Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hay and Antlers

At the Jackson Lake Lodge. Our room is a “cottage,” simple, but nice. No TV. And I was a bit disgruntled to learn that the only Wi-Fi is back at the lobby. Of course, I understand that you come to a National Park to get away from it all. And how idiotic it sounds to complain that this makes it hard to blog.

Right now I am having the annoying task of trying to be unobtrusive while my 4-year-old thrashes around in an unfamiliar bed about 10 feet away from me. This happens on the first night in any hotel, but this time I am doing it alone. David helped us find the room, and then he headed back to the lobby to test his equipment for tomorrow's presentation. He said, “Maybe you'll be asleep when I get back,” and I said “You better not be that long.”

Our cottage has a back door, and when I opened it, all I could see was the dim outline of a field of waving grasses, and possibly mountains in the distance. And possibly bears, who were about to come charging past the Adirondack chairs to get to our snacks. So I shut the door in a hurry. But I'm sure it will be glorious in the daylight. We arrived around 9:00 p.m. because...

We stopped in Jackson Hole first. It turned out to be on our way from Idaho Falls, and since we'd been in the car for 90 minutes, I suggested we stop and stretch our legs downtown. Jackson Hole seems pretty big as far as “quaint little rustic towns” go, and while a lot of the buildings seem either genuinely or atmospherically frontier-like, it's clear that the place is a mix of chic (artisan restaurants, theaters, galleries, coffeehouses) and crapcake (fudge stores, tchotchkes, a shop devoted to actual Wyoming “stuffed” animals, including a grizzly and an elk.)

And although the forecast posted on the Jackson Lake Lodge door said there's an 80 percent chance of snow tomorrow, I haven't even worn my jacket yet, let alone the full suitcase of ski wear I frantically insisted that we bring. It was downright muggy in Jackson Hole. We took a walk, feeling bizarrely tired (except Jarrah, who slept in the car), bought some candy in one of those places where you carry a basket over your arm (here I was pleased because, after the proprietor asked how we were, I said “A little travel-worn—we just drove here from Idaho Falls,” and she replied, “Oh, I was in your neighborhood yesterday!” I laughed and told her it wasn't our neighborhood, glad she didn't assume we were tourists. Everyone who's spoken to us—waitresses, a guy who offered to take our picture, a barista who sympathetically guided me to a secret bathroom when Jarrah had to go—have been uncommonly friendly) and discovered the famous sourdough restaurant, with the starter from 1870 (!) was closed for the evening. Several of the other places I'd researched seemed too fancy for Jarrah, and one cute place in a log cabin had a very long wait. We ended up eating in a bar, because the attached restaurant was also packed, and the bar served the restaurant's food. Which was delish. We all loved David's elk meatloaf, and my spring greens with balsamic seemed to have been picked right then. It was funny to be eating this stuff in a noisy bar surrounded by small children eating giant hamburgers (another specialty, and yes, they are advertised as “giant”) but it was good all the same. Except my French Onion soup was a tad salty. I am not a salt girl.

The drive to Jackson Lake was dark, I'll say that for it. I'm looking forward to seeing the place in the light. We did have an incredible experience, though—the cars in front of us slowed and we suddenly realized it was because a bunch of elk were crossing the road. So beautiful, though hard to see, and very quick. I kept screaming “Elk! ELK!” like a maniac; I'm surprised David didn't plow into one.

I felt very shy when we entered the upper lobby here and it was filled with young things schmoozing for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which is why David is here. They were drinking and laughing and there wasn't a child in sight. How far I have fallen from my super-cool Temecula Film Festival days.

Oh, and the drive from Idaho Falls to Jackson Hole (the daytime segment) was lovely and interesting. Clearly, it's the hay-making capital of the world, and they do it while the sun shines. Most of the hills seemed very recently shorn, and they shone all stubby and golden all the way to the horizon. There were huge bales of hay everywhere, and silver silos shining in the sun. I was also interested in the giant irrigation machines that stretched across the fields. Some of you might be thinking, “What's with you, child? Has your whole life been on concrete?” to which I would answer yes, probably so. Farming is fascinating to me. As we drove towards Wyoming, the terrain changed dramatically to tall pines and deep ravines with creeks at the bottom of them. It started reminding me of Big Bear, in fact. We'll see if tomorrow reminds me of anything, or if it will all be mind-blowingly new.


Aunt LoLo said...

*sigh* It sounds beautiful. I spent four years of my childhood around "farm country." I used to love to see the big "marshmallows" out in the fields. (The rolled up bales of hay, wrapped in white plastic to keep them dry.)

Anonymous said...

I was a little confused about why the Adirondacks were in Colorado until I read more closely & saw "chairs." :)

Marlene, Dave, & I stayed on Jackson Lake!! Gorgeous, yes?


Anonymous said...

Umm, in WYOMING. Yes, Wyoming would be the state with Jackson Hole & Jackson Lake.