September 16, 2012

Wild West Adventures: Part 1

I registered for a 5K! A local Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot will be my first post-injury race and my first race since the St. Jude Marathon. But we'll talk about running in another post.

Trea and I just returned from the most beautiful place I've ever seen -- Wyoming.

Wyoming may not seem like the most exciting place on the planet -- and it's not. That's why I love it. We saw breathtaking mountains, geysers and hot springs that seemed other-worldly, crystal clear rivers, wild animals at every turn, and more waterfalls than I could keep track of. Now I know why all those country singers write songs about the West. There's nothing else like it.

In an attempt to keep this excursion affordable, we flew to Salt Lake City and drove to our Wyoming destinations -- Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. We probably won't go that route again if we can help it because SLC isn't exactly right next door to either of those places. But for this trip, it worked. We took the scenic route and got to see a little bit of Salt Lake City, which is absolutely lovely.

We spent a night at Little America Hotel, which I highly recommend. It's very affordable and the rooms in the tower are beautiful. We walked around Temple Square for a couple of hours and checked out the tabernacle and the Mormon temple. Downtown SLC is super cute, and I would've liked another day or two to explore more. But the wilderness was calling, and we had to hit the road.

We took I-15 only as far as Brigham City, and then drove highway 89 the rest of the way to Jackson Hole so we could see Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah. It might have been a little out of the way, but it was so worth it. Bear Lake is enormous, and it's as blue as the Caribbean.

It took us a little over 7 hours to get to Jackson, but we stopped several times to take pictures. Wyoming is so gorgeous! We enjoyed the drive so much that we literally never turned on the radio the entire time we were in the car. I had audiobooks, podcasts and playlists all set to keep us entertained, but we were too busy taking in the scenery, mouths agape, to focus on anything else.

We stayed in Teton Village, just outside the city of Jackson. I've never been there before, so I had no idea what to expect, and I'm so glad we opted for Teton Village instead of Jackson. Jackson is like a real town, and it doesn't really feel like you're in the mountains. But in Teton Village, you're only a mile away from Grand Teton National Park, and the mountains were right outside our door. It's a fun place, but very small, so it's more of a getaway. Our hotel was Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, and it was perfect! I would classify Teton Village as more of a big interconnected resort instead of a town. All the hotels, restaurants and stores are connected by paved walking trails so we could step outside the lodge and get to anything we needed without having to drive.

Hanging out in the Teton Village courtyard
Our first day in Jackson Hole, we went horseback riding. This idea was a dud. We had hoped for a ride that would take us somewhere cool with pretty views, but we were in thick woods for an hour, and then looping through an open pasture for another hour. I was so bored, and it killed a half day for us because of the start time. We would have been better off hiking. But at least I have a fun picture of me on a horse that looks like I'm climbing a mountain. (I'm so not.)

Later that afternoon, we went hiking in Grand Teton National Park. We took the Death Canyon Trail to the Phelps Lake Overlook.

It was semi-strenuous because of the elevation, and the view once we reached the top was amazing. We definitely redeemed the day with this outing, and we didn't see as many people as we probably would have at some of the more popular trails.

The Teton mountains are the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen. But I'll be honest. They're the only mountains I've ever seen. The Ozark hills don't actually count as mountains, in my opinion, and while they can be lovely, they're nothing compared to the rugged, majestic Tetons.

Stay tuned for a couple more posts gushing over Wyoming's beauty. I've already run out of adjectives to describe how perfect it is, but you'll enjoy the pretty pictures!

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