The playlist for today’s drive:
-The rest of “Bossypants,” read by Tina Fey (thank you Tina, for getting us through Wyoming).
We started the day off in Fort Collins with an early morning walk along the path in the neighborhood where we stayed. The trail went behind a lot of houses and eventually into a park, where there’s a bike course (the little kid in Eric was totally jealous) and great views of the mountains. This was one of those “I can’t believe people actually live here” moments. It’s just too beautiful there.
We headed into Oldtown for coffee at a cute little shop called “The Bean Cycle.” It was a coffee shop/used bookstore with a very hipster vibe (of course, as I said yesterday, the whole town is completely hipster. It’s almost funny.) But we got some really delicious coffee, along with a locally made bagel from Rocky Mountain Bagel Works with peanut butter. And I enjoyed the barista’s self-depricating humor as he called himself the world’s worst peanut butter spreader and handed me my very messy (but completely delicious) bagel.
Unfortunately, we had to get on the road and leave the beautiful views for a while as we headed north to Wyoming again. Wyoming, I’m afraid, is not the most exciting of the 50 states. I’m sure that most of America agrees with me, as Wyoming is the least populated state. We drove for hours and hours without encountering a single town. We did pass signs for the smallest town in America (population: 1), but Eric wasn’t quite as excited about stopping there as I was. Mostly, we just saw a lot of dirt. Wyoming doesn’t have much in the way of trees. Or vegetation of any sort. It’s kind of the exact opposite of Kentucky.
So we drove and drove and drove and drove through hundreds of miles of dirt. And fences. A seemingly random part of the landscape on I-80 is the number of fences. Not fences enclosing property. Just pieces of fences in fields along the interstate. We were baffled by these fences, so we Googled them (I should mention that the internet on our ipad in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming is significantly faster than it ever was in our apartment in Lexington. Darn you, Insight.) After some searching, I learned that tons of other people were equally baffled by these fences, but apparently they are snow fences meant to prevent ground blizzards, which often occur in flat, windy places (i.e. Wyoming). So there you go.
We stopped in Rawlins, Wyoming (please read that with a Southern drawl, as I did every time I said it) for lunch. Rawlins is essentially the first town with restaurants on I-80. Are the pickings great? Not so much. We ate at Pizza Hut, which only had 1 star in its Yelp rating, but we figured they couldn’t really mess up chain pizza, so it was worth a shot. The verdict? The pizza was fine, the service was slow, and our waitress reminded me a bit of Anne from Arrested Development. But when you’re in the middle of Wyoming, you take what you can get.
Eventually, the landscape changed a bit, and we saw things more like this:
I put myself on wildlife watch, hoping to see some animals wandering the wild wild west. We spotted this:
Apparently there is a town in Wyoming called “Little America.” It must be a pretty big deal because we saw several large billboards for it along I-80. This is the least exciting billboard we saw, but it was the only one I managed to take a picture of. The most exciting element of Little America, from what we can tell? The marble showers. Yes, there are marble showers waiting for you in Little America.
This guy was riding alongside the interstate for a good bit. We thought he looked pretty epic. My apologies if you don’t actually find this interesting, but like I said, there’s not a whole lot to see in the middle of Wyoming. This was thrilling.
The next change in landscape brought the mountains. Boy, were we excited to see those again.
As we got closer to Jackson, we started to see a lot more people and a lot more mountains. And people hang-gliding from the mountains, which seems a little crazy to me, but hey, you only live once, right?
So we kept driving through a tree-less landscape, and then, boom! Suddenly we were in a national park full of trees. It was crazy! And absolutely beautiful. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so thankful to see a tree. Apparently I am far more attached to them than I ever imagined. And then we entered Grand Teton National Park. Holy cow. Those are some mountains, folks.
We finally pulled into Jackson Hole and arrived at our campsite in Gros Ventre Campground a little before sunset, which meant we got to set up our tent in the daylight! Woo! This was significantly better than our camping experience in Charleston, where we arrived around 11 pm and set up our tent in complete darkness. And the view from our tent? Spectacular.
There are some pretty big forest fires happening in the area. At first we thought this was just a low cloud, but that’s actually smoke from an enormous fire.
After we finally got everything set up at camp, it was about 9 pm and we were pretty darn hungry. So we drove into town (Jackson) searching for food. Unfortunately, at this time, all of the family-friendly places have closed. That means we had to partake in Jackson nightlife if we wanted to eat. I should point out that Eric and I are not really “nightlife” people. I think we tend to lean toward the retired lifestyle, more than the 20-something lifestyle. On previous vacations, we have found ourselves dining with the retired folks, staying at the same bed and breakfasts as the retired folks, and sleeping and waking at the same time as the retired folks. Frankly, I find the 20-something nightlife a little terrifying. And that was certainly the case in Jackson. We dined at a sketchy looking pizza place, where the waitress was arguing with a server as she took our order. And the bathroom didn’t have a toilet seat. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed.
So, our first impression of Jackson (the city)? Horrible.
Our first impression of Jackson Hole? Incredible. We might not ever want to leave. Tomorrow we will hike in the Grand Tetons!