Day 11 – Our Eco Wildlife Adventure! (Part 1)

Hi everyone, we went on our ‘adventure’ today and I’m part-way through writing the blog but the photographer has had problems up-loading his magnificent photographs. The problem has now been resolved but we’ve had a long day and it’s rather late so I’ve decided to finish it tomorrow (Friday) as I don’t want to rush it and spoil your enjoyment!

Join us again later to read all about our adventure! 😀🐾

Day 10 – Yellowstone National Park

I’m pleased to report that the photographer’s assistant was up and out this morning, not feeling 100% but not too bad! The temperature at 9.30 a.m. was 59 degrees but this afternoon it rose to 72 degrees. Some rain and lightening was forecast from about 4.00 p.m. but I’m pleased to say that it stayed dry until about 5.30 p.m. when we had quite a shower but the lightening didn’t materialise and the sun came out and it’s very pleasant indeed! Fingers crossed the weather’s okay for tomorrow as we are off on a tour.

We were originally booked to go on a Wildlife Eco Tour here in the Grand Teton National Park today from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. but we were asked if we would change our day to tomorrow the 13th June which we did. Good job we did because I don’t think an early start like that would have been to the photographer’s assistant’s liking at all!!

Welcome to Yellowstone

Instead we drove to Yellowstone National Park, an hours drive from the cabin to the entrance of Yellowstone and then another hour to one of our destinations which today was Grand Prismatic Spring, the other being the gift shop at The Lodge to purchase a very important item, well a quantity actually of ……………….. Yellowstone bear soaps!! I bought some when I visited before and they proved to be very popular!

Yellowstone Bear Soap – cute or what!

We were surprised when we arrived in Yellowstone at the amount of ground snow there still is. Much more than in the Tetons.

Ground snow in Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica. It was was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colours match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

We’ve been to Yellowstone twice before and each time have photographed the spring at ground level but we knew it was possible to climb up above the Spring and look down to take photographs. Problem was that there was no official route. People would scramble up the hillside and over time a social path was made. An overlook was proposed back in 1997 but only opened in 2017. It is now a 1.5 mile hike up to the viewing platform and is very popular with visitors. It’s well worth the climb, the view is certainly something to behold.

The Grand Prismatic Spring!

We saw this smaller pool on our way up to Prismatic Spring but don’t know the name of it ….. research needed!

A smaller pool on the way to Grand Prismatic Spring

On the way up to the viewing platform we saw this bison have a rest and no doubt warming himself. They lie near to thermals because of the warmth.

A resting bison

On the way back to the car a bison that had been sleeping nearby decided to get up and have a swim. He’s looking rather the worse for wear poor thing!

Bison in the swim!

Bison after his swim

As we’ve been before and visited most of the favourite places to see we decided we would just concentrate on the ones we hadn’t. So, we stopped at Kepler Cascades, a waterfall on the Firehole River. The cascades drop approximately 150 feet over multiple drops. The longest drop is 50 feet. They were actually named in 1881 for the 12 year old son of Wyoming’s territorial governor, Kepler Hoyt, who toured the park with his father, Governor John Hoyt.

Kepler Falls

 

We passed through the Continental Divide a few times today. Continental divides spans the USA north to south and it divides the watershed of two great oceans. In the east rivers drain to the Atlantic and to the west they drain to the Pacific.

S&S at the Continental Divide – Elevation 8391!

Leaving Yellowstone

Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicised and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet (260 m) higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range. The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Though in a state of recession, a dozen small glaciers persist at the higher elevations near the highest peaks in the range. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any American national park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years.

Smoking Grand Teton!

We’ve noticed over the past couple of days that clouds have been hanging over the very peak of Grand Teton, it looks as though it’s smoking!

We’ve made a discovery …………….. there are Prairie Dogs living here under some of the cabins! It’s not as bad as it sounds ………… this is them! They are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canadian Prairies and Mexico.

Prairie Dogs

As we left Yellowstone we clocked up 1000 miles in our trusty steed!

One thing that’s been bought to my attention (thanks Nat) is that the photographs in the blog are not behaving as they should i.e. you should be able to click on them and they open up larger in a new window and they are not doing that. Well, I think I’ve solved the problem and as of this post you should be able to do just that. Well fingers crossed they do! I’ll work my way back through all the photos of this trip and see if I can rectify them too.

Well, we need an early night as we have the early start tomorrow to I will say “goodnight” to all. Thanks for reading and we hope to have some great wildlife photos of our tour tomorrow.

 

 

 

Day 9 – The Tetons on a very chilly morning!

