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Nine Days on the Road – Pt. 2

The conclusion of our 2,022 mile trip across the northern United States to begin our second season as volunteers in Grand Teton National Park. [Part 1 here]

pronghorn have been along our route for several days, but this is the largest group we saw close to the road

Friday is another travel day and we stay at a Harvest Host in Shoshoni Wyoming. We visited before and it was easy to come back. The farm dog acted like we were long lost relatives, running down the long farm track to greet us. With the unbounded joy of a dog, living 100% in the moment on a sunny 70 degree day, a new ball and someone new to play with, Farm Dog decided the best possible place to lay down for a belly rub was behind the trailer as Dave was backing it into the parking spot. While we focused on getting the trailer level-ish, Farm Dog jumped into a puddle and snorkeled around. Exiting the pond he toweled off by rolling in the young crop field like he was on fire and desperate to put out the flames.

Farm Dog drying off in the young crop after a swim

As soon as he saw we were ready to go into the trailer to open up, he plopped his damp sandy self at the foot of the stairs and waited. If he hadn’t been so dirty — I might have been tempted!

Farm Dog hoping to come in for a chat and a cuddle

As soon as I put the chairs outside and sat down with a book, the wind come up, strong and fast. I barely got back inside when the wind was steady at twenty knots, blowing clouds of field dust at us, and gusts of thirty knots (or more!) rocking the trailer. We did get a little rain later, but it seemed a disproportionate amount of advertising for the amount of moisture the drought-stricken region received. But thank goodness, no h-a-i-l.

This dramatic scene would bring surprisingly strong winds in just a few minutes

We rose early, too excited to sleep, knowing today was the last travel day for awhile. The morning checklist was accomplished with help from you-know-who!

Route 26 brought us all the way from Shoshoni to Grand Teton. We had a chuckle when we were still 78 miles out, but the GPS next direction read: ‘left turn at traffic circle for Gros Ventre Rd,’ the road our campground is on.

Approaching the town of Dubois we could see their signature red rock canyons and snow on the distant mountains. Dave had to hit the brakes several times for deer crossing the road.

Just over the Continental Divide, carefully descending the 6% downgrade, we see an amazing sight. A mother grizzly and two cubs are up on a gravel scree field. The shoulder is narrow and there is no way for us to pull over to watch, darn it. My little point and shoot did its best, but what a tease this sighting is!

There was still a lot of snow at the higher elevations.

winter lingers in the Wind River range

The first glimpse of the Tetons never gets old!

We make our traditional stop at the Cunningham Cabin pull-out for a photo and to let folks know we have arrived in the park.

the Teton mountains are a favorite portrait backdrop for the Airstream

Around 11:30 a.m. we arrived at our campsite in the employee loop of the Gros Ventre campground, and within the hour we had camp set up. For now, everything is quite gray. The trees and grasses are not yet convinced Spring is here in the valley and have not begun budding out yet. The damage of downed limbs and trees from last fall’s early snowstorm is all too clear on the ground. It does look a bit like a hurricane blew through.

feels like home!

As soon as camp was set up, we headed back to Moose. I had not realized we had so many “rituals” until I wrote this blog — but yup, we have another one — enjoying a celebratory Just-Arrived sandwich lunch purchased at Dornan’s and eaten down by the Snake river at the old ferry crossing. One Buckaroo and a Plain Jane please!

Back at camp, we had less energetic welcome parties …

chipmunk foraging in storm debris
6:30 pm a moose cow and calf were dining a few dozen yards from our camp site
shedding her winter coat looks like itchy business!

And so, we have competed our trip from State College, Pennsylvania to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming: over two thousand miles, four Harvest Host and two campground stays, and eleven fuel stops. We’ve been treated to gorgeous panoramas as well as an astonishing variety of wildlife along the busy roadsides. Within the span of a few hours today we saw elk, grizzly, and moose! A first for us, and we can hardly wait to see what happens next on this adventure. We hope you’ll enjoy armchair traveling with us!

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