The line into Yellowstone on the Saturday we left was horrendous – we sat for 45 minutes just trying to get through the gate, and again, this wasn’t even season yet! We expected an uptick in traffic from the weekdays to the weekend, but we by no means expected what we saw, in part because the weather wasn’t that great. Actually, the weather completely caught us off guard! The storm we had survived driving through the previous night had turned into a snowstorm, and everything was blanketed in at least a foot of snow. Having only seen little flurries, this was amazing! As scary as it was to drive on icy and snow covered roads, the blanketed trees and quietness of the forests was something I’ll never forget. Frozen lakes, 34-degrees, snow falling from trees – it was stunning, especially for a Florida girl!
We wound our way south through Yellowstone, skirting the lake once again, but now in a totally new experience. With such peaceful surroundings, it felt even more isolated than the other excursions into the park.
As we drove out of Yellowstone and into Grand Teton National Park, I had been writing on my laptop while Hasha drove so I could stay on top of everything we were experiencing along our route, knowing that trying to remember all the events at a later date would be difficult. So as I we started climbing into the Teton Mountains, I closed my entry on Yellowstone and promptly put my head between my legs. The grade we were driving on had become the steepest we’d experienced yet at 13%… with snow flurries. The night before, while harrowing and terrifying, was manageable mainly because I was the one driving my own car. Concentrating so hard on not going off the road didn’t allow for any other thoughts or emotions. But as a passenger, I had all the time in the world to be a back-seat harpy to my poor husband. Between our ears popping like crazy, snow everywhere, and all the cars tail-gaiting and slamming on breaks, I had to put my head on the dashboard and pray we didn’t hit anything or go off the road.
After coming out of the Grand Teton Pass… and hitting our highest elevation – 13,000 feet above sea level – we headed towards Jackson, WY. I originally looked for a place to stay around Jackson, but good lord prices were exorbitant! We thought about stopping there for lunch, but the swanky farmer’s markets and archways made out of deer antlers just didn’t seem appealing. So we continued on and moved west into Idaho.
I had never been to Idaho until a little over a year ago, and was totally blown away by how gorgeous and progressive (at least in Boise) it was. So I jumped at another chance to see a different part of the state on our great journey. We picked Victor, ID as it was right on the border and the storm clouds literally parted as drove down the main street. After negotiating a “back-in parking only” spot ( a weird law that says the car must be facing outward to the street), we decided to eat at a little BBQ place, as we were missing some soul food by that point. We sat down at Big Hole BBQ and were greeted by a lovely woman and lots of awards for their sauces and entrees – always a good sign. The food was glorious! I devoured an entire pulled pork sandwich and Hasha inhaled a plate of ribs. But one of the best parts was after chatting with our waitress, who’d been working there for years, we found out she was from Clearwater, FL! That’s basically my hometown, so to find someone on other side of the Grand Teton Mountains was pretty special.
From Victor, we drove south and headed to Salt Lake City, UT. The drive was uneventful but long. It was pretty wild to be driving in wilderness and all of a sudden, turn a corner, a come upon lots of human habitation. Seeing wind turbines almost level with the car was pretty cool – I had no idea they were so gigantic!
Upon arrival at our hotel in SLC, I opened my laptop to get caught up on these posts and backup my photos from the trip so far. After saving a few documents, and right before I plugged my external hard drive in, my screen starting flashing all kinds of crazy colours. In sheer panic mode, I watched as my mac’s screen went into green stripes, then froze, forcing a manual shut down, with more weird colours and freezing when trying to start it up. Knowing that there was the potential for me to have lost all of our trip photos and posts, I feverishly started researching what could be wrong (thank god for tablets and phones). Some posts said that elevation could have fried the computer – when you go over 10,000 feet, it shorts out key components due to elevation. More panic flooded my system as the last time I was working on it was right before hitting 13,000 feet! However, in further tear-filled research, it came about that my model of mac (late 2011 15″ Pro) had a known defect in the video chip that had resulted in a class action lawsuit against Apple. It was a big let-down as I’d really been hoping to keep up with my writing, knowing that I would without-a-doubt fall behind (as evidenced in how long it has taken me to get these stories posted).
I can’t say there was much to report back on in SLC… though we did get to see an old friend who we hadn’t seen since graduating college together, so that was awesome. We hightailed it out of Mormon Country and headed to Moab to spend my birthday and another anniversary hanging out around Arches National Park.