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”:
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”:, 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”:,%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”:
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”:

The “buffalo”:
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”:
It turns normally intelligent people into wannabe “directors”:
Oh the horror.

5 thoughts on “Stuck inside of Jackson with the Billings Blues Again?”

  1. Wow, it looks like y’all had a great trip. And tax deductible to boot! Thanks for sharing the pix.

    But I have one question, which I must repeat. Film? Film?!? FILM!!!???

    Did you travel by covered wagon on this trip as well?

    Tsk. Tsk. All those “out of film” moments. You’re never out of pixels.

    For future reference, may I suggest that the cost of an insurance rider on the “good” camera would likely be less than the cost of film and processing (not to mention your man hours scanning).

    Oh, and another suggestion for next time: just take me and I’ll provide for your photography needs. I need to Go West bad.

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize about the insurance rider. I guess that’s why you’re the pro and I’m the piker.

    I was actually considering taking a professional and his assistant along. I sorely needed help. Then I looked at our bank account (insert frownie here) and realized that, no, I’m not the federal government.

    I did go to Vice President Cheney’s (apparently) favorite restaurant
    just to see how it felt to spend our money lavishly. One of the locals said, “being Vice President must be a nice job because he gets to be out here all the time.”

  3. Sounds like you may have found Cheney’s “undisclosed location.”

    On the insurance rider, just call your agent on your home policy, and ask if they can give you a rider on your camera outside the home. Many do, for like $25 a month, or less.

    If they ask you if it’s for professional or business use, just say “no, it’s like all that jewelry gear in my basement … just a hobby.”

    Some insurance agents get the vapors real bad when you open the home/business can of worms.

  4. That’s a great deal. I paid $26 to Costco for 84 sub-par prints and 3 cds (no scanning for me). Next time it’s digital, and everything I do is a hobby.

    For future information, the prime season in Jackson Hole lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It comes complete with idiots hitting buffalo and traffic jams in Yellowstone. I have no idea what that costs. The week prior to Mem. Day cost us $650 each total for roundtrip airfare and 7 days hotel at Priceline. The people at the hotel said, “next time call us. We’ll give you a better deal than Priceline.” Anyway, I’ll bet fall might be kinda nice there.

  5. Kewl. I’ve always tried to time my trips for just prior to Memorial Day or just after Labor Day. I have no desire to fight the summer crowds in some of those places.

    However, strong rumors have recently developed that may have me taking a trip to the east next spring. Mom wants to go back to visit England (Dad had become reluctant to travel overseas), and I think Susan and I are going to go with her.

    Then I can find out the trials and tribulations of getting an international insurance rider for the Canon 5D I hope to have by then.

    But Jackson Hole has long been “on the list.” Susan just had a reunion, and her best frind from about fourth grade on now lives there.

    Yes, Reid needs travel options. East. West. North. Maybe not South. Hot enough here already.

    Speaking of hot, I just clicked the link to your hotel accommodations. And I suddenly feel a fever building…

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