A Visit to Heaven: Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons
Grand Tetons

March 13, 2013:  Today was heavenly…WOW!! I spent the day with my niece and her husband and we traveled east from Rexburg over Teton Pass to Jackson, Wyoming and then north to Grand Teton National Park.


Jackson, WY and Grand Tetons

Mountain Man by Steve Horn - Horn Mountain Gallery in Tetonia, ID
“Mountain Man” by Steve Horn – Horn Mountain Gallery in Tetonia, ID

Our first stop on the road to Jackson was in Tetonia, ID. We made a stop outside of Horn Mountain Living to get the shot of the “Mountain Man” sculpture above, which was done by Steve Horn.  Steve moved to Teton Valley over 30 years ago and lived as a mountain man prior to that. He is completely self-taught and gives his Creator full credit for his abilities. He has since become one of the country’s top hand carved furniture makers and his favorite medium is stone.  Another item we saw outside the gallery was this bear…

Bear by Steve Horn - Tetonia, ID
Bear by Steve Horn – Tetonia, ID

I also got a kick out of the sign below:

Dave's Pubb - Tetonia, ID
Dave’s Pubb – Tetonia, ID

We also saw a nice mural at the Teton Mountain View Lodge in Tetonia.

Teton Mountain View Lodge
Teton Mountain View Lodge mural (2005 by Terri Furness)

From Tetonia we headed southeast towards Driggs, ID.

Driggs, Idaho
Downtown Driggs, Idaho

Driggs is really at the base of the Tetons on the Western side and has the unique small town feel yet also a touristy place.

Buffalo Statue - Driggs, ID
Buffalo Statue – Driggs, ID

Just south of Driggs is the fairly famous “Spud Drive-In Theater.” The theater is one of only two drive-ins theaters listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  One claim to fame is the big spud on the back of a 1946 Chevrolet flat-bed truck.

The Spud Truck - Driggs, ID
The Spud Truck – Driggs, ID
The Spud sign - Driggs, ID
The Spud sign – Driggs, ID
Little Spuds at entry gate
Little Spuds at entry gate
Sumoflam with the Spud Guys
Sumoflam with the Spud Guys in the truck
Spud Pooh
Pooh Tater

The Spud was a lot of fun!! But, we needed to move on to Victor, another small town on the way to Jackson.  We made a quick stop at the Victor Emporium to get a shot of the mural on their wall.  They are known for their Huckleberry Milkshakes, which they have been serving since 1950.

Victor Emporium Mural - Victor, ID
Victor Emporium Mural – Victor, ID

From Victor we headed up the Teton Pass, which crests at 8432 feet.  Along the way we crossed into Wyoming.

Welcome to Wyoming sign on Teton Pass
Welcome to Wyoming sign on Teton Pass

At the crest of the pass we were granted a spectacular view of the Jackson Hole valley below.  The first white man to see this view was John Colter, in 1807.  As a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, he returned to the area and recorded descriptions of the valley and its features in his journals.  Colter was also the first man of European descent to see the Yellowstone region. Much of what he wrote about was unbelieveable to many due to the fantastic nature of the scenery. There is a great write-up of Colter’s history on Wikipedia.

Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
"Howdy Stranger" Sign at Teton Pass summit
“Howdy Stranger” Sign at Teton Pass summit

From the summit we made our way into the valley and came into beautiful Jackson, Wyoming.  Last time I was in Jackson was in 1975.  I came with some other guys from church while living in the Salt Lake City area.  We came to Jackson to go canoeing down the Snake River for a three days.  My canoe partner, John Janssen, and I lost our canoe in a log jam after running a rapid.  A memorable time.

Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope

Our first stop was breakfast.  We found a place called E Leaven Food Company and had a good breakfast. Their bagels are awesome!!  Thomas, my niece’s husband, ordered the biscuits and gravy.  Check this out!!

Biscuits and Gravy from E Leaven Food in Jackson Hole, WY
Biscuits and Gravy from E Leaven Food in Jackson Hole, WY – Yummiferous!!

After breakfast we took a walk around the town, saw some fun statues, the famous Antler Arches and other things.  There are some sites that indicate that it requires nearly 10,000 pounds of antlers for each arch.  Many of these come from the National Elk Refuge north of Jackson.

Antler Arch of Jackson
Antler Arch of Jackson

AntlerArchSumoflam1

Close up of Antlers - Jackson, WY
Close up of Antlers – Jackson, WY
Famous Cowboy Bar Sign in Jackson, WY
Famous Cowboy Bar Sign in Jackson, WY
"Cowboy" by Bud Boller
“Cowboy” by Bud Boller in center of town square in Jackson, WY

The statue above is in the middle of town and is the symbol of Wyoming and sits atop the Veteran’s Memorial in Jackson.  The bronze was created by Bud Boller, a registered member of the Shoshone tribe. The Cowboy depicted in the sculpture is “Stub” Farlow and the horse’s name is Deadman. It was completed in 1976.

