Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time for the real vacation to begin

Until arriving in Jackson "vacation" had seemed like a lot of work. Constant driving or setting up and taking down camp plagued us. We were tired from miles in the car and poor sleeping at night due to worry of bears and waking to the sun rising. We eagerly awaited the town of Jackson and watched for our hotel. We were a bit off the downtown area at the Wyoming Inn, but it was a beautiful place to stay. On checking in, the staff let us know there were still pastries, ice tea, lemonade and coffee in the dining area, and told us of the fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies starting at 6 pm. Ooh, nice! The magic words for Kevin then came, "there is also wifi throughout the hotel" His eyes lit up, Chad's too. As soon as we entered our room, the kids were instructed to ready for showers. We all took turns showering, putting on clean clothes, and throwing the dirty in a pile. That pile went straight to the laundry facilities in the hotel. It felt so good to be clean again and soothe the mosquito bites and sit still without worry of more attacks.

The hotel had a nice menu guide to local restaurants and we picked the Snake River Brewery for dinner that night. The food was good and we caught a glimpse of the tv in the bar showing the Tour de France coverage. I had a great beer, an OB-1 Organic Ale. After dinner we headed out to check out Jackson. Thinking of doing some shopping, but didn't find much in the windows that interested me. We wandered to the downtown square where a crowd was gathering. I had read about the gunfights every night, so we staked out a spot to watch. It was a funny show and Kevin enjoyed it. Zack didn't like the noise of the gunfire, so he and Chad hung back a bit. The downtown area was packed with people and we barely got a picture by the famous elk antler arches. I think everyone was just done in, so we headed back to the hotel. Fresh chocolate chip cookies were waiting for us.

On asking the kids what they wanted to do while we were there, they decided ski hill stuff sounded best. That meant alpine slides or lift rides to the top of mountains. We headed out the next day to take the tram ride at Jackson Hole Resort. Zack had seen an inflatable toy tram in a store window and he was promised one if he rode up and down. To get there from Jackson we took the long way back through Grand Teton National Park so I could have one more chance to see a moose. It was also our 15th wedding anniversary, so we had Kevin take a picture in front of the Chapel of the Transfiguration. After another stop for Kevin at Jenny Lake for a park stamp in his book, we headed down to Moose Wilson Road to leisurely drive to Jackson Hole. Down the road a few turns there were cars parked alongside. Chad pulled over into a gravel pull off and I hiked up the road to see not one, but three moose hanging out in a pond. It looked like a mother and two older moose calves, because they sure were keeping an eye on her as she ate from the pond and walked on into the woods. On arriving at Jackson Hole, a parking attendant gave us a map and brochure and told us parking is free and that's the last time you will hear free while you're here. Nice guy, honest I guess. We were really just there to ride the new 100 passenger tram to the top. It's a 9 minute trip to the top, and our tram operator was from Madison and we talked with him about local Tyrol Basin skiing. We heard on the tram about the famous waffles on the top of the mountain, and either Chad or the kids remember seeing them on a tv show as well. Exiting the tram and walking towards the building it smelled like fresh cooked waffles outside. We considered hiking a ways for Zack to have a chance to see pikas, since they live at the higher altitudes, but we weren't dressed for hiking so we gave up and ate waffles. I spotted a professional photographer taking family pictures on top of the mountain, and I talked with her a bit while the kids were eating. Being a girl and into all that "lets take a family picture" stuff I encouraged the boys (or maybe Chad threatened them) to have some pictures taken. These are the same photographers that ski the mountains in the winter and take action shots so she had lots of good stories. The pictures turned out really nice, and are already spread around the house.

Just before leaving, the photographer gave us a tip on a cool milkshake place across the border in Idaho. She said they have the biggest straws you would ever see and big chunky shakes to match, just look for the red and white awning in Victor, it's about the only thing there. Not wanting to miss a local recommendation, we headed for Idaho. Crossing over the Divide again, and through some road construction we came into the town and spotted the awning with little problem. They were what I would call pea-graveling the downtown area, spraying tar down and layering crushed rock over it. It was really smelly, but we were certainly in the most happening place in miles. Nothing else in town and we had to wait in line for shakes. The shop has t-shirts, tourist goods, fly fishing supplies and more with an ice cream counter in the back. The girls behind the counter had nonstop shakes mixing on the old fashioned machines. And the straws were huge. I had one of their famous huckleberry shakes and it was excellent. Chad had a shake that was chocolate with peanut butter and that was great too. After a little shopping in the front of the store we headed back to Jackson.

We stopped off for a rest at the hotel and Chad checked with the front desk about places for a nice anniversary dinner with the kids. The staff was always very helpful and friendly even on the phone when Chad initially made reservations. They recommended a nice place and offered to make reservations for us. All Chad said was a time and they said you will have a table, without even checking with the restaurant. With dinner plans made, we headed out for the alpine slide at Snow King Resort. We took one trip down the hill. Chad and Zack on one sled took off after me on the same course and caught up with my cautious ride down the hill. Kevin was across on the other course. Once was enough of that, although Kevin wanted another trip. Dinner was just down the street from the hotel so we walked to the Gun Barrel Steak and Game Club. We had an excellent table right in front of the huge fireplace. I had elk, and Chad had bison. It was nice to try these new things and the meal was very nice. After dinner I realized that we never encountered any geocaches yet on the trip and the boys had their bugs to release. I took them over to a travel bug hotel, a cache for dropping and picking up bugs, in Jackson. It was a little tough to find, as I had the location mapped and had a clue but the actual coordinates were not saved in our gps. The kids and I did find it and dropped the bugs.

Next morning was time to pack up and leave for home, unsure where we would stop along the way. We picked up sandwiches at Backcountry Provisions in Jackson on the way out of town. The menu was too tempting to pass up but we hadn't squeezed them in for a meal while we were staying there. We packed the sandwiches in the cooler and were on our way home.