Along this entrance road, you'll find two fine waterfalls and views into Lewis River Canyon. Just east of West Thumb Junction is West Thumb Geyser Basin. Engineer Hiram Chittenden reported the South Entrance Road in 1900 as being in a wretched condition and a disgrace to the Government. ? Improved very gradually, it was not heavily used until after the establishment of Grand Teton National Park. It's now the second most popular entrance.
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It's about 21 miles (35 km) from the South Entrance to West Thumb Junction and the Grand Loop Road.
Sparks gave us a voucher to have a meal at the hotel. We went down to the basement restaurant after depositing our bags. We only seemed to be allowed the set meal of the day, which was a large lump of pork knuckle with lumpy potatoes and grey cabbage.
We both ate our knuckle and left the rest. After dinner we took a stroll to see the sights and bright lights, peering through the big windows of the bar next door as we passed. They were all in there – second and third officer, radio officer, senior cadets, the two wives – gathered at the bar in an animated clump, drinks in hands, more drinks on the bar top.
The next morning the bus arrived to take us to the ship, with the crew sneering at us as Sparks had predicted. The officer party was very subdued and sat in silence for the trip to the docks. The Valvata loomed above us as we disembarked from the bus: black hull, green decks, two white-painted accommodation islands, one in the middle of the ship and one at the stern.
Two masts rose up off either deck, backed by thick wire supporting stays.