Thursday, August 19, 2010 we come -- (Grand Tetons, Part I)

We left Gering, Nebraska, on Monday, August 2nd, heading West, with our destination being the Grand Tetons to visit our friends, Martin and Melissa, and their sweet family -- Nicholas 16; Rachel 13 and Rebekah, 3, soon to be 4.

Our first stop was the Fort Caspar Campground in Casper, Wyoming.  Fort Caspar accepts Passport America, so the price of $18.25 for a pull-thru with  full hookups and 50 amp was great.  As you can see, there was ample room between sites and the site was level, since it was all gravel.

The Blue River Trout Stream/River is located behind the campground.  There is a walking path that we took advantage of -- we always enjoy seeing wildlife.

We were up early the next morning and on the road.  Since most campgrounds in the Grand Tetons area are quite pricey, we planned to stop in Dubois (pronounced DewBoyz), Wyoming.  We had reservations at the Longhorn Ranch RV and Motel.  Dubois is 73 miles from Moose, Wyoming, where our friends live. They measured and assured us we could park the motorhome in their driveway, but we wanted to check it out before we actually drove it over.

In the middle of nowhere was a stoplight -- construction, no doubt.

And we began to see mountains with snow far away in the background.

Along the way, we stopped at a Rest Area to photograph the rock formations in the area.

The contrast in formations and the colors were awesome.

Longhorn has 60 full hookup RV sites and 20 motel rooms on the Wind River.  They also raise longhorn cattle.

Our site was number 16 -- a pull-thru.

The Wind River runs alongside the park.

We really liked this park and found it very quiet -- away from all the hustle and bustle of Jackson, Wyoming.  The weather was phenomenal -- 70-80 during the day and 40-50s at night.  To think just a few weeks ago we were in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where the temp was in the 100s and still in the 90s at night.

Driving to the small town of Dubois, this is what we saw:

The town of Dubois -- not even a stop-light.

Since we wanted to make sure we could fit in our friends' driveway or yard, we drove our car the 73 miles the next morning and we were happy we did.  We had to climb 9,658 feet over Togwotee Pass and there was construction, with 17 miles of bumpy, dirt road on top of the pass.
What a beautiful view we saw as we slowly drove over the pass and started our descent.  There they were -- the Grand Tetons -- standing tall in the distance:

A little background on our friends, Martin and Melissa, and their family:  I met Martin and Melissa when Melissa was an active-duty USAF paralegal at Little Rock AFB and I was the court reporter.  She and our daughter, Alissa, share the same birthday and Nick and our grandson, Allen, were friends and played together when they were much younger.  We feel Melissa was very instrumental in introducing us to Paul and Margery -- although they have never met.  Melissa knew of our desire to become fulltime RV'ers and a couple of years ago, while Melissa was researching the Grand Tetons, she wandered across Paul and Margery's blog, where they reported on their recent trip to the Tetons.  Melissa sent me an email with their blog site, stating "These people are doing what you want to do."  From there, I started following Paul and Margery's blog and finally got up the nerve to contact them, telling them we were "wannabes."  To make a long story short, we met Paul and Margery when they came through Arkansas in 2008.  If you have read our blog, you know how much we appreciate Paul and Margery, who have continuously provided us with invaluable information on fulltiming.  We feel God used Melissa to help connect us and we are very grateful for that. 

Martin and Melissa have traveled the world with the USAF and several years, after Martin retired from the USAF, he got that dream job a lot of us would love to have -- working for the National Park Service in Moose, Wyoming, adjacent to the Grand Tetons National Park.  When Melissa learned we were heading West, she wanted us to come and visit -- so here we are and very excited we have this opportunity to not only see our friends but the the Grand Tetons as well.  Not everyone has a personal invitation to visit the Tetons and stay with wonderful friends, who wrote the definition on hospitality.

A picture postcard

We stopped at the Snake River overlook for a close-up and personal view.  The Snake River originates in the high country of Yellowstone and meanders through the valley.  The Teton Mountains rise into the sky, a soaring rock without foothills to separate the mountains from the valley floor.  Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the range, is 13,772 feet above sea level.  Jackson enjoys a dry climate with  long warm summer days, but evenings are often chilly and a sweater or jacket is often needed -- at least for me. Winters can be long and the area sometimes gets as much as 150 inches of snow during the winter season.

