yellowstone national park and old faithful

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet
This is the second post (of a few) 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 post is here, if you missed it. 

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Day 4:Yellowstone National Park – South Entrance to Old Faithful

As much as we hated to leave the Grand Teton National Park, we knew that adventures awaited in Yellowstone. We also knew that we’d have a chance to revisit the Grand Tetons during the last two days of our trip, since we were spending the last two nights of the vacation back in Jackson. Those snowy peaks, despite the fact that we couldn’t reach them (and oh, how we wanted to), had imprinted themselves on my heart.

After one last breakfast at the Pioneer Grill, and after one final view of the mountains through the hotel’s large glass windows, we checked out of the Jackson Lake Lodge and headed north to the southern entrance of Yellowstone. The distance from the Jackson Lake Lodge to our hotel for the night, the Old Faithful Inn, was listed as 39 miles and should have taken us just over an hour. We took our time, however. We did not want to miss a single sight along the way, so it took us about three hours.

yellowstone national park | the merry gourmet

It was a pathetic snow pile, but my kids didn’t care.

Soon after entering Yellowstone, as we entered higher elevations, we started encountering snow. The kids were thrilled to see snow, and especially snow that wasn’t just in the distance on faraway mountain tops, but in piles and slicks on the nearby mountainside, just off the road. We pulled over at least twice so Maddie and Oliver could throw icy snowballs at each other and at their father. They kicked the snow and poked at it with sticks and squealed and giggled. They lamented that we live in Florida, where it never snows.

exploring grand teton national park

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

In my last post, I mentioned the possibility of sharing our itinerary for our recent trip out to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. I had several messages from folks who were interested in reading more about the trip – people who are heading there soon or want to one day, or people (hi Mom!) who just want to see more of our photos — so here is the first of three (maybe) more posts about my current favorite family vacation.

Warning: Photo-heavy post ahead!

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Day 1: Jackson, WY, and Grand Teton National Park

Our plane arrived at the Jackson Hole Airport, a tiny airport with the most beautiful views possible, around lunchtime. Despite a rough start to our day – kicked off with a flight delay and an unexpected two-hour drive to another departure airport – the rest of our day of travel was surprisingly smooth. All of our bags made it to our final destination on time and intact, the children hadn’t been overly rude or annoying to each other (or me), and picking up the rental car (a stylish minivan) at the airport was a breeze.

We had a quick lunch in the town of Jackson then checked in to our cabin at the Cowboy Village Resort. We stayed at the cabin just long enough to ditch our bags and don our jackets so that we could go exploring. We were determined to make the most of every minute in Wyoming. And we did, too. Most days, we were up and out of our hotel by 8 or 9 in the morning, not returning for another 10 or 12 hours.

The Grand Teton National Park is just fifteen or twenty minutes from the town of Jackson. That afternoon, we drove into the park through the Moose-Wilson Road, a scenic 8-mile stretch of road, which held the promise of wildlife viewing – especially, we hoped, moose.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

One of the stunning views at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

Jackson Lake.

grand teton national park | the merry gourmet

Jackson Lake.

our yellowstone summer vacation

“Do you remember all of this?” my husband asked, gesturing toward the famous geyser spewing skyward.

We were seated on a downed lodgepole pine tree, our backpacks at our feet. What seemed like thousands of tourists stood on the broad wooden deck around Old Faithful in front of us, standing four and five people deep, cameras and cell phones and video cameras raised high into the air to get a better shot. We were many yards back, at the grassy periphery of the Old Faithful viewing area, where it was less crowded, and also shaded by a grove of the tall pines. The dead, bleached-out pine tree made for a wonderful seat for our tired legs. The kids were off to our left, laughing and squealing over an inside joke.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I remember different things.”

old faithful | the merry gourmet

I was ten or eleven when my parents took my brother (who was six or so) and me to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was just a small part of a 6-week road trip across the country, from Florida to California and back.  And though I don’t remember the near-boiling waters of Old Faithful erupting out of the hot earth, I remember waiting for the geothermal show to happen. Mostly, I recall feeding the marmots with my brother, Clay. Those furry brown creatures would stand on their hind legs, like little tiny people, and take potato chips from our hands.

I don’t remember specifics of Mammoth Hot Springs or of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone or of Lamar Valley. But I remember a grinning Clay running into a grassy meadow filled with a herd of giant elk. Perhaps the elk were actually bison, but elk is in my memory. The elk scattered, galloping away, much to the disappointment – and fury – of the numerous tourists (and my parents) who had their Polaroids and film cameras aimed at the wildlife. It was pretty typical of something my brother would do.