The time has come to move on from Montana and Mallory. Boooooo! We enjoyed our time at the Under Canvas campground. As we were loading the car, we walked past a yoga session on the deck of the community tent. Nice amenity.
Mallory was working this morning but we spotted her and snuck in a hug before we left. Thank you for the hospitality!
Our first stop this morning was breakfast at the Running Bear pancake house in West Yellowstone. This place has always had a crowd when we have driven past. As luck would have it, we were able to be seated immediately. That seems like a good omen for the day.
We got some great food. Stephanie had a breakfast plate that included trout. Fish for breakfast!
Abby, our waitress, stopped to chat with all the tables she was taking care of. We could hear her ask each table where they were from, etc. When we got our turn to visit with her, it turned out that she knew Mallory. Of course she did!
When we left the restaurant, there were 20-30 people waiting outside for a table. Sucks to be them. We gassed up and made one last stop at the Food Roundup grocery store, and we were on the road to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We drove back through Montana and Idaho, along the same route we drove up.
The sky was much clearer on this drive than last time, and our view of the Tetons from the east was spectacular.
Our main event for the day was a guided raft tour down the Snake River. We chose the Barker-Ewing 10 mile tour that takes about two hours.
Our guide, Kris, was fantastic. We knew it would be a good time when he thew some shade at his colleagues, “You have to watch these other guys, most of them are legally blind”.
Kris has been leading raft trips for 20 years in the summers and in the winters he leads snowmobile tours through Yellowstone. He is living his best life.
Stephanie, Marissa and I were on a raft with a family of four from Ohio. This worked out well since Kris was positioned with his oars in the middle of the raft, and each family was sitting at either end of the raft.
The trip down the Snake River had mostly unobstructed views of the Teton mountain range. We hoped to see some wildlife, but that viewing was pretty scarce. The wildlife highlight was seeing a bald eagle.
Along the entire two hour float, Kris kept us entertained and educated. He was an encyclopedia of information about history, science, geology, and politics of the era in the region. Kris would not say the word “wind”. He used terms like “high breeze” and “Mr. Gusty”. Guess you pick up a few superstitions along the way when you are a professional raft guide.
The river channel is a pretty dynamic place. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Several times during our float, Kris would point out that a new channel had formed since his last float earlier that day. He took us on channels on the river that he’d never floated before. This job keeps you on your toes!
Several times during the trip, we would hear rocks hitting the underside of the raft. While playing the role of a geology teacher, Kris told us this is called “sediment transfer”. He recalled a past raft trip that had a geologist on it, and the two of them “nerded out” over sediment transfer the entire trip.
Following the raft trip, we went for a drive down Moose-Wilson Road in search of moose (result: unsuccessful) and then a picnic dinner in the parking lot of the Grand Teton Visitor Center (result: successful).
We took a drive on Teton Park Road along Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake to see more of the park (and maybe still see a moose). It is a gorgeous drive. We did come across a traffic jam with vehicles parked up and down along the road and a crowd of onlookers watching an animal. We pulled over too. Turns out it was not a moose, but a grizzly bear named Grizzly 399. This Mama Bear and her four cubs were out doing their thing and attracted quite a crowd. A tourist standing near us told us what we were looking at, and described how she had her own social media accounts. We were able to get a glimpse of her and the cubs but they were definitely keeping their distance from the hordes.
We wrapped up the day by parking in downtown Jackson Hole, doing some shopping and looking for some ice cream. Our first choice for ice cream had a line with approximately 50 people in it stretching down the street. Had to say No Thanks to that, but was able to secure a couple of sundaes from Jackson Drug right on the corner of the square. They were enormous & delicious – get you one.
The signature attraction of Jackson Hole are the arches made of elk antlers at all four corners of their square. Seems like a great place to take a picture!
After all the sightseeing, we drove back over the pass into Idaho, as we are spending the night in Driggs. That mountain pass is a white knuckle drive, at least on the way down, and it is not my favorite. Glad we only have to do it one more time on this trip, as we travel back to Wyoming tomorrow.