The beginning of September was a large blurry blotch on our calendar, and had been for some time. We had reservations for the end of September in California and several more after that, but the few weeks in between there and Grand Teton was our first experiment in playing by ear. Making it a bit more complex was a 3-day work trip I had to do after Labor Day and a few days of Navy duty Tacco had to knock out back in DC / Annapolis after that. “Nail down accommodation for Labor Day weekend” had been staring at me sternly from my electronic to-do list for about a month now, which portended campsite-lessness given that it was a few days away.
One of the things I’ve found in trying to plan for where we stay, and I’ve likely already hit on this, but weekends fill fast, even when it’s not high season. Though I’m beginning to realize that first-come-first-serve campgrounds will likely net us a place to stay just about any time as long we don’t arrive on a Saturday afternoon, I’m still not comfortable with arriving in a place after a 6 hour drive and only then starting the where-do-we-stay dance (most RVers probably feel this way, hence the FCFS availability).
Several areas had been competing for our attention, all of which we very much wanted to visit: Bend, OR; Hood River / White Salmon, OR (and Portland by extension); and Park City, UT. All three, incidentally, are on our short list of possible end points. Complicating things were the previously mentioned wildfires, though. I mentioned the fires that made Bozeman smoky, well a short internet search revealed that essentially the entire Pacific Northwest was on fire, or at least covered in smoke. Dozens of fires, and hazy, smoky skies in the forecast everywhere.
Reasoning that the Columbia River Gorge would have a steady wind that wouldn’t allow any smoke to accumulate, I focused on Hood River. Nope! Turned out half of the Gorge was on fire as well, I-84 was closed for much of its length there, and the campground we had focused on was temporarily closed as well. So Utah it was. Park City had the added bonus of Tacco’s parents being there visiting a friend for the week. Plus we have quite a few friends and family in and near PC. So I booked us a spot for a couple days at Jordanelle Reservoir, which looks at Deer Valley from the less skied east side and off we went. Nothing available for Labor Day weekend by the way; we booked the days around Saturday and Sunday and prepped our “how would you feel about our parking in your driveway?” pitch.
Another gorgeous drive from Grand Teton south. We stopped in Jackson for lunch. This is probably unfair to say given how short a time we spent there, but here goes… Jackson is a very cool place in a great setting with respect to skiing, National Parks, etc. Lots of antlers. Yet I have to say that taking cost of living / housing, proximity to major airports, etc into play, Park City would take Jackson hands-down in a cage match, or at least our family’s cage match. Not even close really. I did still buy a T-shirt there though.
We arrived in Park City to find it significantly more developed than when we’d lived here 15 years previous. Our little condo complex by the outlet mall and not much else is now at the edge of a major commercial and residential area that appears to be booming. To be fair, I had been back several times since then as I try to do a yearly ski trip there with a bunch of guys from my Navy days, so I knew about all the development, but even since I had been last the expansion had blown up. Maybe we sold our condo there too soon!
The camp site at Jordanelle is nice, with playgrounds, bike trails, fishing, boating, and laundry (!). Plan is to stay a few days, then revisit the trek to Oregon & see how we can shoehorn our work commitments into that. Happy Labor Day!