All’s quiet at Pinnacles Campground on Brooks Lake as I prepare to take the crew and myself to a new adventure.
I have the directions from Larry for a free camp on the Snake River, only two miles from the entrance to Yellowstone. The Best Little Trailer is secured. Bridget and Spike are in position on the bench seat of the Perfect Tow Vehicle. They know today is a travel day. Although I assured Larry last night that I didn’t need any help hitching up this morning, here he comes, a sleepy smile on his face. “Hey, I thought I told you to sleep late!”
Larry directs me as I back up the PTV for a quick hitch.
Again he reminds me to email him. Then it’s time for another bittersweet goodbye. Words don’t seem sufficient. I decide only an embrace will do. “Thanks for that hug, Sue.” As I drive away, I wonder if our paths will ever cross again.
I take the loop around the campground, stopping at the camp hosts’ site.
I sneak over to Joe and Debbie’s truck and slip a thank you note under the windshield wiper. “Thought you’d run off without saying goodbye, huh?” Joe hurries over to my window with his usual, warm smile. “Did you ever get a picture of the bathrooms?” he asks. “Oh yeah, I have to put that on my blog. You and Debbie deserve The Vault Toilet Award!” He laughs, we talk a while, and he reminds me to come back soon.
Seriously, these folks should get an award for the way they tend to Pinnacles Campground and the people who camp there.
This is their fourth year as the camp hosts. Every year they bring more items from their home in Kansas to further decorate the vault toilets. It’s become a fun project. Campers approach the vault toilet expecting an unpleasant, albeit necessary, experience. They come out smiling saying things like, “There’s even a rug in there!” “What a nice bathroom!” “I’ve gotta get a picture of that!”
Joe and Debbie provide hand-sanitizer and air freshener. Knickknacks add to the homey atmosphere. They keep the walls and floor sparkling clean. Each toilet has a little table well-supplied with paperbacks. A note urges campers to help themselves. I traded three of mine for three new ones. What nice people!
Goodbye, Brooks Lake! Thanks for the memories!
The crew and I travel down the mountain and take Highway 26 west. We climb through Togwotee Pass (9,658 feet), and follow a pilot car through extensive construction. Before we reach Moran, the Tetons come into view. Wow! I’ve seen them on calendars and post cards, but photos can’t fully portray their magnificence. Once I recover from my amazement, I realize one small regret . . .
I should have played a CD of Handel’s Messiah as I approached the Tetons!
Becky and Alan , a couple introduced to me by camp hosts Joe and Debbie, pull over behind us as I stop to walk the crew and take photos. They’ve seen the Tetons many times, since they summer in nearby Dubois. They’re on their way to Yellowstone, too. It’s fun to share my excitement with these friendly, fellow travelers. We exchange contact information. “We spend winters in Yuma,” Becky tells me, “so if you’re ever there again (I previously told them about Fortuna Pond), be sure and look us up.”
At last the crew and I enter Grand Teton National Park.
This is so great! I turn right at Moran and we travel north, turning left at the sign for Flagg Ranch. I make a right onto Grassy Lake Road. The road deteriorates to pot-holed pavement, and then washboard gravel. As we drive over the little bridge crossing the pretty Pole Cat Creek, my anticipation grows. There’s the Snake River! A small sign announces “Campground #1, 4 sites.” Remembering that Larry told me to camp at the 2-site campground, I keep going. Coming over the crest of a small hill, a meadow opens up to the right, and the lane to the 2-site campground heads toward the river, off to the left.
We drive int0 a small, paved area.
There are picnic tables, bear proof boxes, and a vault toilet. A tent is pitched by one of the tables; no one is around. I park the BLT in the shade of a pine tree and release the excited, yipping crew from the PTV. Together we trot down the path through the willow bushes toward the river. Spike leads the way! He wastes no time getting in for a soak. Bridget cautiously sits down on the bank and surveys the scene.
This part of the Snake River meanders, wide and shallow, except for the deep channel rushing against the opposite bank.
I turn and look downstream. My eyes are led to the unmistakable, mighty, snow-capped Tetons. I step into the river in my sandals. The water is clear and cool. I look down at Spikey’s dreamy face and laugh.
Thank you, Larry! This is a wonderful camp! And it’s free!
Awesome Sue, simply awesome. Beautiful spot!!
I love being camped near water. (Spikey seconds that notion!)
The Tetons are amazing and the mountains in Glacier are even more amazing. It is so interesting to see the different ranges. Enjoy this beautiful spot.
I’m not going to Glacier this summer, but it’ll stay on my list.
