The Wyoming Trail : Days Seven, Eight, Nine & Ten

Day Seven : August 6th

Today we would be going to two of Yellowstone’s top 3 attractions:
Mammoth Hot Springs and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River (the
third attraction being a reliable geyser that you may have heard of).
We would also be stopping at the Norris Geyser Basin, Roosevelt Lodge
(commemorating President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to the area), and a
few other interesting or historic points of interest along the way.

Something interesting that we learned about Yellowstone on our way
there (we downloaded some podcasts from the National Park Service,
great stuff, highly recommended) is that the entire park rests in the
crater of a volcano. To be more precise, a supervolcano. A volcano so
large that when you are in it, you cannot tell you are in a volcano. A
volcano whose previous eruption 640,000 years ago was so violent that
it deposited ash over half of the continental U.S. including most of
Texas (and our hometown of Paris). It is this volcanic activity that is
responsible for the geological attractions that people come for and
when the question turns to the next eruption, it’s apparently a matter
of when and not if. Of course, it could be 40,000 years from now and
that’s still a blink of an eye in geological time, but it’s much more
dramatic for the Park Service to play up the whole impending doom gig.

Anyway, our first stop was the Norris Geyser Basin which a few years
ago began behaving pretty strangely: brand new mud pots appeared in
previously dormant areas and they measured the ground and it had
"swollen" upwards by a couple of feet.

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Here I am hoping that we finish our visit "eruption-free".

We then continued north towards the Mammoth Hot Springs. So called
because over the years the hot springs have deposited minerals that
create giant mounds of lunaresque and generally "on a planet far away"
kind of landscapes.

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From Mammoth, we went east and saw a 50 million year-old petrified
tree and we also walked through a "Forces of the Northern Rim" guided
trail. Then it was on to the Roosevelt Lodge and from there, we would
head south to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

The Canyon Visitor Center
was easily the best Visitor Center we went to on the whole trip. It’s
kind of dorky, I think, but I have come to love Park Visitor Centers.
The book stores, documentaries, nature and wildlife exhibits, the 3-D
replicas of the Park’s cartography…I love it, and the newly renovated
Canyon was one of, if not, the best ever.

After geeking out over the room-sized relief model of the Park, we
left the VC and went to get a look at the 308ft Lower Falls. Our first
view was impressive, but obscured.

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Down the road a little bit was a trail called Lookout Point which
would provide the best view of the Falls possible. The climb would be
too much for Laura so I had planned to go alone, but once again, she
surprised me and decided to give it a shot! Well, the new and improved
view was certainly worth the effort!

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The trek back up was a beast for the Preggie, but she did great and we were at the top even sooner than she thought we would be.

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It was a full day of touring some beautiful sections of the park,
and now it was time to go back to camp for a warm fire on a chilly
night. Bring on the S’mores!

Day Eight : August 7th

Our last full day in the park…all good things…

The first stop on our way to the Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcanoes
was the Artist’s Paint Pots. We were going to see these on our first
day in the park, but we were running short on time then, so we passed
them over and it’s a good thing we made it a point to stop because it
was a lively and colorful site!

There were some smaller mud pots here and some hot springs as well,
but the nicest thing about this area was how the trail led you up a
ridge that provided a nice view of the thermal activity going on below.

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From here, it was on to the smelliest area of the entire trip.
Sulphur Caldron. It’s an appropriately named giant pool of boiling
water emitting the smell of rotten eggs.

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Across the street were some of my favorite features: the large mud
pots and mud volcanos. They are nowhere close to the dramatic showboats
that the geysers are, and they aren’t as colorful as the hot springs,
but it’s what is actually going on within them that I found so
interesting.

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So this appears to be mud that is literally boiling. However, what has actually happened is that the spring is so
acidic that it breaks the rock down in to mud and clay! Crazy! Then
steam and air rise up to create the bubbles, giving it the appearance
of boiling mud.

As we left and made our way to a picnic spot, we came upon some
bison very near to the road. Some were rolling around getting rid of
the insects and some were just strolling along, being bison.

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The bison’s idea of Off spray

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Laura
snapped this one, one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. It
is perfectly still and perfectly quiet. This photo takes me back there.

Our picnic area was down on the shore of the Yellowstone River at
LeHardy Rapids. This is the very spot that geologists predict will be
the epicenter of the Yellowstone Supervolcano’s next eruption. Despite
that, we didn’t eat with any sense of urgency. I mean, what are the
odds?

