Along the way

Our lengthy drive into Teton park each day not only passes through a canyon with the Snake River, it rolls past the most interesting barn.

You understand, this is Jackson Hole country, so 9 out of every 10 buildings are built of wood…and most are logs…and I know, barns are usually built of wood.

But this one is more than wood…it has a design and a finish that speaks of love for the wood, care for the wood, and pride in the wood.DSC_0045

It’s the first thing we see as we catch the edge of Jackson…and the last thing on the way out of town.

What a feast for the eyes!DSC_0049

We stopped for a minute and talked with the owner and one of his daughters, as they did a little work on another out-building and finished up chores for the horses they own and a couple they board.

Yes, it’s new, but there are many, many new houses that don’t look to be so lovingly and proudly crafted.

And the horses know it, too…you can see it in their eyes!DSC_0074

Well, that may have been the setting sun….DSC_0087

Further reflections

As I said, Teton park gives soooo many different opportunities for beautiful, delightful scenery.

Just yards from the photos in the previous post, there are some truly lovely scenes available.

I don’t think you see them in the popular photos because they focus on mountains away from the center few peaks.

Sooooo, ya think we should ignore them?DSC_8468-2DSC_0182


Our time in the Tetons is nearing an end.

What a marvelous, rewarding portion of God’s landscape this is!

Seemingly endless variety of scenery…not only because of the physical differences, but because the light and the weather create different looks for the same spot.

Down on Schwabachers Landing, there are two parking lots that lead to two quite different landscapes.

This one is close to what many consider a “money shot” spot. I’ll take you to that one later.

Here, we stand beside one calm portion of the Snake River, calm because it has several beaver dams….that’s an active beaver home at the right edge of the photo.DSC_8448-2

Lovely morning for a photo, don’t you think?

Ahhhh, but the water wasn’t totally calm….

Okay, so wait 20 minutes.DSC_8472-2

Ohhh, but those silly clouds have covered so much of the mountains….

Come back the next morning a couple hours earlier…7am to be exact, after a 90-minute drive from the coach….

Yessss, the earlier morning light on the scene now emphasizes the mountains (if only the water was perfectly still…..).DSC_0181

Think I’ll have a soda

One of our forays into the surrounding countryside found us in the town of Soda Springs, Idaho.

It really does have bubbling springs that put out sparkling water, which has been true since Indians roamed the countryside.

The town no longer finds much commercial use for them, and has pegged its fortunes on two other more dramatic occurrences in town.

One, a geyser that was accidentally created when the town was drilling an exploratory well in hopes they could find a hot spring. Turns out this thing was so big, it nearly drowned the town for a couple weeks, until they managed to cap it.

They found it could be opened for a few minutes each hour, and it would blow just as big every time.

That was almost a hundred years ago, and it’s still true today!DSC_8814

It’s the world’s only captive (controlled by valve) geyser.

By the way, close call getting that shot….the geyser only blows once each hour, and rain began moments before the appointed time…click for the picture to fill your screen, and you can see the raindrops in the upper right area with the dark clouds….

The major employer in town is Monsanto. We stopped by their plant to see what we could see. Lovely flowers out front, with mondo buckets the back-drop for the display.DSC_8868

Turns out those monsters play a crucial role at this plant. They cook phosphate ore that has been dug in a nearby open pit. Those buckets haul a lava-like by-product out of the plant to a mound that has been created over the years.

We saw them dumping a load….DSC_8928

Take the long view

Sometimes you just want to walk right up to one of these mountains and look at it in detail.DSC_9307

They have personality for sure! Click that one to fill your screen…the waterfall that goes and goes, the incredible fracturing of the rock at the top, the tone on tone on tone of green.

Yet, seeing a bunch of these mountains at once is pretty compelling, too.DSC_8738

They create weather patterns…they provide the perfect connection between earth and sky.

Even from the back, they’re impressive!DSC_9948

And they help you keep your perspective about what’s really big in life….DSC_9794

Teton icons

The park has several iconic photo scenes, and I’ve wanted to visit the place for several years so I could have a go at them.

Schwabachers Landing in several spots for mountain reflections, Snake River Overlook for a classic shot undertaken by none other than Ansel Adams in 1942, but perhaps most striking is the Moulton Ranch barn with the Tetons for background.

There are actually two barns that draw photographers. I showed you one of them in the first post for our visit to the park.

That one is less popular, probably because it has other buildings nearby that either limit your shot or intrude on it.

The preferred barn stands alone, has some trees for greenery back from it on either side, and is surrounded by field grass and some wooden fences. It just looks “old west”.

TheĀ “money shot” is usually an early morning picture, with the soft color of the rising sun just touching the tips of the mountains behind the barn. Fresh snow doubles the value. Bison standing near the barn makes the value incalculable…especially since it appears there is fencing to prevent them from getting near these days!

I’m not big on sunup photos…because it means I have to wake up and get moving before the sun makes its appearance. In this case, it also meant a 90-minute drive from where our coach was parked to the barn.

