Jeep Journal – Jackson Hole, Yellowstone II

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A wintry visit . . . .

Each autumn we load up Willy, our jeep and head for the high country.  We have traveled mostly in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana, and our love of the Rocky Mountains draws us back time and again.  This year we headed for Yellowstone and the Tetons the first week of October, which was a little later in the season than our previous visits.  Our plan initially was to include Chico Hot Springs, Livingston and Bozeman, Montana, but a major snow storm prevented any travel north, as well as in Yellowstone National Park.

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wintry scene . . . .

We flipped our travel itinerary and headed for Jackson Hole and the Tetons via Dubois, hoping that the weather would clear enough for us to enter Yellowstone after the roads had been cleared of snow later in the week. It took several hours of wrangling with hotel reservation desks, but we were able to patch together some accommodations.  In this photo, the Tetons are cloaked in snow, but down below in the “hole” there was little snow.  We were able to start our trip in pleasant, fairly mild weather in Jackson, and a newly discovered bed and breakfast was just the ticket.

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Riverfront accommodations . . . .

Since acquiring our wonderful Aussie, Maud, our requirements for lodging are pretty straight-forward: “pet friendly.”  Imagine my surprise when I discovered this delightful bed and breakfast.   Situated a stone’s throw from the banks of Flat Creek, the Inn provided the beauty of a natural setting as well as convenience to shopping, dining and sight-seeing.  We were able to walk everywhere we needed to go, which was a blessing as parking is always tight in downtown Jackson.

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Anybody for a swim? . . . .

Maud was excited to see Canadian geese floating along outside the door to our suite, but upon closer inspection the geese decided to depart.

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Up the creek . . .

A bridge crossing Flat Creek was a good vantage point to capture some scenery.

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Down the creek . . . .

Our suite was on the ground floor with double glass doors and large windows opening on to the creek.  I cannot think of many places we have stayed that had so much ambience, both outdoors and indoors (fireplace, full kitchen, living area, bedroom and bath).

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Bird watching by the creek . . . .

Enjoyed the autumn sun along with a variety of birds who were working the feeders strung up along the yard.  Hard to believe on this pleasant afternoon that we were leaving to drive north through the snow soon.

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Cavalcade . . .

First Lady Melania Trump arrived for a visit to the Tetons and Yellowstone just ahead of our arrival.  We were unaware of her presence and missed the celebration for her in the town square.  She was riding in a caravan (above) of eight black SUV’s and was returning from a planned visit to Yellowstone, which had been cut short due to snow and icy roads.   Cannot help but wonder what her impression was of her visit to Wyoming.

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North bound at last . . . .

I was unable to get a good photograph of the Presidential Air Force plane which was parked at the airport awaiting the First Lady.  The giant plane stood out alongside the tiny airport that serves Jackson and it must have been a pretty dizzying sight to land by jumbo jet there.  My own experience flying into Jackson in a University of Wyoming plane (6 – seater) was pretty incredible back in the day.

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Autumn . . . .

We missed the peak of fall color in Teton National Park by a week to 10 days.  Added to the difficulty of being snowed out of Yellowstone, we have decided to move back future visits to September.  That is no guarantee, but the odds are better than in October.  The other good alternative that we have yet to explore is Yellowstone in winter, which requires arriving via snow coach and touring on cross-country skis, which we both would love to try.

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Aspen . . . .

Pockets of Aspen trees had not shed their leaves and were a reminder of how glorious autumn is in the Tetons.

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Norris Falls . . . .

The snow in Yellowstone made everything look dramatically different from our memory of previous visits.  It makes one want to push back and observe the wildlife and scenery as it appears in the quiet of deep winter.

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Kepler Cascade . . . .

It is difficult to capture the grandeur of most of the sights in Yellowstone.  What the eye can see the camera cannot quite capture.  We keep trying.

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Old Faithful, again . . . .

We could not resist taking yet another photograph of Old Faithful.  We stood on the outside upper deck of Old Faithful Lodge and nearly froze awaiting the arrival of this steamy wonder.  As with much of Yellowstone, little changes from year to year and that is good.

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Willy and Tug . . . .

We have found traveling in a jeep pretty confined with Maud as she takes up the entire back seat! So Tug, our little trailer was added and worked so well we vow to take it on all our driving vacations.  It pulls like a champ and holds an amazing amount of gear, groceries, and equipment.

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Yellowstone Lake Lodge . . . .

For a different perspective of the lodge, we walked onto a point out in the lake and captured the length and breadth of it.  It is one of my favorite places to stay and we had a grand time.  Few of the grand old hotels in the national parks still offer formal dining rooms replete with linens, glass, tableware and menus for fine dining.  It was a high-point of our day – reservations required!

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“Do not disturb!” . . . .

Each morning and late evening, this huge bull elk bugled from his vantage in a grassy pasture near a Yellowstone Lake Lodge service building, and in the timber just north of the lodge.  His shrill, ear-splitting call brought forth an abundance of cows who could not resist his attraction.  Taking Maud for her daily morning and evening stroll meant we had to avoid the chance of her barking at them, God forbid.  I am afraid we would have had to tangle with this big boy.

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“Lend me a leg” . . . .

A gathering of old bulls alongside the road was a poignant reminder of how they come to end their lives, isolated form the herd and fending off the elements.  This old guy has a lame leg that unless it heals will leave him vulnerable to wolves and other predators.  It is the cycle of life, and in nature it is simple and direct.

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Upper Falls . . . .

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Lower Falls . . . .

I run out of words to describe the power and glory of the waterfalls in Yellowstone.  The rushing water commands our attention and, like the wonders of Old Faithful and all the geysers, the water falls continue on their path carving out canyons and passage through this amazing place.

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Maud keeps an eye on things . . . .

Maud is a good traveler, but the limitations on bringing pets into a national park are stringent.  She seemed patient to ride along, watching out the window at the passing scenery and wildlife.  Occasionally she would bark and become aroused, but fortunately she didn’t incite any riots with the wild critters along the road.

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Brunch with a grizzly bear . . . .

This was our trophy photo of the trip.  The grizzly bear was foraging on the opposite side of a ravine from us and thanks to a powerful lens, seems almost close enough to touch.  They are reclusive and not as easily sighted as the smaller black bears that used to create a nuisance along the highway, begging for snacks.  Since the removal of garbage dumps and secure closures on trash cans, even the black bears keep their distance.  Tourists are discouraged from rolling down car windows, feeding the bears or exiting cars in their presence.  More than a few encounters over the years have met with seriously injured tourists and euthanized bears.

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Wiley coyote . . . .

We watched a coyote hunting and he seems not to have noticed us as he went about the business of searching out a rabbit, vole, insects or whatever he could find for lunch.  Early in our journey we were unable to photograph a magnificent young bull moose who was wandering through a meadow.  The traffic jam he caused left us with no recourse but to drive on but I still see him in my mind’s eye.

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Shoreline, Yellowstone Lake . . . .

I revisited my blog of “Jeep Trip – Yellowstone, Tetons and Big Horns” of September 29, 2012 to compare what we saw on that trip that differed from our journey in October 2019.  We took different routes and while some of the iconic sites were the same, such as Old Faithful, we covered some new ground and new wildlife experiences.  I believe we left thinking “until next time” and trust we will discover new vistas and experiences in Wyoming’s magnificent Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

 

 

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