Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grand Tetons and Swan Valley, ID

I just want you to know that you are witnessing history with this blog post - the first time on this trip that we are leaving a stop with the blog posted before we pull out of the parking lot!  That may not happen again.  

We departed Glacier National Park (GNP) 4 days ago and backtracked a bit.  We had planned to continue westward from GNP 230 miles to Coeur d'Alene, ID (the "jewel" of Idaho on the Washington state border) but there was nowhere we wanted to go from there (we've been to Washington and Oregon years ago), and some of the roads south of Coeur d'Alene continuing through Idaho cannot accomodate big rigs through all of the mountains down toward Boise.

We decided previously when we were at Yellowstone not to make the long trip down to the Tetons, but to try and catch them later from the west side.  So, that's where we are in "the plan" which  really isn't much of one.  After GNP, we spent one night in Deer Lodge, MT, then picked up I-15 southbound toward Idaho Falls, ID, and found a campground in Swan Valley, ID only 40 miles from the Tetons.  And from Swan Valley and the Tetons, we will be making stops in Pocatello, ID, Ogden, UT (through Salt Lake City), and across northern Nevada into Reno and the Lake Tahoe area, then into California. Dang, I'm tired just thinking about all that. 

Oh yeah, welcome to Idaho (I ventured into ID for the first time on the Lolo Pass bike ride, but this is Rhonda's first time).

The ride down to Idaho Falls was pretty much what we have already experienced, but the farmland between there and Swan Valley was a little different.  As best we can determine, hay is still the big crop supplemented by wheat and barley. Rhonda asked the locals what the crops are and they all said, "We don't know...maybe barley for beer, or wheat, or something else." The pictures here and in the Tetons are all hazy because of a huge fire around Idaho Falls, but these fields are the prettiest farmland we have seen anywhere.

We believe the dark section on the bottom is wheat and the lighter section is barley.

And here's our campground for 3 days - "Rendezvous at the South Fork" - (South Fork refers to a section of the Snake River).

It's a small and very quaint RV park and we made even more history here - NO TV FOR 3 DAYS! Usually if there is no cable we can get some over-the-air channels via our antenna.  Not this time and we missed "The Bachelorette" because of it.  Yes, it's true, we watch that show, sorry to disappoint some of our friends and family.  By the way, of the three at the end, we kind of liked Eric the best.

They also have a few log cabins, tent campers, and lots of evergreens here.  

The leaves are starting to turn yellow here already.

We have crossed the Snake River numerous times since arriving here and these "drift"  boats are common for the shallow waters of the river.

So, let's head to the Tetons through Teton Gap.  Nothing that we haven't already seen as far as scenery, but in addition to the runaway truck uphill sand exits for the steep downhill grades (10% grades on this one and the steepest we have seen), they have catchnet cable systems.  The runaway vehicle heads between the barricades and is slowed down by a series of cables and nets - pretty cool. 

There were a couple of these antler arches in the town of Jackson, WY.

The Tetons are beautiful in their own way, but you are always looking at them from a distance - you do not ride through the Teton Mountains.  That was a bit disappointing, and with the haze, they were not as captivating as we had heard.  Also, what you see is more of the same single range of mountains, not much variety.  But here goes, enjoy.

And a couple of shots with Jenny Lake in the foreground.

Just to be fair to the Tetons, I borrowed a picture from the internet to show what they could look like on a clear day.

We had a little fun with a "sound study" in progress inside the park.  IMHO, this is another worthless government project, of no value to anyone.  The equipment is positioned right next to the road so you can see how your vehicle rates in terms of "sound pollution."  You will find yourself in green, yellow, or red categories.  From these indicators, we know who the good, borderline, and evil drivers are.  We actually pulled over and monitored cars passing through for awhile and there was no rhyme or reason to the indications - small cars registered just as high as others and the big boys registered low as often as anyone else.  Then just to test it, we pulled our 6.7 liter Dodge Ram Cummins diesel right up to the system, put it in neutral, and revved it up.  (For those evil noise polluters out there, you know the Cummins diesels are loud.) The best we could get out of it was about 65 dBs, but that's in the yellow range, so we will go trade in our truck, motorcycle, and RV tomorrow for a Prius and a tent I guess. Of course, the small car in the picture below registered higher than our truck and often the reading was in the yellow when there was absolutely NO traffic. (You can tell we sat here for quite a while.) A couple of Harleys had some fun with it also and revved their bikes up as they passed by. (We googled the study and motorcycles are one of the main targets to make them aware of their impact. That's really going to change some things.  Heck, one of the main attractions to Harleys is their sound!) And that's the absurdity of the whole thing.  The readings appeared to be erroneous as often as not, but even if they were accurate and reliable, it's not going to change a thing.  More tax dollars wasted, nothing accomplished.  Well, I guess they could close the park and let the animals listen to the breeze blow through the trees.

We finally got a little bored with that and decided to check out a bakery in Jackson that Rhonda was interested in. It was rated as the best bakery in town, but there was not a single cinnamon roll, doughnut, or pastry - just a few loaves of bread. She said it was a little pathetic as far as bakeries go and was leaving when she saw a jar of cookies. They were pretty good, but she really wanted raisin bread or cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

We headed to Alpine where we were told we could find a meat and vegetables meal at Yankee Doodle Diner. The website said "Southern cooking" and listed meatloaf, fried chicken, vegetables, and all that good "homecooking" type of food. Rhonda went in to get a table and was told, "Sorry, we don't serve dinner anymore. We can't get anyone to work the evening shift, so we had to stop serving those dinners! We just serve hamburgers and sandwiches now for lunch." Maybe the old evening employees are all working on sound pollution studies somewhere now instead.  Folks, we are in a mess. And remember we have been trying to find real meals for a long time, so I am kind of grumpy. Rhonda called one of 2 restaurants in Swan Valley and the first said, "Yes we have vegetables. Our meals all come with a salad." So, feeling even more food deprived, we headed home along Palisades Lake which is a dammed up portion of the Snake River. Beautiful.


In closing and just so you know, not all workers have decided to quit the evening shifts and vegetables do exist out West. We were able to get a nice meal at Snake River Roadhouse back close to our campsite - salmon, sauteed squash, and spinach. And did I mention the temperatures today remained in the mid-70s?  Low tonight 48.  Not so grumpy now.  Off to Pocatello tomorrow.

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