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Anderson's Wyoming Adventure

 Feb. 15 through Feb. 25, 2005
 Susan Anderson,
February 27, 2005


Tuesday, February 15, 2005
We left Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Skywest Airlines flt 4050 (a connector for Delta) at 8:12 a.m.  We arrived in Salt Lake City International Airport at 9:52 a.m.  We arrived and left through terminal E.  We waited and then boarded Skywest Airlines flt 3828 (a connector for Delta) at 1:05 p.m. and arrived in Jackson Hole, WY at 2:13 p.m.  Clear blue sky, bright sun, calm so good flights and we were able to enjoy seeing the snow covered mountains from the airplanes.  The plane from Phx to SLC seated approx. 50 and the plane from SLC to Jackson seated approx 40.  We were met at the Jackson Airport by a van from Togwotee Mountain Lodge, and soon were off for the beautiful 40 mile drive.  The airport is located about eight miles north of town.

 Togwotee Mountain Lodge is located 48 miles NE of the town of Jackson, at 8,600 feet, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest with 300 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiles and dog sleds.   A full service lodge with Grizzly Steak House (dining room), Red Fox Saloon, Bear’s Den Gift Shop, 33 modern guest rooms and 54 secluded cabins.  When checking in we were given a brochure “High Altitude Medical Tips for Your Jack Hole Visit”. 

Real time web cam of Togwotee Lodge

After unpacking in our spacious room, we walked some of the area before going to the Fireside Room for complimentary soft drinks and appetizers before dinner (served 5:30 to 9 p.m. and reservations needed).  The Fireside Room had pool table, pin ball machine, tables and chairs, easy chairs and sofas, desk for Windy Ridge Photographers, and a lower area with the massive stone fireplace and more seating.  A cracking fire was kept going in the fireplace almost all of the time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005:
Breakfast was a plentiful buffet featuring many things, with things for everyone’s taste.  Breakfast was available  from 7 to 9:30 a.m. served daily.  At 9:30 a.m. after two hours of sunshine it was still -5 degrees below zero.  The thermometer was located on a post of the porch facing the lodge.  The day was sunny with bright blue sky.  Howard telephoned his office and Victor captured some pictures of us on the web cam from in front of the lodge.

That afternoon we experienced our first dog sled tour, 12 dogs, and one musher (Derek) and were gone approximately three hours.  The dogs enjoy running, walking, resting (one minute at a time – then lets go, woof woof) and what glorious scenery!  This was most enjoyable and we highly recommend anyone trying this if you get the opportunity.  The sled dogs left behind at the kennels all wanted to go too.  Lindsey Smith of Windy Ridge Photography took some great photos of us and the dog sled.   There were several dog veterans of the famed Iditarod in Alaska; Billy Snodgrass the who owns and operations Continental Divide Dog Sled Tours (whom we visited with) has completed the Iditarod, in Alaska, twice.  (brief movie / video )

Wed. evening is the weekly sea food buffet and what a variety.  All meals came with soup and salad bar.

Thursday, February 17, 2005: 
At 7 a.m. on the covered porch it was -8 below zero, but a clear blue sky, bright sun and no wind.  We left
Togwotee Mountain Lodge in one of the vans with driver and headed to Jackson 40 miles away.  On the way we saw three moose and five coyotes.  We arrived at the National Museum of Wildlife Art located 2.5 miles north of the Jackson Town Square  The building of massive stone blends in with the hillside and overlooks the National Elk Refuge and the Gros Ventre Mountains. The staff at the museum told us, and had the information posted, that it was then -14 below zero, and the wind chill was also -14 below zero as there was no wind.  We enjoyed looking at the spectacular paintings and sculptures all devoted to wildlife (which we love) and a few still life painting that fit the subject, and Susan visited the very nice museum gift shop.  

We viewed a film in the theater telling the history of the National Elk Refuge.  Next we boarded a bus for the drive across the highway and into the National Elk Refuge.  Then we climbed into (via steps at the back) a bright red slight drawn by two Belgian draft horses for an hour plus ride into the refuge among large male elk with beautiful antlers.  We also saw three Trumpeter Swans on the small creek.  There can be up to 9,500 elk in the refuge depending upon the winter, this year there are approximately 4,000 at this time as it has been a very mild winter, so there is still food at the high elevations.  Since in the past the elk were fed from sleighs they are used to seeing people, horses and sleighs in the refuge.  This sleigh ride into the refuge is something all ages may enjoy and we surely did enjoy the trip.

