Wildflowers have been part of our beautiful journey today. Coral, purple, red. Lavender, yellow, blue and white…it was as if someone had sowed seeds along the road and in the woods and fields. It is Saturday in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and there have been an abundance of people as well. People from all over the United States and all over the world. Isn’t it great that so many people come to visit these beautiful parks?
The Tetons have never been so beautiful. It was in the low 50’s this morning and sunny. The highest temperature today was 82 but with a cool breeze off the mountains, it was still pleasant. We took the Morris Wilson Road in Teton National Park to visit the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve. The road was narrow but with close up views of the Tetons. As we drove into the Preserve we encountered a young Park Ranger named Jenny who wasted no time in asking us if we were Clemson graduates. Fred Hardee was sitting in the back seat with his Clemson Tigers hat on with the tiger paw prominently displayed and she had spotted it when we drove in. She had just graduated from Clemson and was working the summer at Grand Tetons. She and Fred exchanged secret handshakes (just kidding) and she answered our questions about this park.
In the 1920’s, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. visited Jackson Hole with his family. He was deeply moved by the scenic beauty and vulnerability of the valley. Protection of the valley became a goal for Rockefeller. Purchasing ranches in the area, his goal was to donate the land to the National Park Service. 33,000 acres was donated to the park in 1949 by Rockefeller. Keeping the acreage around Phelps Lake, he later passed this land down to his son, Laurance, who eventually arranged for the transfer of 2,000 acres to the Park, In 2001 he donated the rest of the land to the American People to become part of Grand Teton Park. His donation of this land was intended as a place where people could experience a spiritual and emotional connection to the land. The Preserve was an amazing little treasure of wetlands, sagebrush meadows, creeks and streams and forests.
Our lunch spot for today was a picnic area by the Snake River in the Grand Teton NP. After lunch we walked down to the river and took an updated group selfie. Today is Day 11 of our trip and we think we still look pretty good. We are also still speaking to one another and all of us feel good!
We moved on after lunch to Yellowstone Park. Although we had filled our eyes and minds with great beauty already, we decided to take in Old Faithful before we headed out of the park for the night. Old Faithful was due to blow at 5:15 so we walked to the original Old Faithful Inn to look around until the geyser was ready to show. The Old Faithful Inn was built in 1904 and the inside is magnificent with log beams everywhere and open balconies all the way up. A treasure from a “more simple time” when life was perhaps slower.
As we stepped out of the lodge, Old Faithful made it’s on time appearance! Shooting into the air with hot water, it looked like a giant whale had surfaced to blow out water. It was fun to see this regular phenomena in person.
In 1876, Chief Washakie said: “Someday I hope to learn more about the sun and stars. At that time we shall meet up there. But for the present I prefer to have the boundaries shown by our familiar rivers and mountains. ” Today we experienced some of those boundaries.
My only sighting of bears!