D and I have been together 35 years, married 30! D planned this wonderful Vacation as our Anniversary gift. We would fly to Salt Lake City, rent a car,drive to Yellowstone National Park. From there, we;d go to Jackson Hole, and Grand Teton National Park! When planning the trip, he narrowed it down to either Florida Keys, or Yellowstone,Jackson Hole, Tetons. If being honest, I was leaning toward the Keys. Spring fever had already taken hold. I was thinking it would be a bummer seeing all the snow and having to pack winter clothes. But I was so wrong!
We reminisced about our early years. We didn’t have a lot, and really had to budget wisely. When our kids were small, D worked two, or three jobs. We wanted our kids to play sports or take music lessons. We also wanted to afford a vacation every Summer. D worked so hard to make it all possible. Eventually, under the mentoring of our brother-in-law, Vernon Hutson, we were able to acquire a few rental houses. D worked so hard to pay for them. He is very handy and was able to maintain and do any repairs necessary. When I think of all the years he has worked so hard in order to build a secure future for our family, I feel so appreciative! This trip was possible because of his hard work, dedication, and excellent decisions.He is such a blessing. The rock of our family!
We arrived Sunday afternoon. Settled into our little cabin. Went to a local restaurant, then for a drive.
The unmitigated splendor and grandeur of the sights we would behold over the next week, was breathtaking! Although I took many pictures, they don’t come close to actually viewing with the naked eye! We mused on how the sheer magnitude of the beauty and natural wonders, would have a Godless man on his knees praising God! How can our God be denied! The vastness of the mountains, the panoramic beauty of it all. The rushing rivers, lakes, and streams. The snow capped mountains, the lush greenery, hot springs, boiling mud pits, geysers, hot springs, and wildlife! It’s never ending!
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon. A cute little cabin at Mammoth Hot Springs would be our home for the next three days. We settled in, then went out to explore our surroundings. We were so excited to see a herd of Elk grazing on the mountainside right outside our cabin. Buffalo roamed all around. We saw them in the yard every morning as we walked to the restaurant. We enjoyed very good food everywhere we stayed. The next day we rode a few miles down the road to Gardner, Montana. This town had a grocery store where we bought items for lunch. We ate out on our cabin porch. We were joined by a ground squirrel. He came close to my feet as I broke a piece of bread for him. He would run off the porch, then peek back over the edge of the porch to beg for more.
One thing that impressed us immensely, was the absence of litter. This was the case anywhere we went! The locals and visitors have such respect for this beautiful place, they would never want to do anything to detract. They also place a huge emphasis on being earth friendly. Recycling bins were in our cabin and also in restaurants and in many public places. There were no idling signs to encourage people to save resources while parked or waiting in construction traffic. It has inspired me to make a better effort to recycle. Having access to the recycling bins in so many places certainly made it easy. The people were so friendly, and courteous. It was like vacationing in a perfect world!
We loved coexisting with all the wildlife. No fences, just a healthy respect for one another. At the visitor center we watched a video warning people not assume Buffalo are docile and slow. They are very agile and fast. We watched a video of a man being tossed like a rag doll into a tree! The key is not getting in their space.
We hiked several trails in Yellowstone, and drove around a lot. We saw a pair of Grizzly Bears, visible with our binoculars, but not close enough for a decent picture. We drove to see the eruption of Old Faithful, a very predictable geyser. Predictions that are spot on! Now approximately every ninety minutes. After watching Old Faithful spit hot water straight up about 130 feet, we searched for a picnic spot. We found a nice shady spot, ate our yummy lunch. There was a sound of rushing water, so we Went on a hike, making our own trails. We discovered a hidden falls with wondrous views! Venturing off the beaten path paid off! When hiking I always felt safe because D brought his handgun and big sheath knife. While hiking I asked him if his gun would protect us from a bear. He said it might scare it off, but would have a hard time penetrating the thick coat and hide. So much for feeling safe. Ah, but I really was not, too, afraid. We were cautious.
D became a little worried about my obsession with animal scat. I felt if I could identify the poop, we’d know where to look for the animals. It’s not like I picked it up or anything. Well, I did once. I thought they were nuts! But don’t worry, I figured that out and quickly threw it down. This was fodder for endless teasing. When walking paths with big piles of buffalo poop, I was always amused to find big ole footprints smack dab in the middle of some of them. Whew glad that wasn’t me! How do you not see that? It’s huge!
When leaving for Jackson hole, we traveled through mountains with ten percent grades up and down. It was a little scary when big rigs had to pull over to cool their brakes. Our little rental car was struggling, but it made it! We were promised a four wheel drive jeep, but when we got to the rental place, they gave us an all wheel drive Buick Encore. It was smaller than we expected. If we wreck, even in a minor fender bender, we’d need the jaws of life to cut us out! But once wedged in there, it was nice enough. At least it had all the bells and whistles. We got quite used to it while we were there.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming did not disappoint. More majestic mountains and landscapes! D was able to acquire a fishing license at the local K Mart. He bought some fishing supplies and we set out on our fishing and sight seeing journey. The day started out chilly, but the afternoon temps were quite pleasant, even in snowy areas. D caught a couple of nice trout in snake river, near the dam. The biggest trout he had ever caught! He gave them away, as we had no means to cook them. We then went to a super cool store that sold delicious food. We picnicked on Jackson lake bank. The view was serene! We hiked a total of ten miles that day, over snow, mud, and streams.Spectacular views the whole trail. We saw several marmots and squirrels, but no big game. The marmots were unafraid of us. At first I thought they looked like beavers, but then I saw their squirrel like tail.
The next morning we set out for Tetons again. Determined to spot a moose! We drove super slow for miles. Looking through woods, up mountains, and on plains. After a while D stopped and pointed to a most magnificent creature! This moose was grazing in the woods not far from the road. We pulled over, tiptoed over and took a few pics and a video. My heart was racing with excitement, adrenaline flowing! A highlight of the trip, definitely!
We ate at a pizza restaurant on the upper balcony. The weather was perfect. Food was exceptionally tasty! Afterwards, we took a ski lift ride to the top of the mountain. We could see all of Jackson Hole, and probably Yellowstone, if not so cloudy. At the top, I saw a trail even further up the mountain. It was about a quarter mile hike. But the steep grade, and altitude made it more difficult. D opted out of this hike, but was able to watch. However, when I reached the summit, I tried to find him. He was not looking my way. So, I took a selfie and headed down. As the ski lift descended,it began to rain lightly. The weather, thus far, had been ideal.
We left the next day. If I’m being honest, it was a little sad. Our trip was cut short. We were supposed to leave on the fifteenth, but some rental house issues arose. We left that remarkable place, our spirits renewed, committed even more to our marriage, and our faith in God reaffirmed.
We used a more scenic route on our ride from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City. The scenery was sensational! It was raining some, so I didn’t get as many pictures. We saw so many beautiful sights. Sheep with their Lambs, Longhorn Cattle, dairy farms, horses, deer, and bright red barns. There was a swift stream that ran along the foot of the majestic mountains, and went on for miles!
It would be impossible to see everything in a week. Yellowstone is over two million acres. Grand Teton National Park, another 310,000 acres. We definitely want to return. Maybe for our 40th! It is definitely staying on my Bucket