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After lunch, we visited the Fishing Bridge area and Visitor Center (great wildlife exhibit!) and then moved on to Grant Village (great
exhibit about the ’88 wildfire!). In between, I went on a trail called
Elephant Back and as always seems to be the case, a walk in the woods
is simply good for the mind, body and spirit.

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The view from the top

This pretty much wrapped up our adventures in Yellowstone. We went
back to our little camp near the Madison river and had quesadillas, and
later, more S’mores.

In the end, all three parks were terrific; but, at the risk of
leveling an insult at the mother of all National Parks, Yellowstone was
my least favorite. This is of no fault to the park itself, it has more
to do with the crowds it tends to attract. Simply put: Grand Teton is
for the naturalist, Yellowstone is for the tourist and it had plenty of
them. I’d be willing to bet good money that 95% of Yellowstone’s
visitors never get more than 100 yards away from their car while in the
park. Laura called me out on my resentment a couple of times because I
can tend to be a little grumpy around crowds, but being in Yellowstone
felt more like a visit to an amusement park where the attractions just
happened to be mule deer and geysers. The people tended to approach the
park’s features and especially the wildlife with a lack of reverence
and respect.  I started calling it the Disneyland of the National Park
Service. I’m probably overstating things, again with the grumpiness
towards mobs crowds. However, my advice to future
travelers would be to watch Old Faithful erupt, see the Lower Falls
from Lookout Point, and then get in your car and drive south back to
Grand Teton and stay there for the remainder of your trip.

Day Nine : August 8th

Our itinerary called for us to drive to Cedar Bluff State Park in
Kansas to sleep for the night. That’s approximately 14 hours from
Yellowstone and we decided on about day four that there was no way
that’d be happening.

Instead, when we finally got a cell phone signal in Cheyenne, I called my brother, Larr
and he hopped on the internet and hooked it up with an awesome deal on
a hotel in Denver! Needless to say, that made those last few hours of
driving extremely easy knowing that we had an actual bed to look
forward to.

Day Ten : August 9th

We didn’t exactly hit the door running but we were on the road early
enough to beat any kind of traffic and fortunately our route didn’t
require us to get on 270. On a side note, my  attempts to introduce
"270’d" in to my own vocabulary have so far proven fruitless. However,
school starts in less than two weeks, so if I can get a few of the cool
kids saying it, it’s wildfire from there.

At last, at midnight, 225 hours and 3,758 miles since the last time we’d been there, we rolled into the driveway.

Moments treasured, memories made, removed from the tranquility of the wild and yet returned to the comforts of Home.

The Wyoming Trail : Days Five & Six

Day Five : August 4th

On the agenda today was a hike with a park naturalist along part of the Jenny Lake Trail and then up to Inspiration Point.

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From what we had read on TripAdvisor we knew that Laura would be able to do the majority of the trail, but the final climb up to Inspiration Point itself would be too steep and strenuous. But, it would still be a great hike because there would be a waterfall along the way and probably lots of interesting info from the ranger.

We were officially 2-for-2 on guides this trip. Justin was very cool and made this hike well worth the effort for Laura. He taught us how to identify thimbleberries and we were allowed to try some out for ourselves.

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Delicious!

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Hidden Falls

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Does this guy look like a park naturalist or what?

So after making it to Hidden Falls, Laura was supposed to go ahead and check out while I went the rest of the way up…but amazingly she pushed up and on through a very difficult climb to make it all the way to the Point! I was extremely impressed.

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Enjoying a well-deserved view

After lunch at camp, Laura took a nap and I walked further north along the Jenny Lake Trail until I found a piece of shore that was almost completely isolated. I had walked far enough and there was enough sun that I had begun to work up a sweat, so I left my shoes and shirt on a rock underneath a pair of Black Cottonwoods and crept in to the lake. When I was far enough out to be in up to my neck, I turned around and saw those two trees in a different way. Their trunks were so close to one another that their root systems must be completely intertwined beneath the soil. Truly, these trees appeared to be married to one another and I thought with fondness of my wife, resting tenderly at camp, exhausted from growing and carrying our child, and from insisting on staying with me to the end of a trail. This thought endeared these two trees to me, and I have returned to them in my mind several times since leaving them.

The rest of the day was spent learning a thing or two about beavers at the Blacktail Ponds Overlook (honestly, a bit of a let down if you ever go…probably skip it), driving to the Snake River Overlook (the site of an extremely famous Ansel Adams photograph, credited with giving momentum to the Natural Park movement and one of 116 photographs on the Voyager golden record), and visiting Cunningham Cabin.

