A Break in the Tetons

Cabin at Colter Bay #459
This past week, my daughter and I took advantage of a large gap in my schedule and took a trip to Grand Teton National Park!  It was a welcome respite from the stresses I've been feeling lately.  This cozy cabin at Colter Bay was our home for 5 nights!  It was cozy and spacious, tucked in the woods and when it rained at night, the sound of raindrops on the roof were a wonderful lullaby.  

Painted Hills in Wyoming
We started off across Wyoming, through Cheyenne to Rawlins to Lander and up into the mountains past these lovely painted hills.  Then it was up through Dubois, where my parents once stayed, back in 1964!  

First view of the Tetons
Over the Wind River Mountains, which are beautiful in their own right, you suddenly come around a corner and find this view before you, which makes all the other beautiful sights you've seen that day pale by comparison.  This photo does not show the sudden awe of the towering mountains that seem to loom over the landscape.  It was truly breathtaking to see.  

Comparing views 1961 vs 2013
One of the things that I wanted to do on this trip was revisit many of the places that my parents had visited on their trips here.  They learned to climb in the Tetons and returned several times.  I recently scanned slides from their 1961 and 1964 trips and compiled them into a Blurb book, which we brought with us  Here we are standing on Signal Mountain, very close to the same spot my parents stood when taking these photos.  The trees have grown and changed with the years and obscured the view a bit, but it is still gorgeous!  

Alpen Glow on Mt. Moran
On our first morning here, I woke well before the sun and made my way down to the shore of Colter Bay on Jackson Lake to watch the alpen glow on the mountains.  The big peak in the photo is Mount Moran.  It was a splendid morning with nearly still water ~ but quite chilly!  I was very glad to have my heavy winter coat and gloves on!  For the longest time, I was the only one out.  So beautiful and peaceful!  

Tetons on a Cloudy Day
As we meandered through the park, the sky clouded over making for some very moody photos!  

Hiking near Jenny Lake
We had a short walk at Jenny Lake to talk to the Exum Mountain Guides.  We think that they were the climbing school that my folks took their classes from!  The normal quick walk over a bridge was closed due to bridge rebuilding, so we got to take the back way in, which took us over lovely mountain meadows.  

String Lake
We also stopped at String Lake to eat our dinner at the picnic area.  By now, the sky had cleared and the day warmed up considerably.  There were lots of canoes and kayaks out on the lake.  I'm putting an afternoon of canoeing on the to-do list for my next visit! 

Watercolor view from String Lake 
This is the watercolor sketch I did from String Lake of the peaks above.  I believe that the large peak is Symmetry Spire, with a bit of Teewinot in the background.

Shuttle Boat on Jenny Lake
Our second day in the park, we woke to clear blue skies!  A perfect day for a hike!  To get to the trailhead, we took the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.

Hidden Falls
From the trailhead, we hiked up to Hidden Falls, another spot that my parents had been to.  Beautiful!

Watercolor view from near Inspiration Point ~ Jenny Lake
After the falls, we continued up towards Inspiration Point.  We didn't quite make it, but spent a lovely lunch hour just below it with a beautiful view of Jenny Lake down below.  In the distance you could see the Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow-vaunt) slide, where a portion of the mountain slid down decades ago.  I did a little watercolor sketch of the view.

Tetons on a Clear Sunny Day
What an amazing view!  And those deep blue skies!  What a blessing to be able to visit this majestic place!

Moose at Blacktail Ponds
On our return to the cabin, we stopped off at the Blacktail Ponds Overlook where we were able to watch this moose for quite a while!  We saw two more moose crossing a creek on the way back to the cabin!

Watercolor view from our Cabin at Colter Bay
On our return to the cabin, I sat on the front step and painted this little sketch of the view.  It was such a lovely spot to come home to at the end of each day!  


Dome of Greek Orthodox Church 2013
Each June, the Assumption of the Theotokos Orthodox Cathedral in Denver hosts a Greek Festival.  My family has attended it frequently over the past 40 years.  I love the way the gold dome picks up the evening light and glows with such warmth.

Greek Orthodox Church 2013
Ropes of lights and Greek flags lend a festive air to the festival food court.

Greek Orthodox Church 2013
Even the sunset cooperates and fills the sky with golden light!

Greek Festival 2013
The dancers give lively performances of traditional Greek dances with much foot stomping and shouts of Opa!

Greek Festival 2013
But what I love the most is the yummy food ~ Kalamari that is tender and the best I've ever had; Dolmathes ~ filled with a tasty mix of lamb and rice wrapped in marinated grape leaves covered with a delectable sauce; and to finish it all off, Loukomathes ~ wonderful donut like bites soaked in honey.  And of course, a bottle of Greek wine to go with!   One of these days I'll remember to actually take a photo of the food before we eat it all!


The Mountains Called...

Rocky Mtn Peaks
My heart has been heavy lately.  Between the difficulties of adjusting to the new job, the long commute, difficulty sleeping during the day (since I work nights), missing my Mom - whose birthday would have been this past Tuesday, the ever increasing to-do list for my little home, the yard - which seems ten times the size it was when I bought the house, and trying to keep up with it all, much less make progress with, not to mention the fact that  my creative muse seems to have up and left me high and dry...  I needed a day of rest and relaxation, a short escape.  With Rocky Mountain National Park just over an hour away, a spontaneous day in the mountains seemed just the thing.  It was gorgeous with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a comfortable day.

Bighorn and Elk
No sooner did we drive into the park, when we came across this herd of Bighorn Sheep rams at the salt lick in Horseshoe Park.  Behind them several bull Elk in growing velvet horns.  What a treat!  My daughter took it as a sign that we were "meant to come".

Spring Aspen
Just 3 short weeks ago, the aspen were still barren, but now their bright spring green leaves glow against the ponderosa pines.

Fern Lake Fire renewal
We headed for our favorite hidden corner of the park, past the recently burned area, where the grass is growing in lush and green and the sound of frogs fills the air!

Spring woods
Our picnic spot was also touched by fire, though by the wildflowers and green grass, you can hardly tell.  We had a peaceful hour here, eating our picnic lunch, sketching wildflowers and trees until a brief sprinkle of rain caused us to head on to other parts of the park.

Bighorn Ram
We headed up to the tundra to see the deep cuts through the snow.  We enjoyed those, but watching this Bighorn ram right next to the road was the real highlight!

And down in the rocks, I spied this little critter, a Pica, the smallest member of the rabbit family that lives up in these high peaks.  I was thrilled to see it as they are becoming rarer with our warming climate.

Spring woods
After enjoying the tundra, we headed back down and spent a couple of lovely hours enjoying the late afternoon in the woods where we sat and sketched some more, watched the birds and just enjoyed the sights and sounds of the woods.

We saw lots of Magpies ~ so gorgeous with their pristine black and white!

Bull Elk resting
As we headed towards home, we spied these two bull Elk resting in the evening light.

Longs Peak from Horseshoe Park
Longs Peak is just barely visible over the ridge on the south side of Horseshoe Park.  I love the colorful willows.  A lovely sight to send us home with lighter hearts than what we arrived with.