The WalMart parking lot looked like a campground (without the amenities) when I woke up after a comfortable and secure night. No wonder they allow campers. We re-stock, fill up with gas, buy coffee and donuts before heading out. I purchased a few supplies then filled up with gas and met a delightful clerk who seeing my Florida tags wanted to talk about his dream of moving to Key Largo. After I helped him clean up the coffee I spilled on his counter and register, he suggested I might enjoy the Great Sky Road byway to the Grand Teton National Park plus it would save me about 40 minutes. I took his advice and enjoyed an incredible drive.
I arrived at the Grand Teton National Park at noon. Entrance to the park was free due to my “America the Beautiful” National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. So, that saved me $30. I’m telling you, this pass is the best bargain around. For a $10 fee I have a lifetime membership to all national parks, monuments, etc. Many state parks also honor the pass and will provide 50% off camping. Beginning August 28, 2017 the fee will go up to $80. Still a bargain, but get your pass now and save $70! This is definitely one of the benefits of getting older.
There are no words to describe the beauty of the Grand Tetons. Just imagine “breathtaking”. I was told by several people to arrive before noon to get a campsite. The Coulter Bay Campground had openings and by the time I checked in the campground was almost full. When I left the next morning at 8 a.m. , campers were already lined up to nab a site although the campground doesn’t open till 9:00 A.M. So, plan an early arrival. I’m not sure if you can reserve a campsite in advance since I’m flying by the seat of my pants and I’m not making any reservations anywhere.
There is no wi-fi reception except for occasional “iffy” reception in the laundramat and in the restaurant’s bar. So, I had a couple of martinis while catching up on emails & phone calls. For $4 I took a hot shower at the laundramat — it felt delicious.
There are “Bear Aware” signs everywhere and the ranger assured me there was a bear box on my campsite, not that this Miami Beach girl knows what to do with a bear box. I set up my camp leaving my propane stove on the table with a bottle of water, a can of soup, a spoon and being careful to put all my food or anything that smelled into the bear box, I walked down to the lake to sit and read for a while. When I returned from the lake I found my stove and dinner gone and a citation. Apparently I wasn’t “Bear Aware” enough. The ranger stored my stove, supplies and can of soup in the box. I assumed that bears can’t smell food sealed inside aluminum cans but I guess they can smell EVERYTHING! I didn’t use any lotions or potions after my shower and even hesitated to use deodorant, but nothing is going to scare me that much.
I was VERY careful and aware the rest of the evening. I enjoyed a little wine and appetizers while I planned my route for the next day then had dinner and made an extra trip to the bear-proof garbage bin. I prepared for the night and was safely ensconced in my SUV bed before dark with my pepper/mace spray within easy reach although I don’t think bears can get into a locked SUV. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m obviously not a bear expert.