Traveling with Paula: The Grand Tetons

In this past July’s article, I told you my sister Gail and I take a trip together, just the two of us, every five or six years. She lives in Oakland, California and we only get to see each other a couple of times a year during hurried family events. Last year we went out West and this is Day Seven of our adventure.
We travelled the night before south through the southern entrance to Yellowstone and it was only 10 miles to the Grand Tetons. We got up a little earlier than usual the next morning and headed to the Grand Teton National Park. I should mention that if you’re 62 or older you can buy a National Park pass for $10 and it lasts the rest of your life!
The Tetons are a magnificent sight – truly God’s country.  They rise 13,000 feet with snow on the slopes. They were named by the French trappers les trois tétons (the three breasts). The first white man to see the Tetons was trapper John Colter in the winter of 1807/08. He had traveled with the Lewis & Clark Expedition way north of the Tetons in 1806 and on the way back from the Pacific Ocean he headed south to trap. Beaver were the pelts most sought after and plentiful.
Our first stop was in Jackson Hole to talk to the park ranger and get the low down on the area and all the maps and pamphlets. I recommend always stopping and getting acquainted with the area and find out what you really want to see. There is never going to be enough time, so pick and choose your favorites. The visitor center was a very modern building – they are all high tech now. They had a very striking exhibit of elk – they are huge! Across the street was an arch made of elk antlers that was the entrance to a little city park.
First stop was where the original settlers had built their homesteads near the turn of the

Paula Nicewanger/Weekly ViewMy version of Ansel Adams' famous photo.

Paula Nicewanger/Weekly View
My version of Ansel Adams’ famous photo.

19th century in the valley. They clustered their farms together to help with work, supplies and to form a community. The famous photographer Ansel Adams took many photographs in the Grand Tetons and one in particular of a barn is so well known that everyone tries to duplicate it. Of course, my sister and I love to take photos so we were there quite awhile trying to get just the right angle without tourists in the photos. Patience was necessary – you can see in my attempt, a guy in orange just wouldn’t leave.
Next was a vista where you could see the Snake River winding through the pines. Again

Paula Nicewanger/Weekly ViewThe Snake River. My version of the famous Ansel Adams photo.

Paula Nicewanger/Weekly View
The Snake River. My version of the famous Ansel Adams photo.

Ansel Adams has a beautiful photograph of this. When he took the photograph the trees weren’t so tall and from photos I’ve seen he used a tripod and stood on top of his station wagon. My photo has too many tall trees and I’m too short to get the best view. A quote from Ansel Adams: “The grand light of the Tetons is . . . a primal gesture of Earth beneath a greater sky.”
Then we stopped at Jackson Lake Dam and Reservoir – peacefully calm on top of the dam and raging waters below the dam.
Then on past Mount Moran, we stopped on the lake where there were boat rides and shops and bought lunch and sat on the shore and ate. We waded out into the crystal clear water – the rocks were hard on our city feet but the water was refreshing.
Next stop was a log cabin church which was the first Church built in 1925 — this Episcopal Church is quite charming with a great vista from the window inside. The church is still used today by the dude ranchers and tourists.
At sunset we stopped at a restaurant right on the lake and had a great view as we enjoyed our fish dinner.
We drove back north to Yellowstone to stay another night at the timeshare in Western Yellowstone.
Thus ended Day Seven of a nine day adventure. Next time, I’ll write about more Yellowstone.