Saturday, September 28, 2013

Grand Teton with mom

My mom had been to Yellowstone before, but hadn't gotten to dig around in Grand Teton.  I had gone in the fall of 2011 and was hankering for another visit.  Mom flew out from Maryland and the next morning we drove into beautiful Wyoming.  Along the way, the road cuts over into Idaho, a state mom had never visited.  We stopped the truck, walked around and mom took a photo for proof.

Mom does a lot of photography and sometimes I am jealous.  While I make good use of the camera lenses and equipment I own, I often feel like a sherpa packing in equipment for an expedition. Mom has two nice portable cameras.
We stayed in a condo in the Aspens neighborhood, about five miles south of Teton Village.  Having a kitchen, living room and dining room was great.  Beat the hell out of hotel rooms, and it cost less.
This is the view behind our condo.  Nice digs.  I was hoping for some moose or elk out the back window, but all we saw was deer.
When you look the other direction, we had a scenic creek that seemed to be almost overflowing.
This sums up the photographic challenges for the trip:  clouds and precipitation.  There was a bit of blue sky but it was sporadic.  Most of the time we were trying to make the most of storm clouds.
One sunset left us with some pretty colors.
No matter where the clear skies were, there were always clouds socked in around the Tetons.
Every once in a while, when you were certain that it was just too dark to shoot anything, a little beam of light would appear.
Some beams were aimed down at the valley.  Other were aimed right at the tops of the mountains.
Mormon Row, off of Antelope Flats, is a set of four old barns.  At sunrise, they can be one of the prettiest sites in the national park.
This is another barn, just down the road.  Notice how much the clouds moved in during the 30 minutes between when the shot above and the shot below were taken.
While the landscapes were gorgeous, Teton has a lot of interesting wildlife: bison, bears, moose, elk, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, and more.

The most interesting was running across a family of three moose, a bull, a cow, and a little one. We were watching and photographing from about 300 yards away.  We couldn't get closer because the rangers didn't want us getting near their work.  It turns out that the bull had wandered through the Gros Ventre campground and wrapped a tent around his rack.  The rangers darted the bull, waited for him to drop, and then cut the tent off.  Don't you know some camper was surprised?
Right before dark one evening, we saw a big bull elk with a harem of 15 or 20 cows.  The bull ducked over the ridge before I could get his picture.
Our prize wildlife find was a hungry black bear.  He was busy gobbling Hawthorne berries. I was stunned at how well he was able to climb around in the very top of a fairly small tree.
He was busy staring at us, but if you look close, you can see that it is pouring rain. I think he was hoping one of us would loan him an umbrella.
One of my favorite areas in Teton is Schwabacher Landing.  It has spectacular flat water for mirror-like reflections of trees and mountains.  The bad news is that because of Congress's sequestration, they closed several areas in the park, including Schwabacher.  Very sad.

I looked around for some other reflections. None were spectacular, but they were OK.
This was taken up in the north end of the park, near Jackson Lake.
At sunrise and sunset, Oxbow Bend can be drop dead  gorgeous.  In the middle of the day, it is still fairly pretty.
I got bored one rainy afternoon and when a little bit of sun popped through, I started taking photos of some thistle plants in our back yard. I hate these thorny buggers, but they can be pretty.
Kevin, a friend from Rotary, suggested we visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  It's a mile or two north of Jackson and south of Grand Teton Park. It was definitely worth the stop and a great idea for a rainy day.
The last day of our visit included some rain, followed by some light snow.  While I was loading the car, mom got to clear the windows.  While we got a lot of rain down in the valley, the big Teton mountains got about a foot of snow.  We drove around for a while before leaving the park in the hopes of a hole in the clouds to capture the white capped mountains, but nothing even close.
It was fun getting to spend some time with mom.  The weather could have been nicer, but you just roll the dice and take what you get.

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