Well, we surprised ourselves this morning, the photographer and his trusty assistant were up, dressed, teeth brushed, bear spray in hand (I forgot to tell you yesterday that we purchased the obligatory bear spray and the lesson of the day was how to use it, curtesy of one of the Rangers … let’s hope we never need too but the Ranger did say that there had been many sightings in the past week or so!) and were on the road at 5.04 a.m. But boy it was chilly, only 36 degrees, but we were wrapped up warmly in layers (note to our dear Ann ………. you were right about the thick tights under the walking trousers instead of jeans, I was really toasty warm!) 👍😘

Our mission for the day was to photograph Oxbow Bend situated on the Snake River. It is one of the most photographed spots in Grand Teton National Park. It has stunning views across the river and majestic Mount Moran is staged as a perfect backdrop for the scene. Mirror reflections are possible on calm days and early mornings. It attracts loads of photographers and tourists, all willing to lose hours of sleep and endure chilly early mornings just to get or see the perfect shot.

The Oxbow Bend shot!

On our drive this morning we passed bison and elk grazing at the side of the road but we couldn’t stop because we needed to get to Oxbow Bend for the sun rise but we hope to correct that wrong very soon. We did stop for elk in the road on the way back though!

Elk

When we last visited the Tetons Si wanted to visit Schwabacher’s Landing on the Snake River but the road was shut off due to snow. However, this morning that has all been put right as it was open. Wildlife including moose, pronghorn, mule deer and bald eagles are commonly seen in the immediate vicinity of the landing but we only saw a chipmunk or it could be a squirrel out searching for his breakfast!

The hungry critter!

Schwabacher’s Landing

The reflections are just wonderful!

There were a few photographers when we arrived at the Landing and I had to laugh as they were all stood side by side, mostly men but some ladies of a certain age, with their huge tripods and lenses all muttering and murmuring at the beauty of it all. It is indeed very beautiful!

Here are a few of like-minded photographers!

And this is the photographer’s assistant wrapped up warm against the cold! I actually didn’t have to carry any equipment this morning …………. that’s a first!

The trusty photographer’s assistant wrapped up against the cold!

There’s an outdoor eatery here called ‘The Chuckwagon’ so you can guess where this pic is from!

The Chuckwagon!

In the cabin we have a telephone but no TV, well that’s not a problem. Also, we’ve now learned that they actually have their own well and that answers the question we’ve been asking about how on earth can the cold water be so cold? Now we know!

Here’s another pic of the Grand Tetons we took as we travelled back to the Cabin.

The Grand Tetons

We had a lovely lunch from the deli today, they do great sandwiches, huge as you can imagine and then this afternoon we went out to photograph the T.A. Moulton Barn,also known as “the most photographed barn in America” and the John Moulton Barn both situated on Mormon Row.

Mormon Row was established by Mormon settlers in 1890’s who moved into the Jackson Hole Area from Idaho.  There were 27 homesteads established, and these farms thrived even though this area presents a very harsh environment for farming.

Much of their farming success was attributed to their intricate dike and levee system that carried water to their crops. This eleborate irrigation system was built by hand, with the help of well-trained teams of horses.

Of the 27 original homesteads established along Mormon Row in the 1890’s, the buildings of 6 homesteads remain standing.  Up until the 1990’s all of the homesteads along Mormon Row were left to decay.  But once awareness of their cultural value became more and more apparent, the remaining 6 homesteads from then on have been maintained so visitors can get a glimpse into the fascinating past of Jackson Hole.

S&S at T.A. Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn (hope you’re not as confused as I am!)

Her Majesty in her chariot! Si’s words, not mine!

We met a lady at the Barn who told us she visits Oxbow Bend at various times during the day to see different wildlife so, we then went back to see what we could see. Unfortunately, apart from being very windy and cold we didn’t see anything other than ducks. Perhaps we’ll try again another day.

We did however meet a lovely couple and their two children from Washington State. Turns out she was a Twilight, Hunger Games and Harry Potter fan so we had a lot in common! Also, her husband had served in the Navy and at one time was in Portsmouth, England! Si and I were born just across the water in Gosport …… what a small world it is!?

We went further on up the road and saw this! We didn’t linger!

Bear warning!

We did manage to get a bison photo though!

A Bison herd!

Also, here’s one photo I forgot to add in yesterday’s blog. It’s a calf that took an interest us as we drove here to the Tetons.

A calf we saw on the free range on our trip to the Tetons

Tonight we dine in style (or so we are told) at The Blue Lion in Jackson. The temperature has improved a little since this morning, it’s now 54 degrees. The thing is we are booked to sit on the patio for dinner (the guy who took our booking promised us today would be warmer than yesterday!) so this could be interesting as it’s quite windy as well. Hey ho, we shall see!

