Well, after the outdoor kitchen project, I’m ready for a break so Martina and jump on the Alaska ferry and our first stop is Saxman just south of Ketchikan. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We walked around for a couple hours while our ferry took on fuel for the non-stop trip to Bellingham.
In Bellingham, we bus down to Seattle, then hop on this Amtrak to……Oxnard, home of the world famous Seabee Museum! Yes, I was a Navy Seabee there 45 years ago so it’s time to revisit. Actually, we stored our FJ Cruiser there over the summer so it’s time to trek back across America the old fashion way.
The nice thing about traveling by train is you can drink champagne enroute. It’s a relaxing way to travel–we rent a small overnight cabin and relax–no hassles about baggage weight or taking off your belt and shoes to board. It’s a two day, one night trip–we get off at many train stops and admire the restored stations along the way. Amtrak also offers travel points like airlines.
After picking up our car, we drive up to Nevada City and pick up our new (old–1948) Airstream which had a new frame and polish completed. We’ll now tow it up to Missoula where the interior work begins.
Here, the guys at Blue Moon Caravans help me fashion a template for an aluminum cover to fit over the air conditioner. We’ll need one traveling in the SW parks and I’m not going to put an ugly A/C on top of this beauty–well, actually I am; but it will be disguised under this Flash Gordon cover complete with it’s own headlight and side vents–very cool!
Oh boy, do we love driving the backroads–you see all sorts of stuff–here a tractor collection near Salmon Idaho. I learned to drive a Farmall Cub which I was 14 working on a horse farm–my preferred vehicle even today.
This drive up the Paradise Valley is one of my favorites. Immigrant Peak is beyond with the Yellowstone River gently winding it’s way down into it’s confluence with the Missouri.
So off we go to Yellowstone to enjoy the animals and fall colors—but one minority wing of one House of Congress, which is only 1/3 of our government decides to shut down government which includes all National Parks for two weeks–OUR TWO WEEKS!
We develop Plan B and divert to Chico Hotsprings.
For those of you who have been here, this a no-brainer. When Ranger Doug asks for a ‘key’ he gets the one to the Hamburg Steinway in the lobby. With an Olympic sized naturally fed hotspring, a five star wild game restaurant, funky rooms and a wine-cellar that will make a Frenchman drool, we set up our basecamp.
Plan C then comes to fruition and we find ourselves later in the week driving back through Jackson’s Hole. The “….’s” was removed from Jackson for the phone company, by the way. This is the place where land is so valuable (highest per capita income in the US of A), that neighbors will steal from each other. Read more here, here, and here.
Here I ponder the internet and plan some furniture for our house. I bought two acres 43 years ago and built two cabins out of log–the first with a horse and a chainsaw.
Cindy warms her back on the fireplace stone which has the same recirculation features as our Alaskan home. Called a ‘contra-flow’ system, the flue gases circulate until they’re nearly cold expending most heat into the house. Cozy!
Here’s one of our evening fires with friends. The fireplace door has all the brands of the nearby ranches including the A Lazy D….(read on).
Out for a walk.
The A Lazy D. In the 1930s my uncle David Abercrombie owned a 2000 acre dude ranch. He’s the middle one sitting on the fence. We visit the ranch again–it’s now five ranchettes valued in the millions. Here it is today:
Most of the land has been donated back to Grand Teton Park and the adjacent Elk Refuge.
We continue up the Gros Ventre (pronounced Grovont) River where there is still some color left. This is near the “Shane” ranch which was one of the many movies filmed here. Here is a list.
Martina snaps a pic of Cindy and me–Cindy worked with us in Alaska and hadn’t been up to Jackson Hole, so here she is. The Teton Range is behind us reaching to 13,775′. I was a Jenny Lake Ranger here for seven season and worked principally in mountain rescue–perhaps the best times of my life. I was sorely tempted to become a permanent ranger–my boss offered me ‘carte blanche’ if I would sign up as a permanent–but I felt the call of dentistry instead….. (yes, this is a bad pun).
But I still am a ranger at heart–here is the symbol of the NPS–which is now $12 Billion in arrears in maintenance. These bruisers now number about 800 with another 4600 in the Yellowstone herd, up from only 23 in 1902. Yellowstone was initially formed to protect these herds (also elk) after they were nearly decimated a century ago. Well it’s off to the East Coast and Europe–stay tuned!