Next our driver took us to the Jackson Town Square and left us for shopping.  Each corner has an arch made from elk antlers.  Susan first visited this area in 1958; then Howard, Susan, Cynthia, Scott and Shelly visited in 1971; and Howard and Susan spent two weeks in the area during September 2001 (yes had only been there two days when the 9/11 tragedy took place).  We, NOT being shoppers, and having been in all stores around the square and some off on side streets before we only visited one clothing store, two art galleries and a sporting good store.  

Then we went to the famous Wort Hotel which has the Silver Dollar Bar and Grill (yes, the curved bar has silver dollars embedded into it) on Broadway just off the square.  Susan enjoyed a great ½ pound buffalo burger.  We walked around the hotel, sat by the fireplace for awhile in the lobby enjoying the moose head over the fireplace, and various works of art.  Then we spent time in the Silver Dollar Bar.  We inquired about where to find a bookstore.  Our served didn’t know but would find out.  She came back with detailed information about the Valley Bookstore located just off the town square in ---?? -- Alley.  This proved to be a super bookstore!  We made some purchases and told of our difficulty in locating them, they then gave us a 10% discount and additional good information.  We return to the Jackson Town Square and waited a few minutes by one of the antler arches for our drive and van to return to Togwotee.  The temperature was up to 32 degrees on the covered porch at Togwotee Mountain Lodge.

Friday, February 18, 2005:   
After our 7 a.m. breakfast we went to the snowmobile rental shop at 8 a.m. There we obtained our clothing, boots, mittens and helmet for snowmobiling, we had already purchased fleece for our heads (under helmet) and for our necks.  Another beautiful day of bright sunshine, clear blue sky and no wind.  Our great guide was Dave.  When we left at 9 a.m. it was -3 below zero.  There were a total of four snowmobiles in our morning group.  Again Lindsey of Windy Ridge Photography took photos of us with the beautiful Teton Mountains in the background.  These views are available a short distance behind the lodge and across the road and up a small hit from the lodge.  Susan started by driving, and then gave it to Howard before she drove for a second time.  We had a double snowmobile.  We returned to Togwotee for lunch, and then at 1 p.m. Dave and we took off, just us which was great.  At noon it was 35 degrees.  Dave, Howard and Susan went out again from 1 to 4 p.m.  We saw four moose in the willows (they eat the small buds of the willow) and had a grand afternoon.  All together we covered approximately 70 miles.

Saturday, February 19, 2005:  
Our first day with nothing scheduled.  Snow started falling about 6:30 a.m.  After breakfast we took a walk in the falling snow and then visited the very friendly sled dogs.  Susan returned to the Fireside Room to sit by the cracking fire, write postcards, read and relax.  Howard took a two hour plus walk in the snow, which he enjoyed.  There was light to heavy snow all day, beautiful.  Sat. evening is the Taste of Wyoming Buffet -- soup and salad, rolls, several vegetables, then barbecue antelope, elk, venison two ways and buffalo, all very good.  Light snow fell during the night then stopped.

Sunday, February 20, 2005: 
Light snow started about 7:30 a.m. when it was 22 degrees.  We put on our snowmobile clothing and went to the rental shop to meet our guide.  Guide was Noah and counting him there were eight snowmobiles in our group for the day, we had the only double one.  We left at 9 a.m. and return at 4:30 p.m. having covered 80 miles.  We saw one large bull elk.  There was light snow on and off all day.  Brit of Windy Ridge Photography took our picture at the same spot as Lindsey did on Fri., but with the snow you could not see much of the Teton Mountains.  We did not return to Togwotee for lunch but went to the very special, beautiful and rustic Brooks Lake Lodge.  We had very good spicy chili with cornbread.  

