For quite some time now I have been wanting to stop by a little rock church found in Auburn Wyoming. Auburn is a little community not far from my home here in Afton Wyoming and it is a true piece of Americana as Auburn was a gateway for part of the Oregon Trail that passed through this part of Star Valley during the migration west in the mid 1800’s.
The Lander Cut Off once it was discovered helped these pioneers save 7 days in the journey heading west starting in Le Barge Wyoming making their way through true wilderness range and popping out in Smoot Wyoming just a stones throw from me here in Afton. It was Auburn where these pioneers made their was back into the mountains once they had crossed the Valley floor here on their way to Fort Hall Idaho. It may not sound like much but 7 days could make the difference between life or death back then. Remember the Donner Party? But that journey is really for another post.
No more excuses as my wife politely reminded me that in the morning the weather should be perfect for me. I woke up and she already had my very large YETI mug full of hot coffee ready for my morning’s journey. When I asked her why she was not dressed she just looked at me and said “Are you kidding me? It’s cold outside… no I will see you when you get back”. So with camera AND coffee in hand I headed out.
In Auburn there is not much as far as stores and places to shop, just a quaint little piece of Wyoming that many call home. Auburn sits on the border between Wyoming and Idaho… just inside the Wyoming line. It is here in Auburn that this beautiful rock LDS church sits.
It is said that Butch Cassidy and his gang used to winter in the Auburn area. Heavy snowfalls made Star Valley a safe place to “hole up”, as did the fact that this area was mostly settled by polygamists. Using aliases, Butch Cassidy and his partners were occasionally seen at church socials and dances held in the Old Rock Church in Auburn. Today this little rock church is used as a melodrama theater in the summer.
Recently I had the pleasure to visit with a current day elder who’s family has been in Auburn a very long time. She told me that because of the small size of the church they could not fit everyone who would attend these dances so a lottery system was developed so people could buy a ticket and when their ticket was called they would get to dance.
Because Butch Cassidy seemed to always have money it was rumored he would buy up enough tickets so he could dance all night. If people came to the area looking for him the locals where prepared to hide him or in most cases he would travel east to the Big Horn Mountains just outside Kaycee, Wyoming and not far from Sheridan Wyoming located on the east side of the Big Horns.
It is here in this place called “The Hole In The Wall” that the outlaws the likes of Butch Cassidy, Jesse James and the Sundance Kid would hole up until it was safe to move on. But this too is for another post.
On this cold Fall morning I only had one thought in mind and that was to get myself to the Gym. As the Fall days progress the daylight hours shorten it is now dark when I leave for the gym. The dark colder mornings definitely makes it harder to get motivated. If I am not awake when I leave the house I am by the time I reach my truck. Cold air does a great job of awakening you in quick step.
So like most mornings I proceeded to drag myself out of bed, started the truck to warm it up ahead of the short drive and headed out to the gym. It is important to note that my route to the gym takes me right by the newly completed Mormon Temple each morning. A beautiful building for sure but I am so used to seeing it I usually just pass on by.
I arrived at the gym, pooped out of my truck and headed on in… except this time my FOB key wasn’t working. I was also the only guy there so no one could let me in. Sometimes it happens…
I reluctantly got back into my truck thinking that I was not yet ready to head back home. It was then I looked over and saw that my camera was just sitting there staring at me. Great I thought but then I realized how dark it still was and sunrise was still an hour away so I started the short trip back home. As I passed the Mormon Temple again on my way this time I thought wow it looks great this morning all lit up… maybe I should stop and take a few pics.
I pulled a U-Turn and parked across the highway and it was then I discovered no tripod in the car. After a couple of second I decided too bad I was not going home to get it so I decided to take my pictures hand held. They came out pretty good but I will definitely have to come back and set my tripod up for some better longer exposed shots.
One final thought… I was not immediately sure what else I was missing and it was then I realized I had NO COFFEE with me. This made this journey a bit more of a challenge but I assure you my next picture event at the LDS Temple will include a tripod and very LARGE cup of fresh hot coffee…
I have just ordered some 16×24 Metal prints of this big boy. This image was capture in the summer of 2017 north of Jackson Hole Wyoming in the Antelope Flats area. Part of the Yellowstone herd comes south each summer to hang out in this awesome spot that sits basically within or right next to Teton National Park, north of Jackson Hole Wyoming.
This image can be reproduced in pretty much any size but I really like the the 16×24 vertical presentation. Not too big and not too small. If a more contemporary look is your desire hang directly on your wall. If you are looking for a more traditional fits to you space maybe add a nice frame. Available now.
