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Travelogue -- Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Elk Ranch Turnout, our first close look at the Tetons.

On Saturday, July 16, we drove straight to Grand Teton National Park, which was frankly really bad planning on our part. Who goes to one of the top 10 busiest national parks on a Saturday in July if they can help it? Apparently us and everybody else.

On our way to the park, we saw a mother bear and some cubs by the side of the road while a golden hawk circled overhead, and we saw a herd of bison near the entrance to the park! By mid afternoon, we'd also seen an antelope and some deer. If nothing else, it was a good day for seeing wildlife.

Because we've found weekends to be difficult in terms of last-minute camping, Diane suggested we go straight to the biggest first-come, first-served campground in the park and secure a spot, so that it was what we did. The minute we paid our $25, Todd regretted it, though. The campground was too big, too crowded, too easy.  His whole vision for the Big Rolling Crate is to have something that can go where RVs can't, and there we were, at yet another campground full of RVs, and this one wasn't quiet or secluded like Sinks or even the Falls Campground where we stayed the night before. Basically, he was super bummed.

The other reason he was bummed was that, just like the Badlands and Rocky Mountain, I wasn't allowed to go anywhere with him. It appears that in the National Parks, the policy is that dogs can only go where vehicles can go. No hiking. No swimming. No canoe rides. It's definitely a sensible policy given how crowded the parks are and how stupid so many dog owners are, but it's tough on all us dogs who can't even go for a walk except around the perimeter of a parking lot. It would be nice if there were at least one or two places people could bring their dogs. Everywhere we went, there were dogs in RVs, just waiting for their people. Sometimes, I was one of them.

Anyway, once we got to our campsite, we had lunch, and then I took a nap while Todd and Diane explored Colter Bay on bikes. Colter Bay is basically like a resort camping area with a shop, restaurants, a visitors center, a marina, and a big swimming beach, but, like I said, I wasn't allowed to go to any of it, so after their exploration, we all got back in the Big Rolling Crate for a scenic drive and trip to the town of Jackson.

The Tetons as seen from the lake shore at Colter Bay.

We stopped a lot and took pictures and I got to swim in the stream below Jenny Lake.

When we got to Jackson, Todd immediately regretted the decision to drive there as it was a crowded, kitschy, tourist town, but then we found a nice big park where I could run freely and catch a ball and play, and that made him happy. Also in the park, there was a free bouldering wall, so Todd and Diane put on their climbing shoes and got in a little practice.

Todd on the wall.
Diane on the wall.

After that, we drove back to Colter Bay because it was getting late. Diane and Todd went to the cafeteria for dinner and then used the public showers, and then, we were heading back to our camp, we saw this awesome scene:

Talk about Purple Mountain Majesty!

Overnight, it got really cold. When we went to sleep at night it was 74 in the Big Rolling Crate. When we woke up Sunday morning, it was 52! We packed up and got rolling as quick as possible because Todd had determined that the best bet for the day was a hike, which, of course, I couldn't go on, but since it was so cool in the Big Rolling Crate, Todd figured if they hiked early, I could just nap here without them. I cannot tell you how sad I was to have to miss a big hike in the mountains! It broke my heart a little. Then again, I do love napping, so it wasn't all bad.

While I dozed, Diane and Todd took the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to do the Cascades Canyon Hike, which was about 9 miles round trip. 
Looking up into the canyon from the boat shuttle.

Honestly, when I saw the pictures after, I wasn't too sad to miss it, because I think my paws would have hurt from all that rugged terrain. Still, the views of the mountains from the canyon were beautiful, if the pictures can be believed.

Diane says this was about a little less than halfway through the hike.

And this was from the place where Diane turned around. Todd kept going another half mile or so. Don't worry--this is one of the most traveled trails in the entire park, so neither Todd nor Diane was ever particularly alone. In fact, at one point on the way down Todd took a tumble, but there was a park ranger right there to make sure he was okay (and he mostly was, although his hand and shoulder kind of hurt now).

I was so happy to see my people when they got back. You know, we've been so glued to each other since this trip began, this was one of the first times I've gotten to miss them! 

Right after they got back, a thunder storm rolled through, our first rain of any kind since July 6! There was a lot of thunder and lightening, but the whole thing couldn't have lasted more than 15 minutes.

We drove up to Signal Mountain because Diane and Todd were flithy and needed showers and to do laundry, and once that was done, we decided it was time to leave the beautiful Tetons and go on to Idaho.

Even though I don't get to do much in the national parks, I'm glad we came.

Our first attempt to leave Wyoming was thwarted by the Teton Pass, which climbs a 10% grade and is heavily traveled. We tried it, realized pretty quickly it was a recipe for overheating, stopped, took this picture, and headed back to Jackson to take the long way around.

It was a long drive to Idaho Falls and Walmart where we planned to sleep, and as usual, we got no early start on it, but we did have some incredible views of the moon over the Snake River as we drove. 

Idaho was dark and empty. We drove along Alpine Lake, and except for a few times when the moon lit up the water, we didn't see anything. At least we arrived in Idaho Falls around 11:30 PM and we all dropped to sleep right away. We would've probably gotten a great night's sleep if the jets of water from lawn sprinklers hadn't started pounding against the sides of the Big Rolling Crate in the middle in the night. Still, it was a small disturbance and the back and one side got nice and clean of all the dust we've been carrying since Colorado. 

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