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Snake River and the Teton Mountain Range

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Cunningham Cabin (I honestly don’t know how these remarkable people survived the winter)

Then it was back to camp for I think more veggie dogs for dinner and for me, some very tasty wheat beer brewed just on the other side of the Tetons in Idaho. This would be our last day in Grand Teton National Park and it could not have been better to us. In the morning, we would pack up our things and head north in to Yellowstone, beginning our tour of a geographically unique place on this earth.

Day Six : August 5th

Because the shore of Jenny Lake had become one of my favorite places and we would not be there again for years (and years?) I decided to set my alarm early and be there for sunrise.

I found a comfortable rock to sit on, and listened to the Sigur Ros album Takk from beginning to end while the scene changed from complete darkness, to navy, to icy blues, and then in to warm reds and oranges. Catching the sunrise was a habit that my father-in-law, Paul, and I got in to on a vacation two Christmases ago in Sedona and the two here in the Tetons were well worth the effort and lost sleep.

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As I walked up to our campsite preparing to wake Laura up so we could get going, I saw something very confusing. All of our gear was stacked up next to the car ready to go.

"Have we been evicted? Is someone robbing us? What’s going on?"

Then, Laura hopped out of the tent with a proud look on her face. She had been packing up for the last hour putting us well ahead of schedule and blessing me immensely by doing so much of the work. A great surprise and a great start to the day! But sadly, it was goodbye to GTNP.

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On to Yellowstone! We were able to reserve our campsite at the Madison area in advance so there was no rush at all to claim a spot or anything. This was a great advantage logistically because we would be entering the park from the south and we could start hitting the points of interest as we made our way to camp.

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(we’re geysers)

The first stop was Isa Lake. It’s a very unassuming thing, more like a pond actually and they don’t make a big deal out of it from the road. But, having read about it in the guidebook beforehand, it was something I didn’t want to miss.

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What’s so great about this relatively small body of water? Well, it sits right on the continental divide and so waters that begin here end up in both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico! To make it even more interesting, the stream that leaves the lake to the west actually makes a u-turn and it ends up feeding the Gulf to the southeast, and the stream that exits on the east also makes a u-turn and it ends up in the Pacific! What a quirky little place…I wonder if there is another one like it?

From there, it was on to what could be described as the main event of the park, Old Faithful herself.

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Luckily, we only had to wait a pretty short amount of time for the geyser to perform and then we began a lengthy walk in the direction of Morning Glory Pool. The trail wound its way through a number of other geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles.

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At last, we reached Morning Glory and despite being treated to some wonderful colors deep within the pool, it was also very sad to see the orange and brown growth along the edge of the water; the result of people throwing garbage and other objects in to the pool which clogs the spring, cools the water, and allows otherwise absent bacteria to grow. Seriously, who walks up to something as wonderful as this hot spring and decides to throw in their plastic coke bottle?

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You can see in the picture above that a storm had begun to creep in and we were about a mile-and-a-half to two miles away from the car. Also, there is a thing called sciatica that the Preggie has been battling for the last couple of weeks. Apparently, as her internals are rearranging themselves and ligaments are stretching this way and that, a common ailment is for the ol’ sciatic nerve to get caught on the ol’ hip bone from time to time. And then it just stays there. I am only able to observe this phenomenon, I’ve never experienced it myself, but I’m going to have to take a pass. It does not look like a barrel of monkeys. Unless, of course, those monkeys are jumping up and down on one of the largest nerves in your body, and then yes, it most certainly appears to be the aforementioned barrel of monkeys.

So, with a mile-and-a-half to go, a clearly angry burst of rainfall moving in, and a group of primates going bananas on Laura’s hip, we began the journey. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Laura calls it one of her favorite parts of the trip. The reason being is that to a  small degree, it was like practicing for labor. She’s been reading a book called "Christ-centered Childbirth" and she was able to actually practice some of the things she had just read about. It was a very painful walk for her, especially the final stretch when the rain began to fall and the pain was at it’s worst, but she had to walk faster then than at any other time. My role was comparatively minimal non-existent, all I really did was hold her hand and encourage her as best as I knew how. But, when we finally got in to some shelter, she just collapsed and it felt like we had accomplished something together. I’ve known this all along but I know it now even more, she is going to be incredible when our delivery date finally arrives.

