4th of July Celebrations

4th of July with Grand Teton Lodge Company was a weekend of celebration of our Nation’s birthday! The weekend events started on July 3rd with the fabulous Jackson Hole Community Band playing a selection of patriot ballads. They were followed by Granite Youth Symphony who entertained with delightful melodies.  It was a proud day to be an American with the lovely musical selections played in Jackson Lake Lodge and the astonishing Teton Mountain Range in the background. Grand Teton Lodge Company was honored to host both the Jackson Hole Community Band and Granite Youth Symphony and thank them for their for the memorable performances!

Granite Youth Symphony

Jackson Hole Community Band

July 4th festivities followed with a fantastic parade given by our employees as well as, face painting and a coloring contest! The wranglers went all out and looked terrific with their all American horses. The bellman entered bicycles and golf carts to join the parade and Colter Bay brought a boat float. Children at the parade smiled wide when the multi-colored horsed paraded by, and then screamed with joy as candy from the other various floats was tossed their way. We hope you all can join the fun next year as we continue the tradition!

Patriotic Horse in Parade

Colter Bay's Boat Float

Children Gathering Candy

One of the Bellman Floats!

Jackson Lake Lodge Opening Day!

Greeting the First Guest of the Season

Opening day is finally here for Jackson Lake Lodge, and the timing could not be more perfect. It is a beautiful spring day in Grand Teton National Park. The sun is shining, the wildlife are roaming, the ice and snow have melted from Jackson Lake, and the guests have arrived. Excitement floats in the air as the day unfolds. Our first guest arrived promptly at 10am and she was met with an outstanding welcome. It was the first time the  front doors have been unlocked since we closed last October and we are ready to provide quality service, excellent accommodations, and the experience of a lifetime for season 2010.

Jackson Lake Lodge has been busy all winter long in preparation for today. There have been several new developments for season 2010. First, the Blue Heron Lounge has been newly remodeled with new oak furnishings. As you can see below
Newly Refurnished Blue Heron

the remodel was a success, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. In addition to a new look, the Blue Heron has an awesome new menu to match. How does Oazaca Cheese & Smoked Mushroom Fondue with roasted chiles and parmesan bread sound? That is only one of the ten new Blue Heron Little Plate Specials. Each fantastic dish will be cooked and served right in the lounge. It sounds like the perfect place for a fun-filled night with friends!

Jackson Lake Lodge Business Center

The second fresh look we are proud to announce is the Jackson Lake Lodge Business Center. An entire room dedicated to our guests. It is the perfect place to check your emails, pay the bills, read about Tales from the Tetons and anything else you can think of on the internet! The computers just arrived with comfortable chairs and desks to match.

We are thrilled to state our accomplishments for opening day, but of course none of it would be possible without our superb employee’s who have devoted the last several weeks to learn the quality of hospitality and service Grand Teton Lodge Company offers. Overall, this means we cleaned the lodge, cottages, vehicles and pool from top to bottom. We memorized menus, history, locations and activities. We unpacked the boxes of fine merchandise, designed the stores and remembered how to run the registers. Every year its an adventure to open and it always ends with a fantastic product: a vacation destination located in Grand Teton National park!   We are delighted to welcome all of our guests to Season 2010 and we look forward to your arrival!

 

 

Colter’s Floatin’ the Snake River

Hi everyone!  It’s me Colter Moose and today I’m floatin’ the Snake River with the Grand Teton Lodge Company boatmen.  These guys get to cruise the river all day long as their job…and I thought I had it good!

Anyway, I’ve heard all about the dinner they put together on the banks of the Snake River, so I thought I’d try the “Supper Float Trip”.  You see our meal site is located just below the Snake River Overlook ~ the place Ansel Adams made famous for his photos of Grand Teton National Park.  It’s a pretty scenic place to have dinner….

Moosin Around 039

 

Speaking of dinner, the chef (shown above) cooks steaks and trout on an open grill.  I’m told there is something special about meals cooked outdoors.  Since I don’t really eat the same types of food as our guests do…I’ll have to take their word for it…but let me know what you think if you join us on this activity!