Who has not heard about the great adventure story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition? Early from 1804 – 1806, Sacajawea was an integral part of this expedition that led Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their exploration of the American West looking for a path to the Pacific Ocean. Sacajawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau played an important role in the success of this expedition – an expedition that led them right through this part of the country – the great Yellowstone basin. But this post is not about their story. It is the story of the resting place of Sacajawea – a once young Shoshone Indian girl who helped change history forever. A place that can be found just a few miles Southeast from Jackson Hole.
Although Sacajawea was reported to have died in 1812 she actually lived to be a very old women as told by Shoshone oral traditions. Long after the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Sacajawea eventually made her way west back to the Shoshone tribes and lived out her life in the area that is now Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Anyone who has traveled to or from Lander, Wyoming has gone right through Fort Washakie which is one of two main cities on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Fort Washakie was originally a U.S Army fort in what is now the state of Wyoming. The fort was established in 1869 and was originally named Camp Augur after General Christopher C. Augur, commander of the Department of Platte. In 1870 the camp was renamed Camp Brown in honor of Captain Frederick H. Brown who was killed in the Fetterman Massacre in 1866. 81 men under his command were killed by Lakota Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors during what was known as Red Cloud’s War on the white man. It was renamed again in 1878 after Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe making the fort the only U.S military outpost named after a Native American. The fort remained a military outpost until 1909 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the Shoshone Indian Agency.
The graves of Chief Washakie and the Lewis and Clark Expedition guide Sacajawea are located on the grounds of the fort. This burial site lies within the present-day Wind River Indian Reservation. Our family has become very familiar with Fort Washakie as we travel through there several times a year to visit our daughter in Boulder Colorado. As you pass through the main intersection of Fort Washakie there is a small road sign that says “Sacajawea’s Grave Site”. We had passed this sign many times over many years but had never taken the time to stop and visit this very special place. This last trip it was different – we made the time to visit the resting place of this very important person in American History.
Fort Washakie is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Jackson Hole. A beautiful drive that takes you over Togwotee Pass, through the town of Dubois and across the Wind River Reservation. Just short of Lander Wyoming is Fort Washakie. I need to tell you that please do not expect something on the grandeur of the National Park Monuments we are all used to. Fort Washakie is a humble place that belongs now to the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes. The poverty you will experience on this majestic reservation is shocking and to be truthful something for all to be ashamed about.
Peyton, Brock, Brynn and I have visited several Powwows on this reservation and I can truthfully say these were some of the best days we have had in Wyoming. The Shoshone people are very inviting and I suggest that anyone who is in the area think about visiting one of their Powwows if you can. On this day though we stopped and made our way west of the main intersection, past the Powwow Grounds and along the west side of the Wind River (actual river) for several miles until we came to a very small, unassuming sign that simply says “Sacajawea Cemetery”. As you enter this very humble place two things stand out. No trees or shrubs landscape this place and the close proximity of each grave. Some graves date back to the mid 1800’s and all the way to the present.
I have to tell you that if you are a lover of history you need to visit this place. To stand at the foot of Sacajawea’s gravesite, her son Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau and her sisters son Bazil is quite an experience. This place, this humble grave site, this troubled reservation of the Shoshone people gives one a reason to pause and think… think about those who help lay the path before us, a path that had led to this day that my family stood at the foot of what was once a young Shoshone Indian woman who made an everlasting contribution to our American History.
We woke up again this morning to another beautiful fall day here in the Yellowstone basin! But this morning unlike many of the ones over the past few weeks was really cold. As we pulled from our driveway this morning on our way to drop Brynn off at school the temp gauge was reading 28 degrees. By the time we got across the Snake River it was 25 degrees and even colder north of town.
The Snake River looked pretty cool as there was steam coming off of the water and for that to happen the air temp must be colder than the water. Trust me, the Snake River is not something to wade in this time of year as the water temperatures have dropped quite a bit. Anyway we dropped Brynn off and headed to the coffee shop and then north of town again.
Now forgive us as our camera was acting up this morning but I think you will enjoy our little adventure. We were alone this morning and the animals were right next to our truck at every turn. We took our time and sat and watched the three moose in the pics for quite some time. They were eating the sage next to the road and for the most part ignored us. Been then they decided to check us out and we rolled away as they headed to us. Very cool!