After the rain died down, we went to our campground at the Madison area and set up the tent and picnic table tent in case it rained again. I had heard about a popular swimming hole nearby in the Firehole River so made the short drive and I had a brief swim in the canyon.

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Aaaaaaand then it looked like rain again. So, we hustled back to camp confident in the fact that we’d recently purchased and set up a cover for the picnic area for this very occasion.

It was a primo piece of absolute junk.

Worthless.

And the rain was still coming in, so we jumped back in the car and headed for West Yellowstone, Montana which was only 14 miles west. We figured we could score some pizza or a veggie burger if we were lucky.

Of course, once we were five miles down the road the rain completely stopped. A little frustrating, sure, but if we hadn’t left camp then we wouldn’t have stumbled upon the most serene setting ever. It is actually a little too perfect. We rounded a corner, saw a rainbow, saw some deer and at the same time we both said something to the effect of, "Ok, that’s pretty cool…"

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When it was all said and done, we did in fact find a pizza place in West Yellowstone (as well as a great little bookstore with a large Nature Writing and Nature Guides section). We returned to camp a little exhausted from a full day and slept well anticipating the day to come of touring the upper section of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road.

The Wyoming Trail : Days Three & Four

Day Three : August 2nd

We slept so well that when we woke up the next morning at 7 a.m., we were both fully rested and ready to go claim a spot at Jenny Lake. If you’re ever going somewhere new on vacation and you want the inside scoop, visit www.TripAdvisor.com and browse through the forums for information on your destination. Because we did this in advance, we knew that the best campground in Grand Teton is Jenny Lake and that you need to be there before 8 a.m. to get a spot because it is first come, first served.

So, that is why we still needed to get going so early despite such a long previous day. It paid off though, because we got to see a small herd of bison grazing for their breakfast, and it was a great time of day to see the Teton Range for the first time.

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After claiming one of the few available spots at Jenny Lake, we went up the road just a little bit to a quiet picnic area next to Leigh Lake. We had a simple breakfast in the shade of a mixture of pine and fir trees and we smiled knowing that this is what we had come for. No more interstates, no more long hours of inventing new twists on standard car games. Instead, sitting in the shade of a tree whose roots are fed by a perfectly clear mountain lake. A lake that looks like the kind you hear about…a surface like a mirror, as clear as air, tucked in perfectly at the foot of a mountain. It’s a place where thinking comes easily, effortlessly, and you are changed by it in at least a small way.

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Afterward, we went to the Taggart Lake Trailhead and implemented what we knew would be a good compromise on hikes that Laura wasn’t necessarily up for. The answer: a book and a chair.

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So, while Laura relaxed and with her book in what has to be described as one of the most perfect places to read…ever…I continued on toward Taggart. It ended up being one of my favorite walks of the entire trip. You walked through areas of lush foliage, an open meadow, along a stream, through a tunnel of pines, among burned out snags from a wildfire years before, finally arriving at the lake.

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That afternoon we also drove to the top of Signal Mountain and learned about the glacier activity that carved out and landscaped the area. It was interesting to be able to literally see what the glacier had done: leaving rich deposits of soil in some areas (allowing trees with deep root systems to flourish) and large amounts of rock in others (meaning less topsoil and quick drainage which lead to sage and other grasses establishing themselves).

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We visited a few historic sites in the park before returning to camp; a camp that for the first time would remain in place for more than a few hours. This was especially great because it meant setting up a very spacious, bells-and-whistles tent that we’d borrowed from the Wares. A tent so spacious that we could easily fit the two inflatable mattresses that we’d also borrowed from them. As far as our standards for camping go, we were pretty much entering four-star territory at this point.

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We enjoyed veggie dogs roasted on an open fire and baked beans cooked on a handy propane stove. Before going to bed we played a round or two of our new favorite game on the picnic table and then fell asleep with the alarm set for 5:00 a.m.

Day Four : August 3rd

"5:00 a.m.?! Are these people crazy?" Allow me to explain.

Besides the Teton Mountain Range itself, one of the park’s most geographically prominent and ecologically influential features is the Snake River. And what better way to see and learn about the River than to go on a guided float? And what better time to go on a guided float than 6 a.m.? Ok, Laura wasn’t exactly sold either when I pitched it to her, but sunrise is easily my favorite time of day and in this case, it has the added benefit of being a time when the wildlife is active and visible. So we met our river guide and the rest of our group very early in the morning and hit the water.

