Grand Teton and Yellowstone with my kids

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July 18th 2011
Published: July 27th 2011
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My daughter Rosanna visited us from Virginia from July 12 - 26. The primary reason for her visit was to pick out a gown for her wedding scheduled for next May or early June. Her first day back we made appointments at several bridal shops, and then the next day she tried on many gowns. She found two finalists, and took the next week to decide.

On July 17 and the morning of the 18th, Marilyn and Darryl visited with us on their way from Viriginia to California.

18 July 2011 Monday. So at noon Tamara, Rosanna, Will and my grandson Liam, and I loaded into the car and headed north for the six hour drive to Casper, WY on our way to Grand Teton and Yellowsrone National Parks. Rosanna was the first to drive. The kids traded off driving, but I got to ride shotgun the entire trip.

The reason we were going to Casper was to visit my nephew Graham and his wife Tina, who are temporarily assigned there for six months by the oil company they work for. We arrived in time for dinner, so after checking into our hotel, they joined us for dinner at Casper's only Thai restaurant. We had a good time catching up with them. After dinner they had to go as they have early starts in the morning.

We soon learned that traveling with a 10 month old baby, with all of us sharing the same room, can present a challenge to sleeping. The first challenge was getting him to sleep with everyone in the room. The next was getting uninterrupted sleep. So after the first night we learned some lessons that we would apply the following nights.

19 July 2011 Tuesday. We had a good hot breakfast at the hotel and were on the road by 10 am after stopping at a drug store to pick up some essentails we had forgotten to bring with us, like infant Tylenol as Liam seemed to be developing a cold and fever. Anyway, the drive across Wyoming is very boring. The landscape is desolate until the Wind River valley. Tamara took the first shift for driving. Half way across the state she was caught by the state police going 78 mph in a 65 mph zone. He was nice and reduced her ticket to $79 for wearing her seat belt and being respectful. We didn't hassle her, and we happy that she had been driving since if any of us had been driving, we would have been driving over 80 mph.

We stopped for a late lunch in Dubois and continued to Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park, checking into our two bedroom cabin at about 3 pm. After unloading, we decided to take some hikes, first around Colter Bay area, and then at Jenny Lake. By 5 pm we decided to drive into Jackson to fill up on gas and have dinner. While gas prices were more reasonable than at the parks, we soon learned that restaurant prices in Jackson are high. Our first stop was an Italian restaurant that claimed to have authentic Italian food. Their prices were about $20 per entree, so despite an approaching thunderstorm we walked around the downtown district checking on other restaurants and window shopping. We decided to return to the Italian restaurant to check out their claim for authentic food. Will had spent a year abroad studying in Rome, and we had spent many years living in Europe, so we had a pretty good idea of what constituted good Italian food. Anyway, we explained to the waiter that we were on the road and therefore didn't have anywhere to store leftovers for their normally generous portions; and asked if we could share entrees. He understood, and told us that we could each order a reduced portion of any entree we wished for 60% of the price. Will ordered a bottle of wine for us to share for $28 which kind of offset the savings on the entrees. As it turned out the food was delicious...truly authentic with the pasta not overcooked, and with panchetta, not bacon. And the wine was excellent. Truly a memorable meal.

Our drive back to Colter Bay was also memorable. The thunderstorm was passing by and the sun was setting over the Grand Tetons, so we stopped several times for pictures. Back at the cabin, we decided to let Tamara put Liam to be while we read in the other room. Will also started working on his term paper that was due Thursday morning...nothing like doing things the last minute. Dring the night, Liam woke up and Rosanna decided the spend the rest of the night in the guys room.

20 July 2011 Wednesday. We checked out of our cabin and stopped at the general store for breakfast, snacks for the day, and souveniers. We then drove to Yellowstone National Park. We decided to do the southern loop of the park in the clockwise direction. We passed by Old Faithful, as we would end up there, spending the night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. So our first stop was at the Middle Geyser area with its many geysers and steaming pools. At the Prismatic Pool there was a pretty stiff wind, and Liam's new cap was blown away (we filed a lost and found report as the rangers pick up the caps from the restricted areas a couple times per week). We continued around stopping at the interesting sights, with our next major stop being the Canyon area.

We ate a late lunch there and then hiked the south rim trail of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Will had dropped us off at one end and drove to the other end to wait for us, meanwhile continuing to work on his term paper. The trail turned out to be quite up and down...rather difficult for a baby carriage. After our hike we drove through Hayden Valley where we saw planty of buffalo, and along Yellowstone Lake, back to the Old Faithful area, arriving just in time for dinner (we had reserved a table for 5:15 pm).

Dinner in the historic Old Faithful Inn was in a nice setting, but the food was mediocre and, of course, expensive. After dinner we checked into our room with two queen sized beds. We left Will to complete his term paper, and the rest of us went to see Old Faithful erupt. We then hiked the length of the Old Faithful Geyser Basin, returning to our room just as it was getting dark. Our feet were killing us.

Will had finished his paper, so we put Liam to sleep while I read out in the lounge. I hear the hotel manager talking to the fire chief about someone spraying their room with bug repellant and setting off the fire alarm. Soon the fire alarm for the entire building went off, and the fire engines arrived. I went to my room to tell the kids that it was a false alarm, and then returned to the lounge to observe all the other guests evacuating the hotel. I don't know why the management didn't tell everyone that it was a false alarm. We got to bed and had a good nights sleep with only a couple of interruptions by Liam during the night.

21 July 2011 Thursday. We paid to use the internet for one hour so that Will could submit his term paper on time. Then we checked out and began our long drive home. I told the kids not to drive more than 5 mph over the speed limit as I didn't want to get another speeding ticket. We stopped in Lander for lunch and Cheyenne for dinner, arriving home about 8 pm.

Friday, Will took a hard copy of his paper to his professor, who kindly offered him time to make some edits to improve the paper. The rest of us went to the bridal salon to get measurements and order the gown. Mission accomplished.

I decided after this trip that I would replace my film SLR camera, which costs too much to develop the film, with a digital camera with a view finder, because I can't see the screen in daylight, if I can find one that isn't DSLR...I don't like the bulk of an SLR, and at least 16X zoom. Most of the pictures in this entry were taken with Rosanna's digital camera as they were superior to my film camera results.

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