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Wednesday, March 28, 2018


One last early morning look at Old Faithful
before we head out of Yellowstone
Traveling with Tauck Tours, this Legends of the American West adventure meant waking each morning with excited anticipation.  On this day, leaving Yellowstone National Park meant arriving at Grand Teton National Park.  We followed the Snake River, began to hear about the majestic mountains, and got an inkling of the vastness of the grasslands and the kinds of people who saw the ruggedness of Wyoming as a welcoming factor--enough to call it home.

Here's our first bit of amazement.

Imagine an imaginary line beginning in Alaska, running through western Canada, crossing the continental United States and continuing to Mexico.  That imaginary line is called the Continental Divide.  It’s not the halfway mark between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  It’s the winding line separating the waters that flow into the Pacific Ocean from the waters that flow into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Incredible to think that such an imaginary line can exist, but that’s not all.

Where we crossed the Continental Divide in Wyoming is a lake named ISA LAKE. 

Don't try to work out the pronunciation.  It really Is A Lake.

How did Isa Lake get its name?  No one could decide if this body of water was a lake or a river, so someone finally stomped a foot and proclaimed it “IS A LAKE.”  (true story or legend of the old West?)

Lovely and Peaceful and Unusual
What is so special about Isa Lake?  It empties into both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and it does so BACKWARDS; that is the eastern part drains into the Pacific while the western section drains into the Atlantic.  You might want to read that sentence again and shake your head in wonder.  This is not a legend; this is true.

Our first stop in Grand Teton National Park is the Colter Bay Visitor Center, and there we have our first views of the majesty of the Tetons towering 7,000 feet above the valley floor.  Their massive presence, steel grey with spots of glacial ice, dwarfs the trees, grasslands, and lakes that lie below.  I am stunned by the magnificence of nature and of creation.  Surely this valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

We also learned that the mountain have names,  Please remember these names for the next post I write because these peaks are with us throughout the rest of our trip.

Photos cannot begin to show the enormity of these peaks,
but this scene was with us for the rest of our journey.
It was nice to be on a name basis.
Later, when we talked about glaciers, it was easy to identify the different kinds on these mountains.

Next stop--Jackson Hole.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming earns it fame in many ways, but driving in to the city is quite an experience.  It doesn’t look like the typical town, and in the center, the square is anchored by arches made of elk antlers.  Beautiful.  If you’re worried about the source of these antlers, put that aside.  One thing Jackson Hole is famous for is its cold and its skiing.  It gets so cold in the Tetons that animals cannot survive, and the elk migrate down out of the mountains and come into the valley.  They do not have the natural coats of the buffalo.  In fact, there is a National Elk Refuge established in 1912 to offer a winter home to some of the largest elk herds in the country.  The refuge is home to approximately 7,000 elk each winter.  As bulls shed their antlers, a program began to allow Boy Scouts to collect and sell them at auction.  That is where the antlers for the arches originate. 

Beautiful.  Amazing.  Jackson Hole's unique signature.  Four arches entering the town's park.

Even in summer, Jackson Hole is a tourist’s dream.  Restaurants, art shops, mercantiles and western stores are everywhere, and it’s a great place to roam when you’re not out enjoying all that nature has to offer in the mountains, lakes, rivers, and in the valley. You might even spot some very famous people.  I did.

Interesting town.  Look at those magnificent ski runs up the mountains.

One of the great store, the Mercantile, with a moose out front.
We had lots of fun inside too, and emerged with some "souvenirs."

There really is an atmosphere of the untamed west.
Right in the middle of town--Lewis and Clark exploring the continent.

Who should I meet but Mark Twain and his young friends Huck  Finn and Becky Thatcher

Here's a chance to pose with those famous Ohioans
who flew for the first time in North Carolina
Wilbur and Orville Wright
It truly was a wonderful day, and I highly recommend visiting any of these places, any time of year.
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