I am in love with you, Grand Tetons National Park


Grand Tetons National Park

Although this has nothing to do with the landscape, part of my judgment of an area depends on the quality of their bookstore. Too many gift shops are filled with sloppy picture books with unimaginative writing and captions. I respect legitimate coffee table books (though they are usually ridiculously expensive) brimming with gorgeous photographs and captivating explanations, but most of these books aren’t even close. Their sole consumer is tourists who think it would be nice to cross off another name on their presents list or those who don’t bother to even move past the cover before buying the thing. Just as aggravating are the high school kids who know nothing about anything being sold and act as if they’re bored out of their mind. The St Louis archway store is a shining example of what not to do (though I still bought Lewis and Clark’s diaries there) while Brown V Board of education is an exemplary model of what to do (microfiche power). The Grand Tetons north visitor center is good second. I have told myself numerous times to stop buying books, especially since it has taken me the whole summer to read just one book, let alone the other five I have bought along the way. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself; I bought John McPhee’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Annals of the Former World”, a combination of several “creative nonfiction” essays on geology. I remembered the author’s name from a discussion with Jaime on good books to read, so I’m kind of excited to crack the binding on this one.

After my purchase, I marched up to the first uniformed ranger I saw, splayed out my map on the desk, and declared that I had to be back in Boise that night, what should I do? I had tried this approach at Yellowstone as well with little success, but this time the kind eyes behind the wild curly hair and full beard just laughed and expertly planned the rest of my day. I took the eastern part of the loop, less traveled by tourists with a better view of the mountains. I dipped my toes into a small watering hole frequented by the locals, and then took off for Mormon row, a scattering of buildings from the 1800s I could never get a full history on, but were beautiful in the dimming sunlight. And finally, to stretch my legs, he pointed me to a four mile (round-trip) trail not listed on the map to see the full 360 of the landscape. The trail was actually gorgeous, alternating between rocky cliffs, meadow, and wooded forest. On the way down I literally skipped through wild flowers with the wind blowing my hair back. Unfortunately you’ll have to trust me on this one because characteristically I forgot my camera. I did it all, breathed the air in deep, and was off again.

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