The Great American Road Trip Season 2, Part 3: Wyoming
I have one word to describe our time in Wyoming: seasonal… as in, we experienced every single season. Hah! Wyoming really liked to keep us on our toes and throw a little bit of everything at us just to make sure we didn’t get too comfortable. Temperatures have ranged from the mid-20s to the low-70s with most days topping out in the low 60s and nights falling into the low 30s. I had to buy a hand-knit beanie (with a pom-pom, of course!) and most days I have regretted not bringing my heaviest winter jacket. Don’t get me wrong, though, I will take this fickle weather over 100º in the scorching sun any day of the week!
Today is the first day of summer and as I am writing this, I can’t help but get distracted by what’s happening just outside my window. In a small meadow between our Airstream and a thick pine forest, there’s a shaggy bison — who hasn’t quite yet lost all of his winter fluff — methodically grazing on freshly-sprouted grass while tiny snowflakes fall with great speed and purpose from the dark gray sky above.
Greg just walked over, looked over at me, and then out at the snow. He asked with a hardy chuckle, “are you sure you still want to live in Wyoming?” (Yes. The answer is always yes.)
But enough about the weather!
We began our wild, wild Wyoming adventure by crossing the Teton Pass (8,431′ elevation) from Idaho, through Wilson, and into Jackson. At the top of the pass, it was cold and there were still a few sizable mounds of snow not yet ready to bid farewell to winter but as we drove down into Jackson Hole, the outside temperature warmed, the pine trees turned to aspens whose leaves had just recently burst out of their buds, and the most beautiful bright yellow flowers were blooming alongside the low sagebrush. We quickly learned that spring and summer come much, much later here!
For the vast majority of our time in Jackson Hole, we were tucked in cozily among the trees at the iconic Gros Ventre (pronounced grow-vont). We heard that there are always tons of moose at the campground but we didn’t see a single one there! We saw plenty evidence of their presence (ahem, 💩) but a real, live moose? Nope! We really loved this campground and highly recommend it. I would have stayed here through autumn if I could have!
During our time in Jackson Hole, we had some serious fun taking the truck on some rutted, muddy dirt roads. I’m a firm believer that big trucks are better with a little mud on the tires. :) We saw a young bull moose while we were out on the trails but kept our distance and watched as he walked along, munching on the fresh, green tree leaves.
Other fun JH adventures included a drive up to Jenny Lake for a picnic lunch, meeting a new little chippie friend, shopping in the Jackson Town Square, enjoying some eggs bennie at The Bunnery, and visiting two of my favorite Jackson shops, JC Jewelers and MADE (where I got my new pom-pom beanie). We also went to the farmer’s market one day and picked up great local food and new spices!
It can’t be playtime all the time, though. We do have to get a little bit of work done while we’re traveling! (If you know me, you know how ridiculous that statement is because I work waaaaaay too much.) We did our sponsor photo shoots in Jackson and they could not have been more perfect. Remember I was saying earlier about how crazy the weather has been? Well, before we arrived in Jackson, the forecast was calling for thunderstorms every single day. I was so nervous! Thankfully, though, what really happened was nice-ish mornings (sometimes clear; sometimes cloudy), the clouds would build until it rained in the afternoon, and then it would somewhat clear up before sunset. It actually worked out perfectly for our shoots!
Pippen loved exploring all the morning smells as he modeled the gorgeous, Italian leather Napoli Collar & Leash from P.L.A.Y. The sun sparkled down on us this morning and I truly couldn’t get enough of Pippen in the ooey-gooey drippy sunlight! It felt like the perfect setting for this super-lux leash and collar set.
Maverick and his mom modeled The Rewarding Life Lamb & Salmon Treats from Wellness. They share such an incredibly strong bond, which I think really comes through in this image. This sweet moment was so natural and special, I can’t get enough of it. Maverick is picky about treats but, once again, The Rewarding Life treats were a hit! We haven’t met a dog yet who doesn’t love them!
Finally, sweet tri-pawd, Harley absolutely rocked this violet heather Sun Shield Tee from GoldPaw. He may only have three legs but it doesn’t slow him down one bit! He loves to run and play and his new Sun Shield Tee is sure to keep him cool in the summer sunshine!
After Jackson, we headed up into Colter Bay for a few days. We looked for bears but didn’t have any luck. We heard Grizzly 399 and Blondie were around but they stayed out-of-view when we were around.
Greg and I hiked the Lakeshore Trail one afternoon and absolutely loved it. The trail was mostly flat with fantastic views of the lake and surrounding snow-capped mountains. We highly recommend it if you’re in the area and are looking for a relaxing walk.
