Teton Park Road

Grand Teton National Park is dwarfed by it’s cousin to the north, Yellowstone National Park. However, it is still astonishing in its own right, and more so than Yellowstone, it lends itself very well to being explored by car. While you can’t drive up the mountains themselves, there are some beautiful roads stretching the length of the park that are simply sublime.

I came into the park from the North, heading down the John D Rockefeller Parkway, another stunning road that connects Grand Teton to Yellowstone ten miles north.

The most spectacular road is Teton Park Road, splitting off from Highway 191 and rejoining in the south of the park. The road slithers along the shores of Jackson Hole Lake, feeding the famous Snake River. As you drive further south, the road climbs closer to the mountains, and you feel as if you are floating through them. There are some simply spectacular views that you won’t find elsewhere in the States.


Straddling Severe Road

Earlier this year, my girlfriend and I took a camping trip to Anza-Borrega State Park for a long weekend. On our last day, we headed over to the nearby Salton Sea, and we were trying to find a viewing point recommended to us by the Park Ranger at the Visitor Center. She dropped a pin in Apple Maps at the place the Ranger had circled on the physical map of the area we had, and we duly followed the directions.

So, we headed down the highway that follows the west side of the sea, and turned left to get to this area. However, not far from our destination, the map had us turn off the highway onto a farm-access road. We thought this was a little strange, but despite not seeing any water in front of us, the map showed that we were very close, and so we figured that this couldn’t be too wrong.

But then Siri said something strange. “In two hundred feet, turn right on Severe Road.” I couldn’t see any road in 200 feet, so I slowed down until I came to a complete stop right at the junction. We both looked to our right. There was the sign: Severe Rd. However, this road was simply a raised line of dirt just wide enough for a car, rough terrain, and deep trenches either side.

I turned up to enter the road, Claire a little worried that this wasn’t a good idea, and slowly rolled over the rocky dirt and mud. It seemed the road had been named well. The road was perhaps a quarter of a mile long, and we could see a junction to another, paved road in the distance. Relieved, we continued ahead, assured in that we weren’t going to be stuck.

“Oh no,” Claire said. We looked ahead. A large plastic pipe, about 25 feet, lay across the road in front of us, right before the junction. We had to move this pipe, or reverse back down the whole road again. There was no way to drive over it. We pulled up behind it. It wasn’t attached to anything that we could see, but off the road on the right, it was between two telephone poles that would severely limit its ability to rotate out of the way. I looked to my left. A bush, buzzing with wasps, was inches from my window.

“Claire, do you mind moving the pipe?” I have a slight fear of wasps. I reasoned with her that someone need to drive the car while the other moved the pipe out of the way and back into place. She reluctantly did so, and we were through.

Little did we know, but another journey filled with peril awaited us on the other side of that pipe. But that’s a post for another time.

Journal: Trip #1 – Crossing Borders

Unlike flying, crossing national borders by car is a far more real experience. Even in the European Union, where much of the border security has been removed between countries, there is something much firmer about driving across the line between France and Spain than flying from one to the other.

What is it, then, that makes this section of land France, and the one here Spain? Mutual agreement? Some borders seem to be becoming more and more futile just as geopolitical turmoil increases evermore, while others become seemingly impossible and dangerous to cross. But the road will always call, the borders will always succumb to the willingness to explore the geography restricted by politics and human error.

The Possibility of Perusing The Unexplored

The beauty of traveling by car is the possibility of seeing a new place every evening. Hundreds of miles away from yesterday, you can sit down at a new restaurant and meet new people, explore new avenues. 

The local colosseum is under restoration. Tonight Scorpion, a Dutch band, is performing there.
A questionable stereotype to keep outside a local shop.

Journal: Trip #1 – Being a Passenger

Passionate as I am about driving and roads, usually I’m the designated driver of the roadtrip. Especially when we take my car, which is manual in an increasingly automatic world. However, there are some perks to being a passenger like I am on this trip, especially when jet-lagged. Sleep is a much safer possibility when you’re not behind the wheel. 

Please follow the road

– an amusing direction from the Porsche Navigation System

Journal: Trip #1 – French Rest Areas

The rest areas on the side of the French highways are so well-maintained and plentiful, that I used to think as a child that France identified itself as a country to be driven through. Spaces for cars with trailers and caravans are everywhere, with picnic tables and grassy areas for packed lunches and some fresh air.