A few years back, my husband and I did the park circuit. Started at Glacier (from Idaho back to Arizona) , did Grand Teton and Yellowstone also. Keep Glacier on that list because It is without a doubt the most beautiful park I have ever been to. Be sure to travel the “Going to the Sun” highway all the way thru. Also went to Arch’s in Utah last year. Also very pretty and diffrent.
I do want to visit Glacier. I don’t want to over-extend myself this first year out… It would be easy to develop a habit of racing from place to place. I have the trip back to southern AZ yet to do. Next year I want to include California and Oregon…. Maybe I’ll swing by Glacier, too. Wouldn’t that be an incredible trip!
Wow! You keep finding these amazing people telling you about all these wonderful campgrounds! It’s beautiful there… WiFi too ???? You still have that angel riding on your shoulder! Have Fun!
No WiFi at this Grassy Lake Road Camp. I’m still behind in my posts. This is where the crew and I were camped when you didn’t hear anything from us for several days.
Your making me really homesick, Sue. The Tetons are incredible. I was so surprised one day while driving around–I found a little restaurant right on the lake, with boats moored. What a surprise. Joe and Debbie care for that place with their hearts. I’ve never seen a vault toilet like that–that’s worthy of a magazine…or your BLOG!
Joe and Debbie are camp hosts extrordinaire!!!!! That was a beautiful campground and then another!!!!!! Spikey has a way of finding campgrounds on the water, did you notice that??? Great PiX !!!!!
It’s a pleasure to know there are still people who take pride in their work. Joe and Debbie like to see people enjoy themselves. It’s in their nature.
Looks like Heaven! And that vault toilet is amazing 🙂
You should see the other one! (The photo disappeared.)
Great pics!!!!!!!!!!! I had forgotten how seeing the Tetons affects anyone. They are great. I wish I could find some of those free camp spots along the coast………….LOL
Well, Pat…. Maybe next summer I can find some free camp spots on the coast for you. Something tells me that won’t be easy . . .
Beautiful!!! Yep…a little slice of heaven for you n the crew. Glad to see all is well with y’all!
Nice to hear from you, SMom!
As much as I’m enjoying my brand new RETIREMENT in beautiful Western North Carolina, I am soooooo envious of you being in the Tetons, Sue!! That’s #1 on my bucket list. Although you’ve never met me, please soak in all that grandeur and hoist a glass of wine for me. I join you in also celebrating being an EX school marm!!
The great thing about teaching is someday you get to be an ex-teacher! Ha! Can you tell I’m glad to be retired? Western NC is lovely, too, in its own way, especially in autumn.
Sue, you might want to get a copy of “Teewinot” by Jack Turner. I think Amazon has it, and it’s probably also in the bookstore in Jackson. It’s a beautiful book on living in the Tetons as a climbing gude, but yet way more than that, also a look at the natural world there by a first-class writer and beautifully done, perfect for reading while there. It’s on my top 5 list. Jack’s now the president of Exxum Guides, who are famous in that region.
Thanks, Chinle! I may save that for reminiscing next winter!
Hi Sue – Kevin from Buford, WY here. Are actually in Yellowstone at this time, Monday, 7/23? I ask because we are here working in the Grant Village store. Yesterday, Sunday, I had a customer that made me think of you. I was tempted to ask her if it indeed was you but we did not get the chance to visit.
If/when you get to the park, let me know. Robin and I would enjoy meeting you and the pups. Feel free to email and we’ll arrange something
It wasn’t me, Kevin. Nice to know you were thinking of me! I’ve left the park but I may return shortly. Haven’t decided yet . . . It’s crazy. I’ll explain in a post soon.
Love the picture of Bridget… it just makes you laugh. Mugsy too has the funniest looking sitting position. Nothing very lady-like about either of them.
When Bridget sits her butt down, gravity takes over and anything loose settles to the bottom!
Of course, I love the pictures and the writings.!! Auntie and Cousin Lana send their love. And I lov you too…..From UPSTATE New York
You’ve been in my thoughts, Pauline… Lana and Auntie, too! Enjoy your reunion!
This better than TV any day! Thanks for sharing with us!
You say the nicest things, Rick!
If you are going to hike there is a great one up to a beautiful waterfall by Jenny Lake. It is amazing.
We kayaked when we were there and got caught out on the lake when a storm came up from behind the Tetons and we had to paddle like crazy- it was exciting and we made it in JUST IN THE KNICK OF TIME. A really beautiful place. Glacier NP was so full of wildlife and beautiful too. It has to be at the top of my list. Enjoy your stay. In a month we take off from Texas to Zion.
