so satisfying to be a part of something so well-run, so clean, and so proud of what it is. The owners, Brad and Joanne Luton, are such nice, genuine people, and treat all of us so well, that it makes one want to work hard for them. Our coworkers this year are all really nice, and we enjoy getting together with them after hours; it's always a nice perk to make new friends. As far as the location, well, I can't say anything more about it than what my pictures show; fantastic scenery, lots of outdoor activities, and supremely quiet, at least here on the ranch. The park is quite busy, but we have a little haven of peace here.

This is the view from our front door this year. We are surrounded by willows on both sides, and a short path leads down to...

our screen room at the creek. I call this my "study hall," as this is where I've been retreating to do the studying for my class that I'm working on. 

It's really not too hard to get used to!

We are trying our hands at a little gardening this year. We have a container tomato plant, some pepper plants, and two trays of herbs. They've been doing pretty good so far, although tonight I will have to put them in our little portable greenhouse as it's suppose to go down to freezing!

Now that everyone is trained in their housekeeping responsibilities, we've settled into our regularly scheduled programming. Another person has been trained for office work, so now Jonell does three days in the office, and I do three days. The other two days of our work week we spend in housekeeping. Al is still doing laundry duty five days a week, as well as coordinating the housekeepers. A second person, Terry, has been trained for laundry on Al's two days off. So we are in a routine now, and we have Tuesday and Wednesday off this year. 

I really enjoy working in the office. I still have plenty of cleaning to do, as the office person is in charge of keeping the lodge clean and tidy, and I also assist the housekeepers on busy days by doing a couple of kitchens in the mornings. Office days, I work a split shift; usually from 8AM to about 12ish, then back in from 3PM to 7PM for check-ins. My mornings consist of paperwork, reports, returning calls and emails, taking reservations, cleaning grills (there are a dozen grills throughout the property for guests to use, and they get cleaned every day), inspecting cabins for check-ins, as well as the vacuuming, dusting, and bathroom cleaning in the lodge. The afternoons are mostly working with guests who are checking in, answering questions, and generally acting as a "concierge service." This year, so far, has been very busy with helping guests plan their itineraries, and suggesting activities for them to do. It is something I really enjoy doing, and I really feel that I am starting to know the area well enough that I sound like I know what I'm talking about :-)! 

We go to town, Jackson, once every other week for groceries and shopping. It takes about 45 minutes each way from the ranch, and it just seems like it's a least a half-day ordeal, if not longer. We decided early on during our first year that we didn't want to do it each week, so we plan and arrange meals for at least two weeks, leaving us one full "weekend" every other week for playing in the parks :-). It is really helpful that we are allowed to use a big refrigerator and an upright freezer in the maintenance garage to stock up on items, especially sale items :-). We do have a small general store about 20 minutes away for any perishables that we may need to restock during the second week. The system has been working pretty well for us.

It goes without saying that Honey and Casey love their walks here on the ranch as well! We've all been going out every single morning since we got here, before work starts, and I'm happy to report that we've both lost some much-needed weight :-). There are dogs here for them to run around with, so it's been a fun time for all.

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Rick and Gail Houle, who used to write the blog "Gypsy Turtles," for the day. They are on a summer-long tour of the west, and we had met them back in 2011 at the RV-Dreams rally in Sevierville. We took them on a day-long tour of our favorite spots here in Grand Teton National Park. 

The historic Mormon barn, the Moulton Barn, is always a worthy Kodak picture spot. It's said to be the most photographed barn in the United States.

Schwabacher's Landing is another personal favorite, and I'm sure many of you will recognize this spot from previous postings.

We took a short hike along the river, hoping for some wildlife.

It was a little sparse, though, but we did see this flock of common goldeneye ducklings; they didn't much care for arrival, and scooted off quite quickly.

We had a long lunch break at Leek's Marina, and we're happy to report the pizza is once again very good. They were having issues last summer, but I noticed the manager from our first year here is back, so maybe he has things on an even keel again.

It's not remotely a good picture, but we were lucky enough to spot a mamma and baby moose as we headed over to Jackson Lake Lodge for the exquisite view.

We parted ways with Rick and Gail at this point, as we had to return to the ranch to feed and walk the dogs before heading out again, this time joining our coworkers for a fun evening at the Bar J Chuckwagon Show. We had gone to this show last year and enjoyed it very much, so we didn't mind going back again. 

So that's about it. We've been working, playing, and having a pretty good time so far this year. Soon our dear friends Carol and John Herr will be arriving in the area, and perhaps then I will have more exciting adventures to talk about. But for now, we're enjoying our daily life here at the ranch :-).


  1. Sounds wonderful! Bill and I hope to spend a summer in that area one summer! Say hello to Al from me!

  2. Such a beautiful spot for the summer, I can understand why you would return!

  3. The area is fantastic but It's icing on the cake when you like your job as much as you guys. I know you'll have a great summer!

  4. Enjoyed your newsy post about how your summer is going at the ranch. We will be there soon and can't wait to explore this beautiful area.

  5. Such a beautiful area, it's no wonder you've returned. Wish we could have made it down while we we in ID. After spending a week in Yellowstone it doesn't surprise me all the fatalities they've had, some folks just don't think rules apply to them nor do some use any common sense. Glad you got to catch up with Rick & Gail, they were "stalking" us for a few weeks but they've now turned NW and are on a different trek than us.

  6. Love your opening picture. It says a lot about where you are. Very sad to hear about the grizzly deaths. It is their home and they deserve to be safe in it. The humans seemed to be the cause of their own deaths but the bears were victims.
    Your pictures from Teton and all around are fantastic. I too can understand why you would return for years to enjoy and really get to know this area. Great that your friends are stopping by. Too late to say hi to Rick and Gail but say Hi to John and Carol for us.

  7. It really is a spectacular location. Glad your summer is going well and so great that you got to meet up with Gail and Rick.

    Enjoy your summer!!!!