Eggs and leftover brats for breakfast. Mmmm! (And Charlie’s signature toast, of course, kicked up a notch this year when made with my homemade steel-cut oatmeal bread which I simply must post online soon. It’s sooo easy.)
We didn’t see Morgan emerge from the camper until about 9 (or 10? Who knows! We still don’t know the time.), when she finished her book.
We broke camp and headed into the Heart of the Beast (Jackson Hole), stopping at the Gross Ventre (pronounced grow•VANT) Slide area. The slide was where a whole top section of a mountain broke off in 1925 and created a natural dam 200 feet high and 120 feet wide resulting in a big mountain lake, it demolished ranches; it was huge. Then the damn gave way two years later in 1927 and demolished the town of Kelly a few miles away with a 50 foot high wall of water, killing several people. That’s your history lesson for the day. It was one of the largest — if not the largest — movements of earth in the last 100 years.
Shortly after driving away, I’m not sure if we actually said the words out loud at this moment, or if I am only remembering it that way, but I’m pretty sure we both mumbled, “Can you believe we have to go back into Jackson Hole to fix the Suburban tire,” when fate dealt us another blow. Just off the gravel road among plenty of traffic, we blew a camper tire.
I know it’s not that big a deal — I even timed Dave while we changed it — but really? ANOTHER TIRE IN JACKSON? Didn’t I just say how good Dave is getting at changing tires? (It took 18 minutes, by the way.)
Morgan could barely contain her glee! Her favorite shopping town!
The only problem with her plans for retailing was the 1.5 mile walk to town from Big O Tires (who, in Heaven’s name came up with that name? Big O?) She might have even given up if not for my falsetto voice and fake enthusiasm, which I conjure up for her benefit as often as possible. If I can’t be that perfect mom who actually acts that way, can’t I at least mimic her to torture my 15 year old daughter?
On the walk, we bought gloves (for changing more tires), bug spray (duh), Chapstick (only not really that brand), and… Bear Spray!
I’m conflicted by the bear spray purchase for several reasons. I was traumatized by a Bear-Bell-Insistent-Mother who feared a grizzly attack more than just about anything. Oddly, she let us skate on thin river ice, play outside during thunderstorms and photograph many “action shots” while dangling off cliffs. In my estimation, we were much more likely to die in one of those scenarios than to be tossed around in the jaws of a grizzly in Glacier National Park. And even if we did encounter a bear on a hike, did she really think those embarrassing bear bells would save us?
So I was bit sheepish unveiling my $40 bear spray purchase to Dave. Cuz, you know, I aren’t afraid on no bears!
But really? It was hard to ignore the headlines screaming at us from every pitstop on our drive so far: two major bear attacks in two weeks, not all that far away from where we’d be camping, one resulting in death. It got me thinking one night, on the outside wing of the pop-up. And why I’m on the outside wing — the first to die for sure — instead of Dave, I have no idea. Actually, to be fair, I do know why it came to be that way: Dave gets up earlier than me and doesn’t like to crawl over me in the morning. Still. Isn’t a man supposed to protect his woman? (He’d tell you that he IS protecting his woman: he’s closer to the door.) You’ll note that Morgan has stationed Charlie on the outside wing, too. And I’m sure she’d say she’s protecting her little brother. And we’d all know she’d be lying, so why would anyone believe Dave for saying the same thing?
I was laying in bed all snuggly in my sleeping bag wondering, So what WOULD I do if a bear (or an ax murderer, for that matter) started tearing through the canvas (I know, it sounds insane. I’m becoming my mom…), and I realized we have not one thing to defend ourselves. Charlie’s pocket knife? That assumes we could actually find Charlie’s pocket knife…
Plus we hike a lot on quiet trails. We should have bear spray! It’s a responsible thing to have. And, if I can someday save Dave’s life with it (and I will find a way if I can) then it will all be worth it.
The tire(s) repair took quite a bit of time. Then Dave — of all people — insisted on driving into the square of town of Jackson, so that he could buy cigars. Cigars! Charlie was practically crying, since he now considers his dad to be a “smoker.” He hasn’t smoked cigars in years, but picked the indulgence back up on a recent Prairie Dog Hunting Trip.
Yes, you read that right: Prairie Dog Hunting.
That is wrong on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin. I love prairie dogs. I have nothing more to say on that subject.
We ran over to buy t-shirts at the store we bought them at three years ago. I contemplated buying a really loud shirt and changing the type to say ‘Jackson Hell’ but no one thought it was funny except me and $20 seemed like a lot to spend on a joke I’d never actually wear.
The kids had their eyes on The Merry Piglet for lunch, but no, I had something better stowed away in the cooler: BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN! It was messy, but very good.
Then it was on to the interstate for about five more hours. Destination not Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as hoped, but Elkhorn Springs, Montana, into the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest. At about 6:30 pm it was spitting rain with the temperatures fluctuating from 85 down to 65 and back again several times depending on whether it was raining or not. We hit one campground and weren’t impressed. I wish I had a picture of the couple siting on the right on thge edge of the road in their chairs a few feet in front of their behemoth trailer facing us as we drove by. We have no idea what their vista was or what they were smiling at, but they were truly a sight — and the main reason we kept driving.
Another reason we kept going was that we wanted to drive through Polaris, Montana. We planned to take a picture and send it to my brother (who works for Polaris Industries), but sadly, Polaris, population unknown, did not have a sign.
It was getting late, so we only perused two more campgrounds before settling on Grasshopper. It was very pretty with wild Lupines and Indian Paintbrush all around the sites.
The plan was to have the ribeye steaks over an open campfire (new for 2010!), but it started to rain, and the collective psyche evolved in unison to desire spaghetti — our ‘RAIN MEAL’.
But then, it cleared up and the sun came out again and it was back to steaks. Everyone was excited, except of course for Morgan, who tends to pout a bit until you can give her a reason to smile — like Manchego cheese with fig jam! [Problem solved.] Plus, the steaks were a big hit.
We were very thankful for the bug spray purchase in Jackson as the mosquitos fairly engulphed us. I like to think we are the toughest of the tough in the mosquito department, coming from Minnesota, but I was thrown for a loop. These were the worst I’ve ever encountered — including my own garden in June. Which is hard to admit because it gives me less to complain about.
We coated ourselves in 100% Deet …and promptly all had massive seizures.
Kidding. But seriously 100% Deet? Is that even legal? Seems a bit heavy-handed.
The mosquitos stopped biting for sure, but the spray did nothing to alleviate the mental anguish of having 20 mosquitos hovering right in front of your face. I’m really not exaggerating. They won the battle and drove us to an early slumber. (After a cigar stroll around the campground loop to gawk at all the RV’s).