Saturday, July 23, 2016

Phelps Lake Attempt & Rodeo

Our plan was that Dad and I would ride our bikes to the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preseve - Dad had mapped it as being 21 miles - then Mom would meet us for lunch and a 3 mile walk in the preserve.
The morning was still cool and nice as we headed out of the campground! We zipped right down the Gros Ventre Road to the bike path! The bike path was a nice ride, great views, mostly flat, paved! Once we got to Moose we turned onto the Moose-Wilson Rd, which was narrow and windy, but the speed limit was low and it was shady! Almost immediately we came to a big hill! It was really steep too! I had to go down to 1st gear! But the rest of the ride was downhill. We stopped at Death Canyon Rd and Dad said it was another 6 or 7 miles and we had some more elevation to gain back. As we headed out it was a nice, coast-able, downhill. And then, there was the preserve! Turns out it was only 16 miles.
Laurence Rockefeller, son of John Rockefeller, gave the park his ranch in 2001 so that it could become part of the park. They tore down buildings to return to land to a more natural state. There is a visitor center there, but it was built to be fully green and a very elaborate composting toilet system. The whole place is dedicated to Laurence Rockefeller and you can tell the visitor center and toilet system was very costly to build. Supposedly it's part of the park but it seems very different from the rest of the park and doesn't really fit. It's a nice place, but I don't think it's going to be my favorite place in the park. If it had been me giving my ranch to the park service I would have demanded that they just install some trail heads and let it all be wild, without the glitzy visitor center and constant reminder of who gave it to the park.
Parking is very limited at the preserve. There were about 10 cars waiting for a spot to open up when Mom got there. We waited a little while, but there are no picnic tables to eat on and it was going to take a long time to get a spot. We did learn that this weekend is "Pioneer Days" in Utah and then entire state of Utah gets a 3-day weekend, so there are more people up here than usual. So, we gave up our spot in line and went to an overlook to eat.
From the overlook we could see a creek and it's probably a great place to spot a moose at the right time of day, but not at noon. There were lots of birds and Dad got out his spotting scope and spent nearly an hour looking at stuff.
The next stop was a return visit to the Visitor Center - Dad wanted to look around and Mom hadn't been with us. Then we went over to Dornan's in Moose and walked out a short trail to the river where Mom had heard that there might be hummingbirds. There weren't. Next it was back to the campground so we could run our generators early since we were planning to go to the Rodeo in Jackson tonight.
We had a great dinner at the Merry Piglets in Jackson, checked out 2 nature photography galleries and headed over to the rodeo arena.
The rodeo was really fun! I'd never been to one before and this was the real deal! They did a lot of "bucking" events where a cowboy rides bull or bucking horse and tries to stay on. They also had some roping events where a team of two tries to rope a calf around the horns and around one leg. Seemed like more of the Cowboys weren't able to accomplish the task than were so it was an excersise in accepting failure and figuring out how do better next time.

In the middle they he the "Sheep Scramble". This is where they invite all the kids 12 under into the arena, they then release 3 sheep, two with bandanas, one without. Whichever kids get the bandanas win. There's no way that could end badly. None at all. LOL. There were a lot of kids down there - more than 100 for sure, maybe more, some were so little they could barely walk! No one got hurt and they all seemed to have fun!
They also had kids competing in the bucking events! Tiny little kids, under six, getting on sheep and getting thrown off! The kids also did the bull riding, but those Bulls were pretty little and very tame! The kids had to wear helmets, but the adult didn't!
It was definitely a fun way to spend the evening!

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