Colter Bay-July, 1969

Parsons Family Reunion Vacation

Story by Philip G. Parsons, May 31, 1970

All of the Phil Parsons tribe had planned to gather at Yellowstone for a family reunion outing. Ray and family had arrived at our house in Ft. Collins and all were eager to meet everyone at Colter Bay, Wyoming. After dinner we drove through Laramie and ate supper in Rawlins, then on to Lander where we had reservations for the night. On arrival the kids enjoyed the swimming pool and we hurried to our rooms to get word of astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. Ray's room had the best picture on the TV and we watched as Armstrong and Aldrin took Man's first steps on the moon. Due to moon's gravity, their bulky, heavy space suits, and the venture into the unknown, their steps looked buoyant, ambling and bouncy. We shall never forget the Friendship Motel at Lander, Wyoming where we witnessed this unforgettable adventure, July 20, 1969.

Monday morning the kids wanted another swim, and we were soon off across Wyoming headed for Colter Bay and Yellowstone. Most of Wyoming is rather rough rolling, and barren with only widely scattered ranches, but presently we came in site of the Tetons and stopped to take pictures. At one of these stops before noon, we learned that the lunar module had returned safely to the space ship and our astronauts were safely started on the return journey to earth. We arrived at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake in late afternoon, found the delightful cabins Ray had reserved for our party and began mingling with scores of other happy tourists. At supper time, Bob and Erdeena with Larry and Patty drove in just in time to sample the delights of Colter Bay Cafeteria. After eating, Bob and I with some of the kids viewed some pictures at the Visitors Center to learn how to see the most in our short visit. Hazel, Mary and Ray with some of the rest had gone to the store, when they spied Stan and Neta driving in with their kids, and a U-Haul trailer. Ray took them to the cabins, while the rest of us walked there by short cut.

Tuesday was a wonderful day of exploration, rest and relaxation. Colter Bay climate is crisp and invigorating like the high mountain valleys of Colorado. We had a camp out breakfast near a little inlet to Jackson Lake, used as morning for power boats. Nothing tastes quite so good as sausage or bacon and eggs cooked over three gas stoves and eaten on tables among the big pines. We took big walks along the lake shore, viewing many wild flowers and birds. In the evening we took the big chuck wagon ride. Those of us who rode horseback were very lucky, the chuck wagon had about 17 persons aboard, no springs and the road had many small boulders in it. In spite of having our spines badly battered, we had a fine time, hot dogs never tasted better than around the camp fire. Barbara sat on the front seat with the driver and got to drive the horses a short distance. Mark occupied her space on the way home and was permitted to drive part of the way - quite a thrill bouncing about on the driver's seat!

Wednesday we did Yellowstone. It is a delightful wooded drive from Colter Bay to Old Faithful. We got there just in time to witness a grand eruption of Old Faithful, after which we explored the village, ate lunch and headed down the Upper Geyser Basin, past deep boiling geysers and fire pots such as Gem Pool, Spiteful, Grotto and the Fountain Paint Pots to Gibbon Falls. Here we cut across to Inspiration Point where we could see the falls in the Yellowstone river, then along wooded trails where we saw several bears. Whenever a bear appears near the highway, all traffic stops while a dozen cars of tourists near the bear gets pictures, and perhaps you get close enough for pictures as the crowd moved on. From Fishing Bridge our homeward trail leads along the west shore of Yellowstone Lake, around the West Thumb and on southward to Colter Bay.

Stan is an experienced fisherman, especially in deep water, and Ray wanted to learn, so Stan and Ray with David, Tommy and Mark spent most of Thursday walking the Snake River and tributary creeks. It seems that other fishermen had been there also - we didn't have fish for supper. Bob and Larry had a great time golfing. The ladies rode up to Inspiration Point where they viewed many miles of the winding Snake River on one side and glimpses of Lake Jackson through mountain settings to the west. At evening, Ray and I stayed with Becky while the others went on a float trip down the Snake in a big rubber boat. Pat McCoy proved to be a splendid guide, and they saw moose browsing the willow thickets, elk, deer, ducks and other creatures in their natural surroundings.

Ray and Stan tried the fishing again Friday. Most of the others enjoyed escorted horseback rides. We spent the day enjoying the beautiful scenery around Jackson Lake and in visiting. After supper we all got the cameras and pressed a neighbor into service as photographer so that all seventeen of us would be in the pictures. The guy had to use about seven different cameras so each camera fan would have a picture of the group to take home. These pictures were taken almost too close to sundown, but have become prized possessions, as they show Mom and I, our three kids and spouses, and our nine grandchildren.

BACK: David, Larry, Erdeena, Phil, Neta (holding Becky) Linda, Hazel (peeking thru), Mary, Patty, Bob
FRONT ROW (Left to Right): Stan (squatting), Tom, Mark, Barbara, Kelly, Ray (squatting)

Saturday finds us packing and bidding goodbye to Colter Bay. We took the long way home, circling south past Jenny Lake for a last close-up look at the Grand Tetons, probably America's newest and most jagged peaks, very beautiful from close at hand or form wherever you may see them. So we went south to Moose entrance, then northeastward along the Snake river valley to Moran, then east along Buffalo Fork and on to Lander. Another pleasant night with the kids enjoying a dip in the evening and again in the morning, and on Sunday we are on our way home.

Between Lander and Rawlins we saw many herds of Antelope, dinner in Rawlins where the kids learned about coal cook stoves and sad irons. One of the happiest travelers was Kelly. When friends asked about her, I would say, "She is three and a half", but she would correct men, "almost four, Grandpa." Linda and Patty liked to play with Kelly, often teasing her a bit, but she loved it and thought she was as big as anyone. The nine cousins had lots of fun, and their elders enjoyed it even more, a most wonderful vacation for all of the Phil and Hazel Parsons family.

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