Grand Tetons - Yellowstone

Upon leaving Big Horn Rec Area we headed up through Cody, WY. Cody gets voted as one of the best small towns in the country so we wanted to check it out – folks, we will save you the time. There is not much to speak of... a Wal-Mart that at 8:00AM was not totally offensive. That's its claim to fame from what Ben and I could tell. We headed into the parks from East Yellowstone near the lake area and saw some bison and a whole slew of people that were aimlessly floating around a visitor center. We opted for the driving tour around the lake and south to the Grand Tetons. We wanted to check out a campground closer to a Jenny Lake but by the time we got there it had filled for the day. We ended up at a campsite one of 300 in Colter Bay and unironically directly next to the bathrooms for the fourth time.

It was a little rainy when we got there but we headed down to the bay to take in the mountains. Grand Teton means "Large Teat" – no joke. Ben and I were in awe of the beauty of those mountains. I kept remarking on how they looked fake, as if we were on a Disney movie set and someone was going to pull the retractable bottom of the shade to move to the next scene. We headed to the Beach Loop trail, a small easy trail with deer. My mom had been to Grand Tetons around ten years ago and she told me how wonderful the pine smell was in Tetons. She was right, it was incredible, it smelled like a genuine Christmas adventure. The rain made it a little cool so we hit up the wifi at the café nearby, then headed to bed.

The Tetons
The View from the Beach. 
Is it just me or does that snow look like Mirabelle a little bit?
The next morning we headed off to do the Hidden Falls hike down on Jenny Lake that entails hiking up through the Tetons. There is a boat that can take you to cut off a chunk of the hike but it was a beautiful day so we skipped that. We headed up to the waterfalls and then along to Cascade Canyon. There is a spot along the way called Inspiration Point, and along our travels there were roughly six other Inspiration Points. We had to laugh as we came across the other ones. "Ohh look an Inspiration Point…" "Oohh another Inspiration Point." The trails were still very crowded so we didn't see much wildlife but we did see a pika, which was adorable. On the way back down we were semi regretting not getting that boat ride across the lake but we toughed it out.
Hidden Falls
Jenny Lake, the view from Inspiration Point (#1)
Cascade Canyon
After the hike we decided to do some laundry, while there were laundry facilities in the Colter Bay Village we opted to test our DIY washing machine *aka a five gallon bucket and a plunger with holes drilled in*. It worked surprisingly well. As we waited for our laundry to dry we had a young fuzzy antler buck stroll right through our campsite.

Fuzzy Deer and our Laundry Machine. 
Seriously beautiful 
One thing we haven't talked much about is showering – mainly because there wasn't much of it to speak of. We had some wet wipes that took off the big chunks, but for a true shower they were few and far between. When I was in fourth grade my uncle went to Botswana on safari and I asked him about the shower situation there.  He said "you just get the big chucks off." So that's all we had been doing up until this at this point - our last shower was in Minneapolis, five days prior. After our hike to Hidden Falls we had promised ourselves we'd hit up the $4.00 shower house in the village and were tickled to find out that there was no time limit on said showers. We emerged feeling like a million bucks! That night we ate a bison burger and had some local beers at the café in the park.

The next morning we packed up and headed to Yellowstone, we knew we wanted to hit up Old Faithful, so when we came through the park they had an estimated time of eruption +/- ten minutes so we booked it over there only to find out that we were a few minutes too late. We decided to walk part of the Geyser Loop Trail to check out some of the other geothermal features. It was very different then the caldera of Volcano National Park in Hawaii. We went back to the Old Faithful viewing area to get a seat for the next eruption. On our way we saw a little old lady with bear spray on her belt holster. There are literally 2000 people around and it was not likely for a spontaneous bear attack. The bear situations in all of the parks are a little different. Each park has their own policy and feeling on the bears as we were told many different things along our travels. It seem to us that Tetons and Yellowstone's policy was sell as much bear spray as possible – and for $45 a pop with no refunds why wouldn't they?

We secured a seat in the second row of the viewing area behind a guy taking photos with his full sized iPad. We had two open seat next to us and a women resembling Kate Gosselin sat down next to us. She then scooted over and forced, what we can only assume was her stepson, to take the other seat. This women seemed awful right off the bat – she smelled of New Jersey/South Florida housewife. After sitting next to us for roughly a minute she spotted, what see deemed as a "better" seat in the first row – technically it was one and a half seats. She moved to the front row, forced the 17 year old boy into the half seat while forcing an elderly man to move down to accommodate her new seat. Since there were not three seats together that left her husband in their former seat next to us in the back row. She started looking for another seat for her husband, Dave. The rest of their exchange went a little something like this:

"Dave, Dave, Daaaave," as she tried to get his attention away from his iPhone. "Daaaveee you should sit down here."
"No I'm ok here."
"Dave look, there is a seat right there, you should take that one." (Again it's not a full seat but a space between two strangers and technically it's not even next to her. It was two people down from her but in the first row.)
"No thanks I'm fine here."
"Daaaaavvve you really should sit down here with us, it's a better seat." Now she was getting pissed.
"No, really I'm fine." Dave was getting embarrassed because his wife was bossing him around in front of 50 strangers.
"Dave, don't be silly – just sit right there, look there is plenty of room."
"I'm fine here." At this point it was apparent that Dave never got his way and that his wife was such a B that he ultimately gave in.
"David – you should sit here with your family." Now she was getting really pissed.
"No it's fine here."
"Dave sit down here, we're ON vacation, we should be TOGETHER." 

The little kid in me wanted to say, "ya Dave do it," but I didn't need to. Dave gave in. It was humiliating to watch this grown man get bossed around by his wife. He stood up, head hung down in shame and took the half seat two seats down from his wife and son in the front row.
"See isn't that better?" Dave mumbled something and kept his face glued to his phone until the geyser went off. I looked at Ben wide eyed in disbelief of what we just witnessed and mouthed NEVER to him. I I ever behave in that manor please remind me about that very moment.

Old Faithful in all of her glory.
The view from our seats. None of these people are Dave.
Geothermal Features with Old Faithful in the background.

Crystal clear Geothermal Feature. 
Beautiful Colors.

After Old Faithful we went back on the loop trail to go back to some of the other geothermal features; they have the most beautiful colors. Even more amazing is that in the winter the wildlife hang out there to warm up, which I'm sure is amazing to see. After that we headed out to grab a twisty ice cream cone and headed to see some of the other features of the park. 

Next up we stopped at Fire Lake and saw some wildlife on the side of the road including some elk and a very content bison hanging out just off the roadside. Our friend Alex said that Lower Falls was not to be missed so that was next on our list. The falls were so powerful and the views were magnificent. We also hit up Tower Falls and a 50 million year old petrified tree on our way to Fort Yellowstone. A lot of Fort Yellowstone was under construction including the visitor's center and some roads.  (We later assumed after a lot of searching that Katie left her Nalgene bottle at the Fort Yellowstone visitor center.)

At Fire Lake
The top of Lower Falls. 
The breathtaking view from Lower Falls.
A very powerful place. 
Waterfall Selfie!
The view back the other way. 
Tower Falls
A super old tree. 
We checked out the campsites up that way but decided that it might be better to just drive to Bozeman and get a hotel room. On our way to Bozeman we hunted down a Microtel and Yelped some pizza. There is a family joke about getting food from gas stations. When my cousin was visiting my Aunt and Uncle in Maine last summer they were asking a server for a recommendation for pizza. She asked "What kind of pizza? Because there are two that are pretty good, but it all depends if you are in the mood for 'gas station pizza.'" Well that day we were in the mood for anything gas station pizza included – Ben said technically it was in a building that shares a gas station but with a separate entrance that doesn't count as "gas station pizza." Regardless we were pleasantly surprised to pick up some very delicious pizza from a gas station on our way to the hotel.


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