 Monday, February 21, 2005: 
Light snow began at 6 a.m.  We left with Chuck, the driver, and three others – who would meet a van for snowmobiling -- in one of the vans to meet others at Moran Junction.  We met our van and joined six people from the Washington, D.C., area for our snow coach trip to Yellowstone National Park.  The people from D.C. area were in Jackson to ski and were of our age group and very congenial.  We drove to Flagg Ranch, just south of the entrance to Yellowstone National Park (YNP), and went inside while, our driver, Bill went to get the snow coach.  We then piled into the snow coach, a nice sized group with space to spread out, be comfortable, everyone by a window so could take pictures between stops.  We had heavy snow most of the day, and sometimes medium or light snow, but snow!  No autos are allowed in YNP during the winter season, only snow coaches and snowmobiles.  The main roads are groomed, but none of the walk ways or paths to see geysers, hot springs, water falls or lake are maintained during the winter, so are snow covered and slippery.  Our first stop was at Lewis Falls, then at West Thumb Geyser Basin.  We then drove to the Old Faithful area.

 We viewed the 11:39 a.m. eruption of Old Faithful Geyser, and several other geysers.   Howard called Dan in his office to capture some shots of us on the Old Faithful web cam and he did so.  Lunch was provided at the Snow Lodge and time for shopping in the gift shop or walks to other geysers in the area.  Then we returned to the snow coach and continued west along the road, seeing hundreds of bison and many elk along the streams.  We made many stops to photograph the elk and bison.  We stopped at Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin to walk around and take pictures.  Our next stop was at Kepler Cascades (a long time favorite stop of Susan’s), then on for another stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.  Susan was employed as a cashier in the Hamilton General Store at West Thumb the summer of 1958.  (The store is no longer there, was moved to Grant Village, and with earthquake in 1959 they never reopened.)  We then continued to the south entrance, following the beautiful Lewis River and stopped at the YNP sign at the entrance for additional photographs.  Back to Flagg Ranch for change from snow coach to van and then leaded south where Chuck and a Togwotee van were waiting for us at Moran Junction.   We arrived back at Togwotee Mountain Lodge just in time for our 6 p.m. dinner reservation.  It was another wonderful day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005: 
Clear blue sky, bright sun and a beautiful day. After breakfast we stayed by cracking fire in the Fireside Room.  We read books; Susan wrote postcards and took a nap.  Howard proved the nap by taking a picture of Susan asleep.  We snacked and relaxed something we both needed as when left home we were both exhausted.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005: 
At 8 a.m. it was zero, but clear blue sky, bright sunshine and another beautiful day.  We had a morning dog sled tour, the musher was Justin.  We saw two very large moose just off the trail.  The weather was perfect for the morning dog sled tour.  It was a “spring” like day, and warmer than everyone wanted.  The whole area is short of snow, even the sage brush is showing when in past years they were completed covered.  We loved the dog sled trip and would do it again when available.  Due to clothing, blankets and things the company provides we were not cold in the least, but very comfortable on both trips.  We took it easy the rest of the day and even took an afternoon nap.  That evening was the weekly Sea Food Buffet, a little different than the week before, but very good with a large variety of foods, prime rib, plus usual salad bar and soup (which changed daily).

Thursday, February 24, 2005: 
This was our free day, and we were sorry to see our vacation coming to an end.  At 8 a.m. it was 3 degrees under clear bright blue sky and sunshine. Another great breakfast, then some time in the room.  From about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. we stayed by the fireplace in the Fireside Room.  Susan kept a good cracking fire going and we enjoyed it very much.  Back to our room, upstairs, and Susan packed most of her suitcase while Howard read.  After finished two science fiction books, and reading a heavy “work” book, Susan gave Howard Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva to read.  He liked it very much and was surprised to read the complete book on Thursday.  Susan read four books while gone.  At 7 p.m. it was 22 degrees.

