|Once again Steven made coffee before waking me, only this time he filled our thermoses so we could take our time drinking our morning brew. We were on the road southbound out of Yellowstone at 5:10 a.m. Today was another marathon day, covering 270 miles over 14 hours.
I’m sure that sounds crazy to some of you, but that’s just how we roll. Always have. We knew before we got here we would have at least two epic days, and we made the decision to do them at the beginning of our visit and spend our last two days visiting the park on a more leisurely schedule. Tomorrow we sleep in, cook a yummy breakfast in camp, and take long, hot showers before we decide what our day will look like. There really is a method to our madness.
Our first stop today was Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. Oxbow is to Grand Teton what Hayden Valley is to Yellowstone - a wildlife and birding hotspot. Steven and I have spent a lot of time here, in all seasons. Winter is especially beautiful, as the Tetons are in full view. Oxbow Bend refers to the sweeping curve of the Snake River, with gravel bars located in various places along the wide turn. This makes a great resting place for American White Pelicans, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes, as well as Moose, Elk and a host of other wildlife.
It was slow going out the south end of Yellowstone and into Grand Teton NP, due to ongoing road construction. By the time we arrived at Oxbow, the sun was up and the serious birders and wildlife watchers had already staked out prime view spots. We wormed our way in and had our bins and camera at the ready. Steven watched a female moose cross the river, a pelican leisurely float by, as I tracked a running moose in a field, along with a sandhill crane.
We left Oxbow and made our way into Jackson, stopping at a pullout close to the spot where Ansel Adams made his famous photograph of the Teton Mountain Range. I am not sure that same photo can be made today, as the trees have grown up to block a good portion of the view of the Snake River. Still, it’s a beautiful place to stop and take it all in.
In Jackson, we settled in to a comfy leather couch at Joe’s Gourmet Coffee Shop. It was such a welcoming environment, we stayed quite a long time so that I could write and upload our epic blog and photos. This one is not going to be epic. Even though we had a long day, we did things at a more leisurely pace.
Leaving Jackson, we drove through the little town of Wilson on our way to the Teton Pass. Wilson is such a neat little place and one where we can always count in finding several Osprey nests along the Snake River. We stopped long enough for Steven to snag a photo and we were on our way.
Teton Pass is not for the faint of heart, and I know this from personal experience. It is miles of serious uphill and downhill grades, some as much as 10 percent. The downhill side coming from Idaho into Jackson is the worst. Steven and I once rented a Chrysler 300 C that shimmied and shook all the way down that hill. A couple of months later, in winter, we were in a rented Chevy Cobalt that slid backwards for a good bit and scared the living daylights out of us. I don’t think we would have made it over the pass if a snow plow and gravel truck hadn’t come along and given us an escort. We promptly went to the Jackson airport and traded up to a GMC Yukon XL with four-wheel drive. On another occasion, I dragged a fully-loaded Alfred Hitchpop and six people over this thing, and I don’t think I’d ever do that again. But today, Ace Yukon sailed up, over and down with ease. We just love Ace Yukon!
Once in Idaho, we were only about 10 miles from Lot 5. We were so excited, but decided we’d enjoy our time there much more if we first ate lunch. Reluctantly, we drove past our turn-off and into Tetonia to our favorite little burger joint, the North End Bar & Grill. It’s about the only game in town, and it’s been for sale for a couple of years, but we were thrilled to see that it was still open.
After lunch, we drove to Lot 5. It is just a beautiful as we remembered. The Tetons are just as close and gorgeous as the image we keep in our minds. It was good to be back to this little plot of land that we love so dearly. We walked out to our little cluster of aspen trees. They have grown, and new ones have sprouted nearby. The natural vegetation that covers the ground was lush and green, and it flowed back and forth with the wind. In the fall, it is amber.
Steven took a few photos, and as we always do, we stood on the spot where we see in our mind’s eye, a huge picture window looking out at the Tetons. Who knows what the future holds for Lot 5, but for now, it is ours, and we love it.
Idaho Hwy. 33, a 30-mile road from Tetonia to Ashton, is one of my favorite drives ever. I know I say that a lot, and it’s always true, but for different reasons. This little stretch of highway cuts right through the heart of eastern Idaho farmland. At this time of year, it is carpeted every shade of green with soon-to-be-harvested plantings. The road undulates through mile after mile of farmland, revealing new views with every turn. And in the distance, the Grand Tetons loom large.
That’s about the best description I can give, y’all just need to take this drive. Seriously.
The remaining drive home through West Yellowstone back to our campsite at Grant was uneventful. We had an enjoyable evening, eating dinner outside in our loungers. Just after dark, we went inside Alfred for some decaf coffee and treats, and soon after turned out the lights for a much needed rest. Tomorrow, we plan to slow down a bit. We may or may not be able to pull that off.
Click here to watch a fun little movie we made of our precious Lot 5 in Tetonia.