Kickin’ Around in Jackson, Wyoming

Day 38: Thursday, June 6, 2013

Today, we took a ‘down’ day in Jackson. Yes, Jackson is a touristy town. And yes, we’re tourists. 🙂 Hanging around the Cowboy Village Resort has been a great, relaxing haven from long days of driving (and fun!).

Office at the Cowboy Village Resort

Office at the Cowboy Village Resort

Cowboy Village Office - Carved pillar

Cowboy Village Office – Carved pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

Back side of the pillar

We slept in and then went over to Bubba’s BBQ for breakfast. Now, you wouldn’t think that a BBQ joint would be your first choice for breakfast. However, the front desk clerk at our resort highly recommended Bubba’s. She was spot-on.

I had the Chicken Fried Steak breakfast. I had been mulling over biscuits and gravy or the chicken fried steak…the waitress said that I could have both if I had a biscuit with my steak. BINGO! Tom ordered the Mexican Breakfast Burrito, and we split some blueberry pancakes. Yes, it was a heavy meal. And yes, we just about finished it all. It was SO good!

Breakfast at Bubba's

Breakfast at Bubba’s – Chicken fried steak, gravy, two eggs, hash browns and a biscuit.

After rolling back to the resort, we decided to take a stroll downtown. We put the girls in the doggie stroller and did some sightseeing and shopping. The galleries here have some interesting stuff, from a $450,000 Triceratops head fossil to your normal t-shirts and souvenir shot glasses. I ended up with a Bison purse and Huckleberry taffy. 🙂

Elk Antler Arch - Jackson Town Square

Elk Antler Arch – Jackson Town Square

Bear? Where?

Bear? Where?

Tom REALLY likes Bison

Tom REALLY likes Bison

We also took the opportunity to get the oil changed on the car and to do laundry. Do we know how to party, or what? In fact, we had so much fun that the dogs were just…dog tired! They are definitely bonding more and more every day.

Tired puppies

Tired puppies

Tomorrow, we head to Fort Collins, CO in preparation to see the Rocky Mountain National Park. Then, we’re going to motor through the Midwest before exploring Kentucky, Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachians until heading home.

Home. Yes, we’re moving in that direction. Part of me really misses home. The other part kind of wishes that the adventure could continue on indefinitely. But hey, we still have a few more weeks of rolling.

Wyoming … WOW!!!

Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, moose, deer, elk, herds of bison, geese, freakin’ huge ravens, snow, Jackson Lake, Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful, Prismatic Spring, steam vents, Jenny Lee Lake, Lewis Lake, dude ranches, waterfalls, beautiful vistas, great food, great lodgings, fantastic weather, and of course fabulous company.

How much more is a guy supposed to take?

A Day in Yellowstone National Park

Day 37: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Miles Driven Today: 259
Total Miles: 5,763

Today’s adventure was a visit to Yellowstone National Park. While it was a bit of a haul from Jackson, we’re glad that we decided not to stay in Montana. We’re really enjoying our cabin.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

I hadn’t realized that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park were so close together. You’re out of Teton for just a few minutes before you hit the entry to Yellowstone. Once in the park, you pass over the Continental Divide for the first time in the park at an elevation of over 7900 feet.

Continental Divide

We encountered the Continental Divide throughout the park

Our ‘must see’ in the park was Old Faithful, so we took the Grand Loop to the West. The scenery (not surprisingly) was magnificent. Tall pines lined our road, sheer cliffs and canyons flanked us to the right. Old Faithful was around 40 miles INTO the park, so it took a bit of time to get there. As we turned the corner, we could see it spouting above the tree line. Uh oh. That meant a 60- to 90-minute wait until the next ‘show’.

We parked in the village and walked around the visitor’s center. There are a number of villages around the park that include a lodge, visitor’s center, groceries, restaurants and gasoline as well as campgrounds and cabins. Old Faithful Village was teeming with people; not surprising since this is the single most popular attraction in the park.

There were benches and a viewing area all around Old Faithful, so we took the pups out in the stroller and sat in the sun waiting for the next eruption. A little over an hour later, the geyser spouted, shooting water and steam over 100 feet into the air.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

We then went on to the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. The springs and pools around here are uniquely colorful, with brilliant cerulean, orange and ocher rings and boiling, steaming cauldrons of mineral-rich water. The colors are formed by micro-organisms that thrive on the hot water. I found the area to be particularly inspiring; the photos are going to serve my artwork well!

