Out of the fryingpan heat of Utah (my Irish blood can’t really take it – there must be some Spanish Armada in Cathal!) and into freshweathered Wyoming….and the glorious Teton Range of mountains.  It was our longest car journey so far – 9 hours and 550 miles.  In Irish terms it sounds a lot, but with the GPS, interstate roads and an audiobook, the journey went very quickly.  Red rock of southern Utah gave way to open flats of Mormon northern Utah.  We passed Salt Lake City and small godfearing towns – this is the heart of Republican country.  Outside the towns, the land rolled away on all sides, large ranches defined by imposing timber gates and wooden barns.  We reached Jackson Hole late in the evening, and found it surprisingly busy with tourists.  Jackson Hole has become quite an upmarket town, mainly due to its popularity as a ski resort in winter.   We set up camp at Gros Ventre campground, 10 miles out of town, but near the Grand Tetons National Park.  It is the largest campsite in the National Parks – 3000 sites!  

 

We awoke the next morning to the stunning Grand Tetons – a backbone of craggy grey peaks, topped with snow even this far into the summer.  Below them, bison roamed wild flower meadows.  Old Mormon homestead buildings still stand – completing the picturesque scene.   The Snake river runs through the area – Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer, immortalised the Tetons in a photo taken about 70 years ago.  

 

We enjoyed many coffees and sandwiches during our stay at Al and Heather’s coffee shop in Kelly, a tiny town with the best view of the Tetons.  They make a mean coffee and provide plenty of chat, information, laundry services and Apple Mac help!  Thanks guys for making us feel so welcome!

 

In Jackson Hole, we did more local activities than tourist ones, enjoying the lovely public library for wifi access, and using the pool complex.  OK we had to go there to shower, but swam too!  Jackson Hole is heart of coyboy country, so we got to experience the local Friday night rodeo.  It is the local equivalent of a GAA or football match.  Everyone really gets into the spirit – the uniform was wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, check shirts and cowboy hats.   The Star Spangled Banner was sung fervently, and the Rodeo Queen, in orange leather, rode around the arena with the flag.  We watched bull riding, barrel racing and team tethering.  Everyone knows how to lassoo around here.  A 5 year old boy zipped around confidently on a huge brown horse, to the delight of the crowd.  The commentator welcomed everyone from all corners of the US, but failed to welcome the visitors from abroad..of which there were many….interesting(!).  

 

We enjoyed several trail runs around Jenny Lake, Cathal didn’t think I was up to the challenge but I proved him wrong!  A dip in the icy water sorted out any muscle pains afterwards.  We took a hike up Lupine Meadows to Surprise Lake – and we were ‘surprised’ to find snow up there!  The wild flowers were beautiful.  

 

Finally we attended a “chuckwagon” meal and show – mainly to meet up with Amy, a girl we met several months ago in Guatemala.  It was great to catch up with her…the first “remeat” of our trip.  The chuckwagon consisted of an old western meal, biscuits, gravy, cornbread and all, and cowboy songs n’ entertainment.  Despite the enormous touristy scale it was actually very good – and we could sneak in a few beers to enjoy after dinner.  

 

Most visitors probably spend a day at the Tetons, but we managed to stretch it to 5 great days – it gets harder to move quickly the longer the trip gets – so it was great to have such a pleasant place to hang out for a few days.  

 

Images from Jackson Hole & the Grand Teton National Park

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