The ancient Snake River cuts a wide and twisting channel through the valley.  Today's Snake River begins in the Teton Wilderness near Yellowstone National Park and flows south into Jackson Lake, diagonally down Jackson Hole, turning West into Idaho and eventually joins the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Saved from extinction by the ban of pesticides, bald eagles nest and fish along the Snake River.  Habitat destruction still threatens the eagle.  Looking through his binoculars, Alan was sure he saw a bald eagle.  The Shoshone called the Teton Range "Teewinot," meaning many pinnacles.  Other native Americans called the snow-capped peaks the "Hoary Fathers."  In the 1800s, explorers referred to the Tetons as "Pilot Knobs."  On a clear day, the Tetons are visible 150 miles from every direction.''

Teton Pass -- can you see Jackson?  The pass is a few miles east of the Idaho border.  The pinnacle of the pass is 8431 feet and starts with Wyoming Highway 22 and becomes Idaho State Highway 33 at the border. 

Jackson Hole is a valley encompassed with mountains.  The valley is 48 miles long and 8 to 15 miles wide and the valley floor slopes 6,779 feet above sea level in the north to about 6,069 feet at the southern end.  Jackson is predominantly a tourist town, not only in the summer but in the winter as well, with skiing, snow mobiles, etc.  Jackson's population is approximately 8600.   Some refer to Jackson as "Jackson Hole," but we were told the locals do not like this description.  However, it is in a hole, surrounded by mountains on every side.  Jackson has a cowboy atmosphere and we are pretty sure every motorcyclist heading to Sturgis came through Jackson first.

What a contrast -- stagecoach and motorhome side-by-side.

Framed by four elk-antler arches, Jackson's Town Square is the centerpiece of the heart of Jackson -- everything from a meeting place to a shopping destination to a relaxation spot. 

The antler arches have been gates to the Jackson Town Square since 1960.  The antlers are from elk that winters on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson.  Approximately 7500 elk spend each winter on the refuge.  The bulls shed their antlers every spring and they are picked up by local Boy Scouts and sold by public auction in this square each May.  All four arches were built by the Jackson Hole Rotary Club.  It is unlawful to remove any antlers from the arches.

On our way to Martin and Melissa's house for the first time, we came upon a "buffalo jam."  We learned quickly that when a group of cars pull over -- some even stop on the road -- it's a jam of some sort -- moose jam, bear jam, buffalo jam, etc.

We checked out the area where we thought we could park the motorhome, but we were still not convinced about driving it over the rough pass.  We got to visit and see Nicholas and Rachel after 10+ years -- they were all grown up.  I had never met Rebekah -- what a cutie.  (Pictures will follow)  Following dinner, we left to drive back to Dubois.  We knew the pass  closed at ten o'clock each night for three hours and we definitely did not want to get caught having to sit for three hours on top of the pass waiting to cross.  As we left Moose, we had to stop for a group of riders on horseback to cross the road -- as you can see, evening had definitely set in.
By the time we reached the pass, it was dark and I was a nervous wreck.  The part of the road up the pass had recently been resurfaced but there was no center stripe -- there were reflectors.   It was often difficult to tell which way to go...Alan kept telling me I was okay, just take it slow, but I was scared and gripping the steering wheel.  When we stopped to wait for the escort to lead us across the pass, we swapped places and he drove the rest of the way.  I was very relieved.  It was very rough and we were more convinced we did not want to bring the motorhome over it.  However, other motorhomes, trailers, big 5th wheels, 18-wheelers, etc. were crossing the pass.  Finally, after talking to folks at the campground, we were told it was better to cross in the morning.  So, after going back and forth for two days, we decided we would bring the motorhome over it.  

Instead of giving a day-by-day account of our goings and comings -- partly because I can no longer remember what day we did what -- I'm going to just provide a synopsis of our visit with Martin and Melissa and family and the Grand Teton National Park with pictures in our next posting.  So, please stay tuned to see the sights of the Grand Tetons.

I know I keep repeating myself about how blessed we are to be able to travel and see all that we are seeing.  We don't know what tomorrow may bring -- maybe that's why it seems we are in a such a hurry to see it all -- but we have seen so much in two months...more than a lot of people may not have the opportunity to see.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Without Him, we could do nothing.  As always, may God continue to bless our voyage and may God bless our family and friends.

Hopefully, I will finish up the Grand Tetons in my next posting and will be ready to move on to Yellowstone.


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  3. Ft Caspar CG wasn't bad at all -- had a lot of residents, but it wasn't bad for a one-night stop. We love Wyoming -- esp the cool air.

  4. Awe...this post about made me cry! I sure enjoyed our visit. Our other company left today ~ we have no more visitors on the schedule...what will we do?!?!? Looking forward to reading Part 2!! :o)