Day 9 – Mar 7th

A Day in Jackson — or Jackson Hole — I’m not sure which title is more accurate.

First and foremost, I was able to make an afternoon appointment at the spa. [angels singing]

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Then, I went across the street to the National Elk Refuge visitor’s centre and gift shop. It actually has a really long title that includes Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. It was the first place I finally found a bumper sticker for this trip. I never did find one for Denver (probably because I didn’t go into the cheesy gift shops). I’m going to have to see if I can order state bumper stickers online.

I then drove through town to the Elk Refuge Road. The map makes the road look a heck of a lot longer, but it was still nice. (You can also buy tickets for sleigh rides through the refuge.) I saw a lone bison quite far from the road. I’m pretty sure it was a bison, probably a young male. Then I saw a herd of mountain goats up on a cliff. Then I saw some pronghorns (I saw hundreds of them on the way down). On the way back to the entrance, I saw the mountain goats on the road — they’re bigger than you’d think when you see them up close. Then I saw a coyote eating a dead animal of some kind. He was up a hill, so it was hard to see what he was eating, other than it looked like there was plenty left for him to scavenge. He was there for quite some time having a feast, but he sure had to work hard to rip pieces off!

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Then I drove downtown, parked, and wandered around. I wore my winter boots today, the first time on this entire trip! And I wore my fleece-lined pants, but I don’t think I needed them. It wasn’t cold enough for a hat or gloves, but it was snowing. I popped into a couple of stores, including one that had stuffed squirrels in various poses! I also popped into the Eddie Bauer because they were having a great sale and I had a coupon. I tried to find a place to eat, but nothing appealed to me, so I drove up the road into Grand Teton National Park.

Because of the blowing snow, it was hard to see much of the landscape, but this part of the road must have been in some sort of valley. Two things I noticed that stood out — the Jackson Hole Airport is big enough for jets, and, there are a LOT of private houses inside the park (all spread out, not in a townsite like Banff or Jasper).

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I then went back to the hotel for my spa appointment. I had a massage and a facial. Both were beyond awesome. I feel so much better now than I did yesterday. And I think I’ll have a much better trip tomorrow now that I’m refreshed.

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After my appointment, I went down the street to Merry Piglets, a Mexican place recommended to me. Can you guess what I had? (My Mom would know!) AND I had a strawberry margarita — OMG, it was SO good. I wish I could get a non-alcoholic strawberry margarita to bring with me on my drive! Thankfully tonight’s dinner made up for last night’s dinner.

[It’s getting harder and harder to get the N key to work.]

When I got back to my room, I checked the road condition maps AGAIN. I now have one for Wyoming, another for Idaho, one for Montana, and a last one for Alberta. Ironically, the further north you go, the drier and better the roads are! It appears that the only major issue I may have tomorrow is the drive over the Teton Pass, which goes from Jackson to Idaho. It’s the fastest way over the mountains and up to Montana from here.

Yellowstone Road Closed

For those who aren’t aware, unlike Canada, the roads in US National Parks are mainly closed in the winter. The fastest way north would actually be to go right up through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, but all the roads are closed. Therefore, I have to either drive around Yellowstone on the east or the west. Since I’m already south and a little west of the park, it makes sense to go around it on the west side. But it means I have to get over the mountains first.

Winter Storm Watch 1Winter Storm Watch 2As of this afternoon, I wasn’t foreseeing a problem. But as of tonight, I’m not sure! They’re predicting a lot of snow tonight and tomorrow (although it’s less than what they were predicting yesterday). Apparently, the Teton Pass has some avalanche areas the avalanche people are worried about, so they’ve decided to do some avalanche clearing at 3am. That means the road is closed starting at 3am, until they’re done cleaning up. I found an old news article for when they did this before, and it may only be closed for a couple of hours, so I might be fine. BUT, if it’s still closed by 9am, I’m in trouble.

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PLUS, the restrictions are quite severe on the Teton Pass. No trailers. No vehicles over 60,000 GVW. And they have “Chain Law 1” in effect. Apparently this means you can only use the road IF you have one of the three: chains, snow tires, or all wheel drive. (I have both snow tires AND all wheel drive, so I’m fine.) You’d think this would mean the route would be fairly clear of vehicles … but I’m not sure.

I’ll have to wait until I get up to check if the road is open and what the most current conditions are.

Teton Pass Closure

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