Mid-August, 2012 – After leaving Ennis, Montana, and Earthquake Lake, we continued into Yellowstone National Park and then on into Grand Teton National Park. These are enormous parks that take hours just to drive through at nearly highway speeds without stopping to see anything.
On a mission to spend time at the Tetons, we didn’t stay long enough at Yellowstone to see any of the big game animals. But we did see a cool big game animal road sign!
A rash of wildfires burning in Northern California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana had filled the air with smoke, and it hung over everything in a thick brown cloud. Standing at the enormous plate glass windows of the Jackson Lake Lodge, which usually frames the mountains, we could barely see the outline of the peaks.
So we dropped south a little bit to Jackson, Wyoming, thinking we might wait out in this hip tourist town until the smoke cleared out. We found an ideal spot to camp for a while on a tiny bit of BLM land along the Snake River and watched river rafters float by. They would skid along sideways and then twirl backwards and then regain their footing and slip forwards down the river right by our rig.
One afternoon Mark was deep in a photography book and I was buried in my computer when two gals in bikinis knocked on our door. Mark was delighted!
They wanted to borrow our phone to call for their ride to pick them up, as one of them had decided she’d had enough rafting for one day. Mark instantly ditched his book to help them. It turned out they were recent law school grads from Harvard and BU who were celebrating graduation with a big trip out west.
Jackson is a fun trendy town where — we were told — the billionaires moved in and forced the millionaires out. Very Wealthy People have homes here, and everything in town is quite expensive. But enjoying the sights is still free, and we got a kick out of poking our heads in one bar and seeing a line of barstools made from horse saddles. A little kid grinned at us from his carriage as he rode around the town square.
The wild west has been tamed here, and pistols now serve as door handles and each corner of the town square has an arch made of densely packed elk antlers.
Bronze sculptures of some of America’s historic dignitaries sit on park benches around the square, and we took turns photographing each other with our arms around Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Einstein and others.
A fantastic paved bike path rolls up and down over the hills from town out towards our camping spot, and the map showed that other paved trails went in other directions as well.
We were eager to ride them all, but the smoke lingered, burning our eyes and lungs, so we decided to save those adventures and the Tetons for another visit. Little did we know when we left Jackson that the cool town of Pinedale, Wyoming, was going to catch our fancy down the road.