Life is funny. It operates in it’s own time, on it’s own schedule. Like this picture of One-Foot Fred that I came across this morning. It was taken at sunset and I never go to Aripeka at sunset, but obviously I did that day in 2018. Every now and then you wake up in the morning with your head on straight, or so you think, your ducks in a row, you think, and you are in charge of things and know which end is up. And by that evening your there has been a sea-change in your perspective. I’ve experienced this in it’s saddest form, and finding my way from there has been quite the process. But you muddle on and eventually you get yourself together, you know where you stand and how your life is going to be. And that’s when life might just decide to throw you a curve ball in the most unexpected and welcome of ways, and your heart warms to new possibilities. If this blog is among the missing while I savor this new reality then please be happy for me, I know I am.
I spent a day concentrating on my various twinges and trying to decide if my second Moderna shot was giving me side effects. I decided that I was fine, but I was home all day while I made up my mind. Packing actually. I’ll be riding up to a cousin’s house in Charleston tomorrow and family will be more on the agenda than photos. Of course I had the TV on as I packed, and my current binge watch of Criminal Minds came through with a charming quote today, from Mark Twain. I had to look it up;
“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not, but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember anything but the things that never happened.“
How charming is that? But sad because it’s true. And as a person who has lots of experience with her mother, and then her daughter, correcting her memories I think I can relate. The same episode ended with another quote that had me grabbing my phone to look it up;
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Kierkegaard said that.
The day began when I ran out front and took the feature photo at 6:30 AM. And this last I took at 6:45 PM. We will turn the clocks ahead tonight. Sunrises will be easier to get to, and sunsets will have me out later than I care to be.
Now that I’m home I can say it was a good trip. But maybe I should have given a second thought to a nearly 10 hour drive followed immediately with having to set up the camper. Setting up while trying to beat the sunset. We knew ahead of time that the weather would be good for one day, and then followed by two days of rain, but I didn’t think about cancelling. Reality hit after a day of taking photos that first day, and we again tried to beat the sunset while taking the camper back down that night. And another nearly 10 hour drive home the next day. On the way home I wondered if this was all too much for me, if maybe this camping thing had run it’s course for me. But I’m rested now and I have to think I’m not done yet. There are still places to go, things to see, people to meet…
This interest in photography has led me to take a closer-up view of the natural world, and to face the facts that life for the birds and animals that I photograph is a day to day struggle to stay alive. As opposed to the Disney-like view of how pretty all the creatures out there are, which is about as deeply as I thought about it in the past. But this rugged Wyoming landscape has given me a new appreciation for what it must have taken for people to come and settle in such a beautiful but harsh climate. To have had to go out and gather food, or not eat. To have to build shelters for themselves that would keep them alive through harsher, and longer, winters than I would have imagined. And to discover ways to provide services to your neighbors that would allow you make a living.
These are the things that crossed my mind as I visited Menor’s Ferry. In a non-Covid year there would be displays in the general store, and opportunities to ride the ferry across the river, and a bit more information about life in those days than just taking a self guided tour and trying to use your imagination to fill in the gaps.
The replica of the ferry itself…
The general store…
The home in which a meeting took place which led to the eventual founding of The Grand Teton National Park.
I love this sign…
And the Chapel of the Transfiguration. It’s altar window frames the highest mountain peak, but I didn’t get to see it since it’s not open this year.
I looked this information up this morning to be sure to be more accurate.
Historical Timeline of Menor’s Ferry
Menor’s Ferry once belonged to William D. Menor who came to Jackson Hole in 1894, taking up a homestead beside the Snake River. Here he constructed a ferryboat that became a vital crossing for the early settlers of Jackson Hole Valley.
Jackson Hole was isolated by its surrounding mountains and had such a harsh climate that it was one of the last areas of the lower 48 states to be settled. Homesteaders came here, mainly from Idaho, beginning in the late 1880s. Most early settlement in the valley took place in the south, or on a few scattered areas with fertile soil on the east side of the Snake River. Menor was alone on the west side of the Snake for more than ten years.
Rivers are often important transportation corridors. However, the Snake River was a natural barrier that divided the valley. In dry months the river could be forded safely in several locations, but during periods of high water even the most reliable fords were impassable. After 1894, Menor’s Ferry became the main crossing in the central part of Jackson Hole. Residents crossed on the ferry to hunt, gather berries and mushrooms, and cut timber at the foot of the mountains.
Bill Menor built the original ferryboat and cableworks. Today’s ferry and cableworks are replicas. The ferry is a simple platform set on two pontoons. The cable system across the river keeps the ferry from going downstream, while allowing it to move sideways. By turning the pilot wheel, the rope attaching the boat to the cable is tightened and points the pontoons toward the opposite bank. The pressure of the current against the pontoons pushes the ferryboat across the river in the direction the pontoons point. This type of ferry existed in ancient times and was used elsewhere in the United States.
