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.
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…").
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.
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?"
"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!
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.
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.