Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

After maintaining a relatively direct west-ward route, we veered off quite a bit after leaving Denver.  Our next destination was probably what I was most anticipating: Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks.

Day 4 took us through some beautiful terrain, though we didn't have much to report before finally hitting Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Our plan was to eat an early dinner at Snake River Brewery (are you catching on to the pattern yet?) and then find a campsite in Grand Tetons National Park.  Well, dinner was great, once again.  The trouble came when we went to find a campsite.

Labor Day had passed, and temperatures were dropping below freezing at night, so with over 1000 campsites, we didn't figure it would be any trouble to roll in and find an empty site.  But upon entering the park, we were told that the ranger had just radioed in saying there were no remaining sites to be sold.  The only alternative he could offer was to double-check and see if an empty campsite had been overlooked or to seek lodging an hour further, into Yellowstone.

I wanted to watch this guy for so long!  Who needs a campsite?
Well...we were hoping to get lucky, so we drove past the closed ranger station at Colter Bay, hoping he had overlooked a few empty sites.  Voila!  We found one after searching a couple rows of sites.  It turns out most of our fellow campers were sleeping in RVs, so our theory that few people would want to bear the cold was misguided.

Sun setting over Grand Tetons (before we had any sense of urgency)
By now the sun had set, and we quickly set up our tent in the dark and unloaded the sleeping bags, pads, and clothes into the tent, when suddenly a pair of headlights approached and the passenger barked that we were in their spot.  Rather than make a scene or mention that there was nothing marking their site that would have indicated it had been claimed, we sheepishly threw everything back into the car, strapped the surfboard back on, and peeled out (but not after leaving them a "present."  Ask me in person about this; I won't be admitting it on the blog :)

So...bummer.  Now it was getting close to 9pm, it had been dark for a while, we didn't have a campsite, and even if there had been some open ones, surely they had been claimed during the time we were setting up our first site.  With our only other option to drive an hour (or--oh yeah--pay $800 for a night  at their fancy lodge, if there was vacancy), we drove through the remaining rows of campsites just to double-check.  And then we came to a row where we saw at least 3 or 4 empty sites.  We were a bit encouraged, and after asking some campsite neighbors if they had seen anyone at the sites that day, we were given the go-ahead to claim a spot.  Out came our tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and clothes came, and that tent was set up so fast.  We were getting quick at this!  It took us an extra hour to fall asleep because every time we heard the sound of a car or saw lights shine through our tent, our bodies froze and we held our breath thinking we were going to be kicked out of our spot again.  Thankfully, we were finally able to sleep, and we woke up the next morning ready to enjoy the rest of Grand Tetons and head into Yellowstone.

Armed with coffee (me) and hot chocolate (him) we watching the sun hit the Tetons

Morning views

More to come.

To catch up on the Road Trip:
Part 1
Part 2

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