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Wide Open Spaces

Road Trip 2017 Part 2 took us to, in this writer's opinion, the most beautiful space on earth. Driving down Highway 189 was like peeling back a curtain to the beauty and majesty of this planet. Our Creator put so much time and effort into this space. He created the Grand Tetons to take your breath away.

We arrived in the sleepy town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was to be our base for six glorious days of exploration. I, painstakingly, choose our residence. The Pony Express Motel is a quiant motel that transforms you back to the Old West. The manager greeted us upon arrival and showed us to our family room, complete with bunk beds for the kids! We arrived starving and craving Italian. He recommended a cute restaurant Artesian Pizza, that was just 5 minutes away. A huge relief to this grumpy mommy! If you ever make it to Jackson Hole, stop by and have the Chicken Picatta or a pizza. Either way, you will not be disappointed.

After a restful night, we were ready to explore and could not wait to get to Grand Teton National Park! Grand Teton National Park is a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking, fishing and other forms of recreation. There are more than 1,000 drive-in campsites and over 200 miles of hiking trails that provide access to backcountry camping areas. It is known for its world-renowned trout fishing; the park is one of the few places to catch Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Grand Teton has several National Park Service-run visitor centers, and privately-operated concessions for motels, lodges, gas stations and marinas.

Normally, I'm up for a robust hike, but the continual warnings of bear attacks had me completely unnerved. I wasn't about to buy or rent bear spray because hiking wasn't happening! So, we headed to do the loop through the park. Our journey started out on Moose-Wilson Road which is north of Jackson Hole. There are many opportunities for scenic drives throughout the Tetons. No drive is better than another because each is beautiful.

This eight-mile loop is lined with chokecherry, hawthorn bushes and native grasses. Moose-Wilson Road snakes through hillsides and wetlands. Things to see along the drive include access to Granite Canyon, Phelps Lakes and Death Canyon trail heads. Be sure to stop at several of the many scenic outlook points. Each view is simply amazing. I knew that I had chosen the right place to visit when all the Teen could say was how awesome the views were! Seriously, like every five minutes.

We arrived back to the village that evening starving again! Somehow mountain exploration revved up our hunger daily! I had the best intentions of packing a picnic lunch, but, well, I didn’t get my Starbucks. No Starbucks equals no brain activity. Blaine, who is a Vegan, found us a place to douse the hunger. Liberty Burger. Now, this is a small DFW Metroplex, Texas chain that for some reason I never visited. We love their business philosophy. This family-owned and Texas Strong restaurant has pledged to not only serve high quality food, but to also be environmentally responsible and contribute to society. This mirrors our own family farm values. All that said, my Bison burger that was grown by Texas and Oklahoma ranchers was scrumptious! The teen had his Bella Burger and was in Vegan Heaven. Perfect end to a perfect day!

We awoke to day two wanting more. After grabbing Starbucks and pastries, we headed north again to Yellowstone’s Grand Loop. Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. It sits on top of a dormant volcano and is home to way more geysers and hot springs than I ever realized. It is also home to America’s largest buffalo herd, grizzly bears, and wolves. If you have never had an opportunity to watch a buffalo herd in action, this is your place.

We waited about 30 minutes to watch the eruption of Old Faithful, the most famous natural wonder in the U.S. Words truly can’t describe the feeling watching this natural wonder. The awesome power of not only this geyser, but all the others that surround it, were off the scale. Geysers are sprinkled throughout the park, so, if you there at a time when the crowds won’t allow a close-up view, just keep driving north.

Yellowstone is massive. I would suggest 3 full days to explore this park. Firehole River is a great fishing spot. We observed many fishermen wading and wetting their hooks. Yellowstone Lake is situated at 7,733 feet above sea level. Which makes this lake the largest high elevation lake in North America. The amazing fact is it completely freezes over every winter.

For all the trout fishermen, it is home to the largest population of Cutthroat trout in North America. Scientist are still baffled at how a Pacific Ocean fish became trapped in a lake that drains into the Atlantic. The current theory is that Yellowstone Lake once drained into the Pacific Ocean via Outlet Canyon. The species is being threatened by illegally introduced, Lake trout. For those of us who simply like beautiful views, Yellowstone Lake provides an amazing one.

Wyoming proved to be far beyond our expectations. Being able to bear witness to some of our Creator’s most amazing work was such a privilege. This beautiful and peaceful break gave us the renewed energy we needed to head back to the farm. As we work our long, hard days, we can always stop and remember Wyoming.

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