TR Part 4.
(Link to Part 1
, Part 2
, and Part 3
Click on any picture to see a high resolution version. If you click through, click on the location name (under the picture) to see a map with the exactly where it was taken. Day 5:
Today was our last day. We had gotten back from Jackson Lake at 3:45, so we grabbed a quick nap, then woke up at 4:45 for a final sunrise shoot. I had found a little known spot far off the beaten path overlooking Hendricks Pond and the entire Teton range, so we headed over. We had to take a series of dirt roads (tracks, really) to get there. We didn't have a chance to scout it out the day before, so we got lost a bit in the dark in the maze of tracks. When we finally found the spot the best light had gone, but it was still quite beautiful.
We then went back to the apartment, davened, ate, and slept for an hour or so. We had two hours before we had to head back to SLC, so we decided to drive around looking for some more wildlife. Right away, we came across an odd sight: some 50 or so seniors lined up at the side of the road with spotting scopes, silent as the night and not moving a muscle. Turns out they had spotted a spotted owl (heh
), which is evidently somewhat rare in the park. We were obviously being to loud or something, as we were getting some serious stink eye every time we as much moved. After concluding that there's nothing to see, we continued on.
Not five minutes later we came across a real wildlife jam - a moose was taking a bath in a nearby creek. This was a seriously big bull, and he was not happy at all with all those people staring at him. He got a bit antsy and started false-charging people, but then the rangers showed up and herded everyone off to a safe distance.
This great blue heron was enjoying the show:
After a while something caught his attention – his date had shown up:
They then had a nice, romantic lunch together:
Then they disappeared into the bushes, presumably headed back to his apartment.
All too soon it was time to head back to the airport. Back over Teton Pass (this time in beautiful weather), through Idaho and into Utah. We had an 11:30pm flight, so we got to the SLC area with some time to spare. We started looking around for a spot for a final sunset shoot, but couldn't find anything overly interesting. Playing around with Google maps, we discovered that the Hill Air Force base in Odgen, UT maintains a small AF museum. We figured we could at least get some interesting shots of the planes and missiles on display.
We got there only to find it closed for the day. The planes and everything were still clearly visible on the other side of the fence, so we drove up to the guard at the main gate to the base (which was right next to the museum entrance) to find out if we’re allowed to shoot over the fence. I parked the car a short distance from the guard booths, and walked over. The guard got visibly nervous the closer I got, and had his gun out of the holster by the time I came up to him. As soon as it was clear that I’m not planning on blowing myself up, he relaxed and told me that we could take as many pictures as we wanted so long as we don’t point our cameras in the direction of the base or security installations.
Great, right? So we get out of the car and get a couple of shots. Not two minutes go by when we are surrounded by 3 military police jeeps, lights flashing and sirens blaring. The biggest MP marches over and tells us not to move, and that the base commander in on his way over.
We had to wait just a minute or two for him to show up, but it felt like an eternity. We had already said goodbye to catching our flight home, not to mention getting home before shabbos (this was late Thursday). And this was already the best case scenario… Finally the base commander shows up, and to our surprise (and relief!) turns out to be this young, easygoing guy. He wanted to know who we were and where we’re from, what were we doing in the area, etc., etc., all standard questions. We had to show him some of the pictures we took on our trip, but at that point he was pretty convinced that we didn't represent Al-Qaeda. We explained that we had specifically asked for, and had been given, permission from the guard at the gate.
This got him mad. "Either he gives you permission and lets you be, or he doesn't and calls security! What's he think he's doing, giving you permission and then calling for backup...". He promised he'll "take care" of the guard later. (What we assume happened was that the guard probably figured we'll pull out some phones, or at most a little point and shoot, but when we took out serious equipment and long lenses he panicked.) In any case, he explained that whenever there's a "security incident" he has to write a full report, so we now have our names on some government list as potential terrorists or who knows what
In the end, we only shot for like two minutes before the cavalry showed up, so all I got were a couple of shots of a B-52 Stratofortress:
After that we heeded straight to the airport and were exceedingly happy to make it through security after all this
Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic trip. For most people, I would recommend that you do it the opposite of us - spend most of your time in Yellowstone, and a day or two in the Tetons. Yellowstone is far more interesting, while the Tetons are prettier. In fact, my only regret about this entire trip is that we didn't get to spend more time in Yellowstone.
Here you'd find some of the most dramatic scenery in in the US, the largest collection of thermal features in the entire world, and the most wildlife south of Alaska. It truly is a fascinating place to visit.