Friday, February 25, 2005: 
7 a.m. breakfast as usual, then back to room so Howard could pack.  We left about noon in a Togwotee Mountain Lodge van with Church our driver.  We saw coyote on the way to the airport, and Chuck stopped several places with great views of the Teton Mountains to take photographs.  We got sandwiches at the airport and Susan purchased a few items in the two gift shops.  Susan’s suitcase was five pounds over the limit so she paid $25 for the extra weight.  Neither of us had room in our carry on bags to put the excess weight.  The airport has expanded since our last visit in 2001.  Then it was time to board our Skywest Airlines (a connector for Delta) flt 3828.  We left Jackson Hole, WY at 2:50 p.m. and arrived in Salt Lake City just before 4 p.m.  We arrived in terminal E, and our next flight was out of terminal B, so had a distance to go for the next flight.  Our Skywest Airlines flt 4055 left Salt Lake City at 5:10 p.m. and arrived in Phoenix at 6:52 p.m.  We got our luggage and met the van from PCA and went to get our car, next made a brief stop at Fry’s, where Susan went in for milk, bread, bananas and etc.  We arrived home shortly after 8 p.m.

Susan was employed as a cashier in the Hamilton General Store at West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park for the summer of 1958.  She fell in love with Yellowstone, the Teton’s and the Jackson Hole area.  Although she has visited all 50 states and eight foreign countries, this area is still her favorite place in the continental USA, and she looks forward to returning again and again.  

When we were there in Sept. 2001 we stayed at Colter Bay and also at Jackson Lake Lodge

Yellowstone as the world’s first national park, created in 1872, 18 years before Wyoming became a state.

Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929 and greatly expanded in 1950 due to the efforts of John D. Rockefeller, who purchased and then donated a great deal of the land that is under protection in the park today. 

97% of the 2,697,000 acres in Teton County are federally owned or state managed, including the Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the National Elk Refuge.  Only 3% of the land in the Jackson Hole area is privately owned.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is the second-largest national forest in the lower 48 states, encompassing 3.4 million acres.

 Women in Wyoming have been voting since 1869, when the legislature of Wyoming Territory met for the first time, the first government in the world to grant women full voting right.  Wyoming became a state in 1890.

Jackson, WY, elected the first all-woman city council in 1920.

Mountain men used the word hole to describe valleys totally surrounded by mountains. 
Jackson Hole is a valley that is 48 miles long and from 8 to 15 miles wide.  The valley slopes from 6,779 feet above sea level to 6,069 feet above sea level.  The tallest mountain in the Teton range is Grand Teton at 13,772 feet and it towers over Jenny Lake at its base.

Over 60 species of mammals, over 100 species of birds, and a half dozen game find can be found in the Jackson Hole / Yellowstone area.  Big game such as elk, moose, bison, deer, antelope, mountain lion, grizzly and black bears, coyotes, and gray wolf, plus bald eagle, trumpeter swan, blue heron and osprey; native game fish such as the Snake River cutthroat trout and mackinaw lake trout.

 Many feature films have been made on location in Jackson Hole including: Shane, Spencer’s Mountain, Any Which Way You Can and Rocky IV.

 Each spring the local Boy Scouts gather antlers from the National Elk Refuge.  On the third Saturday in May the antlers are auctioned off in the Jackson Town Square.  The proceeds support the local boy Scouts and the Elk Refuge.

 Books of interest:

 Wild and Beautiful Grand Teton National Park, photography by Fred Pflughoft and Henry H. Holdsworth  ISBN: 1-56037-153-6    Copyright 2000

 Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness by Tom Murphy
ISBN: 1-931832-00-5    Copyright 2002

National Museum of Wildlife Art: Highlights From The Collection
ISBN: 0-9674644-0-4   Copyright 1999

Wildlife Legacy: The National Elk Refuge Photographs and Text by Jackie Gilmore Copyright 1993

 Jackson Hole: Crossroads of The West by Connie Wieneke Copyright 1996

 Real time web cam of Togwotee Lodge

Togwotee Mountain Lodge, P.O. Box 91, Moran, WY 83013, (800) 543-2847

Lodging, Breakfasts and Dinners, Social Hour every evening (complimentary cocktails and appetizers before dinner) Snowmobile Guides to take you on a daily group snowmobile tour (7 day advance notice) Airport transfers to and from Jackson Hole Airport (winter only), State Sales Tax, Gratuities

Jackson Hole Travel Guide

 Copyright 2005 and beyond by Susan L. Anderson

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Last modified: 07/19/15