Stuck inside of Jackson with the Billings Blues Again?

Maybe. Just don’t throw me in the briar patch. (warning for anyone still visiting this site who doesn’t like travelogues, you probably won’t like this one either).

My accountant gets suspicious when I write in “went to Jackson Hole, WY on business trip”, so I had to write at least one order and talk to at least one commercial real estate agent. The rest of the time was spent picture-takin’. Afraid to bring the digital camera I use for business (river, hiking accidents, bears) I went with an old consumer-type Nikon with Kodak film that my Mom gave me. The lens pretty much sucks, But then I pretty much suck too. Still, trying to make grainy images look like something in Photoshop can be frustrating, even for me.

And naturally, all the best photographs presented themselves either when I didn’t have the camera out or when it was out of film.

Flying into Jackson Hole would have been one. At first it looked like the pilot was about to land on some flat lands next to the Grand Tetons, but as we got lower, you could see a tiny landing strip. And tiny it was. The whole airport was tiny. The two bald eagles sitting on a branch next to their nest overlooking the Snake River was another; it was an “out of film” moment after I’d spent my last shots on a moose further upstream. Then there was my Close Encounter of the Moose Kind back at the Lodge, different moose, much closer, no camera, but I’ll get to that.

The first night at the “Teton Mountain Lodge”:http://www.jacksonhole.net/properties/slopeside/prop-tetonmoun.htm
was not fun. The air conditioning wasn’t working and they said, “just open the windows, it gets down to 40 at night”. I don’t know about the 40 degrees, but the heat stayed right inside the room and I didn’t sleep at all. The next day, when I complained, they immediately upgraded us (at no extra cost) to a suite of rooms, including living room, fully stocked kitchen and large outdoor deck. After the move, my stay was incredible.

The next evening, sitting out on the deck, Elaine said she saw “a large animal” running around the side of the lodge. Springing out of the room without the camera, I sprinted around the side of the hotel, and then stopped short and tip-toed because I realized that a famished bear or a rabid wolf could also be considered “large animals”. I stopped and scanned the area and then in the dusk I saw the moose that had waded out into the little manmade pond next to the lodge.

I crept closer (we don’t get a lot of moose in Kennesaw) and he eyed me suspiciously. When I got to the bank, I sat down. He kept drinking and looking over at me. I was having a great time watching until he decided to walk out of the water, and happened to choose the exact bank I was sitting on. Remembering that some moose will savagely kick humans that pester them, I stood up and backed away slowly. He seemed to be eyeing me more in curiosity than anger, so I wasn’t really worried. When he got about 10 feet away, he veered off back up the mountain, and I went back to the hotel.

The first couple of days we hung around “Teton Village and Jackson”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmorganturner/sets/72157594148623043/, taking care of some biz stuff. There was an Elk Festival in Jackson over the weekend. Boy Scouts go up into the Tetons every year to gather up shed elk antlers and they auction them off to people like me, except that I don’t do antler jewelry. Most of it was going for around $12/lb and business was brisk for them. Then they take a lot of the proceeds and donate it for elk preservation. I figure that means they send trucks up into the Tetons with thousands of bales of hay so that the elk stay in their protected environment rather than straying up into Montana where they’ll get shot or hit by trucks.

One thing about Jackson Hole, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of cultural activities. A couple of neat bars, the “Million Dollar Cowboy Bar”:http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.tylersterritory.com/travel/namerica/northern-rockies/wyoming/jackson/jackson-02e.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.tylersterritory.com/travel/namerica/northern-rockies/wyoming/jackson/jackson-02.html&h=437&w=275&sz=10&tbnid=0uel4AWzXJYtAM:&tbnh=123&tbnw=77&hl=en&start=19&prev=/images%3Fq%3DMillion%2BDollar%2BCowboy%2BBar%2Bphoto,%2BJackson%2BHole,%2BWY%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN
and the “Mangy Moose Saloon”:http://www.mangymoose.net/restaurant.php
Fortunately we had the last two American Idol shows to watch. And I hate to admit it, but I spent around 4 hours calling in to vote for Taylor Hicks. Oh, the shame.

Originally we planned to drive up the hundred miles or so through Yellowstone and go across the border into Montana. It looks short on a map, but driving it is another thing entirely. It’s windy roads, it’s driving slow to avoid hitting wildlife, and all this stuff you have to keep stopping to look at. And another thing, it’s very tiring. Although there is a lot of re-growth after the ’88 fire, there’s still miles and miles of total devastation to drive through. It gets to you after awhile. Anyway, I kind of combined the Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and the Snake River in “this one”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmorganturner/sets/72157594147088673/

The “buffalo”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmorganturner/sets/72157594147070446/
in the Tetons were one of our favorite stops and we went up there quite a bit. The closest they got was the time when a herd decided to switch sides of the highway right when we came through. Naturally there was no film in the camera, but it was neat watching the big creatures slowly brush up against our car as they searched for a better cut of grass.

Lastly, I need to point out a very dangerous piece of software, “Photostory3”:http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx
It turns normally intelligent people into wannabe “directors”:http://www.ecg.com/jacksonhole/PhotoStory1.wmv
Oh the horror.