Your posts make me dream about the day:)
You put me to shame. Obviously you got a lot our of your visit to Jenny Lake. I wish I had another human to go out in my boat with me.(Someone to appear and then disappear when we come back to shore!) I admit I’m a little nervous about going out in it by myself with the two nutcakes on board. No telling what they might pull . ..
Enjoy your trip to Zion!
Great picture of you and the crew. We loved the Tetons. Saw tons of buffalo, elk and some but not tons of Moose. I’m with you about just LOVING campsites on the water. I think I’m going to have to go back and make a list of all the great ones you’ve had. It’s a great life you are living!
It is a great life, Sherry! I wish everyone could have it this good . . . and, as you know, it doesn’t depend upon having a lot of money.
WOW!!! Looks like a place you’ll want to explore for a while.
If Bridget ever publishes a travel book, there’s her cover photo.
Are you saying Bridget has a cover girl face?
I am sitting here laughing, do you know how much you have changed ? From a little flat land girl that was scared to death of driving over mountain passes to the gal we see now traipsing all over the Rockys and Tetons.
Keep up the good work.
You had me going there, Ron with the “little flat . . . girl.” It’s important to read every word!
Yes, you’re right. I have changed. I had that very same thought recently as I took on a 9 percent grade like it was nothing, shifting into second, enjoying the view!
Don’t you just LOVE the beautiful clear water there?? Since we have been in the East I have only seen clear water like they have in the West, just one time up around Cherokee Reservation. But NEVER drink any water like that cause it could carry Beaver Fever. My sister-in-law’s dad worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and was often out and about near all kinds of streams. He drank…and it took a long time but he died. Was a very badly sick man for over a year or so once it got going. I guess no one can fix that problem…or at least could not then, some 20 years ago or so.
Your photos are so wonderful and make me homesick!!
The water is incredibly clear, both in the Snake River and the lakes of Yellowstone. It reminds me of the water of northern NY where I grew up.
I’m sorry about the guy who died from drinking out of streams. I used to drink out of streams all the time as a kid, no problem. It’s a different world now.
I’m glad you like the photos.
So glad you found the Grassy Lake Road sites! We had a great time on our trip but returned yesterday for five months and 13 more days before retirement. 🙂
Counting the days, huh? I’m glad you had a good trip. It whets the appetite for more!
Wow, I would love to be there right now, it’s so beautiful. You always find the best camp sites!!
Love the picture of the vault toilet, pretty nice.
Talking to locals helps me find good places to camp. I wish you could enjoy this,too, Ginger.
I wasn’t following your Blog when you started, so I didn’t know what you were like when you started this journey, so it was interesting to read Ron’s observation of your transformation. But, I am sooo proud of you and I hope many folks will be inspired to follow your example. We live in a beautiful country. Thanks for taking me to a place I’ll probably never get to see, other than on my laptop.
When a person steps out of their comfort zone, a change is bound to happen! You’re right. This is an incredibly beautiful country. Aren’t we fortunate to be a part of it!
Wow, a free campground with bear bins , picnic table, and vault toilet ? You scored !! Not to mention the beauty of the area. I love the vault toilet photo. I stay quite often at a little campground an hour from my house that has vault toilets. Maybe my friends who I go with and I should start decorrating it. The host is a woman and I bet she would get a kick out of that !
I bet camp hosts Joe and Debbie would get a kick out of starting a vault toilet decorating trend. It makes a campground so homey!
Hi Sue, I I’m so looking forward to who you will befriend in this camp site, Along your travel’s you have been making some strong bond’s, But than again,, Like attract;s Like Enjoy the wonder of the Teton”s Sue…..
Well, as my next post illustrates, sometimes my people contacts aren’t to my liking. LOL
We visited Yellowstone last year and loved it! did not make it to the Tetons — they are really calling to me after your blog and photos — thanks! and continue to enjoy your wanderings – Martha
If I had to choose, I’d take the Tetons. They are magnificent. I’m happy you enjoy my blog and photos, Martha. Thanks for writing.
I can’t believe that vault toilet.
You should see the other one … Unfortunately I lost the photo somehow.
Awesome place, plus views. And it’s Free! I love how you journey from one gorgeous place to another.
I love going from one gorgeous place to another, too!
Sue, another beautiful campsite. You have a gift for finding the good ones with a little help from your rubber tramp friends. Your canine crew is so lucky to have such an amazing life! That vault toilet is amazing, I have to agree with Jim. 🙂
What the photo doesn’t show is the lovely scent from the air freshener dispenser, rather than the usual stench of the typical vault toilet. I hope Joe and Debbie read the comments!