All in all we saw antelope, buffalo, moose, geese and most certainly some spectacular views of the valley. On this morning we passed through Kelly, Wyoming, past the entrance to the Gros Ventre canyon, over to Antelope flats and Mormon Row and then home again. Another great way to share a cup of java!
A few years back my son Brock and I took a day trip to Bozeman Montana to meet some very dear friends from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation located in Montana. Donovan Sr, is an Assiniboine Elder who trained me how to make traditional Native American Pipes, (but that is for another blog post) and Uncle Loren. The short version is we met Donovan Sr. and Uncle Loren (we call him “Uncs”) to pick up some sacred pipe stone and a couple of new pipes, just completed by Donovan Sr., to take back to Jackson Hole to be photographed. We also picked up some pipe stone for ourselves as well as exchange some pipe stems, ideas, and friendship! The day in Bozeman ended in what we call a “Good Trade” day.
Our trip started early on a Saturday morning, leaving Jackson Hole at around 8:00am. After getting our coffee and a couple of bagels we hit the road. When traveling through this part of the country, which is sooo amazing and in a single round trip of about 450 miles one can experience everything the Rockies has to throw at you. The weather this Fall day was awesome, skies were clear blue and the sun was shining bright, and the temperature was perfect when we left town. There are a couple of ways you can make your way to Bozeman from Jackson, one through Yellowstone Park’s south entrance or head through Idaho, back into Montana, north through the very northwest corner of the park and finally past Big Sky Montana as you make your way down the Gallatin River into Bozeman.
From Jackson to Bozeman is about 214 miles (one way) over some of the most beautiful roads you can travel. We chose to head west over Teton Pass and into Idaho, then north along the west side of the Teton Range. You first travel through beautiful rolling hills where much of the russet potatoes are grown in Idaho, not to mention double row barley (which Anheuser Bush buys for their beer) and after you make a turn east in Ashton Idaho you eventually end up in West Yellowstone.
For those who are not familiar with Yellowstone Park, there are 4 entrances to the park. Jackson Hole to the south, Gardiner at the north, the east entrance which leads to Cody, Wyoming and the west entrance which is West Yellowstone (it’s a town). Some of you may be familiar with West Yellowstone as some of the premier fly fishing rivers in the world are in the area. The Madison river, the Firehole, Henry’s Fork, the Buffalo, the Gallatin and many more. This is truly Lewis and Clark country.
From West Yellowstone you head north toward Bozeman and you travel though the very northwest part of Yellowstone Park and you quickly pass over the Madison River eventually picking up and following the Gallatin river all the way into Bozemen. One important note here is that you pass right through a part of the park that suffered from the big fire in 1988. It is awesome to see how nature has recovered. You pass Big Sky Montana Ski Resort and other beautiful scenery. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road to drive at any time of the year.
Once in Bozemen we had our little pow wow with friends, stopped at a few stores and headed home. When we left Bozeman the clouds had started to gather. The weather from Jackson to Bozeman had been perfect! Clear skies, very dry roads, an easy drive. But things were about to change. We headed back up the Gallatin to West Yellowstone. This part of the trip is about 90 miles. As we pulled into West Yellowstone, Brock said “Dad why don’t we go home through the park”. I said sure let’s do it. It is important to note that this is about 4:45pm MST and it is getting darker. It is important because this is animal hour in the park.
We entered the park and headed towards the Old Faithful Geyser basin. This part of the trip from West Yellowstone to home in Jackson is about 130 miles. This is when things started to change. We first ran head on into a male buffalo that decided my truck was bigger than he was. So he mosied off the road and into the pasture that sat along the Madison river. He was the first of hundreds we were to run into this day of travels through the park. And on top of it, it was starting to rain. I quickly looked at my temperature gauge and saw that the temp has dropped drastically to 38 degrees. This was important because at 38 degrees and below it will start to snow if the conditions are right.
As we got closer to Old Faithful we saw elk, and big herds of buffalo and we drove along the banks of the Madison River, simply awesome. By the time we got to Old Faithful Geyser Basin the temperature was down to 36 and still raining. And it was now getting pretty dark. Clouded skis and looking even darker towards Jackson. Along this stretch of the road you travel along the banks of the Firehole river for part of the way and it gets it name from all the thermal activity that it passes through. An amazing sight to see in its own right.
This is an beautiful part of the park and we tried to take some pictures before the light got too low. Almost everywhere you look you see geysers, fumaroles, steam, hot pools, bubbling mud, trees, animals, – awesome! We decided to pull over to take a short break and just take in this beautiful valley. But we did not stay long as the temperature continued to drop and I said to Brock we are about to get snowed on. But the ferocity of the change was not expected.
