The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

We left Yellowstone and travelled West into the Grand Tetons National Park; these are some of the most photographed mountains in the world since they rise 7,000 ft, without foothills, from the Snake River into an impressive, snow-capped set of peaks. Originally named by the French trappers, who had obviously not seen a real woman for some time, the translation “big titties” was the source of some embarrassment in the naming of one of the pioneers churches. Our Lady of the Grand Tetons has now been re-named The Chapel of the Transfiguration to save the visitors’ blushes.

This small, simple wooden church is rendered one of the most beautiful in the world by the large window set above the altar. A breathtaking mountain view is offset with nothing but a simple wooden cross to create quite the loveliest reredos I have ever seen. And during my European travels I’ve seen quite a few. Despite the spiritual atmosphere of the church, I decided that I would call this region “Shane Country”, after one of the first of many popular Western films shot here. A tradition that continues to this day.

Our float raft trip was a great success, there is minimal white water along this stretch of the Snake but, against the sublime backdrop of the mountains, we saw buffalo, beaver and bald eagle. I didn’t get the best photographs as the boat had a tendency to swing around in lazy circles, at least I didn’t feel sick but I was a little concerned to get to the jetty and find Sandy sitting there. She had been due to go off in a different boat and shades of our visit to the Grand Canyon all those years ago when she had been left behind came back to me. But no, she had enjoyed her ride too, it was just that her party had actually set off first.

There are several private dwellings and businesses in the park because, unlike Yellowstone, this was not protected land until the 1930s. Although no further development is permitted those who owned properties there before have been allowed to keep them, at an exponential profit. As we travelled along the celebrated (if inelegantly named) Jackson Hole to the town of Jackson, multi-million dollar properties were pointed out to us with an accompanying litany of the celebrities who own them.

I didn’t just dislike Jackson: I hated it. Main Street was decorated with arches made of interwoven elk antlers, chalet style emporia selling absurdly expensive Western style “Art” and immaculately turned out trophy wives tottering along the boardwalks in high heeled cowboy boots. Twenty dollar ice cream, anyone? No, I don’t care which over-the-hill heartthrob might be my near neighbour, I really couldn’t live there despite all that splendid scenery.

Categories: North America

Leave a Reply