Boston to San Francisco via every state in between – part five: Jackson

From the most interesting Hampton in the world to Jackson Hole, WY was a relatively short and effortless trip, besides my windshield being broken by a rogue rock and my ‘check engine’ light coming on. It was time for an oil change, and the correlation between frequent oil changes and the longevity of a car had been drilled into my head by a former beau, so I knew it was not something to take lightly. I resolved to have it changed before I left Jackson.

We rolled into Jackson Hole around 2pm, dropped our bags of at our friend Pam’s house, who grew up with Meg, and set off to Moose WY for a late lunch at Dornan’s. I had been given a million recommendations from friends on things to do in Jackson, and Dornan’s was one of them. It sits at the foot of the Tetons, which accounts for an amazing view.

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We trekked back to town, poked around and then decided to have a drink. First stop, the upstairs patio of town Square Tavern overlooking central park, where Olga and I sat in the shade of a large umbrella while sipping drinks that weren’t very satisfying.

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Since the drinks weren’t good, our next stop was Local, another recommendation of a friend. Now these were worthy cocktails: huckleberry margarita, Moscow Mule, huckleberry Bellini. There are a lot of huckleberries in this area of the country. By the time sweet Pam arrived, Olga and I were sufficiently liquored up and hungry, so we ordered the Bison tartar and some sort of fish, which was all delish. By this time it was nearly 10 (not to mention midnight on the east coast, which is how we’ve been justifying our early bedtime) and Olga and I were both pooped, so we made a quick stop by Moo for some ice cream and then hit the hay.

Next day we woke rested and refreshed and ready for a day full of hiking. Again on the recommendation of a friend, we drove into Teton National Park and found the Death Canyon and Phelps Lake trail. Of course we were unprepared for this 4-hour hike with only one bottle of water each and no sunscreen. Every other hiker we passed had a pack and hiking poles and hefty gear.  Luckily we came across a small waterfall and filled our bottles up with fresh water, otherwise we very well may have died of dehydration. This hike inspired me to buy a small camel back pack thing. I’m excited to make the purchase, but decided to wait until I get settled in San Francisco since I’m literally carrying everything I own in my car at the moment and I don’t need to add to the clutter.

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Death Canyon was gorgeous. Teton Park may be the most breathtaking place in the country. Not sure yet but it felt like heaven. We hiked up and down and then around Phelps Lake, in search for a large boulder that we’d been told to jump off of (not like “hey ladies, go jump off a boulder” but more like “oh! You have to find this big boulder on Phelps Lake. Jumping off of it is incredible!”)

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When we found it I stripped down to my shorts and sports bra, climbed the rock and prepared to jump. It’s always harder that you think it’ll be to jump once you’re on top and looking over…. It was terrifying and exhilarating and I wanted to keep doing it over and over again.  I’m giving partial credit to the teenage girls who gave me the encouragement I needed to take the dive. And wow, what a feeling! I can’t begin to describe it.

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After another jump, we power hiked back to the car, soaking wet, to head into Teton Village to meet Pam at the tram for mountain top happy hour. Olga and I were a bit parched and not quite ready for those cocktails, so we stuck with H20 while enjoying the incredible views of the village and surrounding mountains. A nice relaxing evening after our long exhausting hike.

Then the evening became not so relaxing. Olga’s friend Bubba works at a restaurant called Rendezvous, and a few of his friends, whom we’d never met, were also in town, so we all met for dinner to have him wait on us. After dinner we headed to Cowboy Bar in the center of town, which was great fun, with a live country band, saddles for seats and a dance floor. Sounds cheesy I know, and in fact, we’d walked in the previous day and walked right back out, but once the tourists leave and the cowboys walk in, it transforms into a western hoe-down. We danced…. with guys who actually knew how to dance. I’m extremely impressed by these Jackson men who can lead and twirl and dip. It must be a requirement for all men born in or moving to Jackson, because they all looked good, even the unassuming ones…

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And just when I thought the night was over, we ended up continuing the party at Bubba’s house, with The Saltine Challenge, which I thought was 2 in a minute, not 4, and “Would You Rather,” which I prompted using the same questions that entertained Olga and me on our long hauls. Three AM had come and gone before we finally retired to Pam’s guest room. And we’d been convinced to stay one more day to float on the river with the boys..

Next morning was not a pleasant one. With my old age, I require a lot of sleep. I’m also incapable of sleeping in, so just because I go to sleep at 3:30, doesn’t mean I’m going to make up for the hours on the other side. I woke up at 8:30 very grumpy. Luckily I’d stopped drinking pretty early on the night before, otherwise I’d’ve been a monster.

