A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Across the present day Union Pass and down into the Green River Valley

Just north of Jackson, WY
Mother's Day is coming up. May I be so humble as to suggest a book about a marvelous mother? Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country by yours truly, seems to fit the bill. Available at your local bookstore or through Amazon.com (you may have to as your bookseller to order it for you).

"The author brings a little known character to life and makes us think of a time before modern conveniences, and a time when women made tough choices and survival was an everyday challenge. I commend the author for her story. Hopefully there will be more on the horizon." C&C

Buffalo and Antelope (lighter 'dots' in upper part of photo)
By the16th of September 1811, they had reached more or less present-day Dubois, Wyoming (pronounced, incidentally, Do Boys by the locals), and climbed the currently named Union Pass. Unfortunately, when we were there, it had been raining a great deal for several days, and the pass, being dirt and gravel, was un-drivable. We were strongly advised against taking it, and though I am of an adventuresome spirit, at least some of the time, I also decided that was not the place to be stuck overnight on an unplanned-for camping trip. Discretion oft times being the better part of valor, we headed on to Jackson's Hole. And it is a hole. If you've never been there, it is a little valley surrounded by very steep mountains. But, Jackson liked it, it was also full of beaver and other good animals. And now the very wealthy like it, too. It is still filled with animals, just not the fur-bearing kind;-)

Dinner time
When Marie & Co., crossed the pass, they would have dropped down into what is now known as the Green River Valley. At that time, the river was called the Spanish River, or the Seeds-Kee-Dee Agie, or Prairie Chicken River, by the Shoshone.

They came to a large, broad valley, full of buffalo and antelope, streams and beaver. Marie had this to say.

The Snake River before Jackson's Hole

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons with Storm Front

"16 September 1811.  We climbed a high pass, but can see nothing as we have been in a cloud since we began. It is cold and wet, and the trail is muddy and slippery. Messr. Hunt assures us there is a valley below, and that the Grand Teton Mountains are only about 100 miles away. Once across them, all waters flow to the Mighty Columbia.
            "O! I think we must be almost there. I will be in Fort Astoria when the baby is born. I am not the only one who is happy; the men have declared a feast and a dance this night."

They stayed in the valley until the 25th September, gathering meat, pelts, and supplies. The nights and days were getting colder, it surely rained often, but they were, more or less used to it. They must have been excited, too, knowing they had only to cross the Teton Pass, and then they would be on the Snake River, which they were sure would be like the rivers they were used to, and soon have canoes and be down the Snake to the Columbia and Fort Astoria in a matter of days, at most a few weeks.

We were a bit further north than the Hunt Party would have seen, but the scenery would have been close to the same. The buffalo were plentiful where we were, as were the antelope. If you look closely at the photos of the buffalo, you may see the antelope playing in the background. They are the light colored dots. I stood on the highway to take these pictures with my little telephoto. There must have been 50 or so of us who crossed the road to take pictures, and we must have been a good 100 feet or more away from the nearest buffalo, still, the Rangers drove by and made us all cross to the far side of the road. I don't know why they thought that would make us safer, but they were pretty adamant, wore badges, carried weapons and ticket books, and along came that discretion bit again. They were kind enough; however, to wait until most of us had finished taking pictures before running us off. (Buffalo are extremely territorial, and are wild, and one should not get too close to them. They have been known to charge, gore, and toss tourists who were in what they considered their territory.)

White Flower

Purple Flower

We were in Jackson's Hole on a 'non-special' time (no big shindigs going on) and still had a hard time finding a room. The first place we stopped was not only full, but the desk clerk got on the phone and tracked a nice room down for us. One of the few vacancies in town. We stayed at an older motel, The Virginian, but the room was nice and clean. And the bar was not only well stocked, but the music was low enough no one had to yell to carry on a conversation ;-)

Red Flower (seeds?)
Because the Expedition crossed the Teton Pass (at the southern end of the Tetons), they would not have seen the mountains as shown here (just North of Jackson). Even so, what they saw must have been intimidating and wondrous, and beautiful, though as cold as they were, and as tired as they were, I doubt they saw much of the beauty, instead I'm guessing they saw an obstacle to get over, through, and beyond.
Yellow Flower

The flowers must have been even brighter and more colorful for them than they were for us. As you can tell by the captions, I was a botany major—not!

Close Up of Yellow Flower
A joyous heart makes even the most onerous work go faster. It is, perhaps, a good thing they did not have Google Maps to show them how mistaken they were in their reckoning. Then, again, had they had Google Maps, they may have taken a somewhat better route. What do you think? Were they better off exploring unknown (to them) territory? Happy in their ignorance, so to speak? Personally, I'm glad I had an all-wheel drive car, and (mostly) paved highways and byways. ;-) Oh, and motels with hot and cold running water!

Next week: The Mad River

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