Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Best Day

Yesterday was (in my opinion) the best day we've had since we've been in Wyoming. Have you ever had one of those days where everything just works out perfectly? Where you're totally open to where the wind takes you and the pieces just magically come together?

It was one of those.

It started early - too early since I woke Jason up a half an hour before our alarm. I got confused and thought it was time to get up at 5am. Oh well. We were sleepy, but excited to get going on our adventure.

Upon entering Yellowstone Park, we saw THREE Grizzlies. We had gotten in there early enough, and well, we just got lucky. (I have a video of the mama bear and her cub, but the internet here is pretty slow, so it will have to wait for upload until we're back at the ranch. In the meantime, you can see Jason's photos of them by clicking here.)

There is something I call the Yellowstone Effect (and Jason thinks should be called the Yellowstone Syndrome). The minute one person stops on the side of the road to take a photo, they are immediately surrounded by at least 20 other people with cameras so expensive they can't possibly know how to use them - all shooting in the same direction just in case something's out there.

In the case of the bears, we saw the crowds and looked and saw the bears - it worked out for us. A few other times in the morning, we stopped for Jason to take a photo of the landscape and were swarmed - all by disappointed amateur photographers who thought we saw a moose or wolf or grizzly. In our mood yesterday, it was all just funny. :)

Jason essentially says "Kiss my ass (crack)" to all the amateur photographers following him around.

We had lunch in Teton National Park at the Jackson Lake Lodge. Beautiful Lodge overlooking part of Jackson Lake! We had lunch at the diner there, where the only seating is at these big wrap around counters. (There's a diner like it in Yellowstone, too, at the Fishing Bridge). Because we were bellied up to the counter, we of course had neighbors, all who had traveled in on or another tour bus, most seniors.

I happened to be sitting next to a particularly charming woman (and I mean that without any facetiousness - she was great.) She is widowed, traveling alone on the bus with all the other couples. She was trying to figure out how to delete old photos from her digital camera (from last year's trip to Turkey - my kind of woman!), so she'd have space. We offered to help and struck up a conversation. The conversation began like this:

"Can we help you with your camera? We'd love to."
"We have a saying where I come from: 'Does a bear s*%$ in the woods?'"

It was awesome. She and her buddies from the bus were the quiet protesters, the ones who sit in the back and grumble about the driver and how they never get to stop and see neat things - they just keep on driving. They're on a two week tour of many of the parks in Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, and will wrap up their trip with two days in Vegas.

We told them what we were up to, about working in Cody, and she said to me, "Do exactly what you're doing - see the world, take risks, enjoy your marriage before you have kids. Enjoy every moment and explore." It wasn't that, verbatim, but it was something to that effect.

Like I said - awesome.

After we left our new friends at the Lodge, we headed South through the rest of Teton. It's all frozen over still, but just gorgeous. Prettier than I expected, in fact. Jason continued to stop for his photos - I would get out, check it out, and then freezing jump back in the car to wait for him. All the normal stuff. At pilgrim creek, though, I got out to follow Jason, only to have this angry Yellow Bellied Marmot (Close cousin of the woodchuck, just smaller) barking at me in a tree. She was not happy to see me. Unfortunately (for the Marmot), I was very happy to see her. Cute, isn't she?

Jason's idea of parking.

Jason at Jenny Lake. Even he thought this one was awesome. Go me. :)

We ended up in Jackson Hole. I had been told it was an awesome town and thought I was prepared. I was not. Jackson Hole is a REALLY GREAT TOWN. If you've never been here, you have to make it a point to check it out sometime. It's a little hippie, a little ritzy, a lot of western, and just downright cool. This weekend also happens to be the big ElkFest (celebrating the nearby National Elk Preserve). These arches are permanent in the town square - they really love their Elk here.

We explored Jackson, and ended up in this store that sells pawned and never claimed jewelry from New Mexico. We bought this piece for $29, and it's all real. It wasn't in our budget, but geez.... you can't pass that up. And the woman who owns the store is a character and a half. She's the kind of woman I expect my sister to be when she's in her 70s. Totally done up to the nines - hair and makeup always with HUGE pieces of jewelry on. Again - awesome.

We bought tickets to an early evening showing of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and saw it with all the Jackson locals. Again, we were shocked at regular priced movie tickets for adults UNDER $10!!!!!!!! Wyoming has their movie tickets priced correctly! Anyhow, the movie was awesome - MUCH better than at least the last Pirates and probably the second one, too (in my humble opinion.) Penelope Cruz is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than the combo of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, you don't even miss them. In fact, you realize just how much they muddied up the last few storylines. Go see it. You'll have a blast. :)

Entering Jackson, through our windshield. The slopes are LITERALLY in town.

After the movie, we had dinner at the Snake River Brewing Company, which is in fact the most award-winning small brewery in the United States. The food was awesome, and according to Jason (since I can't have beer... sad...) the beer was really great, too.

The Jackson Hole Visitor's Center has a grass roof!

Finally, we made it to our classy accommodations - the Super 8. There are some really, really awesome hotels here in Jackson, but they're all way above our super-saver budget. This Super 8 is pretty nice, though, and one of the cheapest in town. We're happy. And aside from Jason snoring last night, I slept great.

OH! We watched a couple of episodes of Extreme Couponing on TLC last night. We'd never seen it before and were both hooked (especially Jason). Have you seen it before? Those people are crazy! They're like organized, super saver hoarders. You sort of envy them and pity them at the same time. Definitely something to be learned, though. We're not taking advantage of any coupons really, and should be saving SOME money at least. :)

The only mar on the day was a bug that decided it needed to fly into my eyeball. Nasty. Fortunately, Jason was able to gently get it out.

Sorry for the super long post, but like I said - Awesome day. :)


  1. What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing your stories and pictures. Your blogs are always so fun to read. Love and miss you guys! XO

  2. i've been to jackson hole and agree completely. it's AWESOME. i totally had a flash back of the elk arch. :) and i LOVE your new ring. very gypsy.

  3. I love your blogs. I hear your voice when I read them. I especially liked how you ran into the little old lady at the diner. Old people are the best!

  4. I've been to ALL those places you mention except the brewery or movie theatre. But I've seen them both! And don't worry... we stayed at that super classy motel as well. Though, it was one of the nicer Super 8's I've been in. As a kid we stayed in a lot of those cheap motels, so I know. ;)

    Love the animal photos and especially appreciate you taking photos of your husband's butt crack. haha. I would so do that. Glad you guys are making the most of this wonderful experience. I love the wildlife. I would absolutely love to live there for 6 months.

  5. AH! I love that little Marmot! Super cute :)
    Jason's butt crack! LOL. I would totally take a picture of Nik's too since it is ALWAYS on display. SO glad you're having fun!!!