Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jackson, Wyoming, The Grand Tetons, and Cousin Heidi's Fam - Stilp Family Vacation 2014: Part Ten of Who Knows How Many

We left Rapid City, South Dakota, and drove to Jackson, Wyoming via the scenic highway.  It added a lot of time to our travel day but it was more than worth it.  We were rewarded with one incredible view after another.
Paige at the Welcome to Wyoming Rest area
ALL of Wyoming - from the second we crossed into the state - was impressive, jaw-dropping beauty. Wyoming is vast and rugged.  Seemingly unending, it boasted one spectacular view after another.
Rest area at one of the mountain passes we summited
mountain wildflowers
The terrain (and temperature) changed as we drove.  For most of the day it was wicked hot - well over 100 degrees - and we were so grateful for air conditioning in the Sequoia.
our Man Child taking in the view
These clouds were captivating
But we summited two mountain passes and both times the temperature dropped steadily and the wind increased the higher we climbed.  We drove from 103 degrees into the low 70's in a matter of miles.  Isn't that crazy?
summit of one of the mountain passes
I couldn't get over how deeply blue the sky was and how white the clouds looked floating around on it.  This highway was a photographer's dream, but we only stopped a few times to take photos.  We just didn't have the extra minutes to waste.
We drove through this canyon and it was awesome!

from the side of the road we were driving on
river and train trusses
painted rock faces
jagged mountains 
A smattering of small towns dotted the highway, separated by miles and miles and miles of vast wilderness.  I wondered where the people who live in these tiny towns do all their shopping?
not a bad view for this homeowner, right?  And why are these mountains red all of a sudden?
The second mountain summit had a lovely rest area.  In the shadowy distance loomed the majestic Grand Tetons.  They got bigger and grander the closer we got to Jackson.

We watched the sun disappear behind them - a lovely end to a day so filled with beauty it was hard to take it all in.

Jackson, Wyoming, is probably one of the prettiest places I have ever been.  The Grand Tetons preside in the valley while green, rolling, mountains fall in layers below them. Running through the valley is the Snake River.  You can't even describe what a paradise this area is.

Curt's cousin Heidi lives in Jackson with her husband Danny and their two sons, Oliver and August.  Our kids had never met each other so it was with great expectation and excitement that we united them for the first time.  What a joy to finally have our families meet and spend time together.

We stayed with Danny and Heidi for two nights and utilized every minute to catch up and get to know each other better.  They were so hospitable and welcoming.  Grant and August (6 years old) in particular really hit it off and had a hard time saying goodbye.  Grant asked, "Can I take him with me?  I need a 1st grade little brother."
Of course the one time I took my camera out when we were with Heid and Danny, Oliver was already gone for the day.  Sorry Oliver!
Heidi, Danny and August.  Not pictured: Oliver.
Grant and August really liked each other.

We only had one full day in Jackson to sight see and spend time with our cousins.  We opted to shelve Yellowstone National Park and instead drive to Grand Tetons National Park (a mere 40 minutes from Heidi and Danny's home) to go hiking for the day while our cousins were at work/summer activities.

The Grand Tetons National Park Visitors Center was modern and well done.  There was so much to see and do, but we hustled through it so we could get started hiking. We ate lunch at a quaint little deli overlooking the Tetons.  After lunch we drove to the Taggart Lake trailhead and started hiking.
the trail
It was a very scenic, beautiful, four mile loop to a serene mountain lake on a gorgeous day.  It was HOT and since we weren't in hiking mode, we didn't pack in enough water.  Our long travel days caught up to us and our whole family was exhausted and crabby.  Eventually we found our rhythm and were able to to enjoy the grandeur all around us.

The ice cold lake water refreshed our bodies and our spirits and the hike back to the car was much more enjoyable.

Taggert Lake
After our hike we joined Heidi, Danny, Oliver and August in their world, tagging along on the things they had planned for the evening and having loads of fun in the process.  Thank you dear family for your hospitality!

We left Jackson bright and early on Saturday morning and made the L-O-N-G trek home to Oregon.  We were all dreading the fifteen hour travel day, but the Lord sustained us and it ended up being a really fun day.  We had a family dance party in the car on I-84 in Eastern Oregon, shaking the Sequoia back and forth while we rocked out to David Crowder.  Another family drove by and honked and danced their way past us.  It was just one more fun memory in fifteen days of beautiful memories made.

We saw some awesome things on our family road trip, but there is no place like home.  What a joy to turn into our neighborhood and then into our driveway.  We offered God our Thank You's for safe travel and turned off the trip odometer: 4,537.8 miles in 15 days.

4,537.8 miles that won't be quickly forgotten.  And that - my friends - is my summary of the Stilp Family Road Trip 2014.  Stay tuned for one more post from Grant.

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