It is that time a year again when those of us who live in Jackson Hole have mixed emotions. Summer has come and gone and the fall weather is upon us. The beautiful colors that we all look forward to have changed and are quickly disappearing. But if you keep a sharp look out you will see things here that can stir a man’s (or woman’s) heart.
On this morning after we dropped off our daughter at school we headed once again for the coffee shop and on the way we passed a typical fall morning where we passed some of the local cowboys moving their cattle from one pasture to another. What better way than to just run the heard right down the highway. It is kind of nice to have to stop on the road side as part of the American West passes you by. Unfortunately for some of these cattle they are heading to the pasture to fatten them up before they hit your plate. But for those in the city – this is a real as it gets.
After passing our bovine friends we headed again north of town for one of our morning coffee drives. One of the incredible things about living up here is you never know what is going to jump out at you and speak to your heart. As we headed north of town we turned into Moose Junction and made our way to one of our favorite morning drives, the Moose Wilson road. Like I said you never know what to expect and as we made our way to the turn off – BAM! We pass this spot all the time but for some reason I felt the need to stop and take this picture. All alone on the road, just after a brief morning sprinkle, and the leaves starting to fall we stopped and gazed at one of God’s most spectacular works, the Grand Tetons. Truthfully there are no bad views and all are worthy of taking a picture or two. This picture does not do a good job of conveying how absolutely beautiful this morning was. We are blessed to be able to see this on any given morning and we never tire of the views.
As we got back in the car we headed down the road a bit and we came to this place only to see the clouds break open and heaven shined upon the Grand as you see it here. The weather has certainly changed in the past few days and it is clear what Mother Nature has in mind for us in the coming months. But for a few more weeks we will have days like this where we only need a light jacket to help ward of the chill, a hot cup of coffee to keep our insides warm. And, more important to share a moment with our creator that has blessed this valley with some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. Every day we see a new painting on the canvas set before us. It is our hope that by sharing some of our mornings with you it will inspire you to come visit Jackson Hole Wyoming and come see for yourself what a simple morning drive with a cup of coffee in hand can do for you well-being. Enjoy!
This morning a friend of mine, Robin Elledge and I went into Teton National Park to see if we could get some pictures of the Fall colors. Because of several fires in the area there was a strong haze in the valley making picture with the mountains in them not possible. So we decided to venture into the trees and take some pictures of just the trees. These are a few of the ones I took this morning.
These were taken at Oxbo Bend in the park. This is one of the most photographed places in Teton National Park because of a beautiful bend in the Snake River happens here with an incredible view of Mount Moran in the distance. Today was about trees. Spectacular morning. Enjoy.
Just about three or four days a week my wife and I drop our daughter off at school and instead of going straight home we venture out. First we visit one of the many coffee shops in town and head out for a drive home – the long way. On this morning which was yesterday morning, we headed north past Teton Village and traveled the “Moose Wilson” road that connects you from the western side of the Snake River to Moose Junction which is north of Jackson Hole about 15 miles.
Moose Junction is where you will find the main entrance to Teton National Park as well as the new Visitor Center which is a must see if you come to town. Moose Junction gets its name I am sure from the many moose you can see on any given day. On this morning we simply made the loop home via this route and then back to town. The picture you see here are nothing special from the stand point of the camera we had with us. But it is proof positive that this valley is one of the true wonders of the free world! Enjoy!
Summertime in Jackson Hole is a magical time especially for families with children. One of the most visited events during the summer is when the Farmers Market comes to town each weekend. They begin around the 4th of July and they continue until late September. Vendors from all over Wyoming and Idaho come to town with their goods hoping to entice the locals into buying – and buy they do. The quality of the produce, meats, bakery goods, fruits and vegetables is awesome. The selection is vast and the quality of everything you find is really at the top of scale.