Well, are back from the restaurant and I have to say, it was a fabulous experience. The patio was enclosed so no problems with the weather. The photographer’s assistant is a little squiffy!!! We had a fabulous meal and if I can finish today’s blog it will be a little miracle! You’ll have to excuse any mistakes!! 😂 We have just had the best meal of the holiday so far.

Si started with baked brie and raspberry sauce, followed by salad (I’ve never really got to grips with the idea of having a salad course!) then scallops with rice and asparagus. The photographer”s assistant didn’t have a starter or the salad but went straight in with buffalo tenderloin and huckleberries, potatoes au-gratin and asparagus …………….. it was fabulous! (have I said ‘fabulous’ before?)! I just can’t begin to tell you how fabulous it was! I had two Gin Basil Smashes (local Great Grey Gin from Jackson Still Works, fresh squeezed lime juice and house made basil syrup), probably two of the best gin drinks I’ve ever had 😀 while poor Si had just one sauvignon blanc, he was driving after all, and we finished with black coffee for Si and black coffee and Frangelico for the photographers’s assistant ………… no wonder I’m squiffy!!!! Si was really impressed with how I was able to work out the gratuity even in my ‘confused’ state!! I must confess, I laughed all the way back to the cabin …………….. I don’t know why!! 🥴

Cocktails!

The Brie starter

Si’s scallops

Sand’s buffalo tenderloin with huckleberry sauce .. fabulous! Does the photographer’s assistant look a little squiffy?

Black coffee and Angelico .. what better way to finish the meal!?

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was roundabouts …………….. or circles as Americans like to call them. There’s one on the way to Dornans, it’s very strange driving on the right round the ‘circle’ as opposed to the left. I’m not surprised that Americans find them so confusing!! 😕

We started the day with seeing the sun rise so only right that we finish with the sun setting!

The setting sun – please forgive all the windscreen bugs etc!!!!

In the meantime, I think it’s time for some shut-eye, it’s been a long, long day and the photographer’s assistant is not feeling her best!! We aim to make it to Yellowstone National Park tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Back tomorrow! 🥴

 

 

 

 

Day 8 – Salt Lake City to the Grand Teton National Park and Dornans!

Another day, another post! At least it’s on time today! 😀

After breakfast at the hotel we set out to find a Post Office as I wanted to post a birthday card. Well, it took a while because the instructions we were given were very complicated and we ended up going round in a circle! After locating the Post Office we set off from Salt Lake City for another long drive, albeit only five hours today! It was an interesting one too, not like yesterday on one long boring road.

A bendy road we travelled on today!

The day started at 68 degrees and was variable as we travelled north but it’s now 61 and sunny. I have to say it’s very pleasant indeed and tomorrow is forecast to be even better. The only snow we’ve seen is on the mountain tops so fingers crossed it stays that way.

We passed through Idaho (that was unexpected) and lots of open range country with cattle. We travelled along the Old Oregon Trail

The Old Oregon Trail

that was laid by fur traders and trappers from about 1811 to 1840, and was only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organised in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. We also drove along the Pioneer Historic Byway

Old Pioneer Byway

that retraces some of the steps taken by Idaho’s early pioneers and early-day Yellowstone Park visitors.

We had a nice singalong en-route, it was first of all Si’s spinning playlist (an acquired taste for some) and then something a little gentler ……………. John Denver! You remember I told you yesterday that we had a different lady speaking on the sat nav and how curt she was, no respect at all for the elderly? 🙁 😂 Well, we’ve decided to call her Brittany!! 😱 (Apologies to any Brittanys reading this blog!!)

Entering Wyoming home to Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park and our destination.

Entering the state of Wyoming, home to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park

Entering Jackson

Entering Grand Teton National Park

After our long drive we arrived here, our home for the next week, at Dornans Spur Ranch

Moose Junction where Dornans resides

Dornans

Dornans

and what can I say, it’s Heaven. We are staying in a log cabin, well it’s more than a basic log cabin actually, about fifty yards from the Snake River.

The Snake River at Dornans

The Snake River

What a fabulous find this place is. Some of you will remember back in 2013 when we stayed in a log cabin, 8000 feet above sea level just outside Yellowstone National Park and it was such a dreadful experience I vowed never to do log cabins again? Well, I’m glad we took a chance on this one.

One of the views from our porch!

Our cabin!

