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Road Trip, Day 9

Grand Teton Range
Grand Teton Range
(Click to view)

Grand Teton, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada?! (Well, not quite)

OK, so again, today was a full day. (Every day is, and every day I write the same thing; I also write that the scenery was spectacular -- well, it was!) At night in our tent cabin, we were molested by no bears. The wood stove was nice and warm, though I had to keep getting up throughout the night to feed it wood. At one point I woke and it was pretty cold, so maybe I'll believe them that it got close to freezing. Fernanda did an excellent job scavenging for firewood. They had said at the office you could buy some, or just get dead wood from the forest, and there was plenty. There was, but you'd need an ax to get it down to size. I failed pretty miserably to find much useful wood, but Fernanda was a pro, hunting not just in the woods, but at other camp sites, getting what previous tenants had left behind. Thanks to her efforts, we had more than enough wood.

We cleared up camp, and drove to the shower area to pay for our showers. By the time we got done it was the latest start we've had so far, 9:40 or so. There was a swimming beach at this area, but it was still early morning chilly, so we decided to get on the way.

Beautiful scenery. Yes, I said it. We drove up a mountain peak accessible by car and got a grand view. We drove down the park sort of haphazardly. We hadn't really prepared for this park, so we didn't have fixed spots we wanted to hit, but as a result, mentally we kept thinking we were done and ready to move on, and then we'd hit a totally unexpected great thing, and feel torn about spending time, because in our heads we'd already moved on. Part of the problem was since we'd entered the park from the north, from Yellowstone, there was no entry booth (Yellowstone and Grand Tetons are all one entry fee), and so we had no map or information about the park. Lunch we were already figuring would be outside the park in the south, but we were getting hungry still in the middle and by a beautiful lake, and it would be great to go swimming. But we weren't sure where there was a swimming area, and I was getting grumpy and antsy, not sure where we should be going, where we would be spending the night, what we should be shooting for. Finally we just decided to go to a marked visitor's center, get a map, ask a ranger. Turns out where we had been was a good swimming area with picnic possibilities, but we decided rather than heading back to just take what we had, and so we hiked out a little and picnicked by the shores of the lake, and swam some too. The scenery was out of this world: a sparkling blue lake, huge rugged mountains rising dramatically behind it. Go look at the pictures.

Much revived by food and a swim, and the beautiful scenery and the beautiful sunny day, we drove on, with a rough idea that we'd try to get to Utah by tonight, staging for our push down to southern Utah and the parks there. So we drove on through the park, and out to the first city outside it, Jackson, Wyoming. I guess it helped that it was a fantastically beautiful day, but we fell in love with Jackson, even though we barely stopped in it. It is all upscale and even trendy, a mountain with ski slopes rises right behind it, trim and healthy people are all around it, hiking, biking, whatever. We stopped at a sushi restaurant since we'd been craving some and got an order to go. Then we found a Smith's supermarket and stopped in to replenish our groceries. The Smith's was huge and shiny and new, and had good prices and lots of stuff we needed. I guess part of it might be having been in National Parks for the last couple days, but civilization hit us with a vengeance. Plus, this new, shiny Smith's with the friendly helpful people looked right out on a field ending in a mountain -- I dare you to find THAT in New Jersey.

Driving the scenic route south in Wyoming, we hit upon our master plan. The problem had been how to get in seeing some sites in Utah near Salt Lake without sacrificing a whole day, while still being able to get to Moab for the parks in the south. So I remembered Wendover, all the way at the western end on the Nevada desert. They can't wait to start with the gambling, so the casino is right on the border in Nevada, while the parking lot is in Utah. Gambling areas usually have great loss-leader deals, and indeed, when we looked it up, the Motel 6 in Wendover cost half the price we consider normal. It would be close to the best deal we've had so far. Going all the way out to Nevada is a straight shot right past the salt flats, one of the things worth seeing (it left a great impression on me when I was young seeing them for the first time), if not quite worth going out of your way for. But see, the master plan: we could call ahead using the Motel 6 toll free number, confirm the reservation, then arrive late without the usual rigmarole of going from motel to motel looking for vacancy and decent rates. We could drive late, past when we'd normally feel we'd have to stop and compromise.

So, the plan: all the way through to Wendover tonight. As the plan came together through Idaho we put the finishing touches on it with the room reservation, allowing us to dilly-dally if we wanted to, instead of arriving there somewhat late but still in time to compare deals. We decided to dilly-dally and go take a swim in Bear Lake, just over in Utah from Idaho.

So we drove down a beach access, parked when we couldn't get any further due to a huge puddle in the road, and walked down to the beach, getting muddy passing the puddle in what turned out to be a great wet marshy area (a 4x4 truck drove through, so it isn't impassible, just not doable without a 4x4 -- what a concept: those things ARE good for something!) I was sure Bear Lake was going to be a salt lake, the way it looked, and it being so close to the Great Salt Lake, but it was fresh. Very shallow sandy bottom, and a very refreshing swim.

So then we called and made our motel reservation, and thus assuaged, stopped at a nice scenic over-look rest-stop to have our sushi for dinner, before continuing on our way.

It was a beautiful scenic drive, even though it turned out Salt Lake City was further than our estimates. In the end we ended up pulling into Wendover at 10:15 pm, and it was already dark when we passed through Salt Lake City. Tomorrow bright and early we will take a quick look around the gaudiness that is Wendover, drive along the Salt Flats and marvel at the emptiness of them, then drive around Salt Lake for a bit, and maybe go out to Park Ciy, before heading down to Moab, in what I hope will be a 5 1/2 hour drive. We already have a reservation for the first night, not at a great rate, but at least we can pull in late at night again if need be.

Amazingly, this Motel 6 does not have wifi, so yet another day without wifi and being able to post stuff. Hopefully tomorrow we'll stop by a cafe or something with wifi, so I can post stuff, and also so I can check with Google to make sure I'm not totally off in how long it takes to get to Moab. 

So, nearly 12 hours driving, I think I get to say it was a full day. Fernanda and I traded off driving, though I did most of it today. The car is back up to 36 mpg, even hitting 37 and 38. We broke 3000 miles today total mileage.

So, 11:30, not even as late as I've been up. The fun continues tomorrow...

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Previous Entries



Our New Bathroom Saga

Europe 2015

The Berkshires

Road Trip South


Our Trip to Ireland

Google Map of our Trip

Road Trip: The End

Road Trip, Day 27

Road Trip, Day 26

Road Trip, Day 25

Road Trip, Day 24

Road Trip, Day 23

Road Trip, Day 22

Road Trip, Day 21

Road Trip, Day 20

Road Trip, Day 19

Road Trip, Day 18

Road Trip, Day 17

Road Trip, Day 16

Road Trip, Day 15

Road Trip, Day 14

Road Trip, Day 13

Road Trip, Day 12

Road Trip, Day 11

Road Trip, Day 10

Road Trip, Day 8

Road Trip, Day 7

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