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble – Excelsior Geyser Crater

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Brilliant color at the Grand Prismatic Spring

Brilliant color at the Grand Prismatic Spring

We went on to see waterfalls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake and so many other vistas. And we only saw one part of the Grand Loop; we would need several more days to see all that the park had to offer.

Base of the falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Base of the falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Beautiful Waterfall in Yellowstone

Beautiful Waterfall in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Tom was exceptionally happy that we were also able to see Bison in the wild. We stopped on Fountain Flat Drive and saw a herd of Bison (including young calves) across a river. We also spotted a bunch of Bison in Hayden Valley along with some antelope, mule deer and a number of Canadian geese. It was a good wildlife day. (We also saw some additional bison, antelope and deer near Teton on our way back!)

Field of wild Bison

Field of wild Bison (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Bison

Bison

Big Bison

Big Bison

I couldn’t imagine how congested this park gets in the heart of the summer season. Today’s visit was filled with tour buses and full parking lots, but the park wasn’t at capacity. Once again, we’re happy about our timing, good weather and good fortune.

Today's Open Road

Today’s Open Road

Tomorrow is a ‘down’ day in Jackson. We’ll hang out, do more sightseeing (and perhaps a couple of the local museums) and just relax before heading out on our next adventure. I did find this t-shirt at a gift shop in the Grand Teton National Park. It so fits the trip!

My Motto

My Motto

The Grandeur of the Tetons

Day 36: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Visited: Grand Teton National Park
Miles Driven Today: 94
Total Miles: 5,504

Grand. That’s an appropriate, albeit modest, description of the Tetons. In reality, the Tetons blew us away.

We started the day making breakfast in the room and then heading out towards the Tetons. The resort we’re staying at provided us with a ‘guided’ scenic driving tour that gave us some really great spots to see and explore.

We started with the park entrance and sign. We got a great shot of the sign with the magnificent Tetons in the background. A German couple was kind enough to take our picture. The views from the highway were incredible. The day was partly cloudy, adding drama to the scenery. I was simply in awe of the beauty of this place.

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Majestic Tetons

Majestic Tetons

We went on to the Mormon barn, one of ‘the most photographed’ buildings. I (of course) skirted the trend and took a picture of one of the homesteads. 🙂 Stunning.

Mormon Village w/Teton Backdrop

Mormon Village w/Teton Backdrop

Mormon Cabin in the Tetons

Mormon Homestead Cabin in the Tetons

We headed over to the park, where I got my National Park stamp. If you didn’t know, there are National Park passports and stamps. Each park has a stamp with their location and the date. You can keep track of the parks you visited. I’m getting quite a collection. However, I almost blew it by leaving my passport in the Visitor’s center. Luckily, I discovered that it was missing and was able to retrieve it!

National Park Passport

National Park Passport

We drove the park loop road and decide to stop for a picnic lunch at the very large Jackson Lake. But before we got there, we found a friend. This little guy wasn’t afraid of us at all. He kept munching away on the grass as I took pictures.

Hello little mule deer

Hello little mule deer

We bought some sandwiches and sat on the shores of Jackson Lake. The day was a bit cool, but we hardly noticed…we were enthralled at what we were seeing and experiencing at this magical place.

Jackson Lake reflecting the Tetons

Jackson Lake reflecting the Tetons

Picnic spot at Jackson Lake

Picnic spot at Jackson Lake

After lunch, we decided to go searching for some of the ‘residents’ of this area. We encountered a herd of bison, but they were so far off that they were hard to see (and photograph). We really wanted to see a moose, so I referred back to my ‘scenic drive guide’ and we headed on to Moose-Wilson road behind the Visitor’s Center. Within ten minutes, we spotted a collection of cars along the road…and YES…there he was! My first MOOSE!

Hello Mr. Moose!

Hello Mr. Moose!

Mr. Moose unconcerned by the paparazzi

Mr. Moose unconcerned by the paparazzi

We moseyed after waving ‘bye’ to the moose and stopped to view the lovely Snake River. It just so happens that one of the views was a favorite of Ansel Adams. Of course, I’m no Ansel Adams, but my iPhone very adequately captured the serene beauty of this valley.

Snake River and Tetons

Snake River and Tetons – An Ansel Adams View

It doesn't get any better than this

It doesn’t get any better than this

We headed back to the resort and then walked to downtown Jackson. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, we’re tourists. So, we happily window shopped and looked at restaurants in search of a decent meal. One of the shop owners told us that at 6pm, there would be a shoot-out show at the town square. So we moseyed on over and watched the show. Cheesy, but still…fun!

