Monday, July 28, 2008

Back to Jackson, Wyoming

Today’s an easier day – we only have about 150 miles to go from Arco, Idaho to Jackson, Wyoming , plus a few more miles as we make a detour into the Teton National Park, as we didn’t do it justice on our way out some nine days ago.

From Arco to Idaho Falls, there’s a part of me that feels as if I’m back in western Kansas, with large expanses of flat lands, and wheat growing in the fields on both sides of the road. However, these thoughts are interrupted by lots of lava rocks here and there, bigger hills than belong in western Kansas, and crops of potatoes in between the fields of wheat. And, there are numerous barns of a type that I’ve never seen before, half buried in the hills and covered with sod on their sloping roofs. At this point I can only surmise, and research later, that this style must have something to do with the long, cold, and snowy winters.

After having a great lunch in Idaho Falls, washing all the dust off the rental car, and replacing the radio antennae that some jack*!s stole from our rental car, we head to Wyoming via the Teton Scenic Byway. The views immediately begin to change as we climb in elevation along the Snake River and spy several old homesteads on our way to Victor, where I must make a short side trip to Driggs. Why? Because there is a large potato on the back of truck that I just gotta see at the Spud Drive-In. It’s a great stop and a good addition to our “Quirky Idaho” stops.

At this point, though I’m enjoying the views, the traffic is getting heavier and heavier and I’m beginning to feel my neck grow more tense by the minute. Both Victor and Driggs have some history and a few historic buildings, but they can barely be seen between the real estate developers and agent offices. Yes, I know and understand that business is business and there are lots of people that want to visit these beautiful places, but it’s out of my comfort zone – I hate crowds! Not so much that it makes me avoid beautiful places, but enough to make my interest wane.

In any case, we travel on and make a short tour through the southern portion of the Teton National Park. Gorgeous views, though we have once again caught the sharp peaks at the wrong time of day for the best photo opportunities. Snap, snap, snap anyway. We try to avoid the major crowds, the people who stand in the middle of trails with a group taking pictures for ten minutes, the 50 cars that stop to look at a baby moose that left 10 minutes ago, and the inconsiderate folks who stand right in the middle of the path having personal conversations and blocking foot traffic. In any event, we do enjoy our short tour of the Teton National Park and will have loads of new photos to show soon.

We're now on our way to Jackson, though I’m already dreading it. When we came in 9 days ago on a Saturday, the place was an absolute zoo – bumper to bumper traffic, people standing in lines outside every restaurant and saloon, no stop-lights where there should be ones, no place to park, etc, etc. But, it’s a Monday – surely it will be better. Nope, it’s the same thing. I visited here about ten years ago and it was wonderful. It was June, rather than July, so perhaps not as crowded. But, I have no memories of these kinds of crowds, nor of buildings being spaced 10 feet apart in every single nook and cranny that exists in this valley. We thought about having a dinner out tonight – nope, it's pizza delivery, as neither of us have the energy to face those mobs again. This, of course, is only my opinion, but I would suggest avoiding this town, unless you love congestion, traffic, crowds and extremely expensive everything. However, if you’re determined to see the Tetons, you have little choice but “losing your wallet” in Jackson or any of the surrounding small towns.

Unfortunately, I may have to avoid these types of places in the future, though I know I will miss some beautiful views. As a rule, I don’t write about cities, due to their congestion, crowds, too often “poor customer service,” and because they have the resources to promote their cities to such a degree that they need no help from me. The Teton Valley, and unfortunately, the area National Parks, have become to me, no different than driving through a congested large city. Next time, we'll pass.

Last night we stayed in a little Mom & Pop Motel in Arco, Idaho (D&K Motel) that was very clean, had friendly folks working there, parked in front of the room for easy access, included a refrigerator and microwave and was a two bedroom suite with a kitchenette. It was $56.00. Yes, it was a little dated, but it had great internet, a comfortable bed and great hot water pressure in the shower.

Tonight, we check into a Super 8 Motel in Jackson, which we stay in a lot, with few problems. This place isn’t terrible, it's decor is nice, it is outside the mobs of people on the square in town, and it’s one of the cheapest places at $214.00/night. It looks ok and the rooms are clean and acceptable, but we have a third floor room. Where is the elevator? I ask. There’s not one. Problematic when you’re traveling with luggage for ten days. Who builds a 3-story hotel without an elevator?

I'm really going to rethink my whole idea of staying in "name brand" places and start giving the mom and pop lodging places more of a chance. My priorities are friendlieness, internet, cleanliness, and price and though I know these small motels can vary as much as their owners, I think it's worth a shot.

Tomorrow, we get back on a plane to Kansas City, with hopefully, not the typical United Airlines problems that we so frequently encounter. It’s been a terrific trip, but we are tired and it’s been too long.

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