It’s Friday, August 11th and its the first time we’ve driven the RV in the dark. Not because its late but because its so early. The 5AM kinda early when we are driving away from that cramped campsite in Yellowstone on our way to meet very special guests at Grand Teton National Park.
The drive is only 90 minutes so you may by asking yourself why we would be departing at such an ungodly hour. Well, its because of the reservation system, or, more accurately, the lack of an automated reservation system, used at this particular National Park. They assign campsites on a first come, first served basis only. Seems nuts to us but that is how it works. Now, they do have one RV-only campground within the park but it is booked solid for the year in January when reservations open for the year. Since we didn’t know exactly when we would arrive in this part of the country, that place didn’t work for us.
Yet we absolutely had to get a campsite here, on this day, to meet our special guests. Since the first come, first served campsites book up early each day, we decided to be one of the first in line to give ourselves the best probability of getting one. We’ve learned from other RVers and the Rangers at the park that the we-want-a-campsite-today line starts forming as early as 6:30 AM and most days the available sites are filled before noon. That’s why we were up at 4:00 AM, on the road by 5 AM and in line at the Colter Bay Campground at 6:30AM, prior to their 8 AM scheduled opening time and ahead of all but two other crazies, both cars. We were third in line and the first RV and feeling pretty good about getting a site. We shut off the engine and went to sleep, me, right there in the drivers seat ready to move up as sites got filled.
At about 8:10 AM, with the line now at least 20 vehicles long behind us, our efforts were rewarded with a spacious, beautiful campsite. Mission accomplished!
That took care of the first goal for the day. Now, on to the more important part of this post, our special guests. Our daughter, Ericca, and our niece, Stella, joined us here later that day. What a special treat!
We ended up spending five nights here, easily could have been ten or more. Absolutely spectacular park, top five for sure! So much to do in this 310,000 acre park established on February 26, 1929, yet we barely scratched the surface. Ericca and Stella hung out with us for four days, camping three nights in their tent at our site. Here’s a little about each of the activities that we enjoyed together.
Our first experience was canoeing (all the kayaks had been rented, by one person, for the entire day – he wanted to be sure he and his family could get out on the lake whenever they arrive…) on Jackson Lake. This is a big lake with many islands available for exploration. Renting two canoes for the four of us with our resident family photographer (thanks, Stella!) in one of them, we got some great pictures. You may notice most of the the pics have some haze in the mountains – thats from the wildfires that had impacted our views in Coeur d’Alene, Glacier, Bozeman and Yellowstone. (Siobhan and I were fortunate to get a crystal clear view the day after Ericca and Stella headed back to Colorado.) We paddled out to an island and went ashore for awhile so the young ladies could go for a swim before we paddled back to Colter Bay marina. Although we went to exactly the same places, I’m pretty sure that Ericca and Stella paddled much farther that day than Siobhan and I did. Something about the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?
We drove to Jackson Lake Lodge for lunch on the terrace overlooking the lush meadow with the Grand Tetons in the background. Ericca was telling all of us about one of her upcoming adventures to hike the Teton Crest Trail with two of her friends. She even got our waiter to share his experiences on that trail with us while we were there. Sounds exciting.
On Sunday, Ericca and Stella left early to spend the day exploring Yellowstone since Stella had not been there before. Siobhan and I went to visit Yogi, up close and personal!
Monday was to be an epic hike up Cascade Canyon but the weather didn’t cooperate (plus Siobhan and I weren’t sure we could keep up with Ericca and Stella) as thunderstorms were predicted. We opted for a hike from String Lake up to Inspiration Point via the back side of Jenny Lake, keeping us at lower (read this as “safer”) elevation. Certainly not as strenuous but still fun. After our bear encounter the day before, we were happy to play the trail game “Is it more like a sock?” with the girls during our hike to pass the time while making a bit of extra noise so we didn’t sneak up on Yogi!
After the hike we drove the fifty or so miles down to Jackson Hole to check out that town for lunch. I was feeling kinda nostalgic when we stopped to eat at a pub I went to with my brother and his friends on a motorcycle trip years ago. Such a cool place. When we got back to the campsite around 5 PM, Ericca and Stella packed up their stuff and headed out on a 7 hour drive back to Fort Collins, CO – ahhh, to be young again! It was sooo great to see both of them!!
Siobhan and I used Tuesday as chore day, doing lots of laundry and cleaning but still found time for a nice bike ride to explore the Colter Bay area. Relaxing before tomorrow’s long drive.