Summer 2013: Week 4: Wyoming

We are at that point in the trip where we are within striking distance of home (beginning of week 6--yes, we're behind in blogging, as is now par for the course), yet far from it really, in terms of mindset and route, which is nowhere near a beeline south. Our minds are a-jumble with all that we've seen on the trip. We find ourselves saying, "Can you believe that we were in Monument Valley on this trip?" or "Doesn't the cold night at 10,000 feet in Colorado seem like a long time ago?" Well, yes, it does, actually, after the last two weeks of scorching 90+ degree days ;-)

We have been exploring lots of new territory over the last two weeks, most of it either
a) without AT and T
b) with Verizon but with so little left on our measly 3G plan that we couldn't upload pix
c) while visiting friends, so it seemed rude to sit in the RV and update the blog. Well, at least I've been told by others we've visited how rude that it, so I shan't be scolded again....

That means we're taking a touring break this morning, here in lovely Bend, Oregon, at our very expensive (but refreshing) resort stop: Crown Villa RV Resort. This place was recommended by as being state-park like in setting, but with amenities. True, that. The sites are enormous and each one has a unique pattern in its brick pavers (we redid our driveway in paver stones and now that these aren't exactly cheap!). The best part is the lovely, worry-free wifi. Helps in getting the blog updated, planning the route home (all those nasty wildfires/smoke to avoid), and generally taking care of business. Now, on to re-capping the trip before Lisa says it's time to play tennis (!) here at the resort....

Lander, Wyoming

When we last left off, we were enjoying Flaming Gorge NRA. From there, we headed north to Green River, Wyoming, and a lovely little laundromat. We continued north to Lander and one of our best state park finds Sinks Canyon State Park around the witching hour of 4PM--when we like to be sure we nab a spot. Glad we did, too, as this park is TINY and only a very few sites were big/level enough for us.

The Sinks:

The Rise (about 1/2 mile downstream):

We had fun taking the several trails in this hidden little park, although Bago wasn't at all sure about the swinging bridge the first time over:

Reluctantly, we headed down out of the canyon and back into Lander where we ran grocery errands, refueled (love those Safeway filling stations!), and washed the coach. As is our practice on a hot summer day when one gets filthy washing the RV, we looked for a treat of some kind and we found it. The Scream Shack.

Driving Along the Wind River

We enjoyed a completely decadent lunch of a chokeberry shake for Lisa and an ice cream cone with no-sugar-added Bing Cherry sitting atop a very yummy Lemon Meringue Pie ice cream scoop.

Thus fortified and erranded up, we hit the road again, stopping at a cemetery on an Indian reservation to visit Sacajawea's grave and, further down the road, a cute little city park for a Bago swim in the Wind River, whose course we had been following.

And of course I had to snap this photo out the car window. Just perfect with the in-motion cowboy, I thought....

Grand Teton National Park

And then we reached the Tetons. Pity about the wildfire smoke. None of my pictures are nearly as spectacular as they were when we visited here 5 years ago.

Colter Bay experience: From my post to the View/Navion group:

"We were assigned a spot for 2 nights (note: "assigned"--you don't
get any choice), and hated it so much we bailed on the 2nd night. It's
overcrowded (wild kids rode mountain bikes THROUGH our campsite and people walk
by talking so close to your coach you could touch them), completely unpatrolled
(teenagers were shouting past midnight, and I asked the ranger in the AM about
it, and she just shrugged), and the sites were so unlevel (in most generator
loops, the "site is just a pull out parallel to the road) that I was amazed the
fridge kept working.

I suppose if boating is your main activity, this or Jenny Lake or the other
popular water-based sites would be your cup of tea, but it wasn't ours. We made
a great decision to sacrifice the $21 for a good night's sleep (did I mention
that our site was opposite the bathroom and trash too? Screaming babies at 6AM
echoing off those walls is not a great wake-up call) and move down to Gros
Ventre because, as the park literature mentioned, it "rarely fills." That
sounded appealing.