Moosin Around 004

During dinner I made a few friends.  This is Katie sitting at one of the picnic benches before dinner began. 

After dinner, we put on life jackets, listened to the boatmen talk about the trip and how best to prepare for our adventure…here’s a photo of Katie and Kelly as we boarded the rafts!

Moosin Around 007

 The big boats hold up to 20 people.  This is a photo of the rest of the people on our trip who were just about to depart for their 10 mile scenic journey down the Snake River.

Moosin Around 008

 The guides make each trip unique as they talk about the area, tell folk tales, provide historical information and help guests search for wildlife along the way!

08Jackson Lake Lodge

This here is Mike, a boatman who helps guide river trips ~ he also grew up here in Grand Teton National Park…so he has lots of stories to tell!

(I’m not that great at taking photos, so I asked a friend of mine who is a photographer,Dan Sullivan,if I could use a few of his.)

This photo was taken by a real photographer...Dan Sullivan

The scenery is so unique…And it just keeps getting better and better along the way!

Moosin Around 011

 On our trip we were lucky to see lots of wildlife.  I’m new to this park so I haven’t made many friends.  Everyone thought it was just because I was along that we saw so many animals along the river, but our guide assured them…this happens often ~ especially on the early morning and evening trips.  Above, can you see the bald eagle in the tree?  This was one of my photos…sorry it’s not clearer, but I hope you can make him out – he’s in the center of the photo.

Moosin Around 013

 …and here, now this is a challenge…but that rock-like ball sitting just in the water on the right side…that’s a beaver.  There were 5 of them on this trip that we came across – it was pretty cool to see them swimming in and out of their homes along the river banks.

We were also able to find a “real” moose on the river banks, had a heron fly right along side the raft, and encountered many ducks in the river as well

Once we ended the trip, everyone else got out and I was the last one in the boat.  Sort of looks like I’m one the one in charge here doesn’t it??  Hmmm….maybe I should entertain a career change. 

 Moosin Around 040

Welcome to Recycling

Amy Kozlowski Finds Artwork While Sorting Through Recycling

Amy Kozlowski Finds Artwork While Sorting Through Recycling

 

Four sorters, forty trash bags and a bail of cardboard. The day begins for the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) Recycling Department. “We start out at Jackson Lake Lodge, pick up cardboard from the back dock and the kitchen recycling. The Blue Heron has a bunch of bottles, so we pick up all that,” said Amy Kozlowski, GTLC Recycling Attendant. The crew also picks up recycling at Colter Bay Village, Jenny Lake Lodge, Gros Ventre Campground and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis.   “Then we come back in the afternoon and bail our cardboard in the big bailer. Right now we have about 40 bails of cardboard, we get one everyday at least.”

 

The Bailer

The Bailer

 

Kozlowski is a second year Recycling Attendant. “I have maintenance experience on my resume so Engineering called and said they have openings for recycling,” said Kozlowski. “I said that would be awesome because I really like to be green and I’m very concerned about the environment, so I jumped on that right away.”

Recycling and waste reduction continues to be the hallmark of Grand Teton Lodge Company’s sustainable operations and the direct link to our green house gas emission reductions. Recycle, reduce, reuse is considered in every aspect to lessen our impacts on the environment.

Yet sorting through recycling bags is no easy task. A lot of trash and other items end up in recycling.  The department takes glass, aluminum, tin, paper and corrugated cardboard—but not paperboard. “All recycling we sort through goes to Jackson, so we can only recycle what they recycle in town.”

Since 2005 more than 600,000 single-use bottles have been saved from landfills.
We have installed bulk dispensers for shampoo, soap and lotion in all Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village Rooms. Our goal is to continue a minimum 50 percent diversion rate by recycling materials within our waste system. 

All sorts of treasures have ended up in recycling and the department is outfitted in gloves and eye protection while sorting. “We find some cool stuff that we can keep. We’ve found an inflatable raft and a lot of times people throw away magazines and books so we get to keep those.”

