From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 5 (Grand Tetons)

Published: July 19th 2017
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I’ve never understood why it’s common practice to compare everything to Switzerland, but let me tell you, Grand Tetons is the Switzerland of Wyoming!

We had initially planned to spend another day in Yellowstone and then visit Grand Teton on Wednesday on our way through to Salt Lake City, but upon reviewing the map we thought that might be too much to take on. So after an early morning breakfast at the Running Bear (another successful Yelp discovery), we set off. The shortest way to the Grand Teton National Park is south through Yellowstone, so we backtracked on our route from yesterday. I quickly realize that I am becoming jaded to the splendors surrounding us, perhaps my brain is on overload. We pass some waterfalls which at any other time would have resulted in a definite stop and photo session, but in the context of our current surroundings we don’t deem them interesting enough to warrant the effort of unloading sleeping children. I like to believe that I am not like the other tourists, that I am somehow more appreciative and less shallow than my fellow man. I am beginning to suspect that maybe a delusion shard by many others.

The transition between the two parks is nothing short of spectacular. Steep forested peaks and wide gently sloping valleys with open meadows. We follow the Lewis river and marvel as it suddenly switches from a meadow lined gentleness to a steep and narrow rock lined canyon, whitewater frothing. It’s as if nature is showing off all her capabilities in one spectacular showroom. We enter the park with a quick review of our annual pass ($80 very well spent) and head South. Suddenly on our right, the mountains take a turn for the spectacular. High forested peaks abruptly head even higher. Above the tree line, the peaks of the Teton range are improbably beautiful. Still laden with their bounty of snow from the heavy winter, the bare and savage rocks almost take on a purple hue in the Summer air. They are breathtaking, staggering, awe inspiring. As if not quite satisfied by her creation, Mother Nature adds a pristine lake and the marvel is complete. I don’t know if I have ever seen anything quite so spectacular. I have one eye on the odometer as we are about to approach 111,111 miles and I must get a photo! As luck would have it, a picnic area appears at the magic number and we pull in to eat. We finally put the camp chairs I insisted on dragging with us to use, and enjoy a lakeside picnic with the wonders of the Tetons spread out before us. I don’t believe it is something I will ever forget.

Further South and we turn onto the inner road which winds it’s way closer to the mountain and then follows along their flanks. I still can’t quite comprehend what I am seeing. They sparkle and new details reveal themselves from every angle. Snow patches, small glaciers, rock strata and waterfalls all glisten the afternoon sun. To the left, a plateau with summer grasses, wildflowers and sage brush leads to another mountain range in the East.

Antonio knows me well and finds a road which purports to be rough and unsuitable for low clearance vehicles. I am delighted and set off enjoying some original Mormon cabins and barns while getting to throw some dust over the Acura. At the end of the road we loop back onto the highway and head North for our return journey on the outer road. We stop at a vista point (I did promise after all) and take a picture with Grand Teton right in front and the entire range spread out from left to right. My panoramic picture somehow appears to feature more sidewalk than mountain but it’s all in there. Comfortably numb, we head back to West Yellowstone.

Our hotel is next door to an aerial adventure park and the kids have been eyeing it for the past 3 days. We sign them up for the junior ranger adventure which involves the lowest level of the course which is still about 20 feet up in the air. The three of us harness up (under 5’s must be accompanied by an adult) and we begin to traverse the obstacles, AJ in front, me in the middle and Gracie in the rear. I may not have mentioned this, but I have a terrible fear of heights which only seems to get worse with age. Fortunately AJ takes to it like a pro and soon leaves Gracie and me in the dust. Talk about the blind leading the blind. As I find myself balancing on a narrow beam, hanging onto a rope with one hand and a crying four year old in the other, I wonder why I didn’t insist Antonio take them up. He would have been much better equipped. When we do make it to the other end I tell the guy that was a little traumatic. “For who”? He asks. Good question!

Dinner that night is the Café Madriz for Paella and Tapas, the tapas are good, paella excellent and the pitcher of Sangria was just what our sun baked souls needed. The couple next to us have a dog and the kids make a beeline. The Husband is from Argentina and we chat amiably in Spanish for a while. I wonder what it is about road trips that make’s one more social. Antonio is social by nature, but I am enjoying my increased appetite to hear other’s stories. By the time we finish dinner it is after 9pm and the walk back through town is very pleasant. For some reason we feel the need to feed the kids home made ice-cream before bed which we later come to regret. Some people never learn.

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19th July 2017

its a wonderful world!!!
You are making me start to want to travel. It is wonderful to see how all of you are enjoying this great adventure. Remembering to many of us, that life must be lived in its fullness. May God continue guiding you in this new journey, and you can have a great future, wherever you will be. I wish you all the happiness and well. Along with those beautiful creatures who were so blessed that their paths crossed with yours I will keep track of all of you. Have fun and keep enjoying. Hugs and kisses

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