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!
Over the past couple of days I have ventured north of town with Peyton as every day offers something new and different. No real stories to tell except that Antelope Flats is alive again with activity. We have seen Moose, Coyotes, Buffalo, Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, Deer, Ground Varmints, Badgers, Hawks, Eagles, beautiful vistas – awesome. Spring is definitely a time when all of mother nature is on the move. Although none of these pictures by themselves are spectacular, they are representative of what we see every single morning. Antelope flats is easy to get to and in 1 hour you will be blessed to be surrounded by some of this areas greatest inhabitants. The bears are out and we have ventured into the park to see if we could find them. Yellowstone opens in the next week or so and we will soon be traveling into the parks for more photo fun. Come to Jackson as see what we are talking about. Enjoy…
This morning as I lay in bed trying to drag myself out and head for the gym I pondered what I wanted to do today besides work. My wife and younger daughter were visiting family and my college girl had headed back to school for the final push before she ends her Junior year. The forecast was for rain and snow believe it or not and as I drove to the gym it was still too dark to determine what the morning would hold weather wise.
On my way home from the gym the sky was blue with just a cloud or two and it did not look like weather to me but in this part of the Rockies this is subject to change by the hour. I headed home, changed my clothes, grabbed a camera (wrong lens again) and headed to my favorite coffee shop. Paid for my cup of joe and headed north of town. For the most part all of the snow in the valley is just about gone or melting fast with some patches lying around. As I passed the National Elk Refuge I was surprised to see so many elk just hanging out. But then again, the snow was gone, the sun was out – why not just chill.
One thing that I like about this time of the year is the solitude you can find within a few miles of your home. For the most part I did not run into anyone this morning. Lonely? Nope! I had all of my friends around on this morning. I was surrounded on three sides for a while by three different groups of elk. I wish I had a better lens with me but I hope you can get the picture (so to speak). I sat at one point and watched a very healthy coyote hunt some ground varmints and I actually got a shot of him mid-air as he dived through a snow patch to grab his pray. You can see it in the pics above – very cool thing to watch.
There are no leaves on the trees yet but you can start to see the buds plump up in anticipation of warmer weather. Although I did not get any pics of moose they were hanging around this morning but just too far away for the lens I had. I kind of marveled at the stark contrast of the still brown grass, leafless trees, snow-covered mountains, all against the blue sky. I tried to get some shots that help illustrate this very thing. At one point I just stopped and sat down in the middle of the road and took the shot of the yellow line. All alone for sure!
Some of the other pics came from the Mormon Row area as they had just opened this stretch of road again. Along this small stretch of road you can see all kinds of activity this time of year. This is where I got the shot of the coyote and a couple of lone trees as well. Its funny, this part of the valley is so spectacular at any time of the year and I never get tired of just hanging out up here. Very soon the grasses will start to green up and the trees will burst with color. At just the right time Mother Nature will speak to the wild flowers and summer will be on.
If you are planning to visit this part of the country this summer you need to visit this area at least once while you stay. Feel free to contact me via email if you have questions about where to go while you visit – I am always happy to help share what I know. The summer of 2012 is shaping up to be a fabulous one especially if you are into fishing. Unlike last year when we had record amounts of snow and a very cool spring that left our rivers crazy mad – this year is looking awesome.
Watch for future Morning Coffee posts as the season changes and transforms into summer. We hope to share with you some really cool stuff this year. Feel free to email me at “firstname.lastname@example.org” if you have questions. Oh and one last thing… Please slow down while visiting as we lost 6 moose this winter to automobile accidents. People have been driving way too fast – besides you will miss too much if you are in a hurry.
It has been several weeks since my last post – not sure where all the time has gone but the truth is winters can be long here in the Rockies. As we move from the depths of winter into the Spring season you can just feel the change happening. Not only with Mother Nature but with the people of this area. People attitudes start to change very quickly when Father Sun finally peaks out of the clouds.
So what have we been doing for the past several weeks? Good question – but I thought I would post just a couple of things that have happened. One of the sad notes in Jackson has been all the moose that have been killed by cars this winter. These big beautiful animals just do not understand the dangers of the highways. This morning after we dropped our daughter off at school in Wilson we headed for the Elevated Grounds coffee shop on the West Bank. As we approached the coffee shop a mother and her two calves decided to cross the road and as we slowed to a stop we almost witnessed another accident. Although this is not a good picture you can see the mother walking down the driveway just after crossing in front of our Jeep. Her two calves followed but almost did not make it across the road. If you visit this summer please be aware that you can be faced in a heart beat with this kind of interaction with these big beautiful animals.
A few weeks ago we made a visit to the north side of the Elk Refuge during a blustery winter day. We came upon an entire heard of elk all moving to the east trying to get out of the wind. This picture does not capture the enormity of this heard but we were really close. This picture was taken with a 50mm lens and this group was almost 3/4 of mile long. At one point we just parked on the road side and watched them. It is really cool to see how the stronger males take charge and keep an eye on you. To be able to experience this so close to home is really a treat. It won’t be long before they start to move back up into the high country. It looks like a warm Spring is about to arrive.
