Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park

Jackson, WY – July 8th- July 14th, 2012

July 8th
Nut and I got up early this morning to make our way to Jackson. Originally when I looked at the driving distance, it said it would take about 8 hours to get there. This is not that bad considering the long days of driving with Mom when I first moved out to Colorado.

We took Highway 25 North right up to Cheyenne and then drove northwest the rest of the way. Our first stop was some rest-stop to stretch out legs and drain our bladders. It also happened to a historic stop, a fort by the train tracks. It was interesting to imagine how desolate and in the middle of nowhere the fort was. I can’t imagine living there. It takes forever to drive to the next town. It must’ve taken days by horseback!

Our next stop was in Rawlins to check out the old state penitentiary/ Frontier prison that is now a museum opened in 1901. How could we resist? A film called ‘Prison” (clever huh), was shot there. There are remnants of old, splattered, fake blood on the walls. The filmmakers promised to clean up the mess when the movie became a hit, but it never did… so the old stains remain.

Here’s some small information about the prison that I grabbed from the website:

From 1901 to 1981, the prison housed 13,500 male inmates in addition to 11 women at one point because the other prisons were too full. There were several different means of discipline in the prison including a dungeon, a punishment pole to which men were strapped to a pole and whipped with a rubber hose- this form of punishment didn’t end until 1930. It also used different methods of execution including the gallows and a gas chamber. Nine men were hanged and 5 were executed in the gas chamber. The prison also produced good to keep up with local industries including a broom factory, shirt factory, wool, and license plates.

It was a really cool place to visit although, the people who wanted their photo taken while sitting in the gas chamber. That seemed to cross the line a little bit. Anyway, it was a great pit stop on our way.

There was a wild horse refuge in Rawlins, which we stopped at and drove through but the horses were very difficult to see. It was kind of a bummer but they were there and we kinda, sorta saw them!

At one point driving through the mountains the smell of pine trees was overwhelming and amazing! We kept our windows down the rest of the way, stopped at The Bird, which was on the list of places to eat, had a badass burger, then checked into our hotel and passed out!

July 9th, 2012

Good morning, Jackson!

Today our plans are to stay local, get our feet on the ground and just check out the surrounding area. We made some phone calls today to set up our plans for the rest of the week.

We walked around the town of Jackson, which is very old-western and very touristy. It’s cute! It might have too many t-shirt shops but that seems to be the trend in any popular tourist town. The town square has four entrances that open with high arches comprised of elk antlers that were all found by local boy scouts. It’s kind of gross but cool that all of them were found after the elk have shed them.

Then we headed to Bar T-5 for an authentic, old fashioned chuck-wagon ride and dinner. After a brief introduction we all headed into the chuck-wagon, lead by two horses and up a hill (totally Oregon Trail style), where we sat under tents and had an awesome barbeque dinner, live music, and a little show! It was really great!

July 10, 2012

Today we met up with a guide group that took us into Yellowstone to see all that we could see in one day, which was mostly the lower half of the park, which was MORE than enough!

Below are photos of our trip. Enjoy!

There's always time to be silly!

Cascading Falls

It's not old faithful geyser, but he's one interesting old geezer!

It was really crowded and about 20 minutes late but really cool!

Geo-thermal pools. Hot tub anyone?


Artist's point. Artist, Thomas Moran made Yellowstone famous with his landscape paintings of Yellowstone (see below)

Dragon's breath cave

July 11, 2012

Today we woke up early to see the sun rise over the Grand Tetons. It was sooooo beautiful!

Then we went on a tour of Grand Teton National Park with our guide who was chock full of knowledge and another older gentleman named Bill who flew to Jackson for two days all the way from Arizona. Matt, our guide took us to some scenic overlooks, Jenny Lake, searching for wildlife, taking a mountain tram to the top of a mountain, and so on. Pictures are below.

And old western shootout!

Cowboy bar has saddles on the bar

Yellowstone cutthroat trout

Jenny Lake

Mama Moose (her baby is in there somewhere)

July 12, 2012

Today was our last full day and we decided to hike around Jenny Lake to maybe work off half of the very delicious, yet not very health food that we ate. It was a hot day but a beautiful walk and well worth it.

Then we took a scenic boat ride down Snake River in hopes of seeing a moose or a bear, but to no avail. Although we did see many bald eagles and beavers. It was a beautiful and relaxing boat ride and I can’t think of any other way to end our day!

 Chomping down on an otter snack

Bald Eagle!

The results of a long day of hiking