Lake Jackson

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Grizzly sighting.

Grizzly sighting.

“We got our grizzly.  Finally. In Lewis River. Just south of Lewis Lake.  Don’t you love the picture?”  Steve Lindfors writes from NYC, one day after his return to NY.

( I’m just now starting to recap their amazing family adventures in the Grand Tetons, so Steve’s enthusiasm and timing are appreciated.  I was simply unable to keep up with them as they traveled. So, I invite you to  look with me now through the “rear view mirror” to find out what happens during the  last week of the Lindfors’  3-week vacation.)

Eric and Steven at Grand Teton National Park.

Eric and Steven at Grand Teton National Park.

What begins in Yellowstone ends, by evening, on Lake Jackson, Grand Teton National Park. The family is up and at ‘em fairly early. It’s August 25.  Three bison watch them pack up the car from a tiny island in the parking lot.  From Grant Village to Yellowstone’s South Entrance is only 22 miles. “But it’s some of the prettiest 22 miles you’ll ever see,” reminisces Steve.  “We finally saw a grizzly. Sitting and laying right in the middle of the Lewis River.  Their road south followed the Lewis River. “It was so beautiful.”

The Lindfors enjoying the view at Jenny Lake.

The Lindfors enjoying the view at Jenny Lake.

Steve then begins to talk quicker— a free-fall recap of the kaleidoscope adventures that followed during the remainder of the day.  “Blown away by  Signal Mountain Lodge is an understatement.” says Steve.  They  end up in a room with a picture window facing the Tetons. “We can’t believe it here. The Lodge is great and the view of the mountains is unbelievable!”  I agree. Seeing the Tetons  should be on every one’s bucket list!

“After we got settled, we popped up to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and took a ferry across the lake to visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point at the base of Mt. St. John and at the mouth of Hanging Canyon.  If you plan to visit the Tetons, Steve recommends, “You absolutely have to get out on the water!”

After their Jenny Lake shuttle crossing and their adventure-of-a-lifetime rafting the Snake River, the Lindfors are giddy about exploration via water. “By taking the shuttle we were able to actually hike up to Inspiration Point. What an experience! But it was nothing like the raft trip we took on the Snake River the next day.”

The Lindfors men under the famous antler arch at the city park square.

The Lindfors men under the famous antler arch in Jackson Hole, WY

With this, they worked up a good appetite and  headed toward Jackson Hole, grabbing lunch at the Cadillac Million Dollar SaloonReportedly the Bubba Burgers were “out of this world.” They , of course, shopped in and around Jackson and had their picture taken under the famous antler arch at the city park square.  In late afternoon they headed back to Signal Mountain Lodge and did nothing.

Watching the sunset over the Tetons.

Watching the sunset over the Tetons.

Nothing but take in a jaw-dropping sunset over the Tetons and indulge a fabulous meal at the Lodge’s most popular restaurant, Trapper Grill.  “What can I say? We love it here. The food was absolutely fantastic!”

Fast forward to the next day: “The folks at the hotel were great!  That Jason–what a nice guy!  His staff had arranged for us to go on their regularly-scheduled sunrise scenic float trip.

Wow! Was that neat. We’ve never done anything like this.

Janet and Eric on Snake River.

Janet and Eric on Snake River.

Our guide was fantastic, an excellent navigator and knew all aboutthe river and the area. Janet spied 6 bald eagles along the way. We saw osprey and beaver huts. The water was crystal clear. The weather was perfect. It was paradise out there with the early sun lighting up the mountains.”  This was obviously a trip highlight for everyone in the family.

Moose sign at Moose Junction.

Moose sign at Moose Junction.

In the afternoon our energetic foursome just “poked around.” Young Steven desperately wanted to see a moose, and what better place to look than Moose Junction?  The Lindfors ended up at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center near Moose Junction, but all they saw was a moose sign on the way.  They thoroughly enjoyed this rustic-feeling interpretive Center and spent longer than expected  watching the films and looking at all the books and souvenirs. They ate in a small town (perhaps Moran?) nearby, an outdoor BBQ laid-back kind of place, and continued driving the Park, stopping at lookouts, searching for the elusive moose. Steven joked,

The Mangey Moose.

The Mangey Moose.

“The closest we got to seeing a moose was the road sign and the painting on the wall in the little restaurant where we had dinner in Teton Village.”  You guessed it folks….it was called the Mangey Moose, so they were fairly sure they’d score a sighting of sorts here.

There’s a certain sadness in Steven’s voice; he recalls driving back up north, after strolling around in the Village, toward Signal Mountain Lodge. He acknowledges that this is their last night before they have to turn the car around and head back to the East Coast. While he has some fun stops planned for the journey home, the carefree “white line fever” that engulfed the family for the last 15 days is starting to dissapate—to return to “normal.”  Whatever that now means after such a grand shared adventure.

Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake.

Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake.

Steven regrets that they have to chop the last part of their planned vacation from the itinerary. They initially planned to go to  Estes Park, Colorado next and stay with Forever Resorts at Rocky Mountain Park Inn.  They were psyched to explore Rocky Mountain National Park and do more high altitude driving and sight seeing. But, Eric had to be back at school earlier than expected for orientation. They will begin their journey home the next morning, August 27.  But not before they enjoy one more magical night at Signal Mountain Lodge.  Another late sunset enjoyed from their balcony.  Did I hear Steven say he wants to move here someday??

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The Yellowstone slice of this journey remains active and thrilling for the Lindfors–a delicious opportunity to explore America’s first, and perhaps most famous, National Park. From Sunday, August 22 to Wednesday, August 25, Steven and gang were north, south, east and west in the Park, using their comfortable accommodations at Grant Village (on the West Thumb of Lake Yellowstone) as their hub and refuge.

Quick Overview:

Juicy details:

Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls: The Upper Falls are 109 ft. and the Lower Falls are 308 ft.  Visitors have to stop at one or more Park lookouts to see the falls; they cannot be seen at the same time because of a bend in the Canyon that is rightfully known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  According to Steve, the family spent most of Sunday getting in and out of their car, pulling over at stops and lookouts to see all the beautiful sites the “Falls area” has to offer.  The kids really enjoyed the mud pots.   Sometime during the day they found themselves by gigantic Yellowstone Lake with enough time to practice rock skipping on a perfectly calm lake.

Old Faithful and his Buddies – Norris Geyser Basin &  Lewis River: Totally awesome. “We have been lucky this entire trip; hit it right a lot of the time!”  marvels Steve. The Lindfors were enjoying an awesome lunch at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and, as fate would have it,  Old Faithful erupted while they were munching. Right out the window.

Then, they stayed to actually watch the show outdoors and to get “up close”  and were rewarded by seeing not only Old Faithful  but a companion geyser decided to plume at the same time. I think it was Castle Geyser?” Steven searches.  “Is that lucky or what? It’s hard to keep track; we’ve seen so many cool things.” You can tell he’s having trouble processing the wonders he’s seen in just this one half day.The pictures say it all. We saw Beehive Geyser, one of the highest shooting geysers and then, later, we saw two blasting at the same time, pretty near each other.  It was just so neat.” Experiencing the incredibly “organic” geothermal activity in the Yellowstone area should never be taken for granted. When you’re in the planet’s most prolific area of activity, you know you’ve reached sacred ground–or at least ground with an incredible story. In Yellowstone there are an estimated 10,000+geothermal features and  200- 250 active geysers.

The River and the Lake. “We were driving along and came upon a lot of cars pulled and parked to the side of the road. No big deal in Yellowstone, but we saw kids going along the side of the highway in swimsuits. So we pull over to check it out.  Kids are jumping off rocks into the river!”  Steve is psyched.

Jump!You guessed it. Steve, Steven and Eric run back to the car and change into their swim trunks; Janet grabs the binoculars and camera and proceeds to document what is simply “a spontaneous good time.” Steve referred to this escapade as cliff diving –but I think he exaggerates. He said he checked things out first and the river seemed deep enough.  Again, the pictures say it all. (This time I was the one incredulous.) I asked Steven if he ended up jumping in the river too and he “fessed up.” “The kids were fearless,” he bragged. “It was a blast. What can I say? What’s not to love?”

Shopping and Old Faithful Inn.  Janet has indulged shopping in the National Park gift shops all along, this one did not disappoint–none of them have disappointed, we are assured.  The family enjoyed hanging out, touring the historic Old Faithful Inn: climbing its incredible lodge pole-pine stairway, scoping-out the hotel’s huge rhyolite fireplace and 7-story lobby, open balconies and enticing hallways.  A true classic in rustic architecture.  The Old Faithful Inn is one of the few remaining log hotels in the country, built in 1903-04.  The area around Old Faithful Inn give tourists a peek into the Park’s lodging history.  There are several historic structures worth visiting.

The Lindfors actually stayed at Grant Village which they also liked. Being so close to the lake made it easy to kick back. Reflect.  Catch a breath and skip a few stones.  Explore nearby Fisherman’s Bridge and the Village itself.

It’s Tuesday night, they’re all tired after their day of geyser hopping, shooting the rapids and shopping. Tomorrow they continue their journey across the  Yellowstone Plateau, south to Grand Teton National Park and famous Jackson Hole Wyoming.  They’ll be staying at Forever Resort’s Signal Mountain Lodge; it sits on the shore of Lake Jackson, overlooking the spectacular Teton Mountain Range.

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