Anyway, I took a walk into town for breakfast and waited for Olga to get up, and for the boys to call about where to meet them for the float.

Well, not surprisingly at all, the boys slept all day and there was no boat action. No matter. We had an extremely relaxing day in Jackson.

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We moseyed around, popped into some shops, had a macrobiotic dinner at The Lotus Café and then met Pam briefly at a party before callin it a night.

Sunday we woke up, packed our bags, had brunch with Pam, stocked up on gear from Bubba’s clothing company, Give’r, and rejected attempts from the guys to convince us to stay for an actual float/fishing day…. Off to Yellowstone we cruised. This was going to be the night we camped. We were determined!

Despite all the negative reviews we’d heard about Yellowstone and Old Faithful (swarming with tourists, “you can find better hiked and views from Jackson,“ etc), we thoroughly enjoyed our trip up to the oldest national park in the country. Step one: set up tent to insure we didn’t come across any bouts of bad luck that would later prevent us from doing so. We found all the components of the tent, which had been haphazardly thrown into the Rav after our first failed attempt at the Badlands, and began construction. Upon completion, we judged that we may have possibly gone wrong somewhere along the line, but F it, the tent was standing and it would be perfectly suitable….

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Luckily though, our friendly neighbors, Frank and JoAnne, an older couple who was celebrating their 25th anniversary by taking the US by storm, suggested that if it rains, we’d probably get wet since our rain fly was lopsided. They offered to help, aka, took the whole thing apart and rebuilt it. This time is looked lovely.

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Olga and I couldn’t help by notice that nearly everyone in the entire campsite had blowup mattresses…. We failed to think of this. Everyone else will get much better sleep than us… Damn.

Our friendly “neighborhood” looked like this:

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As we left for the 17-mile scenic drive to Ole faithful, it began to rain.  Thanks Frank and JoAnne : )

We’d be sopping wet without you.

By the time we arrived at the Old Faithful site, it was still raining, which was a blessing because it kept the mega bus loads of Japanese tourists from blocking our view of the famous geyser.

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It was a pretty incredible sight. And to think, all of this stuff was built up around a big geyser that went off every 90 minutes.

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And here’s a nicely instagrammed photo, thanks to Olga’s Galaxy:

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The Old Faithful Inn was equally as impressive as the geyser itself. Built in 1903, it was an architectural masterpiece (to someone who knows nothing about architecture). Anyway, it was beautiful, and we devoured a bison burger and a bison sausage in the bar area before heading back to camp.

On our way back to camp, we saw what we thought was a moose, but later found out was an elk.

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We also stopped for some beach/sunset, Give’r clad selfies. Here’s one:

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Once back at camp, we attempted to start a fire with wood that was much too big, according to another fire-expert neighbor. Again, Frank and JoAnne came to the recue by supplying us with lighter fluid and smaller kindling. They stood around our blazing fire pit and socialized for a bit before turning in. It got cold and we were finally able to wear our coonskin caps. In fact, my coonskin kept me from hypothermia that night. After burning all of our wood and some cardboard boxes, drinking most of our cheap bottle of wine and gazing pensively at the wide open sky for awhile, we settled into our blow-up mattress-less tent for shitty night’s sleep.

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We woke Monday morning, sleepy from waking up throughout the night to chills, the sound of a downpour, and the discomfort of rocks stabbing into our sides. After a silent tent deconstruction, we headed out of Yellowstone and down to Salt Lake City. But before we left, we had breakfast at a lakeside café. As we were pulling into the parking lot, a Winnebago slowly backed up into the front grill of the Rav. I laid on the horn and he finally stopped. We assumed he’d come over to check on the car, but instead he hid in the back of his Winnebago with his family. Coward. No damage was done so no biggie, but what a jerk!? Then, as luck would have it, he and his family were seated right beside us at breakfast. We glared but said nothing. Nope, we were feeling much too passive aggressive to confront him. As we left though, Olga tucked this little note into his windshield wiper:

“Dear Sir,

Next time you back into someone, you should check to see if they are okay and if there was any damage. Set a good example for your children.”

This is what she wanted to write:

“Hey shit-fuck,

You’re an asshole”

Luckily for him, Olga is a sweetheart.

 

Off to the land of Mormons.

1 thought on “Boston to San Francisco via every state in between – part five: Jackson

  1. A great adventure! And you’ve met fun, interesting and helpful people along the way.

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