Today was a sad day for some as this day marked the last Farmers Market for the season. We will not see this event until July of 2012 of next year. When you attend the Farmers Market on the town square you will find local farmers with organic produce, locally raised beef ranchers, bakers, boutique foods and more. Then there is the music, the shops and other street vendors that make this for a fun morning here in Jackson. Jackson closes off the square allowing you to walk freely throughout the town square and not have to worry about traffic. We are sad to see this come to an end this summer as we have seen some outrageously cool foods, goods and services. We will miss you Farmers Market 2011.
But with the ending of summer comes the beginning of fall. Fall in Jackson is also another magical time to be here. Nature puts on a show with the fall colors that is nothing short of spectacular. This is a time when photographers from all over descend upon our town to take advantage of the smorgasbord of photo opportunities. But more on fall in a later post. Today we say good by to summer.
Once again it’s time for a post that has nothing to do with insurance and EVERYTHING to do with quality of life, peace of mind, a calming vibe – just a really nice morning! For those of you parents that have children in college, this is also the time of year when they are finishing their finals and getting ready to come home for the summer. For us this week was our time. Our daughter finished out the week and her sophomore year at CU Boulder.
Now for those of you who don’t look at maps, Boulder Colorado sits almost exactly 500 miles south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming only on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. This post is just a snippet of my trip and it takes you from my home in Jackson Hole over the Absaroka Mountain range up to the point I reached Dubois, Wyoming.
I left on Thursday morning a bit later than I normally do. I was so excited to get my little (19-year-old) girl and bring her home for the summer. Not so sure she was as excited as I but I would like to think so. From Jackson Hole to Dubois is about 90 miles or just under two hours of casual driving. I grabbed my morning coffee and I headed out-of-town.
Now for those of us that live in this valley we have basically two options for this drive. You can travel south out of Jackson down through Bondurant, Pinedale and ending up on Hwy 80 in Rock Springs or you can head North for a short distance and pop over the mountain range which takes you through Dubois, across the Wind River Reservation and then Lander and beyond. I chose to go North this morning.
It was about 9:15 am when I left and as I left town I drove past the National Elk Refuge, past the Grand Tetons on my way to Moran Junction (Gateway to Yellowstone Park). From Moran Junction you head directly east over what is called Togwotee Pass (pronounced toe-go-tee) which was named after a subchief under Chief Washakie of the Sheepeater tribe, a branch of the Shoshone Indians. Togwotee lead a U.S. government exploratory expedition over this pass in 1873 – but that is another story.
Before I reached Moran Junction which is about 35 miles north of town I saw many different animals. I saw large numbers of elk that were starting to move slightly north as the snow packs in the valley are finally starting to diminish. I saw 6 moose, many deer, buffalo, fox, and 4 or 5 eagles watching over me as I traveled. Just short of Moran Junction a lone wolf jumped right in front of my vehicle and looked at me as though I was out of line or something. This was a real treat as we see quite a few large coyotes here and many fox but to see a real wolf in the wild is soo cool. So I pulled over and stopped and watched him disappear into the distance.
Moran Junction is simply a beautiful area because you have the Snake River right next to the road and the Buffalo Fork river which is one of Wyoming’s finest locations for fishing, and clear waters that drain the Teton Wilderness. Over 80% of the Buffalo Fork river is in a wilderness setting, and is the highest drainage in the Jackson Hole area and drains much of the area around Togwotee Pass.
As I headed up the pass I realized that I had the road just about to myself. As I climbed the snow pack continued to deepen and in places was still over 10+ feet deep. There was an eerie calm this morning and the sun was out and it was simply beautiful. I pulled over towards the top of the divide and got out for a few minutes to simply take in the unbelievable vistas. I was looking to the northeast at huge cliffs that line the drive. The drive from Moran Junction to Dubois is simply 56 mile of heaven or in this case Just South of Heaven. In the summer this stretch of road would be a motorcyclist dream. In the winter this area is one of the best areas in the world for snowmobiles.
Once you cross over the Continental Divide you make your way down into the small town of Dubois, Wyoming. A charming little town with great Wyoming character. Almost the whole part of this trip you will travel along rivers and streams which bring great opportunities for wildlife. Be careful though if you travel this in the summer as this is bear habitat and Grizzlies are spotted all the time in this area. One of the things you will pass as you come into Dubois is the turn off for Union Pass (Google it). Union pass has tremedous history for those of you who are interested. I plan to take a trip this summer over Union Pass and I will post this day sometime later this summer.
