The Grand – the focal point of the Tetons

It has been a while, actually a long while since posting my last blog. I can explain it all, with no redactions, but with a lot of finger pointing and seemingly lame excuses to hide a blatantly lazy approach to writing and posting our adventures for the past eleven months. Holy S…! Eleven months.

So, let the excuses begin, with a little history. We spent our second winter in a suburb of Phoenix, a little town called Goodyear that sits on the far west side of Phoenix. We had been burned a couple of winters with some really lousy weather and decided to really become snowbirds and settle for some nice comfortable weather for a change during those winter months. We found a great park in Goodyear, Destiny RV Park, located minutes from where we would be doing some seasonal work.We found some part-time work at the local Super Target which got us out of the motorhome and gave us a little extra cash as well. The Cleveland Indians do their spring training here in Goodyear, and Jan being the diehard fan she is wanted to work for the team in February and March, so we did that as well. Altogether it didn’t leave a lot of time for “touristing” nor for writing blogs about them so I kind of took the winter off.

Field of Dreams West

We ended the previous summer with a four day stay in Pinedale, Wyoming, a quick hour and a half drive from Jackson and the Tetons. Unfortunately the entire northwest was covered in smoke from a huge series of wildfires that extended from Canada all the way to southern Utah and pretty much covered the entire western part of the country. One could kind of see the mountains, but even on a float down the Snake River they were barely visible. It was disappointing but one could sense the majesty that laid behind the smokescreen.

Smoky float down the Snake

We did go into Jackson, a really neat little town nestled in Jackson Hole and minutes from the Tetons and a quick drive to Yellowstone. A real authentic western town, ripe with centuries of history, the indigenous people, the settlers, the taming of the wild and the fierce drive to preserve the natural beauty that the Tetons were and still are. All this comes in subsequent blogs.

Elk antlers at all four corners of the Jackson Town Square

We did do an obligatory stop, as we always do, at the local visitor center, where we got to talking with one of the volunteers. As we talked it turned out that he too was a full-time RV’er and he and his wife were work-camping the summer in Jackson for the National Park. He said it was a great gig, minimum wage of course, but a site and hook-ups completely paid for and the Tetons and Yellowstone at their doorstep. We bit and decided that instead of RV-ing the following summer we would try to get on with the Teton National Park in some capacity.

I’m not exactly sure how we ended up at the Grand Teton Lodging Company (GTLC) but it was through a website. GTLC is managed by Vail Resorts, they of great fame with numerous winter ski parks, and who have the concession to manage a vast majority of the operations in the Teton National Park. We submitted our resumes and not much later received a phone call from Amanda Wood, a retail manager for GTLC who spoke with us for an hour or so; we would be working at the Jenny Lake store, a little retail operation located on the shores of Jenny Lake which is the Crown Jewel of attractions in the park. We would work together, along with several other couples at the store located about 30 minutes from Colter Bay which is where our RV site would be, a delightful and rewarding commute through the park with an abundance of wildlife and soaring pines. Our site would be totally paid for and our renumeration was in the triple digit range, $9.15 to be exact. Sounded great and Amanda said she would pass on her thoughts to Katrina Thompson, assistant Director of Retail for GTLC. We had another delightful hour long conversation with Katrina not long after who also emphasized the beauty, the naturalness and the majesty of the area. And we were hooked!

On the shores of Jenny Lake

We were to start on the 28th of April and work through the 24th of September. A five day work week of eight hour days plus commuting time. Kind of sounds like a really full time low-paying job, but honestly it was one of the greatest experiences of our professional lives. We arrived on the appointed day and had a really hard time finding our site, one reason being that the map was very unclear as to where it was, and reason two being that there was over five feet of snow still on the ground. Some of the sites were plowed out and the one we were assigned to had none of the wished for items we had asked for: 50 amp, satellite accessibility and back-in. We had a thirty amp, pull-in site located in a dense forest with no satellite availability. On top of that our T-Mobile did not work. Oh, this was not going to be fun.

We got in touch with Anna Rozier, the Director of Colter Bay Village whose responsibilities included employee housing who told us that it didn’t look promising to find us another site. We poached a site that did have 50 amp and some cell service, a temporary fix until that employee showed up about ten days later. All we knew was we did not want the site originally assigned to us. Several days later Anna called to tell us that nothing was going to be available for us in the employee RV park, but, she did have a spot in the tent campground park that had five sites in Loop A with 50 amp service – no cell or satellite – but a site with lots of space between campers. Wow, we were going to have to read books! We were going to have to talk to each other! We were going to have to play dominoes and what not! And guess what? We had a blast.

Leveling our sloping site

One problem was the site was not too level, actually it sloped so bad there was no way to get the coach level, not with a hundred building blocks. So Anna got this chap to come with his wonder toy and fix it up. He asked me who I was, like, “are you some important dude to get this kind of treatment?” to which I just kind of grinned. And he did a pretty good job.

Not a bad job!

Enough for this blog. I never did get to why I didn’t post nor why the following blogs are incomplete of detailed hikes and trips, but I do have enough to give you a sense of the beauty of this park. And to tease you just a little this next picture was taken on our second day – our first but not last encounter with wildlife.

It was cold those first few weeks in the Tetons. I mean, mountain kind of cold – early morning temperatures in the teens and daytimes in the mid 40’s. But the skies were blue, the snow was melting and we were getting used to Alpine living again. Not outdoor cooking in that cold, so we did a lot of slow-cooking – meat and soups. The following is a hearty soup best downed with a chunky hearty loaf of crusty French bread and a glass of wine. Enjoy!

3 Replies to “Grand Teton National Park”

  1. This was an especially good read, Jer. I forwarded it to Karen as she likes reading them too. Hoping you two will be able to come by again soon. Remember, Sequoia National Park is practically in my back yard. Or at least I can see it from my house.
    See you soon I hope. Meanwhile, safe travels!

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  2. Love reading this, you must get busy and write more! Cant wait to read all about your expereinces. Bless you both. Looking forward to seeing you again.

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  3. BEAR! Oh no! Great pictures and a wonderful read. Missed seeing where in the world Jan & Jer were. It’s like Where’s Waldo. Keep em coming so we know you are still out there safe and sound and enjoying life. Love & Hugs & Merry Christmas! Lori & Dave

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