Fall Break Getaway to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

Through my work with hotels – I had a certificate for a two night stay at the Wort Hotel in Jackson, WY. I had held on to it for too long. (It had been like 2 years – and the certificate was technically expired). But I called the hotel and asked if we could come up during the kids fall break. They said YES!

We were going to drive. Since my son couldn’t go because they were still going to practice for football – I asked my daughter if she wanted to bring a friend. We were driving so we got a fairly early start on Monday morning. It is an eight hour drive to Jackson. My daughter being 15 was excited about having the opportunity to drive a bit on her learner’s permit.

We got through Denver and Ft. Collins in decent time and made it to Village Inn in Laramie, WY for breakfast. But first a quick little stop at the stadium for University of Wyoming. The girls must have been really hungry because they both ordered pretty big breakfasts and at a lot of it. Plus, we got a free slice of pie with any entree. We packed the pie to-go and hit the road again. The road from Laramie to Jackson is mostly across I-80. It is flat and windy. But my daughter was a champ. The girls blasted their music and sang along – while taking photos and videos. A few times during the trip we just had to get out to stretch and take some photos. img_3102

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We arrived at the Wort around 3 p.m. which was perfect as that is check in time! The Wort is a historic hotel right in the corner of town where all the fun tourist shops are and town square (the park). We shopped a bit, grabbed tacos at the little taqueria and tequila place across the street from the hotel and left just in time to catch the most amazing sunset. img_3149

The next morning breakfast was at the most amazing bakery in town, Persephone. It is a cute little bakery with GREAT pastries. It felt like something straight off a pinterest page.

img_3243On our way to Yellowstone! When you create your budget for this trip remember that it cost about $80 to buy an annual National Parks Pass. (National Parks Pass is free for fourth graders and way cheap for seniors). It would be about $50 to just get in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Since we live near a couple National Parks we decided to buy the whole year deal. From Jackson, we were so close we needed to see Old Faithful. Old Faithful is the guyser that erupts in a spray of more than boiling hot water over 100 feet in the air. It naturally happens on a regular timeline…thus the name Old Faithful. The drive is about an hour and a half from the hotel so we knew we were going to be in the car for a good part of the day. But we stopped, got out and walked a lot more than we had done the previous day. img_3193

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Due to our timing – (October) – it was cold and even snowed a bit while we were there. Old Faithful was worth seeing so we could say we saw it – but the girls (both teens) weren’t really all that into it. We didn’t do much exploring because of the weather. We had to wait in line for the one food outlet that was open. I really can’t imagine how crazy with tourists that must be in the summer. Maybe if you are going then pack a lunch.

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My daughter was our photographer making me stop to take many photos. We also stopped for small hikes – like down to the lake, to the waterfall and to see wild animals! I was hoping to see a moose. Which we did not get to see. But, we saw the big three: Buffaloes (this was early in the morning); a grizzly bear (although my iPhone photo isn’t great – it’s the brown blob in the picture) and a HUGE elk. And actually, we would not have seen the grizzly had we not pulled over on the side of the road when we saw a lot of other cars pulling over. The ranger was great. He was explaining that the Grizzly was about 8 years old (they live to about 20) and that she was over there eating to fatten up for hybernation. She probably wouldn’t be able to run all that fast with all her weight which is why it was OK for us to be so close. If you go to Yellowstone, don’t be afraid to stop on the side of the road when you see other cars doing the same.

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We wrapped up the afternoon with a detour toward Jenny Lake. We found out that the main entrance was closed for repairs to the trails. But the gate attendant told us another way to get to the lake. It was BEAUTIFUL. I mean, I live in Colorado. I’ve seen mountains. But somehow Teton is more majestic, more jagged, more rough.While Yellowstone gets a lot of great hype (and it should – it’s an amazing national park!) Jenny Lake is a highlight for anyone who makes a trip there and should not be missed.

The trails were easy enough for us to have some fun and take lots of pictures. But, we were there in the late afternoon and I had mentioned that we needed to be mindful that the sun goes down pretty quickly when it dips behind mountains. AND there were tons of signs about being aware of the bears. (The sign also said to make lots of noise to help deter bears – which was not a problem for us). img_3218

Dinner was at the BBQ joint in town. It was delicious and more than filling.

