On Top of the World: Grand Tetons, Old Faithful and the Incredible Colors of Yellowstone
Upon awakening at the Teton Teepee Lodge, we enjoyed a full hot breakfast while chatting and swapping adventure stories with some fellow travelers who were also staying at this amazing property. As I was lazily watching the sunshine stream through the multiple windows of the lobby and enjoying my third (!!!) cup of coffee to the unforgettable melodies by Andrea Bocelli (that go oh-so-well with the fresh air and the sense of reawakening that going to the mountains always brings), I realized that if it were up to me - I'd stay at the Teton Teepee Lodge for the entire duration of our Grand Teton/Yellowstone tour. Here's a little video that I took that morning - with our Liam and Chloe as the main stars.
When we finally did manage to pack the bags and bid farewell to the Teton Teepee Lodge, we followed the advice given to us by the hotel owner and decided to be brave - and go on a scenic Dreamcatcher chairlift ride. As we were driving to the Grand Targhee Resort (this is where you can hop on the chairlift and enjoy a lot of other activities), Max kept whining and acting like he really didn't want to go. Spoil alert: after everything was said and done, it turned out that he was under the impression that he would be lifted on top of the mountain in an actual chair :).
Little did we know that Max wasn't that far off. I mean... I'm pretty sure that skiers are probably quietly (or not quietly) laughing away as they are reading this, but here's the thing. Chris was in a separate chair with Chloe, while I was in a chair with Liam and Max. For some reason, both Chris and I expected that the bar would automatically come down as the chair went up. When it didn't and we were already so high up that my heart started pounding in my chest, I panicked, grabbed on to Max, told Liam to seat tight and looked back at Chris - who seemed to be doing the same thing I was doing. Which wasn't helpful. At all. Finally, I heard Liam say, "Mom, this guy is trying to tell you something!" When I turned to my left, I saw a guy in the chair coming back down opposite us, frantically gesticulating to me, showing me that I had to bring the bar down. Mortified and ashamed, I did it and smiled to my sons as if to say, "I totally knew that!".
As we reached the 9,862 ft. summit of Fred’s Mountain, however, we all knew that it was worth it. The view of the magnificent Teton Range and surrounding states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana was definitely something to remember!
After we came down to Earth, we headed over to the Grand Teton National Park, stopping for a little while to chat with some friendly horses in the vicinity of Teton Village (Teton Village was way too touristy, in my humble opinion, with the pastures and the horses on the way there being the best part).
Our first stop at the Grand Teton National Park was Jenny Lake where the scenery was so stunningly beautiful, it literally took my breath away. We walked along the lakeside trail, admiring the views of the crystal water and the towering mountain giants reflecting in it; we enjoyed every invigorating breath of the fresh air - and then, following the tradition of this trip, we stopped for a picnic!
Exhausted after hours of adventure and overwhelmed by all the excitement, we drove back to Jackson Hole where we had a reservation at Virginian Lodge. Since I am determined to focus only on the positive - in this blog post and in life in general - I will just say that we were rather disappointed in Virginian Lodge and in Jackson Hole. As I have mentioned earlier, I'd recommend skipping Jackson Hole altogether when visiting Grand Tetons and going for Teton Teepee Lodge instead. It will save you money, and it will make for waaaaaay nicer memories. If you would like to read the reviews about Virginian Lodge, Tripadvisor has them all, and you can view them here :).
As to us, we did some laundry, ordered Domino's pizza to be delivered to our room, and fell fast asleep, dreaming of Yellowstone that was awaiting us the next day.
Our next day started with something unusual that yours truly always does whenever I travel. Belly-dance in front of the most gorgeous/iconic spot we can find! So here it is! A belly dance routine to Bailamos by Enrique Iglesias (plus a few pictures with fan veils that are always fun) with the majestic Teton Range as a backdrop. And yes, a huge plane did fly right over my head in the middle of the dance. And yes - I did almost fall over! :)
After the belly-dancing mission has been accomplished, we jumped back into our lovely Ford Explorer and headed over to the park we have all been so excited about visiting - the famous Yellowstone (the South Entrance).
We drove straight to Old Faithful - a highly predictable cone geyser that has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since 2000. The most surprising and memorable moment (apart from the geyser eruption) was the fact that its parking lot was as enormous and as crowded as that of Disneyworld (and I'm talking about July 2020). Small details aside, the sight was something all of us will remember forever - and the crowd - first whispering in awe, as if afraid to scare the sleeping giant off, then cheering in unison - was actually a rather important aspect of the overall experience. At least for me! Read on or jump straight to see the video of the eruption.
After observing the eruption, we walked around the boardwalk, checking out various geysers and admiring the vibrant colors around us. The kids were particularly excited when they found out that Yellowstone was sitting on top of the supervolcano. They right away started asking if there was a chance it was going to erupt that day. We told them we were hoping it was not, but then again - it was 2020, and everything was possible. Am I repeating myself?
After enjoying yet another lakeside picnic, we made our way to the Grand Prismatic Spring - the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. Grand Prismatic Spring was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colors match most of those seen in the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
The excitement of the day caught up with us, and we hit the road again, this time towards West Yellowstone, Montana, where we had a reservation at Yellowstone RV Park & Cabins. Clearly, we had no RV, so we stayed at a very nice cabin, albeit without a bathroom (more on that later :)).
Cabins with bathrooms can be reserved, but they were all booked up at the time. For those of you who don't know me that well, I'm a pretty high-maintenance lady who loves peeing and who needs to do it rather often. :) And I do not enjoy camping. At all. So instead of dreading the approaching night of multiple trips to the bathroom in 30-degree weather, in complete dark, in an RV Park called "Grizzly", I tried to focus on a "wholesome" dinner of burgers and hotdogs cooked by my husband and on a nice conversation with a cool family who was staying in the cabin next door. The evening was actually quite nice as we were sipping on our drinks and chatting only in that way complete strangers can chat - watching the kids laugh and play as the multitude of golden stars were shimmering across the horizon.
To be continued...
If you would like to check out my little video compilation of the Dreamcatcher Chairlift, Old Faithful Eruption and Jenny Lake, you can watch it below!
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