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Our guide ended up being great. The whole guide thing is always a toss up; we’ve had wonderful guides who love questions and love sharing their knowledge, and we’ve had guides who would rather be anywhere else but there. But Matt was awesome.

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He was running commentary non-stop throughout the float about the park and river’s geology, plants, trees, beavers, eagles, elk, history…and he was very funny which is always helpful.

Besides having a good guide, we also got to see some great wildlife. We saw several bald eagles, including one full-grown (6ft wingspan) eagle that flew right over our head and snatched a fish from the river and began eating it right there on the bank. There were elk and Canadian geese, and a very close encounter with a beaver who came right up to the raft. We also had some good looks at the Tetons as they peeked through the cloudy sky.

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After the float, we visited a few historic sites nearby and then made our way back to camp. Little did we know that camp is where the real action would be! As we drove in to our campground, we noticed a small group of people gathered near the entrance. We’d seen some mule deer on the way back and figured that it must be more of them. But upon investigation…

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We’ve got a bear ladies and gentlemen! He was just doing his thing: rooting around looking for bugs, grubs and moths. We watched him for quite a while and then he seemed to be wandering off, so we hopped in the car and drove the extra 50 or so yards to our campground, exhilarated that a bear had been that close to our site! Laura was going about her business getting lunch ready and I was straightening up some things when a car slowly drove up and stopped.

"Maam. Miss?"
"Yes?" Laura said.
"Uh, there is a bear about to walk through your campsite, I just didn’t want you to look up and be alarmed."

Sure enough, we look up and about 15 to 20 yards away is the same bear walking on by! We’ve got this on video but my FireWire cable isn’t working. As soon as I get it figured out I’ll be sure to put it online. It was a great, great, treat and a wildlife experience that will be difficult to top!

To cap off a perfect day that also included a hike near Two Oceans Lake as well as a picturesque moose sighting (he’s in the lower left)…

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…we walked down a short trail to the shore of Jenny Lake. I had brought my swim trunks because I was planning on getting in to the springs around Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone, but after seeing some folks swimming in this lake I just had to give it a try.

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I also had several chances on this day to journal and write a few poems. The first was on the Two Oceans Lake Trail.

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The pines are growing,
  right in front of my eyes,
  even though I cannot see it.
Aspen leaves are flickering.
Insects are clicking.
Somewhere, a moose drinks from a stream;
A baby breastfeeds;
A pinecone falls.

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Journal Entry: Two Oceans Trail 8/3/07

Every trip is a learning experience. I feel like every time we go somewhere a part of my spirit changes to accommodate what I am seeing, smelling and touching.

Every trail we take shows me a metaphor and helps me make sense of existing. The trail itself being the most obvious one.

On the way to Taggart Lake I walked through an area that had been burned away some years ago. The forest was recovering quickly…nature was simply doing what it does. I was reminded that this world does not need me, that I am a blip on a spectacularly minuscule rock in a staggeringly enormous space.

And far from making me feel despondent, irrelevant, or unimportant, I felt a great deal of peace and comfort in that moment.

This creation, which I love dearly and which awes me regularly, will continue without me, without any of us. For that I am exceedingly grateful.

The Wyoming Trail : Days One & Two

We got home yesterday from our ten day trek out West and we had a great time! There’s so much to cover I’m thinking that I’ll break the posts up a little bit. In the meantime, you can see photos in our Picasa gallery…there are two albums, one has touristy, overview of the trip type photos; the other album is landscapes or macro views of nature on walking trails, etc.

Touristy Photo Album
Artsy Photo Album

Day One : July 31st

We woke up at 6 a.m. and pretty much hit the door running. After a pit stop or two in Oklahoma, we hit the Kansas border headed in the direction of Wichita with the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" pumping through the speakers (the song contains the line, "I’m goin’ to Wichita…").

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After a left turn in Salina and some pit stops along the way, we made it to Colorado a little behind schedule. But first, I should give the state of Kansas a lot of credit for helping us out in one of our favorite games: License Plates. Not a clever title, but great games don’t need good titles. So, we print out a map of the United States, and when we see a plate from that state we shade it in. On our trip to Washington D.C. we nearly blacked out the whole map. Anyway, before we’d even made it out of Kansas we had already made serious headway on our board.

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By the time we were approaching Denver, we were very hungry so we figured we would hold out for a nice sit-down restaurant off the interstate around the Mile High City. Good citizens of Denver I mean you no offense when I say that I-270 in the NE area of your city is an armpit in which it appears that machinery goes to rust, rot and die. I imagine this is a fact well-known to Denver residents and I would not be at all surprised to find out that "270’d" is a part of the local vernacular.

