Friday, September 4, 2015

Jackson Hole 2015: Part 1

It's that time again! When we head up yonder to the Tetons and my otherwise neglected blog becomes a highly repetitive and possibly obnoxious travel journal! 

Yes, folks, you guessed correctly: we're smugly back in Jackson Hole. Get ready for an obscene amount of mountain photography and poorly formatted phone posts...or blithely ignore me for the next ten days or so; I won't blame you a bit! 

Travel Day: Tuesday, September 1 

One of the few downsides to living in Austin is the lack of direct flights. We were scheduled to leave ABIA at 5:04 pm {so random, American} and then hop our connecting flight from DFW at 7:30 pm. So, basically, bedtime. Lovely! 

B has never been a great flyer. He doesn't always scream the whole time, but I don't think he's ever, ever fallen asleep on a flight for longer than 10 minutes -- not even as a nursing 3 month old. Last Sunday, his tummy started giving him some trouble, but not enough to keep him home from school Monday while I packed. On Tuesday, the rumblings continued, but he wasn't running a fever and he was eating okay and drinking normally. I was a wee bit nervous about him not feeling great on the plane(s) but was actually happy he was able to take a regular nap prior to boarding. 

My dad dropped me, the two kids, and 7 of our 9 pieces of luggage at the airport {later texting he wish he'd snapped a photo of our little circus too!} and I got us all checked in while E Ubered over from work. B screamed the entire time we checked in as he was not happy being strapped to my chest in the Beco... Anxiety Level Up!  Thankfully, everyone chilled out a bit once we got through security and procured some soft pretzels.  The first flight was controlled chaos as I tried to keep the 30 lb lap child from continuously kicking the seat in front of us and reaching over the tug the hair of said seat's occupant. Thank baby cheesus for ice {do I have the only kids obsessed with ice?}, Melissa & Doug color magic pads, and empty Diet Coke cans. 

We hustled off our first flight and took a spin on the SkyTram to our next gate; both meatloaves thought that was pretty neat! Also neat: the waiting area chairs with slanted footrests in the C Terminal -- those things make excellent slides and jumping platforms, apparently. We boarded the second leg of our journey right as we would normally be splashing in the bath. The kidlets ate PB&H sammies and grapes while we waited to take off. Our plane was a new airbus, and there were personal entertainment systems on the back of ever headrest {and we sprung for the extra legroom coach seats -- so worth it with wriggly small fries} which L thought was pretty much the coolest thing ever. She watched the free preview of the Disney package for about 40 minutes before it cut off. At that point we set her up with the iPad, and switched her to the window seat since B wanted to go back and forth between me and E. There was a free ABC Mouse program on the entertainment system that was basically 15 minutes of kid songs set to decently cute cartoons. We didn't have a headset for him, but we must have replayed that video 10x while singing the songs quietly to him. For the most part, he happily sat in our laps {looking like he was juuuuust about to snooze...then...NOPE}, ate ice, sipped his bottle, and randomly jumped down on the floor to do a little dance before repeating the whole cycle over again. There was an impressive diaper blowout at one point, but we did a quick change into PJs, tapped that ABC Mouse back on {and ordered another glass of wine}, and we were good to go. 

About 30 minutes prior to landing, L proclaimed she was too tired to watch Doc McStuffins {say what?}, and climbed into E's lap, but still couldn't fall asleep {it was about 3 hours past her bedtime at this point}... So we plugged her headphones into the system so she could watch the cartoon songs which we assumed she'd love since most of her favorite classic tunes were depicted. She randomly found the 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed cartoon to be absolutely horrifying {"dee poor wittle monkeys! look at der head bumps!"} and has anxiously brought it up over and over again for the past 3 days... She is really worried about those damn monkeys! 

We finally landed around 10 pm {11 pm our time}. It's kind of a bummer flying into Jackson Hole at night because you deplane outside, and, during the day, the Tetons are RIGHT THERE and the view is just breathtaking. But the stars at night were quite pretty and the 55 degree {!!!} air felt amazing. E ran ahead to be first in line at Hertz, and I gave the kids a ride on the luggage cart. 

After collecting our luggage, we loaded up and drove to our rental house.  Since I've already written entirely too many words about our unremarkable travel day, I'll spare you the details of our vacation real estate drama, but... Long-Story Short: we rented the same property where we stayed in 2013 for this trip back in December {the condo we rented last year was great, but we needed more space since we have another family of 4 joining us this year}. In June, the owner attempted to back out of our contract, and found that was going to be quite difficult to do given she had no legal right to do so and was dealing with two attorneys. Since she is unreasonable and likely batshit crazy, we scrambled to find a new place and were coming up short. A management company suggested this rental after we'd inquired about another cabin that wasn't actually available...this rental looked absolutely fantastic save for the fact that it usually rents for what we pay in mortgage for an entire year {not an exaggeration}. We laughed and basically said "no way, José...although since we're three weeks out and it hasn't been reserved, might the owners consider a {way, way, way, way, waaaaaaaay} reduced rate? Also, did we tell you our outrageous FWP vacation rental sob story?"  Shockingly, I guess the owners {who live in the detached guest house} decided a tiny portion of the regular rate was better than no rental income at all, and here we are at the Shootin' Iron Ranch. 