We headed south towards home and as we got down the road about 5 miles the temp dropped to around 32 and I said to Brock here it comes. And come it did! It did not flurry a bit or start real light – it just started snowing. Now in this part of the country you will cross the Continental Divide many times. And we were heading for one of those crossings at an elevation of 8391 feet above sea level. One other thing to note here – the park was void of people as it was close to closing so we were basically on our own.
The snowflakes started to increase in size and the volume at which they fell was speeding up. The road quickly disappeared and became totally white. The snow was accumulating at a rate that I estimated at over an 1-2 inches per hour maybe even more at times. We put the truck into four-wheel drive as we were not going anywhere without it. Our speed dropped to about 25 miles per hour and we are crawling our way through Yellowstone park in the middle of a snow storm all alone. When we left Jackson it was sunny and clear. In Bozeman it was starting to cloud up but still relatively warm. West Yellowstone it started to rain and now we were surrounded in white.
Our final stop before it got real dark and we made the final trek home was the pass where we cross over the Continental Divide. We stopped and took this last picture here. We got out of our truck and it was completely quite. Snow was falling straight down and you could hear it hit the trees, your clothing, the truck. It was coming down so thick that it would fall right into your mouth. If you have never experienced the complete quite of the forest and to see snow falling straight down and building up in front of your eyes you have missed one of heaven’s real treats!!
The light faded fast and Brock and I decided that if we did not get moving we may be spending the night here as the snow was already over a foot deep on the road. We slowly made our way to the south entrance of the park and as the roads started to clear we made our way home to Jackson. You actually leave Yellowstone Park and then make your way through parts of Teton National Park before you get into the Jackson area.
This was an amazing day for Brock and I – we spent it together as father and son, we shared lunch with friends and they we got to see God’s hand on our Mother Earth. We were kissed by her this day and left with a memory I shall never forget! WE WERE TRULY BLESSED THIS DAY!
It is clear that the weather is starting to change here in the Yellowstone Basin. Grizzly Bears are being sighted scrounging for food and the area is clearly starting to move from Winter into Spring mode. Days are longer and nights are getting shorter and warmer to boot.
People will start to plan their summer trips and for many Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Cody Wyoming will be on the itinerary. If any of you travel through this area this coming Spring, Summer or Fall please reach out to me and come see some of my flutes , Native Pipe designs and jewelry here in my little shop.
I am located on the banks of the Snake River in the South Hoback Junction area in one of the most beautiful setting. Come see me at the end of the road and while you are here take a beautiful walk along the banks of the Snake River. And while you are here visit our Rodeo and see some spectacular cowboys ride into the night.
If you have interest please reach out to me via email or phone and set a time to stop by. I would love to meet with you and show you some of my art. I am working on a large number of flutes and pipes so don’t be surprised if you find something you like. Please contact me at “firstname.lastname@example.org” or by phone “(307) 690-0427” let’s get together – I would love to meet you.
There are times when one sits and ponders about things that really can make a difference in their lives. For me my son Brock Jennings and his fantastic girlfriend Abby Gershuny certainly fulfills that which is lacking sometimes in my day. Although Brock is my son I can honestly say that he is one of the brightest young talents I have ever known – even though he has not yet been discovered by the masses he is certainly deserving of the effort.
Abby is an amazingly talented woman soon to be superstar I am sure. But it is her voice that captures me on a regular basis and when the two of them come together in a song it is pure magic. Their new song Bounce can no longer wait for people to hear. In my opinion they are ready for prime time. All original and self produced these two have what it takes. Brock’s latest production of Bounce is one that I think will flat reach out and grab you – so take a moment and check it out below. Then please give us some feedback – I want to brag a little….
One of the most iconic images from Jackson Hole is the Teton Range. Although I do not know the percentage – I would guess that most of the photos taken of the Tetons is a frontal shot that is taken from the general vicinity of Antelope Flats. What is so cool about the Tetons is the many faces it has when taken from different locations throughout the valley. Here is the picture of the day taken from a more northern approach. Enjoy and may it bring peace to your day! (click image to enlarge)
Another beautiful day here in Jackson Hole Wyoming and a perfect cup of coffee to go with it. This picture seemed a bit unusual this time of the year with no snow on the ground and the warm sun shinning. Taken behind Miller Butte on the Elf Refuge… He looks chill. I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning…