When possible, we opt for the hotels that offer free breakfast. Just recently, Marriott has added "hot foods" (eggs, sausage, etc.) to their continental breakfast offerings. It totally fit the bill for us. (I think it's crazy how the more upscale a hotel gets, the more you end up paying...for food, valet, bellhop, even not having a microwave or fridge in your room - again, the "Fairfield" level of lodging fits us perfectly!)
The drive from eastern Idaho into Jackson is gorgeous. It goes from farmland, to ranch land, through several "one street" western little towns, and then, eventually, the Tetons monopolize the view.
And, then, when you get to this sign, almost at the top of the highway pass, it truly feels like what you would expect of Wyoming. Just gorgeous. One of the things I loved the most was the colorful wildflowers mixed in with all the green. It was breathtakingly beautiful to me.
The view at the top of this pass. Mikayla was not happy that John tried to snap these pictures while driving....she's not a fan of heights or cliffs (she gets that from me...particularly the cliff part)...
Before we knew it, we were driving through Jackson. We had hoped to perhaps meet up with Jason and Katy who live there (the closest I have to a cousin....his mom is the direct cousin to my dad), but our schedules did not match up.
Knowing we had some hiking to do and seeing those thunderheads starting to form, I encouraged us to not stop in Jackson, but instead keep going to the Grand Teton National Park. So hard, as Jackson is really a place we love....we promised to return.
One of the most effective and non-narcotic medicines I take that prevents pain from setting in with my neck/head is Tramadol. After a lot of research, I discovered that in rare circumstances, certain people get easily over-heated when taking it. That is definitely me (I've mentioned this in past posts). This was another reason I was dealing with a certain amount of anxiousness to get to the trailhead and start hiking as I knew the thermometer was rising. By the time we set off, it was about 85 degrees (much better than it could have been - and was around most of the US....even Eugene was high 90's) - but that is still too hot for me to exert much without paying for the consequences. To jump to the end of the story, I was able to battle it out. I did overheat, but did everything in my power to win the war - from dunking my head in to the river, to holding ice cold pop cans against my head the whole drive home, and then of course, loading up on medicine so the pain wasn't able to take over. I won! A huge victory for me, that ended up being repeated in much the same way after hiking in Yellowstone on Monday.
We were hoping to pick a less frequented hike, but no luck - the parking lot was overflowing. Obviously a popular day to visit the Tetons.
LOVE this pic (did I mention already just how much fun John was having (taking pics and otherwise)? He was already declaring this to be his favorite vacation at this point...which were absolute sweet sounds to my ears knowing this was a vacation more orchestrated to my desires than his....)
At about the point these flower pictures were taken, we were getting to the place we felt like we should turn around. Mikayla was getting hot - and so was I though I didn't want to admit it. John really wanted me to be able to see a bear as a passing set of hikers said they spotted one high up on the ridge (so we were craning our necks up as we walked). But, eventually, he was more worried about me overheating than seeing a bear. So we turned around. Within about 10 feet though, we crossed paths with a couple who promptly warned us to join them in that direction (the way we were originally going) as there was a bear following them on the trail. A BEAR?!! A BEAR?!! Where? I MUST GO SEE IT!!!!
The first couple of pics were taken with my cell phone so you can get an accurate idea of just how far away (or close up - depending on your perspective) it was:
Zoomed in with my cell phone:
You know how people sometimes get starstruck when they see/meet celebrities? I'm not like that. It's cool - I loved being able to meet Carrie Underwood and chat it up with her hubby, Mike Fisher. But, I can relate to the feeling in the way I responded to seeing this guy. I was starstruck. And, I wanted to get SO MUCH CLOSER. The only thing that kept me from being really stupid was the thought of how my family would feel to be without a wife/mom because I was too eager to get a "bear hug". As it was, Mikayla was freaking out - not at the sight of the bear, but because I was getting too close. There she was with tears in her eyes, and me with my eyes glazed over - stuck in a perma-grin.
For the record, we did have bear spray (purchased right before entering the park) and wouldn't have hesitated to use it if we felt like we were in danger. We ended up walking a ways in the original direction, gathering another four more people to our party as we walked. Eventually, we lost sight of "Yogi" =) - and one of our new friends felt confident that if it was just a black bear (which we thought it was at the time) that it would probably shy away from our group and leave us alone. He actually said, "Now if it was a grizzly, that's a different story".....ha. Well, we didn't end up seeing him again, so it all worked out. Phew....
I'm guessing this is an osprey nest - we saw a lot of these in our travels last week.
The river leading in to String Lake and Jenny Lake was so pretty.
At this point in the hike, Mikayla was physically and emotionally spent....she just wanted to be done.
And, soon enough, we were - back at the bridge where we began...and doing our best to cool off.
Mikayla's mood improved a lot.
Due to our positions below the bridge, we got to view this guy. We want to believe he is an otter, but the face shape leaves me dubious....I keep going back and forth with my designation. (At this point, I'm pretty sure it's a marmot). Of course, given my love for otters (aka Brayden) - I wanted to believe he was indeed a river otter.
After the long drive home (about two and a half hours), we hit the pool for a while before calling it a night. Check off one for the bucket list of Steph....WE SAW A BEAR....and as we determined that night, it was indeed a grizzly!