"Hey man, did you hear about Billy?"
"No, what?"
"He got fired, man."
"No way! Billy got 270’d?"

Finally, in north Denver, in an area called Northglenn, we found a Cracker Barrel.  Unfortunately, the funk of 270 had somehow infiltrated my immune system because I was feeling pretty sick. Really sick, actually, and it’s difficult to be sick around a pregnant woman and not feel guilty. Or like a pansy. "Ah yes, I can tell from the bulge in your abdomen that you are growing a person. It is building its brain, vital organs and growing at exponential rates. Understandably, this results in a consistent state of nausea, breathlessness, sleeplessness, achiness and general discomfort for you. Sounds tough. Um, my tummy hurts."

After a less-than-delectable meal, we hopped back in the Matrix and prepared to finish the last few hours of our drive. The road leading in to Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful. It curves through exposed rock and along a perfect mountain stream. Mostly with the curving. It was a very curvy road and so, I puked. I never get car sick, in fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever once been car sick and so when Laura asked if I thought that’s what it was I said, "Not so much car sick, but sick of the car, I think."

Whatever it was, vomiting seemed to help so the last half-hour of the drive in to the park was enjoyable for us both. Finally, we made it to our campsite after the darkness had settled in, so we set up camp and went to sleep not realizing exactly how breathtaking our surroundings truly were.

Day Two : August 1st

The next morning, we had time for a few hikes before leaving for Grand Teton Nat’l Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The first of those hikes was a very easy loop around Sprague Lake, named after a couple who use to run a small lodge nearby. Dream Lake was the second trail, and after being on it for about 15-20 minutes, we began to wonder if Laura was going to be able to make it. But, in the first of what would be a string of impressive showings on this and other trails, she managed to complete the entire walk. A two and a quarter mile round-trip up and down rocky terrain for a six-month Preggie…great job!

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RMNP camp

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Sprague Lake

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Dream Lake

Sadly, that was all the time we had for in RMNP; it was time to begin what would become an adventurous drive to Grand Teton. We saw such a small part of this park and would love to come back soon, maybe sometime after the wee one arrives.

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By the time we were actually on the road and in the direction of GT, we were well behind schedule. We decided that instead of going diagonal across Wyoming, we would stay on the interstate and go west toward Rock Springs and then north in to Jackson (the south entrance of the park instead of the east entrance) which would give us the option of trying to find a hotel room if it was too late to set up camp. At the time, we had no idea how fortuitous a decision this would turn out to be.

In preparing for this trip, I felt like we had pretty much taken care of everything: we had supplies, a route, a plan, new oil in the car. But at some point along the way it occurred to me that I had not checked out the tires and at our next rest stop when I felt the inside tread on the back two, they were in pretty bad shape. It wasn’t a wires-sticking-out-going-to-blow-at-any-second kind of situation, but we clearly needed to replace those tires. Fortunately, we were coming up on Rock Springs, but as we rolled in to a Wal-Mart parking lot at 7:01 pm and saw the guys closing the doors to the garage, we thought our luck had run out. But, these men were incredibly gracious and stayed late to get us safely back on the road. We knew that God was truly watching out for us because in talking with one of the guys, Victor, he mentioned that they normally only stay open until five, that this 7pm schedule was only temporary.

When we made it to Jackson, WY, it was late and it had been a long day. Our original plan was to drive in to the park and camp in the Gros Ventre (grow vont) area and then wake up early the next morning to get a site at the more desirable Jenny Lake area. But, we were beat. We had decided that we would suck it up and spend some money on a hotel room in Jackson, get some good sleep and be ready to get back to business the next morning.

Being a tourist town outside a National Park during the peak season, we knew that the hotels in Jackson would be crowded, but we figured that there would be at least one room in the entire town that would be available. After passing several "No Vacancy" signs we stopped at a hotel and asked the receptionist if they knew of a place that may have a room. They gave us a list of about 40 hotels to call and said, "I don’t know of a single one and I’ve been calling around." Laura called several of the hotels on the list and those receptionists said the exact same thing.

So, I’m not trying to say anything about our child…but, Laura’s pregnant and in Jackson, there were no rooms in the Inns.

That being a bust, we had no choice but to continue with our original design; and so after setting up the tent at midnight we climbed in to our sleeping bags in Gros Ventre and fell asleep among the bison.