ANYHOODLE, we arrived at our rental, and, even though it was obscenely late for the kiddos, totally geeked out running through the house. It is one of those gorgeous mountain homes that feels like the set of a B rate horror flick {"murderous millionaires lure unsuspecting family to luxury cabin with unbelievably low rental rate in exchange for their liiiiiiiiives!"}, and I mean that in the best possible way {I watch way too many scary movies}. Seriously though, there was definitely an element of "this is way too good to be true; are we sure we are not about to get slammed with a bill that would rival the sticker price of a decently okay new car?" We got over it pretty quickly as we threw the kids in bed, made an oven pizza for ourselves {and almost burnt down the kitchen with the fancy oven...45 minutes after arriving -- probably a record of some sort}, and toasted our "luck" in contracting with a nutty liar! 

Day 1: Wednesday, September 3

We woke up to that ^ view {and, because I'm insane, I mentally high-fived the universe for not having us murdered}, and even though our kidlets were ridiculously cranky from minimal sleep, we managed to soak in the view from our porch while noshing on some Eggos. After a bit more exploring {the tiny humans went nuts over the random wooden train engine and foose ball table in the second master} and unpacking, we loaded up and hit the grocery store for sustainance. B had A Major Diarrhea Incident at the store, and I realized he felt a bit warm. That was about as much activity as we could stomach on so little sleep so we headed back to the house for lunch and naps. B got Motrin and we moved his crib into the master closet so the glorious moutain sunshine wouldn't disturb him. He slept for 4 hours but still felt pretty icky, poor guy. E worked a bit, and L and I played dominoes and Zingo while B finished his snooze. 

We'd promised L ice cream so we drove back into town to hit up Moo's on the square and take a stroll. B did seem a bit revived from his nap, but his little digestive system was definitely working overtime to expel whatever bug had befallen him. We played hide and seek in the square and enjoyed being outside and not sweating...we are pretty easy to please at this point in the summer! 

Our first day got away from us pretty quickly as it was clear both children were in need of an early bedtime. I gave B his bottle in a rocker in front of a picture window, and it was pretty much the perfect snuggle. L introduced her "baby deer friend" {small miracle: she doesn't seem daunted by trophy heads...of which there are many in this house} to Fancy Nancy and then promptly fell asleep in her little denim cowgirl bed. 

E and I made some risotto and enjoyed dinner and beverages on the porch before hitting the hay relatively early ourselves. 

Day 2: Thursday, September 3

Our first day of hiking! After breakfast and coffee on the back porch, we loaded up our gear and crew and headed into Grand Teton National Park.  We chose a quick 3 miler to Phelps Lake from the Laurance S Rockefeller Preserve, because we knew it'd be pretty easy and we didn't want to push it with B still feeling a bit iffy. We've also done this hike 4 times and never seen a "bear sighting" posting. After our bear encounter last year, I am anxious as shit about bears. Bear spray is my bestie. Also SSRIs. 

Of course on the road to the Preserve, there was a bottleneck of cars and bodies, all clamoring to photograph a black bear going nuts on some berry bushes. Fun to see from the car, but not great for my blood pressure. We also saw a moose munching around in the marsh {my photos are out of order...he's down below a bit}; I liked him better. 

As we parked at the Preserve, a Ranger immediately asked if we had bear spray and warned there'd been bear sightings every day for the past two weeks. Fan-fucking-tastic. Luckily {?}, B didn't give me much opportunity to dwell on potential carnivorous encounters as I was soon busy trying to convince him riding in the pack was not the worst thing in the entire world. 

How dare we suggest he enjoy nature whilst being carried like a tiny maharaja? 

We actually did spot a bear at the beginning of the trailhead, but no fewer than four Rangers were on hand with extra canisters of bear spray. We quickly fell in step in between two groups of hikers who looked like they could be outrun, if need be {not even kidding / not even sorry}. I wouldn't say B ever totally warmed to pack-riding, but we're hoping some of his angst was due to his belly. 

We made it to Phelps Lake just in time for snacks and an sex-ed demonstration from the chipmunks. And yes, L insisted on hiking in her donut PJ top with her trusty baby doll Bebe and her stethoscope. A doc never knows when one might require a checkup! 

B actually fell asleep on the hike back to the Preserve {30 lbs of toddler dead-weight strapped to your back feels like a half-empty keg sloshing around}, but L filled his silence by singing Frozen at the top of her lungs. Several people we encountered on the trail remarked she was natural bear repealent... Attagirl! Annoy those bears away! 

{bear from the car || moose from the car}

Another epic nap time for the still "jet-lagged" kidlets, followed by loads of playtime in the backyard! 

Jeesh, I'm quickly running out of steam... Let's just say there was more porch supping and good beer and foot-of-the-bed fireplaces {which, to be honest, are lovely in theory but freak me out... I mean, if we manage to escape being massacred, perhaps we should avoid being charred to death in our sleep as well?}. 


  1. Looks lovely! Since moving to CO we have learned that moose are more dangerous than bears. 😁 so moose spray?

    1. Oh yes, we've been warned they can charge and do lots of damage! Luckily, they don't seem to take to the hiking trails too often in GT!

  2. Wait - there's such a thing as bear spray? I'm intrigued. There was a really fascinating article on Slate about grizzly bear attacks in Yellowstone after the attack this summer. I'm generally too lazy for hiking anyhow, but that article probably eliminated any lingering chance I might venture out into the wilderness anytime soon.

    1. Yes! It's like mace for bears! The instructions are terrifying, though. We practice unholstering and unlocking the safety, but I'm still pretty sure I'd shit my pants if I actually had to pull the trigger!


happy little comments!