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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Get Us to the Church On Time... Or Not...

Bison of the Day
Sunday morning, fairly bright and early, I woke up to find Joann, as always, awake, alert and rearing to go.

"So, I want to go to church today. She sat, curously paging through our park brochures. "Hum.. the church here in the park isn't open for another week or two... Oooo, there is a church in Jackson."

Being a long standing reformed Druid tree hugger, and not opposed to nourishing my soul, I nodded. And before long we on the road, headed south out of  the park. It's a lovely drive to Jackson Hole. We passed snow and ice covered scenery.

This lake was completely iced over.

We drove a long a river and soon I was screeching (in my gentile, banshee like manner) for Joann to halt a bit, so I could photograph a pair of Barrow's Golden ducks. They weren't too far from shore, and when the car stopped I shot round after round of photo, then we drove on. Then I checked my photo...

Oh yeah, no doubt about it: I have GOT to start checking my camera settings first thing each morning. This poor duck looks like he's floating on snow. Where is that lighting control at? Why is he also fuzzy? Uh... I was doing soft focus on purpose... make him look younger.

Soon we were in The Grand Tetons National Park. Before long we stopped (our 33rd photo stop) at a little area dedicated for wildlife observation. 

Mount Moran mirrored on Jackson lake
This Yellow-headed Blackbird bustled on over to check us out.
Another view of Mt. Moran across the wildlife viewing area.
Farther south on Hwy 89, we found a massive field of sagebrush, alive with birdsong and underfoot there were plenty of little wildflowers.

Elegant, drooping Yellow Bells

Yellow Prairie Violet
Did I say there was bird song throughout the meadows? The songs were sung by territorial little fellows.

Vesper Sparrow, taking five between his song sets
When I had taken about a b'jillion sparrow and wildflower shots, we continued south. We stopped to admire some totally breathtaking mountains.

Joann enjoying our Kodak moment

We found this stone bordered, picturesque spot
I remembered from previous visits to the Tetons.
Then we arrived at the quintessential rocky craigs of the Tetons. Behold! 
The Cathedral Peaks Grouping
 Round about this time, we realized, what with our frequent photo opt spots, there was no way we were making it to Jackson for 10 o'clock mass. Oh well! We settled for some internal mediation time across Jenny Lake. Amen.

A straight view down the Grand Tetons range
We had a moose encounter! This hungry bull moose was off in a meadown, browsing.

I love his barely grown in yet, fuzzy, velvet covered
antlers. Wish I could see him when they're grown in!
He made the willow saplings look rather tasty.
It was perhaps another half hour or so before we were closing in on Jackson - I was insistant on putting in a visit there even though there wasn't much of a reason to anymore. On the drive past the National Elk Refuge, we spotted something I never saw before on previous visits.

Interesting stone buildings sat on the hillside, at the
base of which metallic elk crossed a mountain peak
Something new since my last visit to Jackson Hole! The National Wildlife Art Museum. Curious, we drove up the steep driveway for a quick look-see.

This metallic bull elk silently bellows against a mountain
backdrop - and THAT was adjacent to the  parking lot!
I was impressed by this double bison statue - inspiring, yes?
There was even art in bicycle racks!
Though we had the option and time, neither of us were inclined to go indoors and view the art. With so much wildlife out and about, I rather felt, why not stay outside and see the real deal.

The National Wildlife Refuge is just north of Jackson Hole. Our luck - no elk! Then again, I don't think I have ever, in 20 years, been at the refuge when there were elk present. I think they might be seasonal there. 

Next up we put in a quick stop at the Visitor Center just north of town - more statuary.

A Grizzly rounds on a bull and his gal by the front entrance.
The view of Elk Range from the Visitor Center.
Our visit to Jackson Hole was brief but fruitful. Joann did a bit of shopping for camera gear, and we had a lunch at a local cafe.

Plaza view, downtown Jackson. Though elk shed their
antlers naturally, I find the antler arbor kind of makes me a little ill.
We made it back to Yellowstone and amazingly, not out of energy, we did some additional sight seeing. We put in a visit at the grand Old Faithful Inn. It was under a bit of construction at the back of the Inn.

Get inside the Inn, look up, and WOW!

The Inn is the world's largest log hotel. For myself,
I can't believe there are more than one, can you?

In the distant past, orchestras used to play in the little
'tree house' up top. That must have been a sight to see.
After the Inn we visited - quite briefly because it was about to close for the day - the 'new', to me that is, Visitor Center near the Inn. Quite grand.

Joann headed in for a look-see

In the Visitor Center, this view is the entrance...
...the opposite direction gives you a view of
Old Faithful Geyser, steaming in the distance.
So, for Pete's Sake, we didn't get Joann 'to the church on time'... or even to church, but if reverence for the works of Mother Nature and silent contemplation of her inspirational work counts, then our spirits moved none-the-less.

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