Stagecoach in downtown Jackson

Stagecoach in downtown Jackson

Shootout show in downtown Jackson

Shootout show in downtown Jackson

We had a nice dinner and an ice cream at the local parlor and headed back to the resort. We actually have changed our plans a bit. We liked this place so much that we are staying two more nights and using Jackson for our ‘home’ base for our Yellowstone visit. It’s not much further of a drive than Bozeman to Yellowstone, and we really love our quiet and comfy log cabin. We’ll leave on Friday for parts unknown…we’re still discussing where to go next. But that’s the beauty of an unstructured vacation. We love it!

Today was a great day. But then again, we’ve had over a month of great days…and more to come.

Today's open road

Today’s open road

All this sightseeing and sniffing make the dogs sleepy

All this sightseeing and sniffing make the dogs sleepy

Up to the Tetons

Day 35: Monday, June 3, 2013
Start: Richfield, UT
End: Jackson, WY
Miles Driven Today: 418
Total Miles: 5,410

Today was a mega travel day. We decided to drive straight through to Jackson, Wyoming so we could spend a full day exploring the Tetons. We originally were going to stop at the Utah/Wyoming border, but I’m glad that we motored through and reached Jackson. The dogs were rarin’ to go!

Let's go!

Packing up the car. Juliet says, “Let’s GO!”

Once again, the scenery was incredible. We have found the Utah landscape absolutely breathtaking, ever-changing and a dream to drive.

Route 89 in Utah

Route 89 in Utah

Blue skies, open road, lovely drive

Blue skies, open road, lovely drive

Breathtaking Utah scenery

Breathtaking Utah scenery

Our journey to Jackson took about 10 hours total, including a few stops. We mainly took backroads, but there was a stretch of I-80 that couldn’t be avoided. Our route took us through Utah, into Wyoming, BACK into Utah, back to Wyoming, a quick flirt into Idaho and then solidly in Wyoming for the rest of the journey. Whew!

Wyoming! Yeeeehawwww!

Wyoming! Yeeeehawwww!

Winding road

Our route took us from Utah to Wyoming, back to Utah, back to Wyoming, Idaho then Wyoming

Wyoming was a mixture of large ranches and pastures surrounded by hills and mountains. The “Home on the Range” song kept playing in my head. And yes, we did see some antelope grazing amongst the cows!

Many ranches, cattle, sheep, goats and a couple of alpacas

Many ranches, cattle, sheep, goats and a couple of alpacas

Today’s travels skirted and went through a host of National Forests. In Utah, we started around the Manti-La Sal National Forest and then drove on the edge of the Uinta National Forest. In Wyoming, we went through the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests. As we approached Jackson, the road followed, crossed and played around the Snake River.

Bridger-Teton National Forest

We went through Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forests today

Beautiful Bridger National Forest

Beautiful Bridger National Forest

We went through many small towns. Most had populations around 100. Afton, Wyoming was the largest town (aside from Jackson) that we saw along the way. It was a quaint little town with a really awesome sign!

Afton Wyoming

Afton, Wyoming

We really enjoyed the drive, but it was a long day. We were happy to reach our destination in Jackson–the Cowboy Village Resort. Cowboy Village is made up of individual cabins. Each cabin is complete with a kitchenette and sofa. We opted for a one-bedroom suite. The accommodations are really comfy but have the rustic feel of a cabin. But hey, if all cabins had Wifi, a kitchen, nice carpeting, granite countertops…I’d be going ‘rustic’ every day!

More of today's open road

More of today’s open road

Cowboy Village Resort

Cowboy Village Resort

Once again, the girls did great on the long ride. We did stop for dinner in Alpine, Wyoming and fed the girls before we fed ourselves! They are definitely getting more chummy. It’s great to see.

Closer every day

Closer every day

Tomorrow, we explore Grand Teton National Park. I can’t wait!

Made it … Finally, yea Wyoming

Almost 10 hours of driving today. We decided to do a heads down motor to get to Jackson Wy. Today and then spend a couple of days here. I’m toast right now.

It was a long drive but once again a pretty one. As we motored north we kept to the road lesser traveled with only a couple stints of highway. This made the trip longer but as usual, better. The landscape changed as we went further north. Through northern Utah, there were many farms and ranches in the lush valleys. When we got to Wyoming, holy cow ( no pun intended) the ranches turned into huge cattle ranges with hundreds and hundreds of cattle. These ranches are in the 10s of thousands of acres. This is not to mention the free range areas. During today’s drive we saw thousands of head of cattle.