Our son Brock was asked to play a few of his songs at an event at the Jackson Hole Playhouse and Saddle Rock Saloon recently and it was really kind of a cool little event. For those of you who may be planning a visit here this summer you absolutely need to make time to go to the play this summer. The plays are really a must see event here in town. This summer the play is Cat Ballou and the season opens June 1st and runs through September 29th.
One of the cool things about the playhouse is that you can make reservations for dinner prior to the show. Having dinner at the Saddle Rock Saloon is a really fun family event. The casts are your waiters and they sing and perform during your meal. This is a really good way to get to know the cast prior to the show. The playhouse is one of the oldest building in Jackson Hole with a really interesting history. The cast will share with you all the things that have taken place over the last 100 years at this very location during the Pre-Show event. If you are looking for an opportunity to do something with your entire family that will stay in your memories for a lifetime then you must put the Play House on your bucket list.
Since our last post we had one of the better winter storms roll through the region leaving a solid blanket of snow. On these mornings when we wake up to heavy snow we like to cruise the town as it turns into a winter wonderland. The heavy snow creates such a beautiful atmosphere and one of our favorite things to do is just park and take a walk. If you have never taken a walk in the middle of heavy snowfall then make sure you make the effort to do it at least once in your life. Yes its cold but it is almost hard to put into words what the experience is like.
Finally I wanted to share with you that there are wonderful things to do outside of our valley. It is a good thing when you can take even a day trip to another place. Winters can be long and it helps if you can get away even if for just a few hours. One of our favorite day trips is to head to Bozeman Montana for the day. On this day which was just a week ago we found the town of Bozeman to be free of snow and almost 70 degrees. Brynn and her friend told us it was summer in Bozeman and how happy they were to see the sun. We stopped by the Museum of the Rockies which a very cool place to visit. The girls wanted to take a picture next to this big horse and just get out of the Jeep and run around. Look for more Morning Coffee Posts now that Spring has arrived and as we venture from our homes into God’s country this summer.
While we still wait for the Jet Stream to drop in on North West Wyoming Peyton and I did something a little different earlier this week. We went off the main roads onto a snow-covered dirt road that follows some power lines. We ran smack dab into three moose that were jousting with each other.
We had Brynn with us this morning and she was loving the sights before us. Basically we just sat in our Jeep and watched the show. You could hear the sounds of their antlers clashing against each other and at times they looks as though they were stuck together. The light was low and these are not tac sharp pics but you get the picture. This was an amazing morning and fun to watch.
This morning like most before I headed towards Antelope Flats as the amount of wildlife found there has been amazing. One big difference was that when I went to the gym this morning early, the temperature on my Jeep said it was 34 degrees. A far cry from -15 of the past two weeks. But very welcome change for sure.
I found some of my favorite subjects but getting close enough to them to take a solid picture can be a challenge. I found two cows together about 100 yards off to the west of me and on the east side of the road was a very young male. I stopped and position myself between them with anticipation that eventually the two cows would cross in front of me. After a while I could tell they were watching the young male and moving closer. These four shots are from this morning. Two of them are the same cow and she was clearly the younger of the two. She crossed right in front of me once she realized she was being left behind.
As I was making a lens change and screwing around with my camera I looked up as I heard something strange and right in front of me was about 100+ elk at a full on run crossing the road within yards of my jeep. I got so excited I forgot to turn my camera back on and yep – I missed any chance of catching them on film. Very exciting to see. Something had definitely spooked them. Hauling chili’s would be a good description. That is whats cool about all this – you never know what you will see.
This mornings coffee run took me 40 miles north of Jackson into Teton National Park to one of the most photographed places in the United States, Oxbow Bend. Oxbow is just north of Moran Junction about 4 or 5 miles and on this morning it was -15 degrees as I arrived just before dawn. In the summer there is always a multitude of photographers waiting for the sun to bathe the mountains with its warmth. Today I was all alone, with the exception of my father-in-law who made the journey with me.
We arrived as it was still dark and set up for the shots I wanted, some of which I am sharing with you here. As the sun makes its way over the eastern range it begins to bathe the Teton Range with a warm glow. This all happens in about 12-15 minutes so you need to be ready with your camera. Now I am no professional but you would have to try pretty hard to screw this up. Here are a few pics of the Oxbow Bend with Mount Moran in the back ground all taken within minutes of each other. You can see the difference in the shots as to how the sun bathes the mountains and the river. Oh yeh – this is the Snake River for those who do not know this area. Amazing is all I can say. Put this on your bucket list for sure.
On the way back I took a detour and found some of my favorite subjects. I counted over 18 moose this morning all within a few hundred yards of these shots. I almost got stepped on when this big guy came within a few feet of my Jeep. A few feet is no exaggeration! I never tire of seeing these beautiful creatures of nature. They are so unique and awesome to be this close to. If you venture out – be careful because they can hurt you. Enjoy!