Besides, I’ve been quite satisfied with Teton scenery in daylight.

Maybe early morning…not too long after sunrise…would be good enough, you know what I mean?DSC_8446-2


River, that is.

We have about a 70 mile drive to get into the Teton park each day, and before you start feeling sorry for us…DSC_9151

We spend most of the drive alongside the Snake River. Here, at the beginning of the canyon, the two mountains come down with their jagged edges to define a pretty placid river.

Maybe you’ve heard it’s quite a stretch of whitewater?

Ahhh, that would be farther along on our drive, where it drops quickly and the mountains start squeezing to subdue its waters…without success.DSC_9225

The photos above are in Wyoming, south of Jackson.

The photos below are in Idaho, on the way to Idaho Falls.DSC_9597DSC_9590

Our contact with the Snake has only gone downstream as far as the heart of downtown Idaho Falls. I was stunned by how they managed to highlight the river’s wild beauty while containing its waters within the city limits.DSC_8501-2

Gros Ventre Wilderness

Immediately adjacent to the Grand Teton National Park is a wilderness area that was formally established only 30 years ago.

A paved road from the east edge of Teton park leads into Gros Ventre (“groh-VAHNT”) Wilderness and provides comfortable access to many spectacular views of the area.

Our misfortune was to pick a day to visit when a quick storm blew up…just as we ran out of pavement…and the gravel road that continued into the wilderness area had substantial clay content, which made for treacherous driving along sheer cliffs above Lower Slide Lake!

Still, we got a nice taste for this special area….and managed one photo before the rain hit!DSC_9153

On our way back down into Teton park, we passed this little clearing and its three little structures. It was actually sprinkling, so I was moving fast to get these shots, but I never saw any description about their history.

It seems the walls were fairly sturdy, but the builder’s roofing skills needed more work…DSC_9156DSC_9157

By the time we got back into the park, the storm was gone and the sun was shining brightly again! We crossed Cottonwood Creek as it ran from the south end of Jenny Lake.DSC_9602

Oh baby!

The vast fields of Teton park are kind to wild animals…especially mothers with young. There’s plenty of notice for most predators, especially photographers!

Ah, but sometimes you get lucky.

Actually, I’ve found the car to be good camouflage…animals don’t usually run from it…so I shoot from the open window. Or I can get out on the opposite side from the animal and shoot from behind the car.

It also helps to have a good, long lens.

No need to sneak up on bison…they know they own the place…but you’ll need the long lens to keep a safe distance!DSC_9525

Deer are infrequently seen in daylight, but this little sweetie and its mother were close enough to a little side road we were on, that I could shoot from the window.DSC_9907

Pronghorn antelope generally keep their distance, but this pair was on a mission and came near enough to the road that I could snap a shot. I actually kept driving slowly to match their speed in order to get this shot…mother kept herself between the car and her baby!DSC_0346

For this last shot, luck came along and tapped me on the shoulder. We were driving at dusk, and Robyn said “Moose!” I stopped the car, and she said “Over there, going the other way.”

I jumped out of the car, hoping to get a shot through the trees, but realized the animal was on a ridge that disappeared down a hill. Still, I walked back along the road, hoping to get lucky.

Then I heard crashing sounds in the woods…coming from the ridge direction…heading up the hill toward me.

Dusk. Large. Wild. Animal. Coming.

I started to back up toward the car.

Suddenly, she stepped into the fading light and looked right at me. I slowly raised the camera.

She kept moving…and baby came into my viewfinder!


Off the reservation

I say again, “Who knew this wide-open state of Wyoming could be so mountainous and interesting?”

We took a run into the next valley to the east.

Can’t do that in a straight line…mountains in the way. Took 104 miles to get over to Pinedale and the ridges above it, in order to gaze in wide wonder at the views it wrought.

I’ve always thought of Wyoming as flat grassland.DSC_8223


That was on the way to this view:DSC_8211

Loooong way down to that lake…see the boat and its white wake? Those mountains in the distance? They’re farther to the east from this spot, which would make them the fourth range of mountains we’ve encountered here….I think….kind of lost count.

On the other side of the ridge where I was standing was this view:DSC_8224

Wyoming’s got plenty of water….

Back closer to home, we made a short run into the mountains to the west of our valley. Much of that range is actually in Idaho. Took away this impression of it:DSC_8776

It’s almost hard to find a level spot to plant your feet and plant some crops!

Just south of our park is the town of Afton with the elk antler arch over the main street that it says is the world’s largest. I’m not into such pictures…afraid you’ll have to imagine it.

But we made a short run up into a nearby canyon that runs beside Swift Creek. Think I know where it gets its name.DSC_8258-2

Feeding into its waters was this sweet little waterfall!DSC_8250-2

As the darkness gathered on our way home to the coach, we had this reminder that God delights in giving us glorious scenery everywhere we turn:DSC_8753