Home is where the recliner is, and where I am. Finally! Four long days of driving later, dodging thunderstorms the last 200 miles, but I got here. My uncle parked the camper for me and my aunt provided dinner, which was so nice of them. I will self quarantine for a bit, but only after I run out for coffee in the morning. It’s good to be home…
The following, including the photo, is lifted right off the internet…
Chief Washakie, 1804-1900 a chief of the Eastern Shoshone Indians of Wyoming was noted for his exploits in fighting and also for his friendship with the white pioneers. When wagon trains were passing through Shoshone country in the 1850’s, Washakie and his people aided the overland travelers in fording streams and recovering strayed cattle. He was also a scout for the U.S. Army.
I didn’t have a clue who Chief Washakie was until I looked him up once I got to my hotel in Big Spring, NE. All I knew is that I rode the Chief Washakie trail east across Wyoming as I left, and what a beautiful drive it was. There were the mountains of course, and the fabulous olive green hills with rows of dark evergreens riding the ridges. I thought that it looked like coloring book pages, but if I’d colored them like that I wouldn’t have though it looked natural. Only it was. I couldn’t stop for pictures even though I really wanted to, except for the sunrise pictures as I got myself on the road early on Monday. If only I had been able to be on wifi while I was in the campground, to learn more about the different places to visit, as well as learn more about the places I did see. When planning my next trip I will have to do a better job of investigating the destination instead of endlessly asking myself which route to take to get there. Thank goodness for my cousin Mary and my friend Karen, who shared their love of the area with me while I was there.
Interestingly, after all that stressing over which route to take to get to WY I just set the GPS and headed home. East on 80, into Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri so far. This morning I had my coffee just outside of Kansas City, in Higginsville, while sitting in bed with the internet. Headed home…
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.
I spent a little time at the dam the other day, and found it a bit more entertaining that I had expected. I was in it for the scenery until I saw the kayaker across the river getting ready to put his kayak into the water. I looked at the current coming off of the dam and wondered how he’d get back to where he put in if he had to paddle back upstream. Then I noticed the paddle boarders getting ready to do the same thing.
I was singing to myself as I watched them float away, “Well did they ever return, no they never returned, and their fate is still un-learned”, but that’s just me. I’m sure they got back just fine.
I always try to get photos of bees on the flowers and to be honest there weren’t a lot of bees to be seen on this trip. Plenty of flowers, but not many bees. So when I went to save this photo I called it the ‘dam bees’. Which led to the ‘dam paddle boarders’, you get the picture. This is what happens when you spend so much time in your own head…
My mother’s nickname was Rustie, spelled with an ie. Honestly, I was an adult before I realized that that’s how she spelled it, after all, she signed everything I saw as Evelyn, or Mom. I think I noticed this sign the first time I drove into Jackson, and wanted to get a picture of it. So yesterday I finally drove into the parking lot and got a picture. I showed it to my cousin, who was also unaware that Aunt Rustie was spelled that way, but she burst my bubble by informing me that it’s actually The Rustic Inn. I find that disappointing for some reason. It’s also disappointing that my computer battery has died, and I can’t use the computer unless it’s plugged in. And plugs are scarce and the competition has been fierce, so I had given up on using the computer for the most part, but I beat the crowd today. So I will be packing up and I’ll soon be on my way home. When I finally can get back to the computer I hope I can remember where I took all the pictures that are waiting for me in the camera. And looking at my photo again I still think it says The Rustie Inn. I’m stubborn that way.
That live and learn thing? Apparently it doesn’t apply to me. I had been told by Karen that it was going to be an especially busy weekend, what with a Mormon holiday and their tradition of heading to the Tetons to celebrate. Then there was my cousin who told me that I really ought to think about running ideas for things to do past her before I plunge ahead. She has learned a few things in 30 years of living here, she said. Even my uncle’s admonition of being in long lines of traffic moving at 4 mph as you travel through Yellowstone didn’t come to mind.
Which is how I found myself heading into Yellowstone, not realizing that it was Saturday at first, aiming for Mammoth Hot Springs and hoping to cut to the east to the Lamar Valley and see some wildlife. I hadn’t actually been the driver before, I was the passenger who was enjoying the view when Charley and I took our trip here in 1992. And Karen had driven when she and I recently visited. The drive is a bit harder than I realized, not so much time to sight-see. And I knew my goal was a long way north so I didn’t stop at the places I’d recently been to. With road construction it took a long time, and I was tired when I got there. And I was already dreading the drive back and thinking I’d turn right around.
Except the landscape was so pretty, and the town was charming. And busy, the road was packed with cars, all looking for parking spaces. There were long lines at the general store and the restaurant. Plus the side walks were full of families, all heading in one direction or another. And elk. Elk on the lawns, grazing. Elk across the street grazing, and crossing the street periodically. And one young ranger trying to get the people to keep their distances from the elk. They were pushing their baby carriages right past the elk on the lawn, probably 10 feet away. I felt for that ranger, he had his work cut out for him as the elk moved their position and it was people who had to be herded, rather than elk.
There were hold-ups on the way back too. A lone buffalo in the road that I had to pass just feet away from the car. I didn’t get that picture. Another lone buffalo was positioned perfectly for me to get out and get a picture and not be too close. Karen told me that the males were keeping separate from the herd these days. Soon it will be ‘rutt’ season and that is something to see she said. I’m sure it is. Nature, just carrying on…