DISCLAIMER….This post documents our vacation from September, 2019. We continue to write while being at home because of social distancing due to the coronavirus. This post takes us into Grand Teton National Park where we saw the only moose on our entire trip. I encourage you and yours to visit all the beautiful places that the USA has to offer once our great nation overcomes this terrible obstacle in front of us. If you missed any of the Living in the Moment posts from this series, the links are listed at the bottom of this blog. Stay safe and God bless, we will get through this!
After an amazing morning birding and taking the best barn pictures we’d ever taken (having the Tetons as the backdrop didn’t hurt), it was time to head to the visitors center and into the park itself. The Moose Visitors center was very cool and we would have spent more time there but, it was very crowded and, we were on a tight schedule. As you’ve noticed in previous post, we always took extra time and bent our schedule to see amazing things outside but, if there was something cool to see inside and it was crowded not so much. Still, we had some serious business we had to take care of. First, we had to find out how to get an invasive species inspection and a paddling permit for the kayak so we could paddle in the park. And second, the obligatory visit to the gift shop to look for a couple of souvenirs.
It couldn’t have been easier and quicker. The gift shop had a really cool Grand Teton Christmas ornament and some Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park playing cards. Bingo, there’s nothing like a full house with a hand full of the Tetons. We made out in spades (sorry couldn’t help it). The inspection for the kayak and the permit was just as easy. We took a trip across the street to Dornans, on our way out of the visitors center, got our inspection and permit and we were on our way into the park.
It was lunch time and we decided to kill two birds with one stone, find a place for a great scenic lunch and score the perfect spot for an awesome paddle the next day. Jenny Lake was our original destination. It apparently was the original destination for many people. There were cars, pickups and recreational vehicles parked outside the turn area and on the side of the road all the way to the parking area. The road was long and nothing but vehicles as far as the eye could see. NO THANK YOU! We didn’t even try to go down that rabbit hole. Crowds of people was not on our agenda.
We continued down the road and followed the signs to String Lake to see if that was a better option. With a great picnic area and the perfect spot for our kayaking adventure the following day, it was a very happy accident that couldn’t have turned out better. String Lake is a beautiful little stretch of water located between Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake. All three lakes are connected and then flow into Jackson Lake where we had planned to spend sunset.
We were starving and Frank made me a birthday lunch to remember! He should have wished me Happy Birthday on the video, but he was forgiven because the food, atmosphere and company (birds and squirrels included) were an overwhelming OMG! Plus, none of our videos were scripted and he was winging it. So, I gave him a break this time as long as he doesn’t do it again!
The results of our labor. Pesto Pasta Salad consisting of noodles coated in Alessi jarred pesto, fresh chopped tomatoes, spring mix, and fresh mozzarella cheese. A sliced apple as a side dish. For desert, we had the delicious cheese danish we’d picked up that morning in Jackson Hole. It was so much better than good. I felt like giving a Tony the Tiger yell, “It’s GREAT!”.
NOTE: We found the pesto in the only small grocery store in Gardner, Montana. Alessi has a rich history in Tampa, Florida that includes a bakery and an Italian deli open since 1912. I lived in Tampa for 21 years, so I am very familiar with Alessi and was shocked to find their pesto in a small country grocer just outside Yellowstone National Park. That was a lucky surprise and we’ve used that delicious product on many adventures since.
After filling our bellies to the breaking point, it was time to burn some calories and do a little scouting for our paddle the next day. We took an incredible hike along the String Lake Trail and decided this would be the perfect spot for our kayaking adventure. The more we explored around the lake, the greater the excitement for our paddle the next day krept up into our bodies. Didn’t hurt that I was in the mountains on my birthday surrounded by all things nature. I know I keep using a lot of the same adjectives in these posts but I can’t help myself. The scenery on that little hike was amazing and the light was perfect. So much that it continued to provide photo opportunities again and again.
Once we crossed the bridge in the photo above, it was time for a crucial decision…what to do next. We checked our time and decided we could squeeze in a short hike up the trail and still make our reservation for my birthday sunset and hot chocolate at Colter Bay. We had planned that birthday sunset for months and we weren’t going to miss it. Even though this ended up being a short hike, it was a great decision. The trail was beautiful with lots of great views. We hiked up just far enough to see the fall colors in the mountains. We definitely look forward to doing more extended hikes on these lake and canyon trails on our next trip to Grand Teton.
Happy and ready for more, we jumped into the van and headed to Colter Bay, already thinking about making our hot chocolate with marshmallows on the beach. Please come join us on the next post!
Living in the Moment is what we do while enjoying our time in nature. If you missed any of the other Living in the Moment Series, you can click on them here. Just After Take Off, Day 1, Day 2 Mammoth Hot Spring, Day 2 Traffic Jam, Day 2 Undine Falls and Lava Creek, Lamar Valley – Slough Creek, Day 2 Trout Lake, Lunch at Otter Creek, Mount Washburn, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Paddling the Yellowstone River, The Tiny House, Old Yellowstone Trail, Gibbon Falls – Drive to Old Faithful, Old Faithful, The Lakes, Jackson Hole. Please look forward to our next post as the adventure continues.