Sumoflam and Lincoln in Jackson Hole
Sumoflam and Lincoln in Jackson Hole – one of a series of Gary Lee Price’s sculptures on the square

Across the street from the town square is the Mountain Trails Gallery which offers some unique and large art work. In front of the shop are a series of works by artist Gary Lee Price.  Entitled the “Great Contributors“, there are life size bronze works of Abraham Lincoln (above), George Washington, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.

My niece Natalie with George Washington
My niece Natalie with George Washington by Gary Lee Price in Jackson, WY
Natalie and Thomas with Benjamin Franklin in Jackson Hole
Natalie and Thomas with Benjamin Franklin in Jackson Hole
Sumoflam with Moose
Sumoflam with Moose by Terry Lee in Jackson, WY
Sumoflam and Bear in Jackson, WY
Sumoflam and Bear in Jackson, WY

After our stroll through town we headed back to the car and prepared to head north to the Tetons.  We made a quick stop at the Jackson Hole Visitor’s Center to get road information in for the park, since many roads were likely closed due to snow.

David and Elk Statue
David and Elk Statue at Visitor’s Center

Finally, we were on our way to see a place I have always dreamed of – the Grand Tetons.  It was a beautiful clear day with a few clouds, but the mountains were magnificent.

First view of the mountains just north of Jackson on the way to Grand Tetons.
First view of the mountains just north of Jackson on the way to Grand Tetons
Mt. Moran in Grand Tetons as seen from US 89
Mt. Moran in Grand Tetons as seen from US 89 in Grand Tetons N.P.
Mt. Moran from US 89
Mt. Moran from US 89

Once in the National Park, there are signs you see occasionally that warn travelers of bears.  The “Food Storage Required” means that you need to pack up your food securely so bears don’t sniff it out.

Be Bear Aware Sign
Be Bear Aware Sign

We continued north until Moran and then headed west on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway.  This roadway links Grand Teton N.P. to Yellowstone N.P.  We took the road to Teton Park Rd. and then along Jackson Lake to Signal Mountain Lodge, which was as far as allowed. This crossed us over the Jackson Lake Dam. The snow was deep in this part of the park.  Jackson Lake was frozen and there were guys parked at Signal Mountain that had hiked out on to the lake to do Ice Fishing…

Ice Fishing on Jackson Lake - the little dots
Ice Fishing on Jackson Lake – the little dots on the lake
Snake River as seen from Jackson Lake Dam near Signal Mountain
Snake River as seen from Jackson Lake Dam near Signal Mountain Lodge

On the way back to the main highway we saw a fox out on the snow.  So stark and unique.

Fox on Snow
Fox on Snow

After getting back on the road, we continued north as far as the Colter Bay Village turnoff.  The road took us along the completely frozen Jackson Lake and then to the village visitor center, which was closed except for one restroom…that was heated!!

Scene near Colter Bay
Scene near Colter Bay
Mt. Moran as seen from Colter Bay Lodge - Taken with my iPhone!
Mt. Moran as seen from Colter Bay Lodge – Taken with my iPhone!

After these scenes (and feeling again like I was in heaven), we headed back to Jackson on the same path.  There were dozens more photos taken of the beautiful mountains before we got to the next turnoff near Jackson at Gros Ventre Rd. Here are a few more shots that were taken along the way.

Grand Tetons along US 89
Grand Tetons along US 89
Grand Tetons on US 89
Grand Tetons on US 89
Grand Tetons from US 89
Grand Tetons from US 89

We eventually got to Gros Ventre Rd and headed towards Kelly, WY. We took this drive both for the scenic appeal and for the opportunity to possibly see a moose, as we had heard that there were some sightings.

Moose on Gros Ventre Rd.
Moose on Gros Ventre Rd.
Another Moose Sighting
Another Moose Sighting
Yet Another Moose Sighting
Yet Another Moose Sighting

In Kelly, we did NOT see a moose, but we did see one of my favorite things… a metal creature

Metal dinosaur in Kelly, WY
Metal dinosaur in Kelly, WY – chewing on a bone no less!!

