We went to Jackson, WY in September. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in the fall, so I consulted my travel wishlist for places in the right price range. My travel wishlist is kind of like a bucket list, except all of the things on it are travel-related. I don’t have any life goals that don’t revolve around visiting someplace new and exciting.
So I chose three possibilities from the wishlist and presented them to Mike to make the final choice: Seattle and Vancouver, a New England road trip, or Wyoming. He chose Wyoming, probably because it offered to most opportunities for hiking. This would be the first time I had seen the Rockies. I was also excited to see all of the crazy geothermal features of Yellowstone, even more so after I started reading about them and how rare the entire area is, not to mention the supervolcano underneath that could destroy half of the country if (…when?) it erupts again.
The first day was pretty much a wash since we spent most of it in airports. I think I saw an article that they are running special flights for the ski season direct from Newark into Jackson Hole, but this wasn’t the case when we went. We flew from Philadelphia to Dallas, and had a layover before continuing on to Jackson. This was okay because it gave us both another state to add to our 50 States list. Neither of us had ever been in Texas before.
By the time we got to Jackson, we were hungry, tired, and discombobulated because of the time change. I was worried that I would get altitude sick immediately, since I had never been so high up before, but I wasn’t really bothered by it the whole time.
We had an amusing conversation with the rental car guy. We rented a car for the week and he gave us a Prius. It seemed like he was expecting me to object and demand a larger car, but I was actually happy, since I am thinking about buying one and that gave us an opportunity to check it out. After he brought it around, he started talking to Mike, and after finding out in addition that we were there for outdoor activities and the National Parks, and that we were looking for vegetarian-friendly restaurants, he said, “You guys are cool!” Mike was proud to be labeled cool by a 20-something, but I was more like, “What does that say about the rest of the travelers who come through Jackson?”
At the same time we were getting our car, I got my first look at the Grand Tetons. The airport is at the base of the mountains, and to see it for the first time was awe-inspiring. We got there just around sunset, too. On the way into Jackson, we passed the Elk Reserve, and there were a bunch of cars pulled over to take photos because there were elk wandering by. We didn’t stop. I figured we would have plenty of time to pull over and take photos of the elk, but I think that turned out to be the only time we saw elk in the Elk Reserve for the entire trip.
We checked into our motel room at the Ranch Inn. We stayed in a Tower room, and we liked it. [My official policy here is only to mention places I would recommend.] When I was planning to trip, it was too late to get a reservation to stay in Yellowstone for the whole week. We ended up moving to the park for the last three days of the trip, which were the only days I could get lodging. I agree with the advice I read everywhere saying that if you are going to Yellowstone, it is best to stay in the park because it is so big that it takes FOREVER to get anywhere. But I’m also glad we stayed in Jackson for a few days. It was convenient to Grand Teton National Park, which we ended up enjoying more than Yellowstone. And it had much better food than Yellowstone. It is such a small town that we could walk to everything. That first night we were drawn into Dolce by the magic words “Gourmet Grilled Cheese.” We both had classics – mine on sourdough and Mike on jalapeno cornbread. Then we went back to our motel room and fell asleep.