As I peaked out my bedroom window last night I could see stars. Mother Earth had just sent Jackson a small storm during the day and she left the valley with a new coating of snow. Although it was just a few inches it was a welcomed event as we have been lacking in the snow department lately. But when I saw the stars I knew it was going to be a beautiful morning so I made my plans to head to Antelope Flats for a few pics – along with my hot cup of coffee.
As I was hoping it was absolutely clear blue skies this morning and even though the temperature in my Jeep was showing -15 degrees It was one of those clear blue sky mornings. I snapped a few pictures throughout my short trip but as usual there were plenty of opportunities to take some fun shots. Antelope flats is simply a great place to visit as it is close to town and on most mornings you will find something worth taking a picture of.
This was another moose morning and I arrived early and picked a spot to stop and wait for one of the many moose in the area to cross the road in front of me. These shots are not what I was hoping for as a visitor came roaring through in their truck just before the were to cross in front of me and a couple of other waiting photographer. The moose got spooked and the shots we were all hoping for did not materialize. It happens but all in all still a great morning. Enjoy!
We grabbed our coffee this morning at Pearl Street Bagels and headed for another morning adventure. First let me give props to the girls at Pearl Street Bagels as they are so nice to deal with. They are always friendly, and these girls can crank out the coffee and bagels. On the east side of the Snake River they are our favorite!
As we left the coffee shop we just found ourselves heading out towards Miller’s Butte to see if the mountain sheep had returned. And, yes they have, along with the tourists. It is a very cool thing to be able to travel such a short distance from our home and see so much wildlife. Miller’s Butte for those of you who are not familiar with our town sits on the east side of the National Elk Refuge and you access the road just north-east of the hospital on Broadway.
This morning the fog was hovering over the valley but not too bad – just cold. The trees again had a fresh coating of powdery ice crystals on their branches making it a real Christmas like feel. If you like to take pictures these kinds of mornings make a great background to shoot away. So many opportunities for beautiful shots of the trees loaded with powder and the rivers with a steamy fog hovering over the water. The ice and the river flows squeeze through frozen banks making for some really incredible scenery.
On this morning though it was all about the mountain sheep. The east side of the butte is all rocks and cliffs and the sheep meander around as if they are on flat land. But on some days you will find them right on the road side and this morning was no exception. About a dozen or so sheep traveled from their safety high in the rock to the road side in order to access the grass hiding under the snow. A couple even are so bold as to come right up to your car and they lick the side of the cars for any salts that are deposited from the roads. Pretty cool for sure. They are cautious but not too friendly making sure they keep their distance when someone tries to approach.
On the other side of the road we found dozens of elk just lying around at the base of the pine trees that start about a few hundred yards off the east side of the road. Although I love the elk we decided to focus on the sheep and just sit and watch them interact with the public. The tourists are returning for the holidays and this morning some of them got to see something really special. It never gets old up here as long as you take the time to leave you home and see some of God’s wonders. Enjoy!
On Sundays I like to call it going to church! All alone this morning I grabbed a very hot cup at Pearl Street Bagels and headed out-of-town. Cold – yes it was, -6 on my Jeep thermometer. When I left this morning I could see a full moon over the Teton Range from my bedroom and I thought I would get a shot of the moon over the Grand – but as it typical with clear cold mornings there was an inversion in the valley.
Fog was the standard of the morning and by the time it started to clear the moon had already set behind the Teton range. So I started looking for other things that caught my eye. This is what I came up with this morning. I was basically all alone and had many opportunities for some cool shots but I was enjoying my hot coffee and warm Jeep too much I guess. But I did manage to have fun – Enjoy!
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Here I go again! Another morning coffee story. The past couple of days have been leaving us with the feeling that our beautiful fall days had come and gone. Last week we had snow in town, the first snow of the season, then rain, then wind, then more rain, you get the picture. This morning when I woke up and peaked out my window it was really hard to tell how the day was going to be. It gets dark early and light late these days.
So I climbed into my jeep and headed for the gym. Still dark out but I could see stars so I was feeling good about the prospects of another beautiful fall day. As night turned to day my expectations were confirmed. I rushed home from the gym as I do every morning to pick up Peyton and Brynn and we headed out to drop Brynn off at school.
By the time we left her school it was clear that this was a morning we needed to get our coffee and find a place of solitude and enjoy the many wonders this valley offers. So off to our favorite coffee shop, grabbed a bagel, a latte and a large coffee and we headed north of town. There is a favorite spot of mine where we can park right in front of the Grand Tetons and this time of year you have this spot all to yourself.
For the next hour or so we sat in front of the Grand Tetons and this was our view this morning. The sky was blue and clear. The smoke from the summer fires were gone and it was crystal clear in every direction. It had rained and snowed the day and night before this morning. The clouds were all nestled against the mountains as if they did not want to leave. Kind of magical in a way. As you can tell from the last picture here there are still a few trees that are not wanting to give up their leaves but sadly in another week or so they will all be gone. But what a morning and what a great way to enjoy a cup of coffee!