In our Yellowstone adventure, every day was full of marvels and wonders we don’t get to see or experience in our everyday lives. We saw, in order: lots of elk (bulls mostly), marmots, a coyote, bison galore, a black wolf, and a black bear! (Fratguy thinks it was a grizzly bear, but I say it was black and I’m sticking to my story.) Several brown, cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout were caught (and released.) Plus of course we saw loads of geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and the like volcanic wonders, like Castle Geyser here on the right.
Once again, I was struck by the numbers of French, German, Japanese, and Chinese tourists. I also heard some Russian and Italian spoken by other parties. All of western Wyoming really was full of French people–we chatted with a few families on a French tour who stopped in the same hotel we did last night in Jackson Hole. They had done the whole range of Western Canadian and American attractions in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. One guy, a dairy farmer in his 60s from Limoges, told of how he had read adventure stories about the Canadian Rockies as a boy, and remarked that the trip for him was “a dream.” Another man we talked to is a retired G.P. who lectures about pain management for children with autism and insisted on sending Fratguy his slides. (French people really are overly impressed if a U.S. Citizen manages to speak any French at all–it’s an embarrassing comment on the country, in my view.)
Jackson Hole is a weird place: it’s really a movie-set fake western town, with the false storefronts, wooden sidewalks, and fake shootouts. (I was reminded of that line from Tropic Thunder: “Everyone knows you don’t go full cowboy, man!”) There are “outfitters” there that don’t sell anything having to do with hunting, fishing, or camping–just expensive getups! And it’s full of art galleries that sell high end (but still really boring and bad) “western art.” If you want to experience a real cowboy town–or in these modern times, towns that service the man camps working the Wyoming gas and oil fields–check out Dubois, Wyoming, or Leadville, Colorado. Those are working towns for working people, not just for the dudes and the swells.
Jackson Hole has, however, a pretty fine little restaurant we stumbled upon last night, and which was able to accommodate us cheerfully without a reservation. Cafe Genevieve is kinda French, sorta New Orleans, but with a western vibe. Don’t miss the candied bacon, friends! Quite a treat after five days and nights of steam-tray National Parks food.