Trip Start Sep 24, 2011
1Trip End Oct 02, 2011
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Where I stayed
Arriving at JAC is a pretty nice experience, with just a handful of regional jets servicing it per day. From there we caught the rental car shuttle for a drive down the valley to the town of Jackson, the main population center (such as it is) of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Jackson has proven to be that rarest of things: a town that exists almost solely for tourism, but is still a good place to hang around. Across the board I've been impressed by how friendly everybody has been here. Though there aren't too many Wyomingites evident--seems to be lots of youngish people here for seasonal work--and, scanning the swanky restaurants and boutiques, I doubt it has much in common with the rest of Wyoming. Anyway, I attribute the pleasantness of the place to the fact that there's no cruise ship port here. In my experience, there's a strong correlation there.
We're staying in Teton Village, which is a ski village at the base of Jackson Hole ski resort, with the clusters of condos surrounding a central 'village' with shops and restaurants that that designation implies. I presume it's a lot more packed in winter (and probably mid-summer), but for now it's full enough to still be lively but we're not packed in like sardines. Our condo, found via VRBO, is comfy and everything we need. A much better prospect than staying in a hotel.
Our two full days here have been spent around Grand Teton National Park, which comprises a chunk of the mountain range itself and a spread of the valley to the east. Unless you're energetic and prepared to do some significant hiking, your time is spent in the valley admiring the mountains more than being in the mountains. We entered via the back entrance close to Teton Village, which leads to a narrow and windy road leading to the village (and main park entrance) of Moose. The highlight of that road was seeing a black bear eating some berries just a bit up the hill. He wasn't hard to find, as he created a traffic jam of people stopped to have a look. Every wild animal causes such a gathering; it must inflate their egos. This evening a pair of beavers on the same stretch of road caused nearly as big of a jam. A herd of bison were causing their own scene out in the valley yesterday evening.
Today we took a ferry ride across Jenny Lake, which leads to a popular cluster of trails leading to a waterfall and a viewpoint. We also went hunting for moose around sunset, one of which we apparently missed by moments. Hopefully there will be more chances to see them in Yellowstone. Moose are very big. Sheila has determined that I'm probably about as tall as a moose's ass, and she plans to tell people that whenever they ask about my height.
Food has been pretty good around here. We ate at the fashionable Nikai Sushi last night, which I can recommend. Our first night here we ate at the Snake River Brewing Company, which had good food and beer (though not 'great' on either count). I'd go back there, too. Tonight was Teton Thai here in Teton Village, which was OK, but I wouldn't come here looking specifically for Thai food.
Tomorrow we head north through Yellowstone to our next lodgings in the small town of Gardiner, MT, from which we will explore that park.