It’s a family-run business and it was Evelyn Middleton Dornan from Philadelphia on leave from her job in a war plane factory during World War 1, who came out in 1918 to visit a friend, Maude Noble, who operated Menor’s Ferry (the ferry building is still located on the west bank of the Snake River across from Dornans) who started it all. The visit left a deep impression and three years later, the war over, Evelyn returned to the Tetons and homesteaded on the east bank of the Snake River and staked a claim to just over twenty acres south and east of the ferry Noble ran and the homestead eventually became Dornans Spur Ranch and has been in the family ever since. There are just 12 cabins and ours is called Willow.

I don’t expect many of you remember the film Spencer’s Mountain, released in May 1963, (it was for forerunner for the TV show The Walton’s). Well, Dornans and some of the family members running it at the time were extras in the film.

Filming Spencer’s Mountain

We had originally booked about a year ago to stay at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins in Yellowstone but changed our minds in February and decided to stay in the Tetons. I didn’t expect to be able to find anywhere as most of the good places are booked at least a year in advance but we found Dornans and they had just one cabin available for this week. We were so lucky. Besides the cabins there are three restaurants, a nationally famous wine shop (we’ve just been in there and my goodness, I couldn’t begin to count how many bottles of wine they have, but I’ve just read they have over 1500 labels), a gift shop (think I may take a little look in there), a deli, a grocery store, a bar and a place to hire bikes, canoes and many other things.

Before I forget, I said I would post a photos of our ‘trusty stead’ and here she is plus a few other interesting things we saw during our journey!

Our ‘trusty steed!’

Bears in a raft!

Strange place to see a bear!

Elk ……. not real ones of course!

Suspicious cloud … it had three layers ….. do you think it’s hiding alien life force?

These elk antler arches are situated on each corner of Jackson town square. There are four of them. They have been picked up after the elk shed them.

Well, day one completed. I’m being told that tomorrow we rise at 5 a.m. so that we can get to Oxbow Bend to, hopefully, see the sun rise. This should be interesting ……….. me rising at 5 a.m.!! 😱

More tomorrow! Thanks for reading and for posting comments.😀

Day 7 – Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Part 2)

I’m pleased to say that the author has awoken from her long sleep and is raring to go but first of all, let’s talk about yesterday!

You could say yesterday was a rather long, tiring day for the ‘adventurers’! The day started as usual with breakfast in the Pool Cafe of The Bellagio and there were no dramas such as milk throwing! The wind had dropped as had the temperature to about 92, so very pleasant.

Just a pic of me as Si was looking a big grumpy in his!

After checking out of the hotel and saying ‘farewell’ we jumped into a taxi heading for the car hire centre at the airport. You have to give a round of applause to Las Vegas because when it comes to car hire they have got it sorted. Instead of all the car companies being spread out around the airport as is usually the case, there they have one huge complex holding them all. The whole process is so easy.

Our taxi driver was Steve Davison, a very friendly guy who I said I would give a ‘shout out’ to in today’s blog. “Hi Steve, it was great meeting you yesterday.”

As Si is a Hertz Gold member we were in, collected our car and out within ten minutes. If you’re a Gold member, when you arrive you just find your name on the electronic board and next to it is the stall number where your car is ready and waiting to just drive off. You just show your driving licence to the man on the gate, collect the rental agreement and you’re off and running. So easy. I shall post a pic of our ‘trusty steed’ later. We asked for a Jeep Grand Cherokee (or equivalent) and got a Chevrolet Equinox. It’s okay, large enough for us. It hasn’t got all the bells and whistles we’ve been used to in the past but it’s comfortable and even has a reversing camera!!!

For regular readers of the blog you’ll know that we usually have sat nav, usually voiced by a lady and we call her Margaret. Well, I’m sad to report that Margaret has been retired 😢and replaced by a much younger women who I have to say is rather curt with us! We haven’t thought of a suitable name for her yet! 🤔

Our drive was uneventful but long and very tiring, approximately six hours plus here to Salt Lake City where we have ‘over-nighted’ before driving on today to the Grand Tetons National Park. The problem with yesterday’s drive was that it was literally one long straight road that went on, and on, and on for the whole of the trip.

We’ve visited here before, very interesting place and will be over-nighting here again on our return trip to Vegas.

Here are a few pics from our long drive!

Entering Utah

We also went briefly through Arizona and I did take a pic but unfortunately at that point I didn’t realise the camera was set wrong and it came out all blurry! Hey ho!

Snow of them there hills (or mountains!)

Driving through The Gorge on I15 outside Las Vegas

Good thing we could drive at 80 mph or it would have taken us even longer to get here!

Well, there you go then!

Hey, there’s one of our favourite ‘on the road’ eateries!!

Interesting!

Coming up to the Virgin River. Alas couldn’t get a photo but it looked very muddy!

Just a pic of the road we were travelling on!