On the way into Jackson there are more neat sculptures.  As we passed by the National Elk Refuge on the way into Jackson, we could see a bronze herd of buffalo

Bronze Buffalo near Jackson
Bronze Buffalo near Jackson – up on a hill

And, as we finally return home past the Victor area, just a couple of more interesting photos of fun stuff…

Old Truck near Victor, WY
Old Truck near Victor, WY
Old Barn in the Mountains
Old Barn in the Mountains

(2340)

Road Trip to Idaho – Day 2: Savage, MN to Miles City, MT

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND

I embarked on Day 2 of my trip to Idaho – left Savage, MN in the midst of snow and fog.  The roads were scary heading northwest to Fargo, ND.

Snowy highways in Minnesota
Snowy highways in Minnesota

Today (March 9, 2013) was the second leg of my trip to Idaho.  Today I drove from Savage, MN to Miles City, MT.  I drove 781 miles over a 14 hour stretch.  Following is the map of the trip.


View Larger Map

My first stop along the way was for gas.  I stopped in Avon, MN…..which, I discovered, is also the home of the Lake Wobegon Trail.  The trail is 46 miles long and 10 feet wide.  It opened in 1998.  Avon is the home of the Lake Wobegon Trails Association.  Garrison Keillor, the creator of Lake Wobegon and the Prairie Home Companion show, lived in Avon at one time.

Avon, Minnesota
Avon, Minnesota
Lake Wobegon Trail
Lake Wobegon Trail
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wobegon Park, Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural on laundromat in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN
Wall Mural in Avon, MN

From Avon I proceeded north to Ashby, MN.  This is home to a large metal Coot statue, which is what I was looking for.  But, as I often discover, the town is also a quaint little place.

Ashby, Minnesota
Ashby, Minnesota
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN
Coot Statue, Ashby, MN

The coot statue stand outsides of town on Highway 78 and represents the largest Ashby area sportsmen club, Coots Unlimited (a parody of Ducks Unlimited).  There is more about it here.

Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Man walking road in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Mural in Ashby, MN
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog
Ashby, MN Water Tower in the fog

From Ashby I proceeded north to Fergus Falls, MN.  The roads were a little better and my GPS had me taking a back road.  I was headed first to the Continental Divide Marker and site, which was built in 2000.

Continental Divide Plaque - Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Plaque – Fergus Falls, MN
Downtown Fergus Falls
Downtown Fergus Falls

From Fergus Falls I continued heading northwest on I-94.  The roads were still icy, but had cleared up somewhat.  I then took a quick swing off at Exit 38 (Rothsay) to get a photo of the 14 foot tall, 9200 pound cement prairie chicken statue.  I have been here before (as well as a good part of the drive thru North Dakota – see my posts from 2005) .  This time I was able to get a more unique view of the giant bird.

Greater Prairie Chicken Statue - Rothsay, MN
Greater Prairie Chicken Statue – Rothsay, MN

I then got back on the freeway and fought more fog.  But the fog and snow make for interesting views that one would not see on a clear day.  Many trees took on shadowy shapes.

Tree in fog - northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94
Tree in fog – northwest Minnesota as seen from I-94

Along the road I found a road sign that provided the perfect description of this day’s trip had been to this point – Downer, MN (exit 15 heading north)

Downer, MN - Great description of the day
Downer, MN – Great description of the day

Ironically, shortly after Downer, things cleared up again, just in time for my entrance into the border town of Moorhead, MN. Moorhead has a Norwegian population and is home to the Hjemkomst Center, which houses a replica Viking ship and the beautiful is the Stave Church, a symbol of the Norwegian heritage in the Red River Valley. Built by Guy Paulson, the church is a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad Church in Vik, Norway. Norwegian Stave churches were built just after the close of the Viking Age in Scandinavia in the 1100 and 1200’s. The technique of using vertical posts-or staves- had been modified over time to become wooden architectural works of art.

Stave Church Replica - Moorhead, MN
Stave Church Replica – Moorhead, MN
Snowy Road in Moorhead
Snowy Road in Moorhead

From Moorhead I entered Fargo, ND and continued heading west on I-94. I passed thru Fargo so I could get to other sights along the road (and to also get out of the miserable snow!!) My first stop in North Dakota was Jamestown. Jamestown is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue the National Buffalo Museum.

Frontier Village - Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village – Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe - Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Cafe – Jamestown, ND  They offer a      4 Meat Buffet what ever that is
World's Largest Buffalo - Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, ND

The “World’s Largest Buffalo” is a in Frontier Village. It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh.