We loved staying at the Colter Bay Campground, surrounded by pines and friendly people. We had conversations with many of our neighbors! The campgrounds were also a great place to walk Roxy in her carriage. She loved seeing all the people out and about, eating dinners, making campfires, playing cards, and enjoying a little quiet time in nature.
Next up was Yellowstone, one of my favorite places on earth. Seriously, if you haven’t been to Yellowstone yet, plan your trip now. We bounced around between a few campgrounds — Fishing Bridge and Bridge Bay and enjoyed them both for different reasons. Fishing Bridge is great because they have full hookups (for you non-RVers, that means electric, sewer, and fresh water) but it’s just a giant parking lot. Our spot at Bridge Bay was at the top of a hill, next to a meadow and pine forest, which I just loved but the lack of hookups — electricity, in particular — can be a little stressful, especially when it’s not sunny enough to fully recharge the battery!
While we had a spectacular time in Yellowstone, there was one blemish on the trip — and it’s a pretty big one. Late one evening, we came back from wildlife spotting to find that someone had thrown a rock through our front door window. I was very upset, on the verge of tears, and kept asking Greg, “who would do this?!” Greg, being the calm one, just said “give me the duct tape and I’ll cover the hole.”
While Greg fixed the window and I continued to panic (because it was going to be 28º that night), I saw some of our neighbors sitting around a campfire. I went over to ask if they had seen or heard anything. They hadn’t but I truly appreciated how compassionate they all were. They were all shocked to hear what had happened, asked if I was alone, and if I needed help. They offered duct tape and said they were there if we needed anything. You see, these are the kind of people I’m used to meeting in campgrounds; not ones who throw rocks.
The next morning, we went to speak with a few other neighbors and discovered that it was a young teen who had been playing around when the rock went through our window. We were grateful that he told the truth and stepped up to accept responsibility. It doesn’t fix the hole but hopefully it’s a good life lesson. I think we all have moments like that: when you know you’ve messed up, are scared, and don’t want to get in trouble but also know the right thing to do is say, “yes, it was me.” Accidents happen and I’m still frustrated that we will have a duct-taped window for the next few months, but I’m grateful we know the truth.
But let’s not focus on the bad! Let’s talk about some of the ah-mazing parts of Yellowstone! This is the first time we’ve been here in June so we didn’t know what to expect but the park did not disappoint!
One of our favorite things to do is to pick a place to go spotting about two hours before sunset until it gets dark. We don’t always see what we are hoping to see (why do we keep missing you by 10 minutes, wolves?!) but the people we meet along the way are always really, really wonderful! Everyone is out there, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite animals and once everyone starts chatting, we always find something in common. Just this trip, we have connected with fellow photographers, long-term travelers, animal lovers, and people who know a whole lot more about the day-to-day lives of the local wildlife than we do.
I also really love watching how excited Greg gets when someone asks him what he sees through his spotting scope and how much he enjoys sharing it with others. More than once, he has lowered the scope for little kiddos so they could see the wildlife up close. One of the kids was so happy, he ran back to the car and got a book to show Greg all about the Yellowstone animals. It was the cutest thing ever!
On our last evening in Hayden Valley, we watched a giant herd of bison walk over a distant hillside. I was transported back to a time before the pioneers, when massive herds of bison had endless space to roam. It was a powerful moment and one I won’t soon forget. It reminded me why I chose the bison as the icon of Westway Studio.
When we’re not just parked at a high vantage point, we also love driving around the park just to see what we see! We explored from the Fishing Bridge area up through Canyon and past Lamar Valley. We saw scruffy bison who were still losing their winter coats and some herds with little itty-bitty baaaabies! We saw lots of grazing elk with velvet antlers, a fox, and a few black bears. But my favorite wildlife moment? Seeing a mama grizzly bear and her baby cubs!!! Oh my gosh! What a magical encounter! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing the entire time!
One of our favorite places to explore is the Old Faithful area. The geysers and springs are so incredibly beautiful. But beyond that, we have a tradition when we come to Old Faithful — and it’s an important one. We absolutely, positively must share an ice cream cone with Roxy. It’s one of my favorite things! This year, Roxy sat in her cart on her bed while I scooped some vanilla ice cream off the top of my cone and put it in a bowl for her. She gently licked it, savoring every moment!
We truly love Yellowstone and are sad to be leaving so soon… but we’re also excited to explore new places and visit friends and family next month! We’ve had an incredible time here and are already looking forward to coming back soon for a sixth visit!
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Where are we going next?
We are headed north to Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park! I’m going to see my cousin for the first time in many years and I couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be doing more photo shoots and having more adventures so stay tuned!!!
Did you miss the first two posts in this series?
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