When we arrived at our hotel we asked the receptionist about places to have dinner and she said that as it was Sunday most of the restaurants are closed! However, the Texas Roadhouse was open and as that’s one of our favourite places to eat, (two of our very best friends here in the U.S., Dot and John, introduced us to this great eatery a few years back) we decided to eat there. My goodness, they serve the best steaks ever and as for the hot rolls served with cinnamon-honey butter, well don’t even get me started on those. Si says they are “little clouds of loveliness.” They are so delicious that there are lots of copycat receipes on the internet. May have to try making some of those methinks. 🤔

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse

It’s all about the steaks ………… and the rolls of course!

A note about our next destination, the Tetons …………. we’ve just checked the weather for today and for Yellowstone and it’s snowed overnight!!!!! ❄️ We’ve brought some warm clothing but if it’s that cold I feel a little shopping trip may be in order!!

“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours.” That was the case yesterday too. The temperature dropped 20 degrees from Vegas and 30 degrees from the hottest day we had there!

The time difference between us and home has changed as well, we are now only seven hours behind the UK. It all gets very confusing!

At one point yesterday we were wondering why our ears kept popping and then realised we were up at 6200 feet above sea level.

Well, enough about yesterday, today beckons. The sun has just come out and the temperature is currently 56 degrees, so a little cooler than we’ve been used to of late but hey ho!

More later! Thanks for reading. 😀

Day 7 – Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Part 1)

I apologise to all our followers who have woken up on Monday morning expecting to see a post about our journey today (Sunday) only to find this!

We arrived safely in Salt Lake City after a very long and very tiring six-hour plus journey  and after having a quick dinner the author of the blog was so shattered (well it’s very tiring being a passenger on a long journey!) she decided a quick nap 😴 was in order before writing today’s post. Well, we all know what happens to good intentions don’t we? 🤔The nap turned into a nice long sleep and it’s now rather late to be composing anything sensible. So, today’s post (well it is still Sunday here, albeit very late) will be delayed until tomorrow, Monday.

Now let’s get back to that lovely dream  I was having before I woke ………………………

Day 6 – Las Vegas and Harry Potter!!

We’ve had a full day today!

It started off with high winds again today but at least that kept the temperature down for a while. As today was our last full day we decided against spending time round the pool this morning in favour of getting out and about. We started off with breakfast at the Pool Cafe and as we will be leaving Vegas tomorrow decided we should indulge a little and had Mimosas with our breakfast. We were part way through eating when suddenly, whoosh, we found ourselves being splattered with a white substance ……………… the waitress had dropped a jug of milk and it went absolutely everywhere including on us! It was hilarious really but unfortunately there were one or two guests who did not find it so amusing! 😂😱 The poor waitress was mortified.

Enjoying our Mimosas.

No, they’re not both mine …. just the one!

We then moved on to the Fashion Show Mall for a browse and possibly a little shopping. As we wondered around we came across a Vans store where they have just started selling a Harry Potter range of sneakers. I only found out about them yesterday and lo and behold there they were, right out in front of the store. Well, what’s a huge Harry Potter fan supposed to do ………… I went in of course and treated myself to a pair of the Golden Snitch ones.

I also managed to find myself a rather lovely handbag (because I really needed one you know!)

There’s a new show in town too …………….. ‘Potted Potter ………….. all seven Harry Potter Books in seventy hilarious minutes’. The show only started last Tuesday and today was the first matinee performance and we managed to get tickets. It’s showing in a small venue at Bally’s Hotel and as the venue only holds about 220 people it was a rather intimate setting. The comedy-duo are British performers Dan and Jeff, who used to be on CBBC (that’s a British children’s television brand owned by the BBC and aimed at children aged from 6 to 15). The show was entertaining and really funny at times, even a small amount of politics managed to creep in about a certain President and that went down very well!

The ticket pricing was a little screwey!!! There were three levels of ticket prices, General, Gold and Platinum but when we arrived at the venue there was really no difference between the top price and the bottom with regards to seating. We were three rows from the front but only paid $49 each whereas the people in rows 1-2 had paid  approximately $109 each. We would have been very unhappy to have paid top price and then find we were all sat together!

The day seems to be full of everything Harry Potter. Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 are even on the television tonight!

I will just mention that we’ve had a couple of good wins again today courtesy of Mr Monopoly and 4D Wheel of Fortune so always good to finish on a high note! 😀

As always, we’ve enjoyed our stay here but it’s now time for the second part of our holiday and time to move on to the Grand Tetons National Park so better bring the thermals to the top of the suitcases! ❄️ We’ll collect our hire car in the morning and be on our way further down the holiday road.

See you next in our overnight stop in Salt Lake City.