A Road So Bad We Needed Elk-a-Seltzer

The Big Trip Out West

Though I haven’t even been home for more than a month, I’ve been pretty busy. Almost immediately after coming home, my family and Julia set out on a great adventure west. We wanted to see some of our nation’s most beautiful parks during the Centennial of the National Parks Service. Our goal was to visit the Badlands, the Corn Palace, Custer’s State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Redwoods State Park, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoias, Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, the world’s best cinnamon roll at Glen Haven, and Trail Ridge Road. But even the perfect plan can have its bumps and amazing surprises. Come along on the journey, as I’ll be posting each day (and roughly each park) throughout the next few months.

Saying Goodbye to Yellowstone

This morning, we woke up to bitterly cold weather at 10°C. Thankfully, the wind had died down which made it seem warmed than the night before. Because Zach is freelancing, he had to work this morning and a few other mornings on the trip. Mom, Dad, Julia, and I all decided to walk the geyser field surrounding Old Faithful.

Yellowstone National Park

The sidewalk was covered in a thin layer of frost, so we had to be careful where we stepped. We first passed Castle Geyser, which has massive, conic deposits around it. Near Castle was my favorite geyser of the whole trip.

Yellowstone National Park

Next to a sign that read “Tardy,” there was an empty hole. No water gushed out from it during Castle’s eruption. It was only after Castle had been going to a while that a few bubbles gurgled up. Tardy Geyser erupted in a tiny bubble, then died down. I loved it!

Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Geyser was also erupting in this field, and smoke was billowing from the Beehive. Near the end of our walk, we even managed to catch Old Faithful erupting again!

Yellowstone National Park

Since it had stalled that night and had been building up pressure, its eruption lasted much longer. Julia stood on the opposite side from all the crowd, which made it easy to get some nice photos. After the geysers, we packed up and headed on to the Grand Tetons.

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Tetons

We arrived at the Grand Tetons around 1:30 pm. I had been looking through the hiking books on the drive down and had picked a few nice, short hikes. We turned at Colter Bay where we hiked the Lakeside hike around the peninsula.

The Grand Tetons, WY

Because there had been a lack of rain, the lakes here were very low, so the mountains did not reflect in them like I thought they would. We still enjoyed the hike, even though many of the pictures were of poor quality. And who can be sad when they see a whole flock of ducks and geese playing in a pond?

The Grand Tetons, WY

At around 4:00 pm, we arrived at Jackson Lodge with plans to hike part of the Willowflats and Lunch Tree Hill hikes, which were 2 and 1 miles respectively. As we pulled up, Zach got a phone call from work. Julia and I went on to find the trailhead and heard the elks bugling.

The Grand Tetons, WY

We listened to them for a while before heading back to the car. When we arrived, they were all missing! Finally, we found them back at the lodge where we listened to the elk and watched them with binoculars. Not only were there the big elk but there were also some cows and a few calves. Unfortunately, Zach had to work, so we headed down toward Teton Village.

The Grand Tetons, WY

The Worst Road in the US

From the Tetons, we headed toward Jackson Hole. On our way, we saw two bull elk, a few does, and a calf. I can’t remember what road we drove on anymore, but it was rough. Really rough. At one point, I think it had been paved. Now, it was mostly dirt that had been progressively potholed through the skiing season and hadn’t been repaired since. There were potholes long enough to put our car in, and small ones dotted the entire road. We drove at around 5 mph to keep from rocking and had to move from side to side on the road just to avoid the big potholes!

We were so happy when we arrived at the Inn at Jackson Hole. Though it was terribly cold out, we headed to The Mangy Moose for dinner. I had a great dish called the three sisters quinoa with corn, squash, green beans, poblano sage vinaigrette, and pepitas. Julia had the Red Farm chicken with zucchini pasta, artichokes, and olive tapenade. Mom chose a JH Mead Ranch burger, while Dad and Zach both enjoyed a dinner for two with steak. We were all starving and happy to have such a delicious meal. The meals that Julia and I had even came with ice cream!

The Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole, WY

 

After our meal, we danced in the pub a bit, watched some hockey, and hit the sack.

 

Be kind to one another,

Natalie

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