301 by claycameras

301

For the first time this year, we finally made it to Wyoming.

I knew our timeline was completely unachievable. I accepted that Yellowstone was off limits. I was fully aware that it would be the barest scrap of nothing, the tiniest piece of a visit, especially being so late in the year when the sun vanishes so quickly. But at least it was finally something. Finally a chance to move past the broken promises and blatant lies about how we totally were going to visit, even though everyone knew we weren't. It was a chance I didn't think I'd get this year even though I tried my hardest.

We left far, far too late at about 3:20 to pick up the guys. Then we headed off towards Jackson Hole, Moose Junction, and the Tetons. For just a few minutes we paused in the pass, looking down on the valley and walking in the snow. We had no time to stop for even a moment in town; we were already late. (As expected.) We had no time to stop at any of the overlooks to get a good hard look at the Tetons or the valley around us. (Not quite as expected.) There was absolutely no chance we would ever make it to Jackson Lake for sunset like my boyfriend wanted. (I knew it.)

And then we came across a large herd of bison.

We watched them carefully, from a safe and respectful distance. As more and more of the other spectators left we realized in shock and disgust what was happening up ahead. Two complete morons were outside of their cars, right off the road, directly across from the bison, right on the edge of the road. We all got back in and moved the car forward, still at a safe and respectful distance. The two idiots didn't have two brain cells between them and stayed where they were. Or, well, it was worse than that. As three bison approached, just starting to look upset, the man moved around his car to face them. When one crossed the street and stood between the cars, he approached it. That useless excuse of a human decided to walk BETWEEN the bison and his car. Which, obviously, only gave the bison the perfect opportunity to quite literally kill him.

Luckily for him, and the stupid woman in the other car, the bison decided they were too brain dead to be worth it. The scout went back across the street to the rest of the herd. But the trio still looked a bit upset and annoyed. Since we're not brainless idiots with no respect, we listened to what the bison had to say and left them alone. We got back in the car and drove away, leaving the Darwin award nominees to fend for themselves and giving the bison the space they so clearly wanted.

We stopped at a familiar overlook to gaze across the valley at bright pink sunset-soaked hills, the Tetons standing tall, the Snake River winding through the trees, the last rays of light stretching across the sky... it was a beautiful place to be as the sun sank deep behind the mountains, with such a clear view of the heavens.

But soon enough we all piled back into the car and headed back to Moose Junction. The rangers were busy setting up a handful of telescopes so we wandered around. Eventually we found ourselves at the trail to Murie Ranch and just started walking. Twilight fell around us as we walked, pausing here and there to gaze up at the half moon or to admire the snowy Tetons. We even heard two elk calls, far from where we were, before I decided it was time for us to head back. We were completely unprepared for even the most basic of hikes, let alone a night hike! On the way back we paused a few more times, snapping photos with and without the attempted aid of the binoculars.

When we made it back to the tiny dot of civilization, which is honestly quite a stretch of a description, stars were really starting to appear. We took turns using the largest telescope to look up at the craters of the moon. So much detail was visible; even a pretty flower-like set of craters! After that we bounced between telescopes looking up at various things before making our way over to the inflated planetarium. We waited around a bit before getting to head inside, where it was warm and cozy, to watch a 20 minute video about telescopes. It was absolutely fascinating!

By the time we got out the sky had finally lost most of the remaining residual light. We bounced between telescopes, looking up at the moon, Cassiopeia, the Andromeda Galaxy, and more stars than we can even remember. The Big Dipper hung above the Tetons, so much grander and so much larger than I'd ever seen it before. My eyes kept finding their way to it as we stood around waiting for telescopes to be positioned correctly. But by far the coolest experience, at least to me, was getting to see the Hercules Cluster through the largest telescope.

The ranger manning it was still an apprentice and was so excited when he found it it was infectious! Everyone was thrilled! And getting to see it was amazing. Through the telescope it looked almost like a completely white cloud because gravity pulled so many stars so close together! We got an impromptu astronomy lesson from the mentor ranger. She told us all about the stars of the Big Dipper and showed us binary star systems.

But eventually we were just too cold and it was so close to the end the rangers would probably start wrapping up soon anyways. We all piled back into the car and drove back into Jackson Hole, where we stopped for a nice warm dinner of Wendy's. Then it was back to driving; we had a long, dark journey home. At some point on the pass we tried to change the music but couldn't quite do what we wanted because of how the car's bluetooth works. Instead my boyfriend put on something just for me.

The rest of the ride home was a mix of four or five voices singing and dancing along to the Beatles, talking, laughter, and me watching the Big Dipper for as long as I could. Even though we didn't even make it really into Grand Teton National Park, past the gates where it all sets in, and didn't even get close to Yellowstone, my favorite place in the entire universe, I can't imagine a more perfect day. The sheer joy and happiness as all four of us sang along to Eleanor Rigby will stay with me as long as I live. And even though I only got the smallest taste, a teasing bite, at least I made it there. At least I saw my bison.

At least I got to go back to the place my soul calls home.
wonderful
October 30th, 2017  
Love the simplicity :)
October 30th, 2017  
spectacular. prose and image.
October 30th, 2017  
WOW. Your narrative was very descriptive and I could imagine the whole scene! And your image -- beautiful. Truly.
October 30th, 2017  
Cool picture.
October 30th, 2017  
How wonderful - both the capture and the narrative!
October 31st, 2017  
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