At risk of blogging too much and boring you I will stop here. But I need to tell you that there are times and places that you will find in your life where I believe God speaks to your heart. 90 miles from Jackson Hole to Dubois on your way to Boulder Colorado may be just the time and place for you as it was for me this morning. Seek this stretch of road and I challenge you not to be inspired. This truly is a road worth traveling that in my eyes is just south of heaven!
This past fall Peyton and I were feeling a need for some kind of activity that would be refreshing and good for our souls. After bantering around a few ideas we decided to pack the truck with jackets, coffee, and our daughter Brynn and we headed off to Yellowstone Park. Our goal was to drive into the park and visit the southern geyser basin which is were the Old Faithful Geyser lives. This is a trip of just over 200 miles round-trip from our home. As we traveled out of Jackson heading north our first view that we ran into was the Grand Tetons which are about 3-5 miles just north of Jackson.
As you can tell from the photo the sky’s were clear and it was fairly warm for this time of year. The temperature was around 40 degrees when we left. For those of you who have never stood before the Grand Tetons you need to put this on your bucket list. The power and the sheer beauty is almost hard to describe. Photos alone do not capture that magnificence of this view.
About 35 miles north of town you come to a junction called Moran Junction and here you turn north into the Grand Teton National Park. Some of America’s most picturesque views are found just a few miles north of this entrance. One of my favorite views is Oxbow Bend. Oxbow Bend is actually part of the Snake River which runs south out of Yellowstone Park and into and then from Jackson Lake. The mountain in the background is Mount Moran. If you look closely you can see the mountains reflected in the waters of the Snake River. As a side note – last year my good friend Dan Megna (world-class photographer) and I were at this very spot in early May of 2009. As Dan took pictures we were blessed to witness the crossing of a small group of elk that swam across the Snake River just a few hundred yards north of this point. What a sight to see!
As you travel north you travel through thick forest and open pastures kriss crossed with streams, creeks and rivers. Then in about 28 miles you come to the south entrance of Yellowstone Park. At this point we have driven about 60 miles from our home. By the way if you do not carry a National Park pass you will have to pay to enter Yellowstone Park. Today was the last day that the park was open to the public as it was closing for the winter season.
From the south entrance to the southern geyser basin it is about 30 miles or so. On this part of our journey we passed many beautiful spots that you could easily stop and hang for a while. We chose to stop at a place on the river called Lewis Falls (named after Meriwether Lewis, Lewis & Clark) to take a few pics. Brynn and I got out of the truck and tromped through the snow to get this picture of the falls. Again, as a side note – Lewis and Clark spent much of their time passing through this area on their way to and from the Pacific Coast – but that is another story.
As we passed Yellowstone lake a few miles down the road we started up the Continental Divide and over it into the Southern Geyser basin. One more of many stops was this view of Kepler Cascades. Here the water in the Firehole river drops several times over falls that total more than 150 vertical feet. It is in a narrow canyon heading into the geyser basin to the north. If you do not like heights (like me) you have to brave the deep canyon walls to take a good pic. This is the best I could do!
Shortly after this stop we entered into the southern geyser basin. You know you are there because as you enter this area the first thing you see is all the steam coming from the thermal activity of the area. Here you are basically in the bottom of a
huge caldera. We entered into the Old Faithful area where there is a lot going on. There are shops, restaurants, Old Faithful lodge, the new Visitor Center and more. Not to mention Old Faithful geyser and the miles of trails that you can walk on to see all this magnificent area has to offer.
One of the must sees here is the new Visitor Center that was just completed. Most of the buildings here are new this year as this part of the park went through a huge upgrade to handle all the visitor it sees each year. The Visitor Center offers so much information in an interactive format along with an auditorium that plays several movies
about the history of the park all day long. Brynn just loved the interactive part of the Center and she had to do everything she could get her hands on. We saw a presentation about the parks thermal activity and other things to do with water – it was great!
