When we got to Wyoming things got more interesting. I discovered my most favorite small town: Jackson! I love love loooooove this town. We were initially only going to spend 2 hours here and move on to our next stop, but we didn't want to leave so we decided to stay overnight in the area. Yay for spontaneous airstream adventures!
Lucky for us, Jackson had RV parking! And since it was the off-season, we had the parking lot to ourselves. Too bad we couldn't stay overnight there since it would have made our lives so much easier. But more on that later.
How can you not love a town that has parking stalls for RVs only!
Our first stop: the Fjallraven store (there's only a handful of these in the US, and there needs to be one in SF--they would make a bundle off of the rich hipsters here).
Been spending most our lives, living in the hipsta paradise...
Too many to choose from, but of course I had to get a backpack here. I ended up with the maroon one there.
My other 2 favorite stores were MADE and Mountain Dandy.
Here are some of the things I wanted to buy, but just took a picture of instead.
And here's Mountain Dandy, started by the same person who started MADE.
After a bit of shopping, we took the dogs for a walk around the small town.
Their main park had these awesome arches made from antlers.
As the sun was setting, we were looking for a place to eat dinner. Right next to the Cowboy Bar is a restaurant called Local. It was AAAAAAMAAAAZING!! The couple who runs Fjallraven recommended this place, and they're from NY originally so you know that they would recommend something good (ok, so maybe not all New Yorkers are foodies, but still they were right). As the name suggests, most of the food here was locally sourced.
Buffalo tartar. Not usually a fan of raw meat, but I had to try it since you're not going to get fresher buffalo anywhere else! The meat was lean and the texture was bordering on fresh sashimi. The best tartar I've ever had.
Beer sampler on obligatory reclaimed wood plank branded with a cow.
I had the steak with foie. One of the best steaks of my life!
Brian went with some Elk medallions. Also very tasty. So much food! But the prices were super reasonable.
By the time we finished dinner it was super dark out, and they had a special antler arch for Breast Cancer Month.
And desert was some ice cream. I tried their huckleberry ice cream and it was delicious!
So here comes the adventure part. Since we didn't plan on stopping over in Jackson, we made a last minute search for RV sites. We ended up going with the RV campground in Grand Teton National park, which isn't that far away from Jackson. However it was elk migration season, and there were signs all over the road telling us to be careful of the elk. So we drove a bit more carefully (plus it was pitch black) so it took us about an hour to get to the campsite. Along the way, sure enough we saw some elk right alongside the road. It was cool, but also creepy at the same time. Elk are huge! Much bigger than deer, and when their eyes glow they don't look very friendly. These aren't my pictures but they look pretty much like what we saw that night. They just kind of glared at us as we passed by.
Once we got to the campsite, it was super small and dark. And it required some back-up maneuvering of the trailer. It was the most difficult RV site to get into! Our 27 foot RV barely fit, and our truck didn't fit at all so we had to then park it somewhere else. It took us about an hour to finally get it right. We were exhausted!
Yea, something like this.
The next morning we woke up in beautiful Grand Teton National Park. Of course on the drive in we didn't see anything, so the next morning was a pleasant surprise.
Too bad it was so gloomy, but still breathtaking!
Trying to pose with some uncooperative dogs.
Bye Grand Teton, and back to Jackson.
So we went back into town to grab some coffee and breakfast. We had some delicious sandwiches at Backcountry Delicatessen (if you're in Jackson go there after you go to Local).
Those are some odd movie times.
I have been informed it's probably phone number, thanks Jen!
Fall was in full effect!
Thanks Jackson for a great time! I'm definitely coming back!
My only decent picture from the Narrows.
The Narrows, aka one of the toughest hikes of my life, started bright and early (got there at 8am) so that we could avoid the crowds. It started with a close encounter with a couple of deer, less than 4 feet away, and beautiful if not cold day. We rented hiking gear from a shop in the town right outside of Zion National Park after doing some research. We rented neoprene socks, water sneakers, and some waterproof pants. I know we took a picture of it but I can't seem to find them now so here are other people's pictures:
And I'm glad we did since it kept us dry and warm for most of the hike. It only failed us when we got to a point where the water was higher than the waistline and then the water leaked in (and that's the point we pretty much turned around to go back). It also included the wood walking stick which looked goofy but was quite a life saver, especially when walking through places with rough currents.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First off, what is the The Narrows? It's one of the more popular hikes in Zion where you are walking through the Virgin River between large canyons. Again here are other people's pictures:
On a busy day it can look like this since there are certain "optimal" spots in the river where you can cross from bank to bank, so those places become spots for traffic jams. Don't they look like ants?
This is how it was like when we went. Not too bad but pretty deep water, and we encountered places where the water was deeper than this.
You're basically walking in the river for a large part of the hike, especially the further you go (in the beginning you can cross the river and go from bank to bank). And it's not easy. First walking through water for hours is a good calorie burner but super exhausting. Add to that slippery round river stones, freezing water, and mini white water rapids where the current is really strong and it makes me wonder why it's so popular. Maybe tourists tell other tourists how it's a "must see" and dupe them into perpetuating the popularity of the hike. Well to be fair it is gorgeous, but I think you get more canyon beauty per unit of energy expenditure with Antelope Canyon (see Day 5). We went about 4 hours in and another 4 hours back, so about 8 hours of walking through water with a couple breaks in between. We just turned around when we felt like it since the Narrows pretty much stays the same (same beauty) even if you go a short distance or a long distance. But the Narrows hike can go for even longer than that! Some people hike from the other entrance to the river with camping gear, camp overnight, and then get out via the main entrance to the hike (basically hike it in reverse). 2 full days of walking through water! Eeesh
I only have that one picture up top since I kept most of my gear wrapped up in waterproof bags to keep it safe. But that meant taking a picture was a 15 minute event of unwrapping everything and then wrapping it back up. But despite the ordeal, that's pretty much my most favorite picture from the whole trip, or maybe it's because of the ordeal that I love that picture the best. I had to earn that one. But yea, if you're ever at Zion National Park you should hike The Narrows. I promise you won't forget it ;)
So to continue to day 3 of our trip (only about 18 more days to write about!), our first national park was Zion in Utah. We started the day a bit late (past noon) since we wanted to enjoy our first day of no driving and take it easy in the morning. In the last post I mentioned we stayed at an RV resort, which is basically a really nice trailer park (with a higher price tag) but it's worth it. There are clean laundry facilities, a pool, and each RV space is a bit bigger, giving you a little bit more privacy.
Anyway, since we started the day late we decided to do some easy hikes around the park. There's a great shuttle system within the park since parking at different trailheads is limited (also cuts down on traffic through the park and the amount of pollution). At the Zion lodge stop (which is somewhere I definitely want to stay at in the future), are the trailheads for the Emerald Pool hikes (upper, middle and lower). I would say that this was one of the best easy hikes in the park. For a relatively short distance and very little elevation gain, you get some nice views and cool experiences (like walking underneath a waterfall).
Our first hike started at the Zion lodge shuttle stop
Lower Emerald Pool Hike (ok so it doesn't quite look like a waterfall here but there was definitely water falling--just not a lot). I think during wetter seasons (years?) it's more prominent).
I think this was the middle Emerald Pool?
We wrapped up this hike, which took us about 2 hours or so at a very leisurely pace. And then headed over to the east side of the park to do the Canyon Overlook trail. This was an easy half mile hike that gave us amazing views. The best time is at sunset since it's quite easy to get back down in the fading light and on a clear day you're probably awarded with some spectacular views (unfortunately for us it was a bit cloudy that day).