In 2008, GTLC recycled 229,587 total pounds of material, including 116,800 pounds of cardboard and 63,000 pounds of glass. This does not include the materials from our Jackson Lake Lodge renovation project, which had a 97 percent diversion rate. 

 

Just Some of the Bailed Cardboard

Just Some of the Bailed Cardboard

 

“We can do only as much as the people give us,” said Kozlowski. “I see people all the time throwing stuff into the trash that’s recycling.” Recycling awareness is one of the department’s biggest tasks. Work gets divvied up between four attendants and no one argues, they just get it done. “We get to be outside in a beautiful place and be doing something you can feel really good about.”

The Recycling Department continues to get the word out, hoping that every recyclable item will not end up in the trash, but rather the recycling bins.

“It’s something I can feel really good about when I go home,” said Kozlowski. “I know that what we are doing is helping a lot of efforts.  I think if I was working anywhere else I would feel guilty that I wasn’t working in recycling.”

Welcome to the Jackson Lake Lodge Corrals

Anna Dominy, Jackson Lake Lodge Corral Foreman

Anna Dominy, Jackson Lake Lodge Corral Foreman

 

At the age of 14,  Anna Dominy got her feet wet (well dusty) at the Jackson Lake Lodge Corrals. What began as a love of horses turned into a head position. Her Grandparents worked for the Park Service and Dominy would spend summers in Grand Teton National Park. “My Grandma talked to the old corral foreman and told him I really liked horses and asked if I could come out and help,” said Dominy. “So I started coming out and scooping poop and just kind of worked my way up the ladder and now I’m in charge,” she laughed. Seven years later, Dominy is now Corral Foreman, head honcho for seven wranglers, 42 horses, and one pony.

“My day starts at 6am. We get here, check the horses for injuries and see if they are sick, feed them and saddle all of them up.” The horses get sent out on two morning rides and two afternoon rides. Throughout the day the wranglers fill the water tanks and clean the corrals.

 

Cleaning the Water Tank

Cleaning the Water Tank with a Little Help

 

 

Sometimes the day doesn’t always run so smoothly. “The other day the horses all got out and went to Christian Pond and did the one hour ride by themselves in single file line,” said Dominy. A few stopped to graze while others paraded down the highway. Fortunately three of them came back and Dominy and the wranglers jumped on them and herded the rest up. “It was really funny, everyone was on the bridge and they all started clapping,” Dominy laughed, “I was like oh I’m a real cowgirl now.”

For the most part, the horses don’t want to leave the corrals. They know it’s where they get fed, but every once in awhile they think it’s fun to escape. “So what happens is they play with the latch and the gate opens and they’re like oh I’ll go eat some grass,” said Dominy. “And when one goes, they all go.” This happens about once a season, but they always come back. “They really are such good horses.”

 

Taking Care of an Itch

Taking Care of an Itch

 

Good horses with very distinct personalities. “It’s like going into a middle school cafeteria and watching all the kids,” said Dominy. There are cliques amongst the horses. “People don’t realize how much personality they have. You have ones who are kind of like loners and just want to do their own thing, you have the ones that want to go out and check every horse and see what everyone is doing… you have the really curious horses that get into everything and want to chew on everything. So they’re very unique; they all work together exactly like middle school kids.”

With such a diverse bunch, there is a horse for every type of rider. All the trails are hiking friendly, but guests have the opportunity to go a lot further on a horse and see a lot more, especially those with children.

 

Fizz Bomb the Pony

Fizz Bomb the Pony

 

For people who may be too nervous to ride the horses, we encourage you to come down to the corrals and say hello. “The horses love to be pet and love for people to give them treats. They are the most social group of horses I have ever been around.” The corrals provide horse treats for guests, as other food is prohibited for the horses’ diet.

