our last days in yellowstone and grand teton

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

This is the fourth and last post in which I’m sharing our itinerary for our recent trip out to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. The first three posts are here, here, and here – in case you missed them. 

Warning: Photo-heavy post ahead.

* * * * *

It’s been over a month since my last post about our summer trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and anxious this past week – which probably has something to do that tomorrow starts a 15 day stretch of work and 24/7 call. Today seemed like a good day to visit my photos from our trip and to share with you the last couple of days of that vacation. There were lots of powerful moments during those last two days, including spreading my father’s ashes at Lupine Meadows. I felt so connected to him in that place, and I can still feel the tug on my heart when I look back at these photos.

Days 7: Yellowstone National Park to Jackson, WY

We left our cabin and checked out of the Lake Lodge Hotel in Yellowstone on that Thursday morning. We had experienced such beautiful weather during the first days of the vacation, but these last two days would prove to be overcast and rainy.

After one more quick drive through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – but no hikes due to the rain – we headed to the Mud Volcano area to explore the geothermal features there. The area was filled with gurgling mud pits and steaming ground. And the stench of rotten eggs.

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

The evidence of the fires in Yellowstone is obvious throughout the park, but it was most obvious on the drive south, from the West Thumb area down to the South Entrance. Naked, scorched trees stood in thick groves. Green grasses and flimsy, young trees pushed up from the earth among the dead pines that littered the ground, creating a beautiful contrast of the old and the new. The landscape was stark, and awed silence seemed to be the only appropriate response.

Until the bull elk was spotted, that is. Then the chaos of halting traffic and tourists climbing out of cars with smart phones, camcorders, and cameras began.

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

Can you see the bull elk hiding in the trees?

Our drive south to Jackson through the Grand Teton National Park was leisurely, and we revisited many places we’d stopped before. We regretted not spending more nights in the Grand Tetons. Neither Sam nor I were ready to return to civilization, with its traffic lights and street noise and Facebook.

Day 8: Jackson, WY, and Grand Teton National Park

On our last full day in Wyoming, we woke to grey skies and dreary, low hanging clouds. The striking vista of the Teton range was obscured by clouds, and if I hadn’t seen it earlier in the week, I almost wouldn’t have believed it existed.

Despite the weather, we donned our jackets (mostly rainproof) and our backpacks and headed out to hike to Inspiration Point, a trail off of Jenny Lake. This hike would turn out to be one of our favorite experiences of our trip.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

A golden-mantled ground squirrel.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet


grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

Later that day, after inhaling hotdogs at the Jenny Lake store – who knew hiking could create such ravenous hunger? – we drove over to Lupine Meadows again. From the first moment we saw this meadow, early on in our trip, I knew that Dad needed to be here. The rain cleared and the sun came out just long enough for us to spend some silent moments there. We were the only people in the meadow, and it was just as it needed to be.

Oliver picked a dandelion and laid it on the ground, near a clump of Lupine. “This is for Grandaddy,” he said.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

Lupine in Lupine Meadows.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

Lupine Meadows will always hold a spot in my heart.

As we drove out of the meadow, we passed a car stopped along the side of the road. Because we are smart tourists – quick to catch on to these type of cues – we knew that meant WILDLIFE HAS BEEN SPOTTED.

A gorgeous brown bear meandered through the meadow in our general direction, pausing to eat grasses and leaves along the way. We watched it for twenty minutes, at least, as it wandered aimlessly at first, and then with purpose as it climbed down into a stream, waded through the water, and then climbed out the other side. It disappeared into the tree line, without a look back.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

When I think back on that last day in the Grand Tetons, I can’t help but get a bit emotional. It was the perfect end to our vacation. This was a vacation I will always remember, and I’m fairly certain my children will, too.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

 *   *   *   *   *

For more information on where we stayed and ate, during this final leg of the trip, here are some links:

  • Lake Hotel Dining Room – We had lunch here before heading south to Jackson. Reservations weren’t necessary, probably because most people are out exploring the park.
  • Wyoming Inn – This hotel was pure luxury after our national park hotel experiences. There wasn’t a pool, but the kids were satisfied with the free wifi access.  There’s not a true restaurant here (though they do serve a pricey breakfast in a dining room on the first floor), but it’s close enough to plenty of other restaurants.
  • Local – A reservation would have been helpful at this downtown Jackson steak and seafood restaurant, but our craving for good food was satisfied after only a 30 minute wait for dinner.
  • Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant – I hate to eat anywhere named Bubba’s (just a quirk of mine), but Bubba’s serves a darned good breakfast. Their giant breakfasts – and breakfast sausages – made this Oliver’s favorite restaurant of the trip.
  • Sidewinders American Grill – If you’re soaked and muddy from spending all day out in the rain, the wait staff won’t look twice. But they will seat you toward the back of the restaurant on a Friday night. The food was fine, nothing special, but the service was friendly. I do admit, though, that the evidence of the April landslide that affected the building that Sidwinders is in freaked me out a bit.
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10 Responses to “how we spent our vegas vacation”

  1. FrenchPressMemos — June 21, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    Vegas, for all its quirks, is a true foodie paradise. Looks like you had some fabulous meals.

  2. Liren — June 21, 2010 @ 10:38 am

    What a delicious vacation! I haven’t been to Vegas (outside of the airport), but have to admit, the lure of the food is compelling!

  3. The Housewife — June 21, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    Happy Anniversary! Looks like you had an awesome time and some truly amazing food!

  4. Jason Phelps — June 21, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    What day in June did you get married? I ask because I have a post I am getting ready where I used your gelato recipe from last week. The odd twist is that I was making it to celebrate our 13th anniversary, actually today, and used the Cuisinart Ice Cream maker friends gave us to make it. If you got married on June 21 1997 I would flip!! Now I see your weekend post and think it is just too odd, my post is about our foodie weekend celebrating as well. I’ll send you the link when I get it posted later tonight.

    Happy Anniversary!


    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — June 21st, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

      Jason – Ours was June 28, 1997. 🙂

  5. SMITH BITES — June 21, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

    I’m seriously drooling over the pictures, MJ – fantastic, mouthwatering and gorgeous! I’m w/Liren, have had layovers (last week on the way home from CA as a matter-of-fact) but haven’t really ever been there specifically for food or gambling. This makes me want to go! Happy Anniversary!

  6. I think that beet salad is my favorite!!!! I LOVE a good beet salad.

    And Happy Anniversary!!! [K]

  7. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite — June 22, 2010 @ 7:21 am

    See now I have never really felt the attraction of Vegas. Until I saw this post. Foodie paradise indeed 🙂 Happy anniversary and may there be many more to come!

  8. Kathleen Seide — June 25, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    Hello Again!

    Great photos, glad you had a good time, but the photo of an actual ANIMAL LEG was a bit much for me – you have a strong stomache ; )

  9. Magic of Spice — June 29, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

    Looks like a great way to spend an Anniversary! Everything looks so wonderful…Great post!

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