Proof that time is relative: we were just getting started on our second full day in Grand Teton, and it felt like the trip was just beginning, but it was also our last full day in Grand Teton. The entire Meister clan sans myself would be returning home in just 24 hours. And what did Elizabeth and myself have to show for our time? Inspiration Point, Delta Lake, Jackson Hole, and a kayak trip. All lifelong memories, no doubt, but just a small part of the rich history and sightseeing of the park. It was time to turn into a basic tourist and see the sights of the southern part of the park. The two roads of Grand Teton form a southwest-to-northeast oriented oval that meet on the north side at the Jackson Lake junction near Colter Bay, and on the south side near the small town (village? something) of Moose. Moose holds the key to the southern part of the park – 191 goes south towards Jackson Hole and north to a bunch of (free of entry fee!) viewpoints, while Teton Park Road branches off to mountain access. The Moose area is divided east and west on Teton Park Road by the Snake River. On the morning of August 15, we were coming in from the north and west. First up – the Chapel of Transfiguration.
Built in 1925, the Chapel is a small Episcopalian chapel that still is open for services every Sunday. We were a little bit too late to get to attend the service ourselves (if it even happened with covid), but not too late to get to see the little church. This also doubled as a perfect thing for the entire group of 11 of us to do. No tough hiking, no barriers to entry (although Tucker admittedly probably wasn’t welcome inside the chapel) – just a beautiful wooden structure!
The inside of the chapel was small, with a few rows of wooden pews and a pulpit raised a few steps. Instead of stained glass, the window from behind the wooden cross at the pulpit overlooked the central Tetons. Admittedly, this is a better view than stained-glass portrait could ever try to be.
Elizabeth, Garrett, Michael and I oohed and ahhed at the view. I know Pam loved to see the structure both for its beauty and as a house of worship. Michael offered to end Elizabeth and my engagement by marrying us in that building, which was not his worst idea ever! Garret and I shared notes on how best to frame our pictures out the window – maybe my attempt wasn’t the best, but I vibe with it.
After a few minutes in the stuffy chapel, we moved aside so the next group of sightseers could enjoy it. On the other side of the parking lot, a short path led out to something called the Menors Ferry Historic District, which I had somehow never heard of despite my exhaustive research. The district was centered around the old ferry across the Snake River, which I suppose was really the only way to cross back in the days that Grand Teton was part of the ranching frontier. This Menor guy realized that this was an ideal spot because the river narrowed to one channel, and built a “reaction ferry” that somehow uses the current of the river to propel the ferry across in a weird, angular fashion that was intuitive to Engineer Rich but not to me. Whatever. The Historic District also included a few cabins that the early pioneers built for themselves, that you could poke around the outside of. They followed the pattern of homes built prior to like 1950 – they were small. But the early settlers there were lucky, because they had some of the most beautiful views in the world, and a world-class river in their very backyard. That world-class river was flowing swiftly past Menor’s Ferry even with the low lake levels, and you could walk right down to it if you so chose. Tucker took a quick dip in the swift-moving waters against his will while I enjoyed the sight and sound of the gurgling water. A plane even flew directly overhead, en route to landing at the bottom of Jackson Hole to our south. Everywhere you go in Grand Teton, there is something that’s really freaking cool.
It’s also incredible how fast time can pass when you’re jamming as much stuff as possible into a trip. It was already early afternoon somehow – time for lunch! Everyone walked back to the little Chapel lot and headed to the other side of the river, where Moose Village sits. It was time for some lunch at Dornan’s.