Going through Park City, Utah we could see up in the mountains all the ski chalets of the rich and famous. It’s amazing how much money was there. Of course those were the ones we could see. I can only imagine what the really secluded, private ones look like.

Well, as usual, look at Mahgrit’s post with all the pictures. We are over 2,500 pictures right now. There are a lot of duplicates but we will take care of them before you come for a few days to see them ;-).

Park-o-Rama

Day 34: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Start: Bryce Canyon City, UT
End: Richfield, UT
Miles Driven Today: 215
Total Miles: 4,992

Today was a scenic motor day. We decided to take the longer loop on Route 12 and Route 24 through Escalante and made some detours as well. It was another day of unbelievable views and quiet roads. Just our speed!

Wel left Bryce and were immediately blown away by a change in landscape. We entered the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument area (quite a large area) and were hit by a lovely open road and the beginning of our driving adventure.

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

Entry to the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

We saw a sign for Kodachrome State Park, and we had to go. Who wouldn’t go to a park named Kodachrome? Right after the turn-off for the park, we saw a visitor’s center for Escalante. We stopped, chatted with the Ranger about both Escalante and Kodachrome, and motored on.

While Escalante was mainly made of a buff-colored stone, Kodachrome returned us to the iron-rich soil that we saw in Zion and Bryce. Deep terra cotta stonescapes surrounded us in this dramatic park. It was more a camping and hiking park, so our visit was short. But even on the main roads, we could see the bright beauty of this area…the reason for the park’s name. I would imagine that the landscape’s imagery changes dramatically throughout the day…it would be great to see.

Kodachrome State Park

Kodachrome State Park

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Incredible vista in Escalante National Monument

Incredible vista in Escalante National Monument (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Escalante Vista

Escalante Vista

Route 12 wound in and out of Escalante, skirting into and out of the Dixie National Forest. It was a stark contrast of deep, lush greens and stark desert landscapes. We loved it. The changes in altitude and temperature were equally dramatic. At one point, we were at 9,800 feet; the temperature in Richfield was almost 30 degrees more than at the summit in Dixie National Forest.

Aspens in Dixie National Forest

Aspens in Dixie National Forest

We loved this route. Desert, deep red canyons, lush groves of Aspen, rich floral meadows, wide grazing land…it was all on our route.

The road less travelled

The road less travelled (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

At the intersection of Route 12 and Route 24 in Torrey, we took yet another detour to Capitol Reef National Park just a few miles East of the intersection. Once again, we were thrown into a canyon with thick walls of iron-rich red cliffs and dramatic stone formations. We went a few miles in to the visitor’s center and then took a bit of the scenic drive. However, we wanted to reach our destination at a reasonable hour, so we left and motored back West. Given what we saw on the way TO the park…we saw much of the majesty of this area.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Open road to Capitol Reef

Open road to Capitol Reef

We reached Richfield and our modest overnight accommodations and are now safely and comfortably settled for the night. Tomorrow, we’re driving all the way to Jackson, Wyoming. We’ll stay a couple of nights there so we can spend a full day exploring the Tetons. We then will go up to Yellowstone!

For you Jasmine and Juliet fans, the girls are doing GREAT. One of the things I’ve been noticing is the interaction between Jasmine and Juliet. Jasmine is starting to cuddle more with Juliet. In the car, on the bed, and in the crate, these two are together 24 x 7…it was bound to happen. Juliet’s assertiveness is also changing the alpha dynamics. I’m not sure which dog is alpha (they tend to go back and forth). I do know that at the end of this, the dogs will be a little better bonded. Buddies? Maybe not today, but I’m hopeful.

Pals

Pals?

Wandering north towards Wyoming

Left Bryce this morning, heading towards Yellowstone. As per usual, we took the road less traveled, through Escalante. Once again the scenery was fantastic. It seems everywhere we go, we see nothing but fabulous ever changing scenery. None is really more beautiful than the other but it is just different.

We stopped to talk to the ranger as we went into Kodachrome State Park. He told us that the trip through Escalante would be great. He didn’t lie. As I said we took the back way and went right through the middle of Escalante National Monument. We were up and down constantly from about 5,000 feet to a high of 9,900 feet in elevation. All the while driving through fantastic colors on the mesas. We went across the summit of one Mesa on a two lane road with no shoulder and a sheer drop on both sides of the road. Mahgrit had a problem with this section of the drive. She could not look out the window and had to look at the floor. Also, as we were going up and down the mountains, the temperature changed up and down by about 30 degrees, cold up on the Mesa and hot down in the valley.