Menor charged 50c for a wagon and team and 25c for a rider and horse. Pedestrians rode free if a wagon was crossing. When the water was too low for the ferry, Menor suspended a platform from the cable and three to four passengers could ride a primitive cablecar across the river. In later years, Menor and his neighbors built a bridge for winter use, dismantling it each spring.
Menor sold out to Maude Noble in 1918. She doubled the fares, hoping to earn a living from the growing number of tourists in the valley. Noble charged $1 for automobiles with local license plates, or $2 for out-of-state plates. In 1927, a steel truss bridge was built just south of the ferry, making it obsolete. Maude Noble sold the property to the Snake River Land Company in 1929.
Bill Menor and his neighbors homesteaded here thinking of the local natural resources as commodities for survival, but many of them grew to treasure the beauty and uniqueness of Jackson Hole. In 35 short years, from Bill Menor’s arrival until the establishment of the original park in 1929, this land passed from homestead to national treasure.
Two places I wanted to go to while I’m here in the Grand Teton National Park were Jackson and Idaho Falls. I had been to Jackson 28 years ago when Charley and I came to Yellowstone. Charley said that he had gotten ‘wilderness’ out of his system after that trip due to the lack of TV stations available at the motel we stayed at. In all of Yellowstone also. And I’ve found that the situation hasn’t changed all that much.
But yesterday I decided to go to Idaho Falls, and I let the GPS choose the route, and I believe that I may have used up a couple of my nine lives on the trip. A narrow, windy road, which became a narrow, windy, rutted road, and just when you thought it couldn’t get worse it did. A 2 1/2 hour drive turned into a 4 1/2 hour drive. Part of which I had to do in reverse and uphill when I chose the wrong fork in the road. It was mind boggling to drive through a forest of burned trees on such a tiny road. For some reason I really felt the horror of what a fire like that must be like. But then that landscape gave way to a forest of Christmas trees on both sides of the road. And that eventually gave way to what I thought were Birch trees, but I was corrected by my cousin that they would have been Aspens. As upset over the road as I was I couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery.
Idaho Falls probably had more to see than just the Riverwalk with it’s statues, but that’s all I did. A two mile walk around a lake where you see the falls along the Snake River, and a view of the Mormon Temple across the way. It was a lovely walk, but I rushed it to get back to my little home on wheels.
Lucky for me I ended the day at my cousin’s house where I could enjoy a beer and her beautiful garden before I closed the book on another chapter of this adventure.
Oh, did I mention that when I was finally in the home stretch to get to my cousin’s house I found myself driving over Teton Pass? It was probably magnificent view-wise, but I wouldn’t know because I was clutching the steering wheel and trying not to drive off a cliff the whole time. Yup, two lives at least.
Did this day really start in Florida? That seems like so long ago. I had never driven through the Florida panhandle before, and knowing that I was passing all those wonderful Gulf beaches just to the south of the highway was distressing. I felt like there ought to be a view, or something. I expected to be dying to stop for photos at Mobile, AL also, but maybe it was the dreary skies that stopped that from looking so enticing. I loved the fabulous Alabama welcome center with it’s beautiful setting of rolling hills, but it turned out that I only dipped my toe in Alabama because I was in Mississippi in no time flat.
Aside from seeing signs for Laurel, MS, which made me want to go drive through the town and look for the houses I’ve seen on Home Town (love that show), there wasn’t much to see. I was on smaller roads at this point, going through towns, and seeing little old houses looking weather worn and a bit tipsy. I wished I dared to take a picture of that little slice of Americana, but it would have been rude. I did see what I thought was a sign on the side of a barn, it announced, in big letters, Shelton Fireworks. And in only slightly smaller letters underneath were the words, ‘No Smoking.” I heard Charley say, plain as day, ‘No Shit Sherlock’. That had me laughing for 20 miles at least. My other take-away from driving through MS was that every time it was time to pay attention and look for my exit the skies would open and a downpour would totally blot out the view. I began to take it personally.
My choice of the Southern of the two routes the GPS suggested was the right choice for me. I had the cruise control on for at least 75% of the time, with a nice chunk of highway to myself. Not much to see but an easy drive, and eventually a sign said that the Mississippi Welcome Center and rest area was a mile ahead. I took the exit and panicked a little because the building was right there on the road and the parking lot was small and I was afraid I’d get trapped and have to back up. But it was deceiving, there were pull through spaces for trucks, and the modest looking building I saw from the road belied the spectacular veranda and view of the Mississippi River and the two bridges, one of which I would find myself traveling over when I got back on the road. I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t stopped. And the bridge to the right was a railroad bridge I noticed. It’s a shame I didn’t stick around a few more minutes because as I drove over the bridge I saw a train coming towards me heading for the other bridge. It seemed miles long, I wish I’d gotten that picture. When I landed on the other side of the bridge it was to the announcement that I was entering Louisiana. Three new states to me, and a lot of miles in one day, and as I drove I thought about how nice it would be to fall into comfy hotel bed, with wifi, and all the coffee I want in the morning. So here I am, tired but happy, so I’ll just say goodnight from Shreveport LA.