Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Big Teat

We are at the Colter Bay campground
(not RV park), on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park (map).

We had a lovely and uneventful, if rather short, drive yesterday afternoon from Hatchet, east of the park. The weather was pleasant enough, if a bit chilly, and on our way here we did a little mental mathematics to determine that there was no way it was going to be worth $35+ extra for hookups, in less pleasing surroundings, and so we bypassed the "RV park" next door and came directly here.

We need not have worried about getting a space -- of the seven "generator" loops, only three are open (the rest are in fine shape, to be opened when they need the capacity). There are also five "no generators allowed" loops, but they have a 24' length limit and so are not available to us, as well as one "tents only" loop that is also closed as unnecessary at the moment.

It turns out that both the recorded information on the park service phone line ($15 per night) as well as the on-line information on the concessionaire's web site ($17 per night) are out of date -- the camping fee here is now $18 per night. We paid for three nights, $54, which is still less than a single night in the full-hookup area next door, which is $55 and change. We rode through there on our scooters -- it's very rustic for an RV park, with good separation and plenty of trees (so many, actually, that we'd never get on line there), but still much closer spacing than here in the campground, and no campfires allowed over there either. Nevertheless, they filled up last night -- the "full" sign was out when we rode past the second time, around 5:30 or so.

When we pulled up to the entrance booth here around 1:30 or so, things were not very busy, and they let us drive through the three open loops to find a spot that would fit us, rather than assigning us one (sometimes, it helps that we look bigger than we are). That gave us the opportunity to scout a site where we could get a shot to the satellite through a gap in the extensive tree cover. It took us two passes through each loop, but we finally settled on this spot, one of perhaps two or three with satellite access. As soon as the dish locked on, I grabbed my scooter and hustled back to the entrance station to pay, before they could assign it to someone else.

It's a nice spot at the end of the loop, with our own private meadow on the curb side. That makes it far enough from the rest of Colter Bay Village that walking is not really an option, so we took off on the scooters to explore. The village is immense. In addition to the huge (350 spaces) campground and the large RV park, there is a large complex of rustic cabins, and a "tent village" which involves canvas hunting-lodge style tents over fixed steel poles with two-sided log windbreaks, and, it appears, wood-burning stoves. There is also a building with two restaurants, but no "lodge" per se. Tonight we will try to head over to the Jackson Lake Lodge, which we passed on our way in, for a nicer dinner than is available here at Colter Bay.

There is a small grocery store in the village, where we needed to pick up some extremely overpriced essentials such as coffee and fresh veggies. In the same building is an extensive and well-stocked gift shop, which also sells camping and fishing supplies. Next door is a coin laundry building which aslo has hot showers available. Alongside the lake is a fairly large marina, a Park Service visitor center and museum, and a swimming beach (brrrr).

While we were zipping around exploring all this, the sun disappeared and it began snowing. We made it back to camp just as it began to stick.

Fortunately, there was a brief break in the weather later that afforded me the opportunity to grill a nice steak for dinner. We ate, though, with a veritable winter wonderland landscape out our window -- in mid-June. It's mostly all gone now, and the trees are green again instead of white.

We've been warm and toasty inside Odyssey, but the finicky Webasto has needed power cycling roughly every twenty minutes since we first fired it up last night at dinner time. We don't run it overnight, but Louise had to cycle it a dozen times or more this morning to warm the bus up enough for us to want to crawl out of the electrically heated bed (we put the electric blanket back on last night, for the first time in many months).

At some point yesterday evening, it occurred to me that we have a restriction gauge on the fuel filter for the Webasto. (One of my working theories on the current problem is that the unit is starved for fuel -- a ten-second fuel interruption will cause the unit to "lock out" until the power is reset.) When I popped that access door open last night, while the unit was running, I noted that the needle was just inside the yellow zone, but not anywhere close to the red zone. However, it is just possible that the combination of really cold fuel, and a partially restricted filter, are giving the unit's fuel pump enough of a challenge to cause the periodic lock-out.

The filter is a weird fitment, and I doubt seriously that I'll find a replacement here in the park (although there is a full-service shop here in the village). If not, I will have to ride out to West Yellowstone from Madison in Yellowstone National Park, four days from now. But it does seem that changing the filter is the next logical thing to try, rather than ripping the burner unit apart or tearing into the control box.

We're waiting for it to warm up a bit more today before heading out on the scooters to explore the park.

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