10/15/2019 Grand Teton Jeep Extravaganza, day 35


FIreside Resort

The resort has a number of fee standing modern looking cabins that are available year round.  The resort is five miles from Jackson Hole, the rebound ski area.   I wonder if we can take the gondola to the top today.

We arrived just before closing and were assigned site 57.   The sites are packed pretty tightly though that’s not a problem.  It’s so cold mornings and evenings that everyone is buttoned up tightly.  Even with so many close in, it’s quiet here.

The resort rents jeeps!  We heave one for the day.  Now we can drive the entirety of Moose Williams Road.  Part of the road is closed to motorhomes.  The Jeep has blacked out rear windows.  No worries about having our camera gear visible to thieves (not that there are many). We’ll head off in search of moose and The Four Seasons.  The Four Seasons, Jackson is located in the ski village at the end of Moose Williams Road.  One of Ellen’s daughters was there just a few days ago.  We’re sorry we missed her.

How strange will it be driving a jeep after 35 days driving The Beast?  I’ll know right away.

Moose Wilson Road

We loaded up the jeep and drove up Moose Wilson Road.  It runs to Teton Village and the famous ski area of Jackson Hole.  We stopped and walked the village.  The Four Seasons Hotel sits at the base of two chair lifts.  It would be a wonderful place to stay in January.  The tram was closed and under repair.  I saw workers high up working on the tram;s cable.   The Village is open year round.  The Four Seasons concierge said they have much more foot traffic in the summer. In winter they see outdoor enthusiasts and skiers.  Yes, there are stay and ski packages available at the hotel.  Understated elegance with a western theme, that is The Four Seasons, Jackson Hole. January room rates for two people is expensive, but not exorbitant.  I’d love to ski here next January.

We skipped getting a quick bite at the hotel,.

The road is mostly paved, though it becomes a packed dirt road as it does into Grand Teton National Park.  There the road runs into sparse trees with meadows and marshes scattered here and there.  The dirt road runs for miles. A sign ahead of the park entrance reads: No RVs beyond this point.  That sign thwarted my Moose Road drive last year.  We cruised on through in the jeep.

The park entrance kiosk was closed.  It seems that Grand Teton is less seriously controlled than is Yellowstone.   Moose Wilson is best driven at slow speed.  We drove 15 mph over long stretches of the road.  We scanned for moose as we went.  From time to time I’d pull over to allow faster traffic past.   As the road approaches Moose Crossing it rises to a bluff overlooking a picturesque stream and marsh.  Perfect moose habitat.  A sign at the parking area there warns people not to approach wildlife.  Watch the wildlife at a distance.  We stopped, looked, listened, and after about twenty minutes I drove on.  “We’ll come back around dusk”


That observation area is at the end of the road at Moose Crossing.  We were famished.  We drove past Grand Teton National Park Headquarters on our way back to highway 89.  Just across the snake river Dornan’s Road branches to the left.  A sign announces food at Dornan.      

Dornan has cabins on the snake river.   I expect they had closed for the season, but I didn’t check.  The cabins are centrally located and would be a great place to stay in the park.  There are two places to eat here: Dornan’s Chuckwagon and Dornan’s Pizza Pasta Company.  We parked.  Ellen said, “I’d live a slice of pizza”.

As you walk through the doors to the pizza company, you pass a spacious shop on the right that has hundreds of bottles of wine for sale.  I was stunned.  The wine shop rivals many shops in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Passing the wine shop, you walk into a large room and picture windows opening onto the stunning view of Grand Teton.  To the right sits a spacious rustic bar.  We ordered two personal pizzas and took a table.  The pizzas were very good.

On the way out I stopped at the wine shop. “We were the first wine shop in the valley.  We used to have wine and food pairings.  I’ve looked at binders from the ‘80’s that list the wine and food pairings.  Some of the wines served are mind boggling.”,  She was very knowledgeable about wine and the history of the shop.  The shop carries wines from around the world with a very representative selection from the Napa Valley.

We drove back across the Snake River to the visitors center.  We wanted to find last year’s memorable turnout where we walked with a moose.  The Ranger mentioned a few likely places.  “That’s it” He mentioned Schwabacher Landing and I recognized the name.   It’s the next turnout north of Moose Crossing.  We chatted about the park and wildlife.  He didn’t have information about moose sightings.  “They are solitary animals.  They’re common in this area.”  He gave us a better map.

Schwabacher Landing

The road to Schwabacher was open.  As we recalled, the road makes a sharp right turn as it drops down into the Snake River valley.  This is a area where the river branches into a number of rivulets branching off from the main channel. With a jolt the paved road becomes dirt and bounces along for a few miles to a dirt parking lot.  A hiking trail winds along a rivulet.  On the trail side sits a plain of sagebrush while evergreen trees line the opposite side of the rivulet.   I was flooded with memories of last year’s encounter as we walked.  This year we saw playful pairs of ducks and a few other hikers.

The view of the Teton Range, gray and towering over the green pines, the golden marsh, and deep blue water is breathtaking.   Though our anticipation of moose sightings was dashed, we thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the gurgling water with warning calls echoing from the trees.  “Danger” they called.  We were the danger.

We drove back to the moose overlook and walked a trail along the water.  We stayed for a few hours as the sunlight slowly faded.  Groups drove up, looked for a moment or two, then drove away. Now and then a couple would stop and wait with us.  When we gave up the hunt and drove away there were five other hold-outs.

At Albertsons we replenished our supplies.  Ellen found fresh baked pot pies in a warming shelf.  “They’re not Mountain Mama’s, but these really look good”  Checking out, the fellow ahead of us had two of them too. “They’re very good” he said.  “I’ve never tried one.” I had the impression the checkout gal would go get a few herself.

Driving back to Fireside Resort, I turned off 22 too early and drove far up and into the boonies.  It took a while for us both to realize “this is not right”.  Just before finding a turnout, we saw a low wide animal lumbering into the brush.  A porcupine!  The correct turnoff for Fireside was another three miles up 22!  Shortly after the turnout I  saw reddish-brown motion ahead roadside.  Just In time I saw a red fox briefly stare into the headlights then disappear.  “Did you see that?  A red fox roadside!”

Home, we carefully unloaded the Jeep being careful not to forget anything.  I was not impressed with the jeep.  It did its job without inspiring confidence in its handling.  I actually prefer driving Li’l Beast.  Now that’s a surprise to me.

Today, temperature climbed into the 60’s.  It was warm in the sun.  In mid afternoon the day’s cold wind abated.  Even the shade was comfortable without the wind.

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