World's Largest Sand Hill Crane - Steele, ND
“Sandy” – The World’s Largest Sand Hill Crane – Steele, ND

Further west on I-94 is the small town of Steele, ND. There are about 800 people and one silver Big Bird! “Sandy”, as she is known, is a 40 foot tall 4.5 ton bird.  It was constructed of rolled sheet metal welded onto a steel inner frame, which was built in three different sections.  It was created in 1999 by James Miller, a resident of Arena, ND.  The crane was built to bring attention to the fact that the Steele area is one of the best birding destinations in North America. Sandhill Cranes are some of the migratory species that nest here.

Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND
Silo Family as seen from I-94 near Steele, ND

I loved the shot above.  Tons of fun…

I finally made it to Bismarck, ND where I had a couple more interesting stops.  Bismarck borders the Missouri River and there are a number of parks along river road.  One is Keelboat Park.  There is a large four headed thunderbird statue at the park and it is uber impressive. The sculpture represents a powerful American Indian spirit that depicts thunderstorms.

Thunderbird Statue - Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Thunderbird Statue – Keelboat Park, Bismarck, ND
Sumoflam and Thunderbirds
Sumoflam and the Thunderbirds
Lewis and Clark Sculpture - Keelboat Park
Lewis and Clark Sculpture – Keelboat Park
Grant Marsh Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck
Missouri River High Bridge over Missouri River in Bismarck

In Pioneer Park along the Missouri River, there is a fairly new sculpture called “Rising Eagle”, which was made by art students from the United Tribes Technical College.  Dedicated in 2007, it was vandalized in 2010 and had to be rebuilt.

Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front
Rising Eagle Sculpture from the Front

As I continued west of Bismarck on I-94, the weather was finally cleared up and there were sunny skies.  The views looked great.

I-94 west of Bismarck, ND
I-94 west of Bismarck, ND

A couple of miles before Exit 72 (about 20 miles east of Dickinson, ND) I could begin seeing the following HUGE sculpture by local artist Gary Greff (from Regent, ND).  Greff began his projects in 1989 and continues work today through donations from local people and many others. Named “Geese in Flight,” it is the gateway to the famous “Enchanted Highway” and is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture.”

Gate to Enchanted Highway - Flying Geese
Gate to Enchanted Highway – “Geese in Flight” – created in 2001

Built in 2001, “Geese in Flight” is 154 feet long and 110 feet tall and weighs over 78.8 tons.  The largest flying goose has a wingspan of 30 feet. Gary Greff used oil tanks and oil well pipe to make it.  I kind of envision the big “eye” in the middle as looking over the Enchanted Highway.

Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)
Flying Geese from Satellite (as pulled from Google Maps)

The Enchanted is a 32 mile stretch of road beginning at Exit 72 on I-94 and then going south through Gladstone and then all the way to Regent, ND.  Along the way there are a number of sculptures.  Greff even made dozens of small geese that line the nice dirt road up to the Flying Geese sculpture.

Geese along road
Geese along road

From the Flying Geese, I did go south through Gladstone and then on for another 10 miles.

Grain Elevator
Grain Elevator – Gladstone

Then about three miles down the road, is “Deer Crossing,” the second of the huge sculptures down the road.  The buck is 60 feet long and 75 feet tall.  The doe is 50 feet tall and 50 feet long.  These were erected in 2002.

"Deer Crossing" on Enchanted Highway
“Deer Crossing” on Enchanted Highway
Deer Crossing from satellite
Deer Crossing from satellite
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing
Flying Geese as seen from Deer Crossing

I continued south in hopes of seeing more and made it ten miles to the “almost” ghost town of Lefor.  The prairie scenery was great.

Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
Rural Scene on Enchanted Highway, South of Gladstone, ND
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway
More scenery on the Enchanted Highway

I made it to Lefor and gave up as I had more traveling to do to get to Miles City, Montana for the night.

Remnants of old bank in Lefor
Remnants of old bank in Lefor

There are a number of other giant sculptures along the road south of Lefor, including a 60 foot grasshopper, pheasants on the prairie (including a 60 foot long pheasant), a 51 foot tall Teddy Roosevelt and a “Fisherman’s Dream”, which was completed in 2007 and includes a metal fish leaping up 70 feet through a metal pond surface.  Someday I hope to get back there to see all of these.  At the end of the road Greff has built an Enchanted Castle Hotel for the final enchanting stop.

I returned back through Gladstone and took a quick spin through the town and caught one final small statue:

Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone

I made way to Dickinson and then on to the border of North Dakota and Montana.

Sunset in North Dakota
Sunset in North Dakota

I was surprised to see that there was even a Beach in North Dakota!!

Welcome to Beach, ND
Welcome to Beach, ND
Beach, ND
Beach, ND

After a long day I made it to the hotel in Miles City, Montana.  Hotel sweet hotel…..

 

(981)