I am starting with the same photo I ended that drive with, one of my first photos of the mountains. The main goal of my trip was to pick up my son, Jonathan, from the Grand Tetons National Park where he spends his summer working. He normally works for one of the UGA dining halls as a full-time cook, but he only works 9 months out of the year. Two years ago, one of his roommates talked him into going with him to the Grand Tetons to work for the park, The only issue with this is that his roommate, Cody, stays until October, but Jon needs to be back by the start of UGA Fall semester, usually in early August. Last year, there was a question as to whether the parks were going to open at all with the pandemic. They did, they just opened a little late and with limits, so off my son went. He fell in love! I do not blame him at all! He stays in the dorms with a bunch of other people in their late teens/early twenties and do various jobs at Colter Bay Village. Last year, I wanted to take the trip to pick him up, but the pandemic prevented that, so I just flew him home. This year, though, I decided that I was going to go get him and his other roomate who joined them myself. So, that day, in late July, I finally rolled into the park and headed to String Lake, where my son told me to meet up with him. I was SO happy to see that smiling face, and to see the park that will forever hold a piece of his heart. I had to take several pictures of his beautiful smile and handsome face.
That smile on this last picture says it all. The joy and happiness he gets from his summer job will last him the rest of his life. I miss him while he is there, of course, but I would never want to take this experience away from him.
Our meetup place, String Lake, is a long, thin lake that runs between Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake (there are at least 6 lakes in the park, I did not get to see them all). This lake was fairly shallow and not great for boats, so it tended to be the swimming lake. I met up with Jon there and several of his friends, where we had a little area of the beach and an area to swim away from others. It was amazing. I sat there listening to their stories and watching them swim while taking photos of the mountains framing the lake behind us. Here are several pictures of the lake in general and the mountains
.The dogs hung out with me on the beach area, very happy to see their boy, but not too thrilled about the cold water I tried to lure them into.
I know it looks like Pepsi is sniffing the flower in her second picture, but the truth is that she is trying to catch bees, one of her favorite treats. I don't know about that dog.
After a while at the lake, we went up to Leek's Marina and Pizzeria on Jackson Lake. The pizza was great, and they even had a special table nearby for people with dogs. I did manage to take some photos of the Lake from that location before we left.
By the way, if you feel like these photos look a little foggy, they are. There was a thin layer of smoke from the fires further west that left everything just a little hazy. We did get rain on the first day at Yellowstone and that did help it clear up, but my first couple days were not as clear as I was hoping for.
As for Leek's and Jackson Lake, Pepsi was just not all that impressed. Both dogs were pretty tired and ready to call it a night.
So now we come to the campsite. When I informed Jonathan that I was unable to secure a campsite due to them all being sold out, he assured me that we could stay at the free camp site at the end of Dump Lake. I was very cautiously optimistic about this, but a little taken aback by the name. It turns out that there is a law that National Parks cannot have a garbage dump on them, but national forests can. So, the solution to this was to put up a long, windy dirt road out to the national forest. The dump was actually towards the front of the road, with the road running along side the national park boundary for a while. So, after eating, the boys took me out to dump road to see what it was all about. Let me tell you, that road was so rugged, it was like taking a hazard driving course just to get out there. It took about 20 minutes of careful driving before you crossed a fence line into the forest. Just across that fence, is a field with a bear box for food storage, and that is all. I will admit that my first thoughts went to all the horror stories you hear about from being alone out in the woods. It scared me. So, with my hopes falling fast, we headed to the dorms to drop off my son and his friends and see if we had any other option. Of course, we did not, so Jon agreed to come back to the campsite with me and sleep in the tent while I slept in the car that first night. That next morning, as we got up and got a better look around, I realized that we were in an absolutely beautiful spot! Yes, it was out in the middle of nowhere. So far out, in fact, that we only shared the camp site one night with another vehicle, the other three nights, we were all by ourselves out there. But once I got used to the campsite, I came to love it and was grateful to have such a wonderful place to stay for the rest of my stay in Wyoming. Following are pictures of the campsite.
As you can tell, the dogs LOVED the campsite, though they only were allowed to run free that one morning. After hearing stories of dogs finding bears and leading the bears back to their owners campsite, we kept them leashed after that. They also enjoyed that, after the first night, I joined the boys in the tent, each of us having our own mattress and sleeping bag. They would often start the night with one or the other of the boys and eventually make their rounds and end up with me. It was like a dream come true for them.
The next morning, Jon and his roommate, Zac who was returning with us, had to go do some finishing up of work and packing up of their belongings. While they did that, I did some laundry and showered and then did some site seeing. Colter Village is on Jackson Lake, the largest of the lakes in the park. It was beautiful and easy to photograph.
My son had suggested that I drive up Signal Mountain to the lookout, so that is where I headed next. It was amazing, looking down on the park. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Since I still had some time to burn, I traveled to Jackson Lake Dam and took photos there.
I also stopped along the roads and took some photos of various landscapes.
Yes, I did get some of buffalo (and geese) in the distance, but my best buffalo photos would come from Yellowstone.
Once I had returned and joined up with Jon and his friends, we drove into Jackson and they took me to their favorite Mexican restaurant, El Abuelito, for lunch. I highly recommend them if you are ever in Jackson. After lunch, the kids all wanted to go shopping, but I wanted to walk the dogs somewhere. So, while they walked off, I returned to the grateful dogs in the car and sought out a park. I soon found the Phil Boux Park and started walking the dogs. The coolest thing in the park was the climbing structures for the kids. I also saw a crow on a house nearby that I had to get a photo of.
The town of Jackson was pretty and it was a nice visit. On the way back, Pepsi enjoyed spending time with her favorite boy.
She's not spoiled at all!
We also stopped and got pictures of the entrance sign to the park. Here is mine.
I hope to return in the future for a longer visit. There were a lot of things I did not get to see and paths I did not get to walk.
One of my favorite shots I like to take is the one looking back in the mirror, and I was able to get one of the mountains.
I hope you enjoyed my memories and photos. Next stop will be Yellowstone!