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Mar. 1 & Mar. 2 – Jackson
Well, the group was supposed to depart today. We had heard some warnings of a storm coming earlier in the week, but we didn’t think it would be to the degree of what occurred overnight. Jackson got about 15 inches of snow overnight, and it was snowing so hard when I woke up, there was no way they would have been able to clear the runway at the airport. Luckily one of the members of the group was at the airport and was able to inform us of what was going on, as all the airlines of course waiting until the very last minute to inform anyone of delays, and eventually cancellations. Our group knew before anyone else that the airport had closed, so at least we didn’t have to go to the airport and wait around for our airlines to finally own up to the re-routes and cancellations. I was able to secure a flight out tomorrow morning on Delta.
What was interesting in this case was to see how different levels of service occurred depending on how people reserved their flights. Those who reserved with a travel agent were able to get a hold of someone on their emergency weekend staff almost immediately to re-schedule their flight. Those who reserved straight through their airline (including me), were probably on hold for 45 minutes to an hour waiting to talk to someone, and then once we finally reached them it took about another 10 to 15 minutes to figure out another flight. And finally, those who reserved through a “cheap travel” sight, such as Expedia or Orbitz, had an almost impossible time trying to re-schedule, and had to get help from other guests talking to agents directly. Keep that in mind for future travel!
Since our group knew our flights had been cancelled first (many of us got an automated call that our flight was cancelled AFTER we had already rescheduled), we were able to secure the first rooms at the hotel, so we didn’t have to search for somewhere to sleep. We made the best of the fact that most of us wouldn’t be able to fly out until tomorrow (some until Tuesday!). We all went to The Museum of Wildlife Art nearby, a world-class museum.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art Collection features more than 550 artists and over 5,000 catalogued items. Dating from 2500 b.c. to the present, the collection chronicles much of the history of wildlife in art, focusing primarily on European and American painting and sculpture. Our collection of American art from the 19th and 20th centuries is particularly strong, recording European exploration of the American West. The collection covers various genres including explorer art, sporting art, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Modernism. The Museum also includes a wide variety of media, such as oil, bronze, stone, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pastel, pencil, lithography, photography, and charcoal.
It was a beautiful museum, filled with pieces I would love to have in my own home. My favorites included a wall-sized photo of a bison called Chief by Robert Bateman; and the beautifully bold colors Carl Rungius used in his paintings of American Black Bear and On Northern Heights.
There was also a very interesting exhibit that showed paintings describing endangered animals. In 1974 the grey wolf was declared endangered in The Rocky Mountains. Successful conservations efforts in the U.S. has made it so that wolves now occupy about two-thirds of their former range worldwide. As in America, wolves were once abundant throughout the forests of mainland Europe. During the 19th century and continuing into the post WWII era, a cull almost wiped wolves out in central and northern countries. In 2013, scientists in Holland concluded that a mysterious creature found dead by the side of the road was the country’s first wolf in 150 years.
Approximately 30 million bison once roamed the Great Plains. By 1810 the American bison had disappeared east of the Mississippi thanks to the settlers, and the remaining herds were systematically slaughtered as the settlers moved west. In 1886, conservationist William Hornaday estimated less than 540 bison remaining in Yellowstone or in zoos. Thanks to his efforts, Congress passed the National Park Protection Act in 1894. (As learned earlier in the trip, unfortunately it doesn’t extend to outside the park.) President Roosevelt helped found the American Bison Society, instrumental in today’s population at about 500,000 commercial population, 30,000 in conservation herds, and 15,000 wild.
Though I didn’t take a photo of artwork of the Pronghorn sheep, I figured I would add a few facts about them as well. They deserve a little credit being the second fastest land mammal in the world! During the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it is thought that there were about 35 million in the interior of North America. Between 1870 and 1880, they were slaughtered by the thousands for their hides, and by the 1920s, their population had been reduced to about 13,000. This prompted conservationists to establish safeguards, where their numbers are now between 500,000 to 1,000,000. Their subspecies, Sonoran, Peninsular, and Mexican, are still considered endangered.
They also had an exhibit dedicated to John Clymer, which is relevant to me because he was born in Ellensburg, Washington (near Yakima, where I’m from) in 1907. He sold his first painting when he was only 16 to the Colt Firearms Company. After high school he moved to Vancouver B.C. where he worked as an illustrator and attended the Vancouver School of Art. He became renowned in Canada, and traveled much throughout the provinces, Alaska, and the Yukon. At 58 he decided to focus his work on documenting events that occurred on the American frontier, including wildlife.
During all the chaos in the lobby of the hotel this morning, I had to keep charging my phone between calls, and unfortunately forgot my phone charger near one of the chairs. Someone “accidentally” took it, leaving me with a dead phone when we returned from the museum. The hotel didn’t have any extras, so I had to brave the storm to find a new one. Let’s just say that hotel desk didn’t give me the best directions on where to go, and once I finally found one and trekked my way back, I had been gone for about 45 minutes. I had found a cheapish one at a gas station about six blocks away, and though it charged my phone overnight, it didn’t work after that. Sigh.
That evening, a few of us relaxed with some wine in one of the common areas of the hotel. It had been a great trip, and it was OK with us to end it with a relaxing evenings. Friendships were made over the week, and I think having the time this evening away from the entire group solidified that we will someday meet again.
The next morning, I enjoyed a final breakfast at The Wort before transferring to the airport. A couple more flights were cancelled early this morning, but luckily they weren’t mine or anyone else’s in our group. A few of ours were delayed, but we were just feeling good about being able to leave. Once I boarded my little puddle jumper to Salt Lake City, it sat on the runway for an hour waiting for other planes to land or depart. Unfortunately I was sitting next to someone with no regard for personal space, and was jamming his elbows into me, putting his legs in my foot area, and shifting all around in an attempt to sleep. Luckily the actual flight was only about 30 minutes.
I had a couple hours in Salt Lake City to grab some lunch and find a phone charger that worked. I was a little annoyed that I had to purchase yet another charger, but at least I could test it out first before buying.
On the Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Seattle they put me in first class, the very first row! That is one thing that I have to say about Delta, they upgraded me to Sky Priority and gave me a first class ticket since my flight had been cancelled. That was very appreciated, as I was so exhausted from this week I was able to sleep comfortably with room for my legs and a chair that reclined so far I could actually fall asleep without my head falling to my shoulder.