Difficult to know where to start describing the Grand Teton National Park …..
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is as remembered from 20 odd years ago when I passed through it as a law student. Part tacky (specifically, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar which I refused to enter on the basis that I wasn’t going to pay $10 just to step into the bar on the off-chance of getting a photo of one of us sitting on a horse saddle with the other millions of tourists 😉 ) …. part multi-gazzilion $$$ homes … fab restaurants and cafes ….. beautiful wild-western architecture …. galleries …. etc etc….
In addition, I got the opportunity to gape at real-life cowboys wandering about their business in town in full cowboy regalia – exotic snakeskin boots, impressively huge and highly decorated hats, too-tight Wrangler jeans 😉 and much extraneous adornment with shiny bling 🙂 Love it!!! 🙂 So much so, that after 10 years of nagging/begging and whining, Geoff finally caved in and let me buy some drop-dead gorgeous Lucchese cowgirl boots …. not entirely useful for someone who spends her life in flip-flops on a Floridian beach but they will certainly get plenty of use whenever we travel west 🙂 …. the custom bling’d cowgirl hat I also had made for me (similarly, a long-term nag request!) will at least double for use on the beach back home 😉 If the truth be known I may have frozen to death in Jackson without my ridiculous new boots as, although it was lovely and warm during the daytime in the sun, the night time temperatures have a nasty habit of plummeting in the mountains in the fall …. how fortuitous for me 😉
And so …. the Tetons …. despite the relentless begging I just couldn’t get Geoff to sell up from the sunny Floridian Gulf shore and move to Jackson Hole immediately 😦 … but I’m going to keep working on it 😉 ….!
We hiked most days 8-13 miles through the wilderness trails largely alone with only the occasional human sighting… we would have preferred the occasional sighting of a bear… or a rather closer encounter with the mommy and baby moose than we had (vaguely spotted in the undergrowth through the trees) ..but it was not to be …. oh well …. maybe when we move there ??… tee hee ….. 🙂
Of course, with only 2 of us (and a can of bear spray) to fight off any psychotic marauding bears we might encounter on a hike, the possibility of stumbling across one in the wilderness sparked a banter of bear food jokes …. in the end Geoff had to concede that it was far more likely that he would be dinner for Mr.Grumpy Bear because, although he can run farther than I can overall before I literally run out of breath, I can, however, outpace him by some considerable margin – which in anyone’s book must mean that Mr GB would catch Geoff a long while before he would catch me … which was reassuring 😉
Happily, the stunning scenery distracted us from the paucity of 4 legged wildlife and we spent a delightful week or so tiptoeing through the meadows, over streams, picnicking at emerald green crystal-clear glacial (freezing 😉 ) lakes, hiking through huge canyons surrounded by massive snow-capped mountains admiring the colorful wildflowers and trying not to scare off the pikas and chipmunks scuttling around in the undergrowth collecting nuts to store for hibernation.
Kayaking on Jenny Lake was serene.
Motorcycling was less so, on the back of a huge, throbbing, noisy Harley Davidson motorcycle – but it was a LOT more fun! Cruising the almost empty roads through the Teton National Park, into Idaho and over the Teton Pass was amazing – traversing wide sweeping bends, passing rivers, through canyons and putting caution to the wind by snapping happily with the camera from the pillion passenger’s “armchair” on the back of it. Rarely have we ridden in such a dramatically beautiful place on such roads – perfectly designed for motorcycling 🙂 Sigh……
Of course, not all of the roads and dirt tracks in the national park and its environs were really suitable for the low riding, postbox red Dodge Charger car we had rented – which, frankly, is better suited for escaping from cops from a crime scene at great speed 😉 Geoff managed to avoid most of the pitfalls of unmaintained mountain thoroughfares to get to whichever photographic viewpoint I was insisting we reached but the car finally gave up when we fell unceremoniously into a bottomless puddle. Unfortunate – as we were out in the boonies and “something” underneath got wedged on a rock, disentangled itself from its rivets and spent the next few hours dragging noisily underneath the chassis until we had the opportunity to take it back to Avis at Jackson airport complaining that an oil change warning light had come on (it had!) and – horror of horrors – the passenger seat was stuck in recline (it was!) …. luckily they had a far more suitable replacement for the rest of the trip … an SUV I could actually see out of instead of traveling along lying almost horizontal with the road 🙂
