That’s right! Vacation. My apologies to those of you looking for something of substance. 😀
So: For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently kicking it with the fam in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just outside the Grand Teton National Park, which happens to be the in-between spot between here and Yellowstone National Park. We seriously have not gone anywhere on vacation (weekend trips to Vegas don’t count!) in… years. (I also don’t count Disneyland, because that’s just a big bundle of stress with kids.) In fact, I’m pretty sure the last trip we went on was for my 30th birthday to Alaska. That was almost 4 years ago.
Anyway, moving on: We drove from Arizona to Wyoming, seeing lots of random things along the way (Dear Evanston, Wyoming: You have FAR too many Fireworks shops to make me not raise my eyebrows in wonder), and drove through a wicked rainstorm near Lee’s Ferry and the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Northern Arizona (just outside the Grand Canyon Nat’l Park).
Got to our hotel, which is totally freakin sweet with a full-blown kitchen, bubbly bathtub, rain shower, and view of insane paragliders jumping off the mountain. (Bonus points for giving the kids free stuffed animals and leaving us a bottle of wine in our hotel room.) And the next morning, it was off to go see the sights.
Now, I realized that it was going to be a bit of a drive to get to Yellowstone from where we’re at. I Really, Truly had NO CLUE, though. The roads are slow, slow, slow; pretty much every time we go to see anything it’s a 2 hour drive there, and a 2 hour drive back, plus any other driving we do inside the park. Bottom line: I’m tired of driving. But, we have seen some pretty cool sights. Also: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks have, well, a LOT OF PEOPLE visiting. Far busier than any of the other parks I’ve been to (and just so you don’t think I was born yesterday – that includes Yosemite and Zion, plus a lot of other smaller, less-trafficked national parks, monuments, etc.) We went to go see Old Faithful, which I concede is a total tourist trap, but was still completely unprepared to witness just how many people were there; it’s hard to tell, because driving through the park you don’t see a ton of traffic, but HOLY CRAP, for something that occurs “approximately every hour or so, plus or minus 10 minutes” – and most of the traffic is in and out after that point – there were people EVERYWHERE. The kind of crowds where you grab your children’s hands and hope that you don’t get separated.
Aside from that – my kids are generally used to going hiking on fairly short hikes (2-3 miles), and pretty much everything of that length in the park is crawling with people, and the walkways are called “boardwalks,” because, well, they’re made from boards. Which, as my daughter pointed out, “Doesn’t really feel like a trail.” Unfortunately, they’re not quite at that lovely point in life where they can carry around 40 pound packs and go camping in the backcountry overnight, so for now, boardwalks, it is. Also, they haven’t been down the the pungent sulfuric smells that are around lots of the mud pots and geyser areas in Yellowstone; one trail we went on the other day pretty much had them both ready to barf.
We also spent some time in the Grand Teton National Park, mostly getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, which I am really not a fan of. And while I’m on the topic of wildlife (yes, the mosquitoes were really THAT BIG) – we have seen lots of fun things, including elk (fortunately not in my windshield, like earlier this year), bison, deer, chipmunks, and yes, a brown bear. Which I would never have seen, save for the fact that the entire lane of traffic came to a complete halt as people got out of their cars to take photos of a not-so-happy brown bear on top of a hill. Yes, I did my part to sit in traffic (since nobody in front of me was moving) to take a picture, but didn’t get out of the car, which I was glad about when the brown bear started ambling down the hill towards everyone… as they continued to take pictures…. WTF, PEOPLE! Wow. Brown bear. Brown bear angry! Get in your car!
I’m pretty sure nobody got eaten. Then again, I wasn’t looking behind me. Magically, everyone started driving.
Today is our last full day here. We’ll be swinging by Fossil Butte National Monument tomorrow to check out more freakin souvenirs fossils, of course, and then we may stay overnight near Monument Valley or Zion National Park on our way home.
Also of interest: EARTHQUAKE! I actually felt my first one here – a 4.2. Apparently, there had also been one the night before I felt that one, at 4.8 magnitude, but I was in the car, driving, so, didn’t really notice it.