We also spent about 30 minutes sitting on a bench in front of Old Faithful. Currently it goes off about every 90 minutes or so. And we waited with anticipation. We had enough time to share a snack with Brynn while she played around the area but remained focused on the goal of seeing Old Faithful do her thing. And sure enough at about the 89 minute mark from the last eruption she went off. The eruption lasts only a few minutes but it is pretty cool to see.
By now the day was starting to get late and so we made one more stop into the Visitor Center so Brynn could spend more time interacting with all the exhibits. She also spent time in the gift shop with her mother and I am sure that this comes as no surprise to those of you who know Peyton. She loves to shop. But all in all we had a great time seeing everything in this beautiful center. Then it was back in the truck and we headed home.
On the way Brynn wanted to stop and see if she could grab a small pine tree as she thought they were cute. I tried to explain to her that she would not be able to pull one of these trees out of the ground as they were too strong. But Brynn was determined to try so we stopped at the top of the Continental Divide and let her explore and see if she could find a tree that would fit her needs.
After spending about 20 minute’s or so looking for a small tree she could take home she finally gave up realizing that there was much more of the tree below the snow that she could not see. But she had a great time trying. Watching our youngest daughter at the end of a great day was the real moment of peace and solitude we were yearning for. I think at this very moment we had found what we had set out to do on this very day. To find and bring peace to our souls! Funny how spending the day with your wife and daughter in such a beautiful setting can do just this.
If you ever visit Jackson Hole there will more than likely be times when you will have an extra hour or two to kill before you are on to your next event. So what can you do with the couple of extra hours you have that can help add additional memories to your visit. Well, how about a nice 40 mile round trip drive through some really beautiful country.
Start your trip from Jackson Hole and head west on HWY 22 towards Wilson, Wyoming. Wilson is a quaint little town that is the home to many who live in this valley. Wilson is about 7 miles or so to the west of Jackson and on this first leg of this little journey you will cross the mighty Snake River and as you come into the town of Wilson you will cross over the Fish Creek bridge. Fish Creek is a very picturesque little creek that runs right through the town of Wilson. Now pay attention here as Wilson is not a very big place and if you blink you might miss your turn.
After your cross the Fish Creek bridge you will want to look on your left for the Exxon Gas Station that is on the corner of “Fall Creek Road” and “HWY 22”- which is where you will want to turn left. This is where the drive gets fun. From the town of Wilson you will travel south towards HWY 89 and you will end up in the Snake River Canyon. Fall Creek Road is about 19 miles from the turn in Wilson until you reach HWY 89. Fall Creek Road will meander through the mountains and valley passing by many ranches and private developments until you enter into the National
Forest. This drive is one that will let you get a pretty good feel for the terrain around Jackson Hole and have you back in town for your next event in plenty of time.
It is important to note that about half of the 19 miles of Fall Creek Road is paved and the other half is a dirt road. The dirt road is fairly well-traveled and it is usually maintained in very good shape. So you should really have no trouble making the whole length of Fall Creek Road. However your car or SUV may get dirty along the way. Also you will not have cell phone service for the majority of this trip. It is during this long stretch of the journey that you will have ample opportunities to see wildlife if they are out and about.
As you travel south don’t be in a hurry, first because this road is narrow and there is two-way traffic. If you need or want to look at some of the views – pull over and stop. It is very easy on this narrow winding road to make a mistake. So pay attention. Fall Creek Road runs south just to the west of the Snake River and then heads up into the hills. There are some beautiful areas where you can take some scenic pictures but be aware that much of this first leg runs through private property so please respect the signage.
Soon you will reach the entrance that leads you back into the National Forest and the road eventually will turn to dirt. This is bear country so if you stop and get out to take a hike be sure to have a fresh can of bear spray with you at all times. Personally I have not seen a bear on the many trips I have made on this road but they are there as are all the other animals that live in these mountains. But if you stay to the road you should not have any issues. At some point during this 19 mile stretch be sure to take a few minutes to find a place to pull over and just take in the beautiful scenery. Having a digital camera with you is a must.