The next day we couldn’t leave town before heading back to Persephone’s Bakery. This time we sat down (there is very little seating – especially inside). I had the best croque madame ever. The girls had pastries – chocolate croissant and cinnamon brioche. Then we went back to a few shops to grab some items we had seen but not purchased before.

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And headed back toward Denver. Short but sweet little two-night fun in Jackson.

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Crested Butte Summer Fun

My dad’s family is from Crested Butte. Yes, I said FROM Crested Butte. I know it is always a bit of a novelty when I tell people that I’m a 5th Generation Colorado native. But then I throw in something like my dad grew up in the iconic little town in the middle of the state. We (my parents, kids, sister and her family) go every year in the summer. I am always a bit amazed at the fact that even though there are some things that we seem to do EVERY summer – that somehow there is always a new story from my dad about growing up there, some new trail to explore or some other thing to see.

We stay at a family friend’s house just across from the golf course. It is a beautiful house – like one of those you see in a magazine and think that maybe they really only set it up to look like that in a photo. The house is just down the street from a small lake that is stocked with fish and has a great trail around it (it is a fairly short walk that my almost 70 year old dad can do with me).

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It was a short but fun weekend! Friday, upon arrival, we headed downtown to shop. Also, we made a bet on the Grammy Awards in February – my dad lost so his payment was to buy everyone ice cream. We went to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory right in the center of town. My kids were really excited because they could order whatever they wanted (double scoop and all) and I couldn’t say no. Then we shopped at my favorite boutique, Milky Way. We go there every year. Almost every year my dad ends up buying my sister a pair of jeans there. Since Heidi was not in town this year, I decided that maybe my dad should buy me the jeans. The first pair I tried on were a great fit. And I talked him into buying me them! Then we went down the street a bit to Pooh’s Corner (toy store) and Pfisters. We shopped but didn’t buy anything else. We did go down to the gallery at the end of the street – across from Kochevar’s (my Aunt’s family owns Kochevar’s). We talked to the lady there (they are always the artists – they take turns “manning the store”) about what we would have to do to get my mom’s photography in the store. It is apparently just a simple form. I think my mom should do it.

The next day was hiking/four-wheel day. We decided to go up toward Lost Lake. My mom loves to do what she calls trail breakfasts. This means she gets to feel like she’s camping a bit (cook on the camp stove) but then go home to the nice house/condo to sleep. Best of both worlds really. So she cooked us a hearty breakfast of Eggs Benedict (yes, she really had the holandaise sauce too). Then my daughter and I set off to hike to the Lake while my mom, dad and son decided to hang out at the picnic/camp site. The lake was beautiful and easy hike to get to. I am certain that if my dad had wanted to go he could easily get there. We saw people of all ages there – kids and elderly alike.

Hiking up to Lost Lake near Crested Butte, CO

Hiking up to Lost Lake near Crested Butte, CO

There are a few places we frequent each year, one of which is Slogar’s – which is a restaurant in town. They have the most amazing fried chicken with a bunch of starters/sides. Each year we usually go to the restaurant and eat there. This year however, we decided to order take-out. This was the best. The portions were so big! We only ordered three full meals and there was even left overs (from the five of us eating). They have the best cole-slaw, creamed corn, pickled pears, and pickles that come with the meal. I would assume that you could probably have fed 2 more people with these meals!

Sunday, we were going to leave after dinner. We decided to do a drive up toward Spring Creek. Once again we found a great campground to have a breakfast. My mom packed everything but the eggs – so my dad and I had to to to Harmel’s shop to get some. There isn’t much at Harmel’s but the basics and a six-pack of eggs was $2). Then we went fishing (we didn’t catch anything) and played target practice with my dad’s gun (fun to shoot holes in a soda can).

Dalton Fishing with Grampy. Spring Creek near Crested Butte, CO

Dalton Fishing with Grampy. Spring Creek near Crested Butte, CO

The awe and beauty of all that is around Crested Butte keeps us coming back year after year. My mom always has to stop to take photos of our state flower, the columbine, among other wild flowers. In fact, Crested Butte is well knows for the wildflowers in the area and has a wildflower festival. While Crested Butte is well known as a ski destination, I believe I like it better in the summer!