Thursday, January 2, 2014

Oregon Bound: pt.11

Our days in Yellowstone were finally done, though the wonderful views contained by this country's national parks was not quite finished yet, for connected to Yellowstone is another of Wyoming's treasures: Grand Teton National Park. To be perfectly honest, there is a lot less to see here than in Yellowstone, and unless you plan on parking the car and going on a long hike, you won't really get too up close and personal with the mountains. However, I've been told that these are the very mountains that "purple mountains majesty" was named after! A vast plain separates the road and the mountain range, but it seemed that in the spring, when all the snow melts and water flows abundantly down the slopes, this vast plain actually became a lake. Just like Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park offers a slew of pull offs to be able to see the mountains, and though you know you're always looking at the same collection of them, you end up taking a kajillion pictures because each view seems more picturesque than the last! The pictures pretty much speak for themselves here, so peruse away!

the parking lot of the visitor center

one of my favorite pictures i took -- would be worth printing out!

Funny story about the next picture, I actually wasn't in a car to take it. As we were driving along the road, I thought that this would be such a cool shot, given that the road looked like it was about to crash straight into the mountains. There wasn't much traffic along the road, but I decided that I was going to pull off and try to take a shot from the absolute middle of the road. Sure enough I found my break in the traffic, but there wasn't much time! I must have looked crazy running into the middle of the road to take a photo, but I love the result!

Upon leaving Grand Teton National Park we came upon Jackson, Wyoming, home of the famed ski slope Jackson Hole. I suppose it's named as such because the town seems to literally sit in a hole in the mountains. Despite its small size, I even knew of Jackson Hole because of the slopes open for skiing and they even have their own airport! I would imagine that there are a great many people that go directly from the airport to the slopes and the ski resorts and never actually visit the town itself. However, our stomachs were grumbling and we made a stop at the Shades Cafe in Jackson. Shades Cafe was actually a Foursquare find, as I had been using it to find out cool local places to eat with good ratings. The place was really nice, with a little veranda out on the side you could sit on, with notes of jazz seeping into your ears.

Leaving Jackson Hole was not quite as easy as rolling in. The US highway that takes you out climbs through a mountain pass, and it is a 10% grade. For those of you who don't know, 6% grade is usually enough to get a sign posted warning truckers of steep grades and the need to use low gears. The hill was so steep (and perhaps my engine so weak) that I literally had to drive 10 or 15 below the limit in third gear in order to make it up with a full car load. Once we got to the top, we pulled off to have a look. Sure enough, there was Jackson, nestled into the valley, the one flat spot amongst the mountains. It was quite a sight, and as per the usual, pictures simply do not do it justice.

you can barely make out the buildings, but they are down there if you look close!
 The next stop was Idaho and as we finally got back onto an interstate highway, we racked up the miles quickly and made good time. We even escaped a massive storm on the way! Boise was not a place where we really had planned to do much of anything, but rather just a stop along the way that was convenient and easy to find a hotel at. As the land flattened out again as we made our way out of the mountains, all I could think about was whether or not I was finally going to see some real Idaho potatoes... my dad and I made a game out of trying to guess which farm fields were potatoes.

massive storm clouds

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