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Jackson Lake, Wyoming

I received an email from WIX, who hosts this site, the other day, telling me that I had limited emails left for the month. So due to that, my reluctance to deal with reality, which has included a backlog of dirty clothes and many deadlines that had been waiting, this is a combination of two posts. Feel free to read in chunks as it's a long one.

One can only march up hills, get anoxic in the high altitudes and enjoy views so beautiful they look fake, for so long. While there are way more Bozemanians, as we came to understand they call themselves, in the hills than in the shops, we chose a day to see how the less active half lived, starting at a well curated western wear vintage store that was like a museum with a different smell.


Tempting to head in a new fashion direction

Nat trying on a Stevie Nicks vibe

These Gen Zers, they like to scavenge. We visited a coffee shop called Roly Poly, located next to a Weyerhaeuser plant, with active and loud sawing of wood planks going on, worlds different from the indie coffee shops with thoughtful music and Italian earthenware that we have in The City. It was furnished with old car seats and Texaco signs. A man too old for it had second day growth and long, dirty toenails, the woman who worked there had the kind of extremely short bangs that extend all the way round to her ears and a red kerchief tied tightly around her neck, 50s style. The chunk that came out of the milk jug was not ice or something bad, but non-homogenized milk. Eye roll.

Nat living her Gen Z life at the Roly Poly

If you find yourself in Bozeman and wonder whether a combination of jazz and comedy is a good way to entertain yourself, the answer could be yes, depending on your definition of entertainment. Is it possible for bad comedy to be comedy in itself? Or is it more of a real life drama? A long and skinny man introduced himself as the MC, holding his phone, which had a video playing that he appeared unaware of, and a folded up piece of paper. While walking back and forth across the stage nervously, he regularly consulted his paper, stopping. He began with a joke about road repair in Bozeman which fell dead, because well, road repair isn't very funny. He then moved on to his gay brother and the penis shaped pacifier he must have had when he was a baby. There was a silence that caused me almost as much discomfort as I felt when hearing the actual "joke"; the audience collectively wanting to run to the door immediately. That another comedian only slightly less awkward had been imported in from San Diego confirmed that maybe Bozeman is more reliable for craft beer and outdoor sports than culture. The jazz was actually welcomed as a respite from cringing.

Mount Baldy and the Bridger Range, our home view

Converted barn that was home for a few days

While we have already established that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, there was further evidence of it as we had to abort our drive east to Cody in order to make a nonrefundable reservation at Jackson Lake, neither of us having realized until then that we, OK, I, had scheduled being in two places at one time. The positive side of this development is that we were both able to do a quick re-set after gassing up and buying some travel pickles (who knew? they were good). Another time.

Yellowstone was dark green and canyon-like. When we passed Old Faithful, it was accompanied by a spontaneous and tuneful rendition of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and a sense of relief that we shared an unwillingness to fight crowds to watch water squirt out of the earth. As we crossed into Grand Teton, the views opened up to prairies again, with mountains behind, a wide variety of flora, a multitude of textures and more shades of green than I had ever seen in one place.

The view from the lobby was killer, that's Grand Teton in the middle

We had booked two nights at the Lodge at Jackson Lake, paying more than I usually do, and were disappointed to smell our room before entering, reminiscent of a NYC taxicab in the 80s, with a 2 star motel-like set up. Naturally, I blamed Trump, who defunded the National Park Service, causing them to likely have to make up for ongoing operating expenses by charging poor sods like us way too much. Oh well. The main building is a national historic landmark, with a monstrous lobby framing a picture postcard view of the Tetons, and one can sit inside or out to watch the sun going down behind the mountains. Can't complain about that, or the Snake River IPA that accompanied. We noticed that there were many men afflicted with bad cases of Importantitis, standing with black shirts on and eyes shifting left and right, coils in their ears and serious faces. After doing a not small amount of staring, eavesdropping, assessing and researching, we discovered that the Kansas City branch of the Fed sponsors a World Economic Forum at Jackson Lake ever year, which we were witness to. I should have mentioned the prices of the rooms to these big thinkers...

Having not had a real meal in a few days, we uncharacteristically opted for the grownup dining room, knowing the food would be awful but healthier than the greasy, diner options otherwise available. We were not wrong.

Best thing about our meal was the moose shaped butter, we had two

Up close and personal, at Jenny Lake. Look at that water!

Textures and greens were mind blowing

While the Lodge was filled with retirees populating gift shops, there were all manner of activities available: whitewater rafting, kayaking, bus tours, lake cruises, nature walks. We decided that the $700 for a day of fly fishing wouldn't be well spent, though we were curious, and opted for horseback riding, which ended up being cancelled because of rain. Wondering if cowboys, back in the day, didn't drive herds in the rain...Or maybe they carried umbrellas?

So, we chose a hike that went round pristine Jenny Lake, towards a canyon. Luckily for us, in Bozeman I had repeatedly hammered home how to watch the weather (I can also advise about cottonwood trees, if you're interested), as it was so easy to do in the land of big sky, so when we smelled the smell and felt the temperature change that caused us to look up at the sky, we knew it was time to turn it around and head back to shelter, cocky as we were while we watched others continue on, oblivious. Sure enough, the rain came down and hard, for about 15 minutes. When it began to abate, we made a run for it, remembering the last few miles to be under a canopy of trees. Well, I'm not sure where that canopy wandered off to, but when the cold, hard sideways rain daggers came off the lake with a mean wind, we found no shelter, only sharp things bouncing off our skin causing me to wonder what actually is the difference between sleet and hail. Dressed in tank tops and shorts, our only option was to charge on, jumping over and running through big puddles, confirming that water resistant hiking boots aren't anything close to waterproof.

Jenny Lake before the hail

Those mountains

You can't really tell how wet we are. Confession: we both loved the adventure and had a good giggle

On our way to Jackson for the afternoon, having already spotted two moose, plenty of deer, horses, cows, goats, sheep, an elk and some prehistoric furry animals that were related to squirrels, we were excited to see the elusive buffalo, grazing in a field full of the healthiest and purplest thistles that somehow don't show up in the photograph.

Requisite buffalo with Tetons in the background. I know, they look like cows.

Ski mountain and downtown Jackson

Ayup. Walked in, smelled the disinfectant. Walked out

Jackson is tucked into the bottom of a ski mountain, right there, and has those wooden buildings like way back when in the west, but was filled with all kinds of downers, including too many T shirts, overpriced chocolate, brand stores and bars filled with bachelorette parties. The Wild West reenactment, replete with fake gunshots and a jail on wheels was the final nail in the coffin, but we managed to find a delightful Italian restaurant where we sat at the bar, did some eavesdropping and enjoyed fine fresh pasta. As a newbie to hat wearing, I was uninitiated about the politesse of wearing one indoors, so struggled with it on my lap for half an hour on a bar stool. Things did not go well, which caused me to look around and see how many were wearing them inside. Adjustments were made.

It was home the next day via Rexburg, Idaho, where Nat had left her wallet at the Jamba Juice. She had had many conversations with incredibly kind people who wanted so much to help her by sending it, but the manager wouldn't let them, so we met the assistant manager on a Sunday, when the store was closed. Nat had asked her if it would be easier to drop it off at the police station so she wouldn't have to make the trip on her day off, but she pointed out that, well of course, the police station is closed on Sundays.

Tetonia, Idaho was beautiful

From there it was a straight shot back to Salt Lake City for an early dinner with a kind person and then goodbye to The Beast. And we got TWO spicy tomato juices each on the plane!

Sigh. Anne Hawley, the ED at the Gardner when I was there, used to say that you should have your next trip planned before you get home....


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