The valleys went from scrub brush to lush, grassy green the further north we went. We began to see larger and larger herds of cattle on the pastures until we came across one pasture where we could not count the cattle because there were so many.

Tomorrow is a push day. We will be doing some heavy driving because we want to get to Yellowstone before the weekend craziness.

Bryce Canyon

Had too much trouble with the network here so I didn’t post.

Iiiimmmm back.

As you already know, from Mahgrit’s post, we had a great drive yesterday, finding spots we never knew existed. The little turn off through the Dixie National Forest was a beautiful and relaxing drive. Ya, relaxing, like we are so stressed out. 😉

The landscape here in Utah once again is different. Not more or less beautiful but just different. It is obvious there is more water available here. Green valleys and cattle farms are more prevalent here.

Bryce Canyon is a sight almost beyond description. Multicolored monuments to nature cut and shaped by water. Just like the Grand Canyon and Zion, Bryce needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The pictures on Mahgrit’s postattempt to reflect what we have seen. And, what have we seen; an elk ranch, a bison ranch, mule deer, prong horn deer, a mountain goat, all close up and personal.

Today at Bryce, we climbed up to 9,300 feet ( well really drove most of the way and walked up the last few hundred. No, really we did some serious up hill walking. At this altitude it was kind of walk three steps, puff, walk three steps, pant, etc.

Tomorrow it is off to Escalante.

Bryce Canyon Beauty

Day 33: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Visited: Bryce Canyon National Park

This is our third National Park in a week. We are in awe of all this country has to offer, all the wild and beautiful places that still exist and are being preserved for generations to come.

Today’s visit to Bryce Canyon was as good as could be. We got up early and took the first shuttle into the park. It was quiet and almost empty. The morning was bright and cool. Perfect.

The first shuttle stop was at Bryce Canyon. The bus let us off, and within a few steps, we had reached this magnificent vista. According to the park info, Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon since it was not carved by running water; instead, the canyon was made by rainwater eroding the stone and, over time, making this unique landscape. I do have to say that I took about a hundred photos today. You can thank me for only publishing a few of them… 😉

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We took the bus to each of the stops and checked out the different canyons and views. I especially liked Inspiration Point.

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

This Hoodoo reminded us of an alien. Could it have been an alien race that carved these canyons? Nah…

Hoodoo or Alien?

Hoodoo or Alien?

We walked along the canyon rim trail from one of the points, Sunset Point, to the next vista, Sunrise point. In between, we visited the lodge. It had great, rustic cabins that were just steps away from the canyon rim. I’d love to stay at one of these someday! The lodge house itself was the original lodge put up by a family that now seems to have the monopoly on lodging and restaurants at Bryce Canyon City.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

Bryce Canyon Lodge

After touring the park through the shuttle system, we went back to the hotel and picked up the car (and the pups). We drove out to Rainbow Point, the furthest driving point in the park, and had a picnic lunch. We then stopped at all the vistas on the way back to the hotel. This part of the park is not served by the shuttle system. However, the shuttle gave us a great overview of the park and allowed us to determine how busy the park was (not) and if we’d have issues driving to different points. We spent the rest of the time exploring on our own. What was surprising was the contrast between the vast forests and the dramatic canyons. Both the Grand Canyon and Zion were less densely rich in forest, while Bryce was a mix of the two. Hence today’s open road.

Today's open road to Rainbow Point

Today’s open road to Rainbow Point

There were more great strata at the different vista points, including this great Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge - Bryce Canyon

Natural Bridge – Bryce Canyon

We saw a lot of ground squirrels and birds in the park, but our most dramatic encounter with nature was the Pronghorn Antelope that were grazing by the side of the road. We stopped and I got out of the car to take this picture. It didn’t phase the antelope one bit.

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

I do have to say that three National Parks in a week is a lot. By the end of the day’s sightseeing, I was getting a bit jaded. “Oh yeah, another breathtakingly beautiful vista. Click.”

Oh the places you will go...

Oh the places you will go… (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After a hard day of sight-seeing, we had some down time. I did a little artwork, while Tom and Jasmine surfed Facebook and then took a well-deserved nap.

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

Tomorrow, we start heading North towards Yellowstone. However, we are going to take the scenic route. At this point, is there any other route but scenic?