Dominy returns to the Jackson Lake Lodge Corrals each year because she genuinely loves the job. “The most rewarding part is when someone comes out and it’s the highlight of their vacation. They tell you how much fun they had and how it was the best part of their trip.”

Experience Grand Teton National Park on horseback yourself! Corrals are located at Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village. There are standard and short rides as well as pony rides for young children. “It’s a fun experience,” said Dominy. “You’re out in the west; it’s the cowboy state. Come ride a horse in the mountains!”

 

Trail Ride

Trail Ride

Welcome to the Butcher Shop

Head Butcher Steve Traughber Preparing Pear Chickens

Head Butcher Steve Traughber Preparing Pear Chickens

 

“The Jackson Lake Lodge butcher shop is very unique because it’s one of the last of all of the resorts that still hand cuts all their meat,” said Steve Traughber, Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) Head Butcher.  The shop cuts its own wild game, free-range chicken and wild fish, and is capable of making its own sausage.

A typical day in the butcher shop begins with chickens. The most time consuming item to prepare, the team gets started prepping pear chickens. The process requires that the bird be completely de-boned, which takes a speedy butcher about three minutes to do. The chicken is then stuffed in the kitchen and rolled up and presented on the plate in the shape of a pear.

“My favorite item to prepare would be beef tenderloin,” declared Traughber. “It’s a very elegant piece of meat, which has to be cut quickly yet precisely.” In 1992, Traughber began an apprenticeship program, started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to head butcher.

 

Weighing a Cut of New York Steak

Weighing a Cut of New York Steak

 

GTLC strives to provide as much sustainable cuisine as possible. We have incorporated an all natural, hormone and antibiotic free beef option, certified green level seafood, and natural hormone free chicken. The Jackson Lake Lodge butcher shop prepares food for all outlets in the Lodge as well as Colter Bay Village, and is one of the largest operations  in Wyoming.

Over the past several years, as a direct result of our requests, our largest food-service provider, U.S. Foods, has converted several product lines to regionally-grown and environmentally-friendly products. Our decision to provide our guests with natural, organic meats has influenced other retailers to follow the trend. Because of GTLC’s high volume of purchasing, these products can be affordably and profitably offered to others.

“Our goal in the butcher shop is to put out the best quality that we can,” said Traughber “To succeed our guests’ expectations; that is our mission.”

 

The Tools to Get the Job Done

The Tools to Get the Job Done

Welcome to the Grounds

Paula Sharpe Prunes on the Back Terrace

Paula Sharpe Prunes the West Terrace of Jackson Lake Lodge

 

“I love everything about the job. Being outside, the plants, the physical labor, making everything look nice,” said Paula Sharpe, Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) Grounds Crew member. Sharpe joined GTLC 11 year ago and has greatly contributed to the outdoor appearance of our lodges.

For the last six years, Sharpe has been charting noxious weed growth on propety. “I figured if I left we don’t have documentation, so I made maps of each area,” said Sharpe, a licensed herbicide technician. Every year she documents the weed she is targeting and whether it has increased or decreased. “Someone can come along after me and know where to find these weeds.”

As for Sharpe, this information is all in her head. She has the ability to go over to Colter Bay Village and show you exactly where one weed grows. “I figured no one else would be able to do that, so you can just open map books and say, ‘oh yah, Dalmatian Toadflax grows here, better check that out.’” Comparing the charts from over the years, Sharpe has noticed a difference, with noxious weeds on the decline. The Grounds Crew also documents every ounce of chemical-use, as it all must be approved by the Park Service.

Arriving at 7:30am, Sharpe plants and maintains 68 containers of flowers. She waters and feeds the plants, which also happen to be a favorite meal of the Whistle Pig. “Right now I am cleaning up the West Terrace. Pruning everything back and getting it ready for the wedding next week, I want it to look really nice.”

