Jackson (Hole?), Wyoming
Cody is just 52 miles from Yellowstone National Park's east entrance. Yellowstone was the "real" destination of this trip, but there was a site or two I wanted to take in down in Jackson. Had I not taken this trip, I would be in dire need of a geography lesson at this point, so let me offer this: Yellowstone is huge and square. Grand Teton National Park is long and skinny and butts up to Yellowstone on the south. Just south of Teton... is the town of Jackson.
I didn't think I would see the inside of the parks until I was done with the touristy western towns, but Jean-Claude told me to enter the east entrance of Yellowstone and drive to Jackson via Grand Teton, by way of YNP.
What's that? Who's Jean-Claude? He is our Garmin, a GPS device who kindly tells us where to turn to get to our desired destinations. And he tells us in an Australian accent, as I prefer.
At any rate, Jean-Claude had us drive through Yellowstone and Grand Teton to get to Jackson and it afforded us some really spectacular scenery. I'm so glad our forepeople thought to put it aside for preservation. In many spots, the altitude was high enough to have unmelted snow alongside the road. When we stopped for a potty break, we had to have a snowball fight first. (We saw several other people doing the same thing, but they were from non-snow states and didn't seem to get the hang of the "ball" part of snowball. They just kind of picked up snow and flung it, which was pretty ineffective. We hated to see such excellent packing snow go to waste.)
We stopped for a rest alongside Yellostone Lake and I learned something new about my husband...he's really skilled at skipping rocks! He spent the next 20 minutes giving the kids a tutorial on rock-skipping. Each one of them was successful in getting their rocks to skip at least once.
Continuing on through Teton, when we saw that impressive mountain range, Michael commented, "How would you like to have been one of the settlers heading west and then have seen those mountains?". They still seem pretty insurmountable today.
We found both Cody and Jackson to be touristy enough to be a little disappointing, with it's myriad souvenir shop store fronts and expensive restaurants. We did find a nice little pizzeria called Mountain High Pizza Pie. They offered whole grain crusts and plenty of interesting toppings. The hippies who served us were a little laid back and we worried about walking back to the main square in time to see the nightly "shootout" performed by the players from the Jackson Hole Playhouse. The man who warmed up the crowd impressed us by cracking larger and larger whips. I couldn't believe how loud they were. They sounded like gunshots.
After the shootout, I couldn't leave those iconic antler arches at each corner of the square behind without a picture, but I felt really conflicted. I thought they were pretty, I guess, and certainly famous. But it seemed cruel or violent or something in the way I assumed the antlers were collected. However, as I learned during our visit, these ANTLERS are solid and they fall off each year. And each year, the animals grow new ones. This is in contrast to HORNS, which are hollow, and have to be sawed off. The local boy scout troops are used to collect the shed antlers in the wild areas so the arches can be repaired or replaced.
The roads in Yellowstone and Teton have a fairly low speed limit and there are frequent stops for wildlife, so it took us longer to get to Jackson than we anticipated, so our time in Jackson was somewhat brief. It was now time to get inside the parks and stay there for a few days.
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