A friend of ours wrote this book about the Geysers of Yellowstone. It is the definitive work on the subject. If you spend time in the geyser basins, Sue, watch for people wearing silly hats and carrying silly little [FRS] radios. They will be fellow Geysergazers and can tell you what is going on with the Geysers.
OK. Sue, you are going to the premier Geyser venue of the World. I was trying to offer knowledge on the subject. I have forgotten more about the Geysers than almost anyone (except T. Scott Bryan) has ever learned. I”m sorry if I somehow rained on your parade. I won’t comment again. Good day.
Hearing from you is never rain on my parade, Lew. As for the geysers, the crew is barred! No pets allowed! Ain’t that the pits? Spikey lifts his leg in protest!!!
Too funny. We ran into all the restriction is in Yellowstone, too, but they are for the safety of the dogs, so we understood. The first time we were in Yellowstone, there was a blizzard, and in my personal opinion it’s more beautiful in the winter. That year it was Rich and I and just our Lizzie–we took turns seeing what we wanted to see. Same with both Lizzie and Jack in subsequent years. It’s easy to fall through into boiling water, so I was okay with not allowing the dogs. Unfortunately, in other parks, with no dangers, dogs are not allowed because of irresponsible owners who don’t pick up after the pets.
When I was alone with Jack, it was cool enough so I could see a good deal by leaving the pups in the car – like the mud pots, but I just didn’t go far. What you can see, however, is truly amazing–I thought it was the best part of the park.
There was a little church over by the Tetons that had a prominent sign “No Dogs”. I gave permission to Jack to piss on it, as there was no reason to be so out their with their anti-dog signs. We got tired of seeing Dog signs with lines through them–Jack thought it was very insulting. 🙂 That’s why I found there were many more beautiful places outside the national parks–just my opinion.
Glacier was Rich’s favorite park, btw.
How beautiful these places are….and I love reading about the wonderful people you seem to meet.
What is it that puts these wonderful people in my path? Or maybe I should say who?
The angel on your shoulder!
Sue, two weeks ago I discovered your blog. I’ve been reading a few pages a day, savoring each one. I finally got to your last entry and wanted to let you know how enjoying it is. This is my first blog reading and I am hooked! I just turned 60 and will retire in about 19 months (and counting). I am hoping to divest myself of all personal and real property and travel Florida first (since that is where I live). After that who knows. I am inspired!
Deb from Orlando
Deb, make sure you visit Apalachicola Florida and St’ George Island and the state park there! My old stomping grounds and it’s sooo beautiful there!
Can’t wait Fl has its own kind of beauty. Will do in winter months
Stunning pictures……once again.
PS: an idea for the solar panels…bubble wrap that comes in rolls….held on w/bungee cords. The big bubble one…easy to store/doesn’t weigh alot..waterproof and hopefully hail proof.
Glad you liked the pics! I’m not going to bother with the solar panel during hail. Maybe I’ll regret the decision. I just don’t need anything more to haul around and to worry about. Thanks for writing though. Always a pleasure . . .
You have received a lot of good hail protection suggestions for the solar panel; problem is enough warning ahead of time to get the panel covered sufficiently and you still on the dry side. In the mountains, these storms drop and run so to speak and you never know if there is going to be hail or not. So far, the folks I know who have solar panels on top of their vehicle/trailer – and have been in hailstorms – have not talked/mentioned about broken glass panel. Not saying it doesn’t happen, I just haven’t read of anyone mentioning it. Just keep on “vaning” my friend.
I’m going to wipe thoughts of hail out of my mind. If it happens, it happens. I could cover the panel several times and the one time I don’t it would get damaged. So why bother with it!
I’m late to the party to comment on hail once again but I wanted you to see my comment so I’m posting now.
First, I would check with your insurance and see if the solar panels are included under comprehensive coverage.
Second, If they are then QUIT worrying about them or increase your deductible.
Third, If they are not then QUIT worrying about them because when the hail becomes big enough to damage the solar panels they will do big time damage to your PTV and BLT. You can replace the panel for about $250 so if your deductible is more than that you will pay for it anyway.
Fourth, quit running around like someone that is deranged trying to cover the panels in the middle of a hail storm. Your chances are that you will suffer more damage than the panels!
You’re absolutely right, Ed. It took me a while to come to the same conclusion. The possibility of hail damaging my solar panel is less than I originally thought. Like you said, if it does happen to sustain damage, it’s no big deal, just an inconvenience. It’s going to take more than $250 to make me spend any more time worrying! Thanks for writing.