The only thing we did notice about the roads in Wyoming which we felt could have done with some explanation were the overtaking markings – without exception on all winding, canyon roads and particularly on blind bends the markings allowed overtaking and on all straight, clear runs with visibility for miles ahead, overtaking was prohibited ….. interesting ….. Less explanation at the countryside road junctions around Jackson was required by the alternative to the rather mundane “Stop” sign one would expect to see everywhere else in the english speaking world – but this was real cowboy country – so obviously the only appropriate sign was “Whoa” !! 😉 🙂
Leaving our hearts in the Tetons we took a day trip up to Yellowstone National Park which I hadn’t seen in decades and had rather forgotten the enormity of its scale. The road system runs in a massive figure of 8 and we just about managed to drive all day, whip in and out of the car for some photo ops, a few minor hikes (no more than a few miles each) and some unpleasant, slippery, entirely vertical, “mountain” climbing to get THE photo shot over the queen of Yellowstone – Grand Prismatic Spring …. Overall, our adventure covered only the bottom half of the 8 before we gave up and drove back to Jackson, more exhausted than if we had been hiking uphill all day in the mountains 😉 We did see bison though … finally ! 🙂
As much as we didn’t want to leave Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons (ever!), we were looking forward to visiting our friends in Park City, Utah for the remainder of the trip out west so we packed up the cowgirl boots and the bling’y hat and shipped out. We took the long (and apparently circuitous and winding) road from Wyoming through Idaho into Utah … passing tin shacks and towns of corrugated buildings and caravans … and back out into Wyoming again … umm … odd … and finally back into Utah again…
The unanticipated detour back into Wyoming was fortuitous as Geoff was desperately searching for a bottle of wine to take with us to Park City that evening and our first gas stop of the journey was in Utah…. he requested that I ask the gas station attendant if they sold wine (guess he must have been really desperate and too scared to ask her himself 😉 !! ) … she shook her head slowly suggesting that we might get lucky 32 miles down the road at the next town ….. and, to be fair, he did get lucky 32 miles down the road because the road had just crossed the state line into Wyoming again and clearly residents in this part of Utah weren’t big fans of the evils of booze…. Welcome to Utah!! 😉
Park City was as posh as we had remembered from a long ago skiing trip littered with great restaurants, art galleries and shops I was banned from entering (having spent my “allowance” on silly boots, a hat and an equally bling’y cowgirl necklace 😉 ). We spent our 6 days staying with friends, Terry and Jay, and as I joined them pottering aimlessly through the streets, checking out the food scene and galleries, poor Geoff was back at the ranch on his laptop working hard (the benefits of being a “remote worker”!).
He was allowed away from his desk for the weekend, however, which we filled with more food, an artist’s street fair (I couldn’t stay away!!) a brisk mountain hike in perfect fall weather with the trees in mid-fall color, the late flowering summer wildflowers and the breeze blowing through the shimmering yellow leaves of the aspen trees 🙂 It is a fantastic time of year to visit but it was disconcerting to get on the ski lift to the top of the mountain to hike the long and winding “Jenni Trail” without skis strapped to my feet ;-). The peace and tranquility was broken only occasionally by an emergency leap off the trail into the scrub to avoid being mown to the ground by mountain bikers flying by at great speed …. not a lot different to the ignominy of having to leap out of the way of insane fast-moving fearless (stupid!) teenagers on snowboards here in winter – good practice for our return trip to PC in Feb to hit the slopes in our more conventional manner 🙂
Finally, we took a trip over Guardsman’s Pass from Park City through the Wasatch National Forest to check out the fall color which we missed in all its glory by about 5 minutes – you know how fickle nature can be when you are leaf peeping – green one minute, turn your head and they are hinting at all of the fabulous colors fall can bring, and turn your head back again and there they are – all brown and withered underfoot 😉 Glorious anyway even if we were 3 minutes and 29 seconds too early … or too late … depending on the tree! A slight detour brought an unexpected sighting of Hare Krishna monks hiking around Silver Lake ….we were too polite to photograph them so you will have to take our word for it!
Wonder if we’ll see them on the slopes in February too ..