Monday, August 9, 2010

Transition to Grand Teton National Park

We left Ritchie's on Wednesday, July 28, for Pullman, traveling over Snoqualmie Pass and down the long grade to Vantage, crossing the Columbia River there.  As we drove further east, we marveled as always at the beauty of the Palouse - rolling hills mostly planted in wheat.  Some of the wheat had been harvested.  In other fields, the wind drove the standing wheat in waves.  Along the way, we learned with some sadness that Andy and Kate would not be joining us at Grand Teton.

In Pullman, we had dinner with Joan's Bible School teacher from Lincoln, Nebraska, who with her husband and four daughters coincidentally moved to Pullman a semester before Joan enrolled at Washington State.  Helen and Fred became Joan's "second parents" and Joan and the rest of the Renner clan became and have remained close friends of the Koehlers.  Fred, who died two years ago, was an agronomist who was responsible for the soil science that led to a trebling of wheat yields in the Palouse.  We had dinner at the Broiler in Moscow, Idaho, with Helen and her eldest daughter, Carolyn, a classical language professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Since we didn't have to be at Grand Teton on Friday to meet Andy and Kate, we relaxed our schedule and saw Helen and Carolyn in the morning, made the usual stop at the WSU dairy store for ice cream, and drove to Missoula, Montana.

The next morning, Friday, we drove from Missoula to Driggs, ID.  We chose the more scenic route, going south on US 93, in the Bitterroot Valley.
The Bitterroot River

A part of the way, we were close to the track Lewis and Clark took in 1805 to cross the Bitterroots.  The mountains a beautiful when viewed from a wide paved roads, but one wonders whether Lewis and Clark found them beautiful as they cut their way through the forests.  There is still a question of their exact path through Lost Trail Path.  Once we got through the Bitterroots and turned toward the east at Salmon, the terrain was much less interesting.  Driggs provided us with an overpriced, underachieving place to sleep, but offered little else, other than being less than an hour from Jackson, WY.

View of the Tetons from the West
On Saturday morning, we drove south along the west side of the Teton Range.  Toward the south end of the range, we turned east to Chief Joseph Pass, where we looked down on Jackson Hole, our home for the next eight days.