One thing that may surprise you is how many homes and ranches are back on this road. But at some point you will leave them behind you for a nice stretch of just you, the dirt road, and mother nature. This picture of the actual Fall Creek was taken just this past week. The creek is really running with snow melt and it is quite muddy right now. Normally this is a beautiful little creek with crystal clear water. The creek makes its way through the valley you will pass and eventually end up emptying into the Snake River. Not to far from this picture you will head back up into the hills and then again travel back down the other side ending up on HWY 89.
When you get to the HWY 89 you will want to turn LEFT (EAST) and head back to Jackson Hole. From this point you are about 23 mile from town and the roads are all paved and you can drive most of it at 55MPH. You will cross the Snake River as you come into Hoback Junction and at Hoback you will turn LEFT again heading North. Then you are 10 miles from town and in no time you will have completed your 40 mile journey. This whole trip should not take more than and hour or so to complete depending on how much time you spend taking pictures and such. So if you have a couple of extra hours this is a good way to spend them as many people who visit the valley never see this little jewel of a drive.
Just about every morning I start my day by going to my local gym. After I get finished with my morning workout I almost always make my way to my favorite coffee shop for a cup of morning joe. Now most mornings after getting my needed cup I head back home to read the paper and check my email. But about 3 days a week I get in my jeep and head north of town to see if I can find some of my favorite neighbors.
We are blessed here in Jackson Hole to have a fairly large number of wild buffalo (Tatanka) available to us. Just drive north of town and you might be surprised at who you might run into. On this morning I drove north of town and finished my coffee with one of these very beautiful creatures. Although there were many buffalo to visit with I especially like this guy. He was a large male that probably out weighed my jeep. I am alway cautious when I am around these awesome animals but on this day we kind of hung out together and when he had enough of me he just mosied on by and headed to the rest of the herd immediately to the west. Pretty Cool!
This is a re-post from earlier this year. This post appeared on our health insurance blog @ http://insurancesimplified.wordpress.com. Before we started Jackson Hole Tim we would post articles about Jackson there and because this post has been read many times and received well I wanted to run it again as I think Jackson Hole Tim is a more appropriate place for it to live. Enjoy!
From time to time you have a morning that is just exceptional and really enjoyable. Most of you know that I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – one of the most spectacular places to live in North America. Several time per week my wife and I will stop by the coffee shop just after we drop one of our children off at school. We then venture north of town to see what new sights we can find. Today was a great day as it turned out. Wildlife was just about everywhere you looked.
Now springtime in the Rockies is a period of transition for all that inhabit this area. Normally by now most of the snow has melted down in the valley and the animals – such as elk, moose, deer, antelope and other animals are starting to make their way up into the hills. This year we have had record snow fall and in the surrounding mountains we have had over 670 inches of snow. The snow pack is still very significant just north of the town of Jackson and very deep higher up.
This morning our journey took us north of town just north of the Gros Ventre River and then we turned east towards the Wind River Range heading to Kelly, Wyoming. Along the way we passed several small herds of elk that had started to move north from their winter feeding grounds towards their summer range. As you turn east off of Hwy 89 you travel parallel to the Gros Ventre river (one of my favorite waterways). Along this route you can run into wild animals at almost any point along the way. And today was no exception. Before you get to this turn off you pass by the National Elk Refuge and the highly acclaimed Natural Museum of Wildlife Art.
Our first stop was to view three moose we spotted that were lying down in the snow and they seem to be enjoying the warm sunlight that was abundant on this beautiful morning. The snow pack north of town is still fairly deep for this time of year and these three looked as though they were tired from a long harsh winter.
We continued heading east towards one of my favorite areas in the valley – The Gros Ventre. The road travels up into the mountain range for many many miles and pretty much follows the path of the Gros Ventre river that originates deep in the mountains. Just where you turn to head back into the range is a small warm (hot) spring. Sometimes in the summer you will see tourist swimming in this spot as the water is warm all year round. This picture is taken looking back toward the town of Jackson.