Up keeping Jenny Lake Lodge, Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis can be quite the endeavor. Still, the Grounds Crew continues to meet its goals. One goal has been to restore a man-made trail to its original habitat. “When we first started there were trails that went all the way to the bottom area at Jackson Lake Lodge. People had walked down there and killed all the vegetation, thinking it was a trail,” said Sharpe. “Then it rained and everything washed away, so the trail was deep.” The crew filled in this area leading down to Willow Flats and closed all the trails, reverting guests to the designated paved paths. With time all the vegetation has grown back.

Sharpe makes an apparent difference at GTLC. Gardening is something that yields rewarding results. “Every year I gather the seeds from the native wildflowers and throw them out there and if you come back later you will see a lot of these wildflowers are growing,” declared Sharpe. “It’s just exciting, to know that I had a hand in that.”

Exuding a genuine enthusiasm for her work, Sharpe stated, “I do this because I enjoy it.  People come by and say don’t work too hard.  I’m not working, I’m playing.”

Introducing… Our Interpretive Specialist

Interpretive Specialist Don Wells

Interpretive Specialist Don Wells

 

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized peoples are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity, and that Mountain Parks and Reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

-John Muir 1901

Muir’s words captivate GTLC Interpretive Specialist Don Wells. Wells believes our National Parks are a splendor everyone should experience.

Born and raised in California, Wells has explored many of our nation’s parks from Kings Canyon to Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon.

While attending college in California, Don and his wife Joyce would spend weekends traveling to Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and other California natural wonders. 

“One crisp fall Saturday morning while at Sequoia National Park, we walked up to the information kiosk to get some hiking guides, only to find my biology professor standing in uniform behind the counter,” recalled Wells.

What a surprise and amazing ensuing conversation.  “From that chance visit, a seed was planted that if we ever had the opportunity in our professional lives to take time and travel, experience, and revel in our park system, do it,” said Wells.  “That seed sat dormant for over 25 years.  Eventually the conditions were just right and that seed germinated – and here we are.  Five National Parks later, we find ourselves in the Grand Tetons working with GTLC – what an adventure!”

While Wells always carried a passion for the parks, in 2007 he was introduced to the concept of interpretation at the Grand Canyon south rim. He was transferred to Yellowstone to receive specific training from the National Association of Interpretation to become a Certified Interpretive Guide. Wells was approached by GTLC in 2008 to become their Interpretive Specialist, but had a prior commitment and joined the company in 2009.

Wells is an encyclopedia of knowledge on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Jackson Hole. He offers his wisdom on interpretive walks and shuttle tours. 

When not marveling in the midst of a National Park, Wells is spending some time at his Nevada City, California home.  He finds himself engaged in his hobbies of bicycling, hiking, fishing, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, running, and photography.
 
“Joyce and I, not once but twice, have spent a week riding our tandem bicycle, over 500 miles, across the state of Iowa with 10,000 of our closest friends,” said Wells, speaking of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)  event.

A man of many interests, Wells continues to share stories of science and nature in Grand Teton National Park. It’s not about informing the guests, but interacting and having a conversation. Wells does have one suggestion for park visitors. “Come early and stay a while!” Certinaly advice worth considering, as it is near impossible to absorb all that the Park has to offer.

Welcome to the Bakery

Pastry Chef John Clover and the Bakers

Pastry Chef John Clover, the Bakers, and a Few Hundred Dishes of Creme Brulee

 

John Clover comes into work at 4am. As Pastry Chef at GTLC, Clover has an important responsibility: to create delicious baked treats. The bakery produces a huge quantity of goods for Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village and Jenny Lake Lodge.

“The goal is to be a scratch kitchen,” says Clover. The bakery makes their own lamented dough by hand that is used for croissants and danishes, pretty impressive for the size of the outfit.

“We made 350 cookies yesterday,” says Clover. “We make five sheet trays of brownies everyday, five sheets trays of Teton Treats every other day it seems, and 40 gallons of ice cream—that’s just barely keeping up with what they’re asking for.”

 

Teton Treat

Teton Treat

 

Many of the items used are organic, including corn starch, baking powder, high-gluten flour, all-purpose flour, eggs and cream. “We recycle a ton,” adds Colver as piles of empty milk cartoons whiz by.

