Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Slow Road to Jackson



This morning as I looked at the day ahead, I noticed that the road I took to the ghost town was the same one that I could take to go to Jackson. I had seen this sign last night, but I wasn’t sure it was referring to the same Jackson as I was going to. 

So, I didn’t want to redo the same route, and I certainly didn’t want to drive on I-15 the whole way, which was another option. I wanted something scenic and maybe a bit adventurous, so I took off, not knowing which way I was going to go. I saw a highway on the map that I was going to keep a lookout for, and I knew that if I got too lost, I could always ask my Mini Nav to get me back on track.

The reason I wasn’t using Mini Nav from the beginning is because she has a tendency to give me the most direct route, and I wanted to take some detours and hopefully drive through some forests or Yellowstone.

So, I took off driving, and got about fifteen minutes down I-15 before I saw a road that looked intriguing. This one was more of a rocky, dirty version of the field I drove through last night. After driving on it for a while, I had a sneaking feeling I should check which direction it was taking me. I stopped at a beautiful lake and took a bit of video.

Immediately afterwards, I checked the map and decided to turn around and take a different approach. 

Oddly enough, I ended up spending most of the day in Idaho, which is fine with me, but I had thought I would be seeing more of Montana.

After driving for a while on a major highway, I felt like it was again time to check the map and re-triangulate myself.  My road atlas and my Mini Nav were both telling me there was no direct route from here to Yellowstone; that I’d have to drive almost all the way to Jackson and double back. But I investigated both Google Maps and the Apple Maps on my iPhone and the Apple Map showed that the place I pulled off, just happened to be the spot where I could catch a small road that looked like it took a meandering short cut to Yellowstone. I was delighted, thinking, “Now the adventure begins!” as I turned left, and hit the road.

About 400 yards in, the road was no longer paved. It was a gravelly dirt road. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to drive on it, or if it would go through, but I saw cars coming the other direction, so I rolled up the windows and ventured forth.  I also took some video of this road as I couldn't quite believe it was happening and I wanted to have some proof for later.

I couldn’t go faster than 30 MPH and I was kicking up a cloud of dust and rocks behind me. Then, the trucks started coming. I noticed a cloud of dust approaching me from the road ahead. As it got closer, I saw it was a semi truck with a trailer heading my way. It was a two lane road, but without “lines” and I was hoping the truck driver could see me from within his dust plume. He barreled by me, and much to my surprise, didn’t kick any rocks up onto Thumper. Then, as soon as the dust cleared, I noticed another truck was right behind that one. Again, we negotiated the rocky road, and again none of the rocks found my car. Within the next half hour, I counted ten trucks coming the opposite way, and I’m happy to report, not a single rock touched my paint job or windshield.

To make a long story short, I was on that gravel road for about two hours. We passed through the beautiful Targhee National Forest and I saw some rural camping the likes of which I had never seen before.  I would love to go back and really explore this area. 

We did stop along the way to have some food. I found a little ‘driveway’ kind of thing, that I think was basically the ‘back door’ to a huge ranch. River was fascinated by the cows, grazing, as I grazed. I made a lunch out of grated carrots and beets, hummus, pumpkin seeds and potato chips, and finished with a Capitol Hill bar. I ate it out of my pie plate on the bonnet of my car.

Oops, I got the car dirty.
After a couple more hours of driving carefully through the forest, I felt I had had my day’s adventure and was now ready for a more direct route to my destination. Fortunately, I happened upon Idaho 32; a scenic route highway that would take me directly to Jackson. 

I was blown away by this drive. The road winded over grassy hills that stretched out to the horizon. I felt like I should be singing The Sound of Music. And in the background was a magnificent view of the Grand Tetons and a mountain formation called the Sleeping Indian. 

About 45 minutes from Jackson, we stopped at a shopping center parking lot in a small town we were passing through because they had a big patch of grass in front. We got out and rolled around and stretched and drank some water and ran a little and played some fetch and tug-of-war. Then we sat under a shady tree and I fed River some kibble.

I put together the three short videos I took today:





The town of Jackson seems bustling. Although most of what goes on in bustling towns like this, River and I have no interest in. We’d just as soon be at a neighborhood park than go to restaurants, museums, rodeos, shopping, rafting, skiiing or bike riding. We make our own fun whatever town we’re in.





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