|Months ago when I began to seriously plan this trip I wanted to include Idaho on the itinerary just for the sake of adding another state to my map. So I looked for something interesting to see that wasn’t too far from the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. I found a national monument named Craters of the Moon in Arco. As I left through the west gate of YNP I headed west on US 20 to another new state, my 37th, for those who may be counting with me. It was a pleasant drive, not strenuous and the weather was perfect. After passing through the town of Idaho Falls the landscape changed a bit again and I began to see some odd structures that looked a bit like the sod houses that once covered our prairies. I learned later at the museum (see below) that essentially that was their purpose. They are called cellars like the root cellars some of our grandparents may have had and they were built to keep the potatoes stored properly.They are not used widely any more but there are still some older ones around. I don't have a photo though because I didn't realized what they were when I saw them so I didn't realized they were noteworthy. As the miles and miles passed I noticed that I was still 85 miles from Arco and it occurred to me that I would have to reverse it all in the morning. Just a few weeks before I began this trip Reader’s Digest had an article something like “50 U. S. Attractions Often Missed” and they had mentioned the Idaho Potato Museum. I pulled over for a rest stop and consulted my trusty atlas to discover that Blackfoot, where the museum was located, was only 40 or so miles from my present location, AND in the direction I would need to go in the morning. So I made a spontaneous decision to depart from my agenda and skip the craters in favor of taters. I soon arrived in the tidy little town of Blackfoot and followed the clear signage to the museum where I paid the $3 admission charge and received a free package of dehydrated Ore-Ida hash browns. The museum was small, maybe 3 or 4 rooms, and told me everything I ever wanted to know about growing, harvesting and marketing potatoes and why Idaho, and specifically along the Snake River, was ideally suited for doing so. I loved this giant baked potato outside.
After consulting with the museum personnel I concluded the best campground choice would be back in Idaho Falls, about 30 miles east, and back in the direction I wanted to go. The campground in town was a full-service one so I was able to catch up on laundry, check e-mail and Facebook, soak in the hot tub and enjoy an all you can eat pancake breakfast in the morning. I also stopped by WalMart to re-stock a bit since those had been rather scarce lately.
The drive to Grand Teton included one very scary, very high mountain pass, over 10,000 feet if I correctly recall the sign (and I may not, since my brain was a little frozen with fear) but I made it safely. My trusty Garmin directed me to one entrance to the park but as I approached there were signs warning that vehicles my size would not fit. The lady ranger kindly gave me directions to another entrance so I drove through the busy little town of Jackson Hole, which was very crowded with tourists. At several different ranger talks I had listened to in Yellowstone it was mentioned that the geography of GTNP was very different. I thought, “How different can it be? It’s only 55 miles away.” Score: Ranger- 3, Kellie – 0.
See this shot of the three “grand daddies” of the Tetons
visible throughout the park, but my first view was at this entrance point.
I stopped for a short while at the Moose Junction Visitor Center to pick up a map and browse a few exhibits
then continued on my way.I did stop at this overlook of the Snake River
My campground was at the northern end of the park in the section known as Colter Bay, named after an early explorer and fur trapper of the area. After registering and setting up, Ed and I set out to explore our new home. This is the lake and marina.
This area had 2 restaurants, 2 separate campgrounds, a laundry, a grocery store, riding stables and a visitor center and amphitheater. There were also cabins for rent and not too far away was a full service lodge. This was the sun setting over Grand Teton
and this is the moon rising from the amphitheater where I attended the campfire program.
In the morning, I set out to explore this beautiful park. I drove to Jenny Lake to board a boat for a short ride over to the opposite shore where I planned to hike to Inspiration Point. This hike is described in the guide books and park literature as short and easy. HAH!! It may be short, but it definitely was not easy!!
Quite steep and the trails was rocky and uneven. Here is the lower end of Hidden Falls.
I continued onward and upward to this scenic spot
you could see Inspiration Point
from there quite a bit higher and I was told the trail is so narrow in spots that you need to travel sideways. I decided that where I was had plenty of scenic beauty for me and rested there a bit, chatting with some other folks. We started talking about where we were from and, oddly enough, many of them were from Ohio, including this one!
I started back down the trail to see Hidden Falls -
and wow - that was worth the hike. Here are some climbers
- several outfits conduct training sessions here. As I made my way back down
the trail I again kept hearing that a bear had been sighted nearby. I sang and talked to myself to make some noise in the few instances where I was alone on the trail but never saw a glimpse again! Drat! I guess I just wasn't meant to see a bear in the wild.
Back in the rig I drove back north to the campground but stopped here for lunch
and again here
for a short walk. This lake is the same one that is by the campground and there is a dam here to provide water for Idaho.Once more for a closeup of the three peaks.
That evening I treated myself to a meal in the cafeteria style restaurant at Colter Bay and saw this rainbow on my way back to camp.
I really loved this park and I think I would even say it was my favorite spot on the whole trip, although it is very hard to choose. On Sunday morning I attended a worship service in the amphitheater led by 3 young people and learned of their ministry. The organization is called Christian Ministry in National Parks and they recruit young people at college job fairs. They help them get seasonal jobs in various national parks and then offer some support and training for them to lead worship services. Both the park service and the concessionaires who hire them are very supportive. They were very enthusiastic about their ministry but told us that their most important job was building relationships with their co-workers, many of whom are international students who may have never heard of Jesus. They passed a basket around for donations but I hadn't brought my wallet so I found their website and made a donation online once I returned home. If you think this ministry is as cool as I do, their website link is: www.acmnp.com After the service, I unhooked and headed south to begin the long trek home. I decided on another slight alteration to include Fossil Butte National Monument in southwest Wyoming. More in the next entry.