Wednesday, 22 August 2012

From Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole, Wy.

Ready to leave the Hilton Garden Inn, Salt Lake City.
When I woke up the day after Rhemalda’s ‘Got Stories?’ conference, I could hardly believe it had happened at all. It had been such an intense day, with such strong and wonderful feelings, that it would surely take a while to sink in. With this in mind, we enjoyed a slow morning, taking our time over showers and breakfast. Once we had eaten our fill and completed our packing, we collected the Jeep and drove it round to the nearest gas station. Here we washed the screen clear of dead insects and bought some water for the journey and a couple of road maps. It was also here that I swear I saw Simon Reeve, the TV presenter who had recently been on BBC 2 in the UK with his ‘Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve’ programme. Dave didn’t believe me, but I’m sure it was him driving away from the gas station!
Celebrity sighting or not, we followed this car out of the gas station and on to the interstate between Salt Lake and our destination for the night, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was easy driving and after a short while, I took over the wheel. It was nice because there was lots to look at, and even though I was driving, the road was so straight and the traffic so light that I could see the sights along the way. At one point we saw some large white birds flying in the distance, and neither of us could quite make out what they were. When we got a bit closer we were amazed to see that they were pelicans! For some reason, neither of us had expected to see pelicans wheeling in the skies close to Salt Lake City. A bit further along we began to see an unusual cloud formation approaching. There were a dozen or so flat, elliptical clouds looking as though they were balanced on top of each other. Dave took a photo of them but it didn’t really do the phenomenon justice.

Odd, elliptical clouds.
As it was nearing lunchtime, we started looking for somewhere to get a snack to stay the hunger pangs. We had seen signs for Idaho Falls and thought it sounded pretty, so that was where we aimed. I still don’t know how it happened but somehow I managed to turn off the Interstate, and we found ourselves driving through an industrial and pretty boring area which had no food outlets at all. Eventually we managed to find something approximating a town and stopped at the only place offering food that we could see. It turned out to be a very nice diner, with the added attraction of a beautifully carved wooden seat outside, featuring two horses’ heads. As horses are dear to my heart and these two were gorgeous, I simply had to take a picture. I’d love a bench like this in my garden!
Beautiful horse-head seat.
It was Fathers’ Day, and so the diner was pretty full and buzzing, but we got two very tasty sandwiches (and resisted all the delicious desserts!) before continuing our drive to Jackson Hole.
The day had been sunny and warm, but as we drove over the Teton Pass, clouds appeared in the sky. It was quite cold at the apex of the pass, and we got out of the car to feast our eyes on the view unfolding before us. We could see the valley stretching out and the mountains in the distance – quite stunning!

As we carried on over the pass and finally entered the valley of Jackson Hole, we came across the first real ‘wildlife’ (pelicans excepted) we’d seen – it was our first sighting of real, live, American Bison! Admittedly, they were enclosed by a wire fence, and I was quite surprised by this. I had thought that all the wildlife would be roaming free, but they had calves with them and were quite near the road, so we simply had to photograph them. After all, I thought, we might not get the opportunity to see any more. Had I realised what was to come, and that these animals weren't wild but were being farmed, I might not have been so excited, but still, this was my first sighting of real buffalo, and I was thrilled.
My first American Bison!
Shortly after this, we arrived at our destination – the Wildflower Inn, Jackson Hole.

I can thoroughly recommend this beautifully built and well appointed log cabin guesthouse. Our hosts Ken and Sherrie welcomed us, and allowed us to settle in to our room. I say room but it was really a small suite, with a comfortable sitting room, a wonderful bedroom and en suite bathroom, plus a private veranda complete with chairs. Lemonade and homemade raspberry pastries helped us feel at home. After chatting with Ken and Sherrie about our plans for our three-night stay, and looking at wonderful photographs of moose that they’d taken as the animals ate the grass on their guesthouse lawn, we took their recommendation and strolled fifteen minutes down the road to a very nice Italian restaurant. All the way we were scolded by pairs of nesting blackbirds; each pair, it seemed, having claimed the space between one electricity pole and the next. It was quite amusing to leave one angrily chattering pair behind, only to have the noise taken up by the pair in front! We also saw our first moose, even if it was only the black, lifesize cutouts that they place next to the road to persuade speeding motorists to slow down. I know they had a serious purpose, and that many moose are sadly killed each year by careless drivers, but I loved them – they even had reflective red eyes!
Encounter with a Moose
Then it was back to our lovely guesthouse for the night, ready to start our Jackson Hole and Yellowstone adventures in the morning!

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