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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jackson Hole Days 3-4

We knew that we wanted to spend some time in Teton National Park.  I really had no idea how big it is, we talked to people who spent a full week in the park and felt like there was still so much to see.  After talking to several people we decided to spend the day we had exploring Jenny Lake.  The back entrance of the park was just a few miles from where we were staying and from the minute we entered, we encountered a stream of amazing views.  The mountains are impressive from far away, but up close quite spectacular - there are no foothills, they just rise up directly, making them seem so much more rugged.

Before making it to the lake we ran into the visitor's center.  In general, I love visitor's centers.  I love the displays, the tours, all the information that is so easily accessible and of course, the gift shop.  Apparently there are at least three other visitor's centers in the park.  I'm not sure about the rest, but the one we stopped at was pretty amazing.  It appeared to be quite new and was absolutely beautiful.  They had a movie that was about 25 minutes long and super interesting.  The displays were really great - very informative and interactive.  We could have spent so much more time there but decided that we should get going and actually see the park.

 We had been told that you can hike all the way around Jenny Lake and several people suggested we do that.  The full hike, about 7 miles, seemed like a much better idea earlier in the week.  Once we arrived at the lake we checked out our options and decided to do a "cheater" version.  Essentially, hike around about 1/3 of the lake, do the side hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, and then take the ferry back across the lake.  There were a few little hiccups to the hike - the first that Erika and I didn't change from sandals into good shoes, big mistake.  We also really struggled to keep track of one another - I think we all ended up seeing what we hoped to see, but we also spent a lot of time looking for each other.  The lake was seriously breathtaking and completely made up for any struggles to get to the views.

Tim's parents and sister told us that one of their favorite things to do in Jackson Hole is to go to the dinner/entertainment at the Bar J. Chuckwagon.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the description on their web site describes it best :  "From early in the 1800’s cowboys rode the western range. On the cattle drive, every long, hard day in the saddle was followed by an evening meal, tall tales and music around the chuckwagon.  Originated on a working cattle ranch, the Bar J Chuckwagon takes you back to the spirit of the old west with a relaxing atmosphere,  rib stickin’ meal and authentic cowboy entertainment.   The Bar J Wranglers will entertain the entire family as they take you down memory trail with songs, stories, comedy, yodeling, fiddling and more!  Experience an evening you'll never forget at the Bar J Chuckwagon."  The night was really fun, we were definitely glad that we made the effort to go, despite our already long day. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jackson Hole Days 1-2

Early in spring we started talking about a summer vacation and trying to make a plan that would be fun for everyone, big kids and babies.  The kids had talked a lot about going rafting so Jackson Hole seemed like a logical spot.  After debating it for awhile, we decided to take my mom up on her offer to take the babies so that we could do some activities that didn't really work with them.  We headed out Wednesday afternoon and decided to take the scenic route.  The views were amazing, mostly small roads that took us past lakes, rivers and beautiful fields.  We don't exactly live in a metropolis, but it felt very wide open and wild.  We rolled into town with enough time to get checked in and hit the store to buy a few things for dinner, eat quickly and head to bed.

I had booked our condo online and was really impressed,
It was bigger and nicer than it had appeared and worked great for us.

Thursday morning Tim and I headed out early to get a run in before the day got too busy. We were both a little shocked when we walked outside - 40 degrees.  But it kind of felt wonderful to be cold while running, especially since it was only temporary.

We decided to make the most of our trip and booked both a morning and afternoon rafting trip. The morning was a float trip - super relaxed, scenic and historical. We saw tons of bald eagles as well as several huge nests with young eagles.  There were plenty of ospreys - we even saw one swoop in and catch a fish.  We also saw an eagle and an osprey "fighting", they were swooping at each other and definitely not happy with one another.  The guide said that the eagle had probably stolen a fish from the osprey, apparently that is pretty typical.

After a stop back at the boat house, we were bussed to the lower river for the whitewater portion of the trip.  Unfortunately, we don't have any photos of that section which was by far the most fun.  The first half was so mellow that it was easy to have a camera.   We definitely got wet on the second half and were too busy rowing to be able to take pictures, even if the camera were waterproof.  Brycen was super brave and rode on the front of the boat as our official bullrider.  He got tossed back into the boat a few times, but luckily never went overboard.  The rapids were super fun, definitely wild and exciting and what everyone had been looking forward to.  Taylor, Brycen and I did jump out during a calm section to swim - it was a short swim though, not long before everything started to go numb.  The second half was over too quickly and before we were ready it was time to get back to dry land.

After showers and snacks, we left for Teton Village to explore and a ride the gondola to the top.  There were fires somewhere north so everything was pretty smoggy, but even on a not so perfect day, the views were still impressive.  We didn't have a plan for dinner and after wandering around Teton Village to the point we were all getting hangry (hungry + angry), we settled on a local restaurant with pretty fancy food.  After a lot of explanations from the waiter we all settled on a meal and I think everyone ended up pretty happy with what they got.  Definitely not our normal style of dining, but fun to have the experience.

Are you tired yet?  We apparently were not because we decided to head into downtown Jackson Hole for some sightseeing and shopping.  After getting the obligatory pictures in front of the antlers, we still had plenty of time for souvenirs and ice cream.

We ended the day tired, but happy.  Tim had a little bed time wrap up and told the kids how much he loved them and how much we care about them.   I told the kids how important vacations always were to my mom because of the chance to spend time together and make memories.  While we were there I kept having memories of when I went with my family - I think when I was in high school.  Hopefully we created some great memories on this trip that the kids will remember for years to come.