The benefits of the Gros Ventre campground are many:
1. Very quiet AND it has lovely views of the Tetons. (Coulter Bay has no views.)
2. It's close to Mormon Row for great photos and Antelope Flats for great
wildlife viewing
3. It's close to Jackson, should you need to go into town
4. It's on the border of National Forest land, so if you have an active dog like
we do and the dog is itching to get some exercise beyond the
6-foot-leash-on-the-road kind that is all that's allowed in national parks, then
you can zip up the hill to Atherton Lake for hiking, swimming, etc. As a matter
of fact, we're going to stay up there at the CG next time (only 5 miles from the
park boundary)--we've become big National Forest CG fans this trip."

Hooray for National Forest lands!

And hooray for the camphost at Gros Ventre who actually asked us what kind of site we would like and then (gasp) gave that to us! We had a lovely view, no close-by neighbors, and a roaring campfire as we watched the sun set behind the Tetons.

The day we tooled south from Colter Bay to Gros Ventre we tried to do a "photography tour" to capture some of the iconic Teton views, but alas--the wildfire smoke blowing over from Idaho prevented that. Here are a few only semi-decent snaps in that weird, smoky light.

Ansel Adams' famous photo setting:

Mormon Row and the famous Moulton barn

Where the deer and the antelope play! (We also did see bison in the park, then elk and moose later in Jackson.)

For my sign collection:

Jackson Hole

We spent some time poking around downtown Jackson before meeting up with our friends. Enjoyed one of the best meals of the trip at the Snake River Brewing Company, even though Bago couldn't join us.

Smoked troutcakes with a tomatillo sauce. Exquisite.

We strolled the square downtown in the surprisingly intense heat (mid-90s every day, and at 6000+ elevation, very strong sun shine) and visited the dog park a few times (which is how we learned of the Snake River Brewing Company and the very awesome pet store--always chat up dog park locals!).

Then we pulled into our friends' driveway for 3 days of catching up. We had visited Lee and Mary 5 years ago on our very first RV trip, and we were eager to show them that we've learned how to do it since them. We overlapped during our visit with their daughter and her 2 kids' visit; we were worried that we were intruding, but I think, after all, that it all worked out. We sure appreciated the kids playing so much with Bago. It's usually a win-win to have the dog wear out the kids and vice versa....

We also availed ourselves yet again of Lee's technical expertise and tool collection. We spent one day hanging out, doing repairs and hiking the trails behind the property. Lisa got the awning over slide out repaired with awning tape (thanks, View/Navion group) while I touched up all the paint chips we've picked up this trip during the crazy road work season.

View from their driveway of the Grand Teton during the morning dog walk:

Their wildflower garden at sunrise:

Bago wishing he had kids around more often:

Gram and the kids on the front porch:

Besides playing in the front yard several times a day with the kids, one day we got to take Bago to the a swimming hole by the dam in the Snake River. Boy oh boy did they all enjoy that, and it was followed by a most delicious bagel lunch in Wilson.

Hiking the trails behind their house. Breathtaking views everywhere (but no shade--that sun is VERY strong):

We had two spectacularly great treats while we were visiting. It turned out that we got free tickets to the closing night of the Grand Teton Music Festival and go to hear a breathtaking Tchaikovsky concert. One of the pieces featured the most amazing Yefim Bronfman--a pianist who is called the "next Horowitz." I've never seen hands like that.

The next treat was getting to meet up with a fellow Mary and I worked with 20 years ago, and get to meet his family and hear about his amazing music career.

What a lovely visit we had. Can't wait to get home and make a goody box to send as a thank you. (We used to bake Lee Vienna bars as a thank you for helping us with maintenance tasks on our first house 20 years ago, but we've learned that he's now gluten and dairy free. I can roll with that! Time to make chocolate bliss balls--vegan and raw--which are totally delicious and ship well ;-)

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