Clover is joined by a talented staff of seven and two interns will arrive to complete the team at the end of the month. “Everyone here has been to culinary school or taken some sort of baking courses and that makes a huge difference,” stated Clover. With 18 years of cooking experience and four years as a pastry chef, Clover is no stranger to the kitchen.

“I enjoy doing cakes,” said Clover, examining a sketch of a cake he’s making with a decorative drawing of a moose. It’s fun. It’s the creative outlet on what we do.”

Along with cakes, the bakery makes every type of bread imaginable. “It’s cool to see what we do as far as bread goes,” said Clover, “We put out more bread than I’ve seen in any other kitchen.”

There are 900 handmade rolls awaiting a banquet, a high volume bakery indeed. It takes about three or four hours to complete the bread baking process, the most time consuming item made.

The bakery aims for everyday continuous improvement. “We are trying to go from 80% purchased product to less and less everyday,” said Clover. For the restaurants the bakery produces 75% of the necessary items. A completely scratch bakery may not be too far in the future for GTLC.

 

bakery1SM

Introducing… Our Historian

Historian Mary McKinney at Colter Bay Village

Historian Mary McKinney at Colter Bay Village

 

“This is my 31st summer coming to the Tetons and I realize the more I know, the more there is to learn,” says Mary McKinney, GTLC Historian. She is endlessly fascinated by this unique place that carries so much history. “The flowers, animals, mountain names, trails, ranches…it’s like peeling an onion and getting to the core of things, one layer after another layer.”

As a child, McKinney was enthralled with stories of the past. She was particularly captivated with Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to travel on the Oregon Trail. The history of the Settler’s coming out west lured McKinney to seek a degree in history.

“My poor children thought they were raised crawling along the Oregon Trail,” McKinney laughs, as she recalls the numerous trips to the sites.

In 1979, McKinney began visiting the Tetons, as her daughters worked summers here. Initially the family was taking camping trips through National Parks in the west and by 1986 there were five McKinney’s working at the Lodge.

“It’s a beautiful place with a manageable size; you feel you can actually get to know it” states McKinney.  “It simply seems like the most beautiful place on Earth to my family.” So beautiful, all four of her daughters were married in the Park.

McKinney began as GTLC historian by gradually learning about the settlers’ cabins at Colter Bay Village, the ranches where they originate, and some of the architectural history of Jackson Hole. She studied a bit about Jenny Lake Lodge, which was founded by a western cowboy and a romantic story. The Lodge was originally named Danny Ranch, after the cowboy’s love.

Sharing her wisdom with the public, McKinney leads history talks on three properties. The Jackson Lake Lodge tour focuses on history and artwork, from the eight wildlife paintings by Carl Rungius that hang in the second floor lobby to photographs of the early days of Jackson Hole. Jenny Lake Lodge highlights the diverse history of Jenny, the name change and how it nearly shut down at one point only to re-emerge with elegance. Colter Bay Village brings the 166 settlers’ cabins to life, with a rich history on these rustic homesteads that date as far back as the 1890’s.

A wealth of resources are available on the history of Jackson Hole including GTLC and Jackson Hole Historical Society archives, the University of Wyoming, and the Rockefeller archives in New York. While McKinney gathers information from these archives, she reveals that her best resource is simply talking to people. Guests will share their experiences and their parents’ experiences and a bit of otherwise unknown history is shared with the world. “When people are acknowledged for their stories, they feel a sense of ownership of a place and they want to come back again.”

McKinney embarks on the lengthy, annual drive from Georgia to Wyoming, as the Tetons draw her back year after year.

“At the end of a walk around the cabins, very frequently someone will say, ‘they all looked alike before and now none of them look alike. I’ll never make that mistake again.’ They see the individuality of the cabins,” says McKinney, as she expresses why she keeps returning to the Park each year. “When people appreciate this place it’s thrilling to me; when they realize it’s not just your ordinary hotel grouping, but a special place with special stories.”