If you ever visit Jackson Hole area this is one area you will want to drive to. The road that begins the drive up into the Gros Ventre is only about 10 mile north-east of the town. This water shed is sooo beautiful in the summer – put it on your bucket list of things to see. As we headed up the road we came across a very young moose calf – not more than a year old at best. He was laying down in the snow just soaking up the sun as the other moose we had seen. To see such a young calf so close was a real treat – but where was mama?
Well as expected a few hundred feet further up we found her. She was lying right next to the road tucked among a small grouping of aspen trees. She looked exhausted. Normally you never want to approach a moose – especially a mother with her calf close by as they will simply stomp you to death. But in this case I just felt she was at peace and that she knew we were no threat to her. I was able to get within 10 feet or less to take a couple of shots. It is hard to tell from these pictures just how large and majestic these animals are. There coats look a little ratty as they are shedding their winter fur.
Our final stop was a point on the Gros Ventre river that is truly a beautiful spot. I noticed from the road a BIG BULL moose having his way in the willows that line the bank of the river. He was about 300 yards away and so I hiked down to the river (as my wife said “I’m not going”) to get a closer view of this magnificent animal. After about 10 minutes I got within about 75 yards of him before he spotted me. So I took a few pictures and I thought it prudent to back off – so I did.
Then out of no where a giant Bald Eagle came flying down the center for the river (fishing) for breakfast. He came from behind me so I did not see him until he was right in front of me. And I mean right in front of me – maybe 50 feet at most?? I heard the flap of his giant wings but I had my camera turned off and I missed the shot. But WOW he was magnificent! I then climbed back up the hill to my wife and we headed home.
I know this has nothing to do with selling health insurance but I do think it has everything to do with quality of life. To see these snap shots of mother nature on a daily basis is truly a blessing that has been bestowed upon our family. I hope you enjoy this post!
As we all know the cost of food is growing at a rapid pace and putting a strain on individuals and their families pocket books. Just like the cost of health insurance good quality food costs are reaching an all time high. Because we live in Wyoming we are blessed with many really good ranches that raise beef for their living. In Jackson Hole we are also blessed with quite a selection of boutique markets with top-notch butcher counters. We do not have markets like Whole Foods, or Bristol Farms but what we do have in terms of markets is quite nice!
Today’s post is about one small market which sits on the west bank of the Snake River called the Aspens Market. Recently they remodeled and put in a first class meat section. The guys that work behind the counter are skilled butchers and almost all of the beef they sell comes from ranches right here in Wyoming. Grass fed beef – perfect!
They hang and age their own beef and then cut it to either your specifications or to what they know to be the best cut for a particular part of the animal. Now I am sure not everyone who reads this post are meat eaters but if you are you will appreciate what I am saying. These animals are raised on large ranches, roam freely and eat the natural grasses available.
As you can see from the picture these two steaks were very large cuts and well over 1 1/2 inches thick. Fortunately for us our son Brock was here to prepare them as steaks like these take some real skill to prepare and cook to perfection. Brock did just that! In our family we are not huge meat eaters so we usually have smaller portions which we know is better for your overall health and we always pair our servings with salads, fresh vegetables and sometimes potatoes, which by the way come from over the hill in Idaho.
These two steaks provided enough of a bounty to allow us to enjoy this meat for many meals that followed. We had enough steak left over for sandwiches, steak for quesadillas, and even enough left over to make some tacos. Yes the cost for these two steaks was expensive when you compare them to other options in your local markets but when you consider the health benefits of meat of this quality and the fact we had several other meals from them the overall cost was more than reasonable.
Bottom line, good quality food is expensive, but then again so is the cost of being sick. One of the biggest things we face as a nation is a growing problem with obesity which directly affect ones overall health, the cost of insurance, the cost of healthcare and more importantly the quality of life. The next time you shop try to find a butcher who provides grass-fed beef products – I think you will be surprised at the overall value and not to mention just how good they will taste.