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Trip Report Summer Family Vacation Part 2

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My family took a summer vacation late July/early August. Sorry this is late but I've been real busy.

We drove from Austin, TX and our itinerary was:
Carlsbad, NM/Carlsbad Caverns
Roswell, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Boulder, CO
Jackson Hole, WY/Grand Tetons
Gardiner, MT/Yellowstone National Park
Casper, WY
Granby, CO (wedding)
Wichita, KS

This portion covers the Wyoming portion. The Colorado portion was just a pass through until later when the wedding occurs on the return.

We arrived in Jackson, WY late at night. Ended up eating at a BBQ place called Bubba's. Pretty good for so far north. The next day we went to the grocery store.

ASIDE: I found the checkers and most others to be rude and inconsiderate. It's like the only reason they are in Jackson is to ski or hike and have no roots in the community thus no stake in making the town great. END ASIDE

We stayed at a motel called Cache Creek Motel. I selected it because even Super 8's were running $150 a night and I needed a multi room condo for 6 people. The place was filthy, there were dirty dishes, uncleaned floors, etc... Don't go there!

There was a motorcycle convention and they kept us up most of the night, so our luck wasn't too great there.

The next day we were glad to be heading up to the Grand Tetons to escape the hell that is Jackson.

This is the second time I've been to the Grand Tetons. I have to say that this time was more enjoyable than the first. We took the boat over Jenny Lake, it was beautiful and sunny this time so no thunderstorms! We hiked up Inspiration Point but then hiked up even further for several hours. We got to see quite a bit of the landscape.

The second day we spent animal watching, went up the Bear Drive which was closed last time I went and ate at the cafe on the lake. The food was delicious there.

More to come... Yellowstone National Park

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    We came into the Yellowstone and I had promised the boys they could go swimming at Lewis Lake if they were good and they were so we went there.

    That beach had black pebbles and the water is icy cold. The sun was warm and the sky blue, it was one of those days you just can't duplicate. Of my 4 sons, 3 played on the edge and one went all the way in. They generally enjoyed the experience.

    Next up was the drive to Gardiner. We decided on the east route as I hadn't been up that side. Needless to say, taking the east route up the mountains and back down was probably not the best idea. We got into Gardiner, MT quite late.

    Next day we started up north and worked our way down. We started at Mammoth Hot Springs and did everything going south from there. It was amazing to watch the boys' amazement at looking at boiling hot springs and geysers shooting steam into the air. They even made up jokes like "I just had a fumerole" I especially loved Artist's Paintpot area.

    It was cloudy and cool that day and started to rain when we went to the Norris Geyser basin so we skipped it and headed down to try to make it to Yellowstone in time. We toured the Lower Geyser Basin then Grand Prismatic Spring in the late afternoon/early evening. It was cold by then, probably 50's. Finally, we got to Old Faithful and saw it erupt at sunset. At that time the sun shone directly parallel to Old Faithful and you could see a muted ball of yellow behind the geyser. I cannot explain the beauty of that, you had to have seen it. Even the camera could not fully capture the beauty of that moment.

    Finally we ate at the more expensive of the restaurants, Osidian Dining Room. Everything is delicious albeit a bit pricey for a family of 6.

    The next day we drove straight to Norris Geyser Basin and did that. When you walk along the myriad of boardwalks over the various thermal features, you feel as if you've just landed on another planet. This was among my favorite of the thermal features there.

    It was a warm day, around 85 or so and the kids wanted to swim, so I took them to do The Firehole Canyon. We went swimming in the portion of the river where the hot and cold springs mix to make comfortable temps. It was crowded and kind of resembled a spring break type atmosphere. The currents are swift so watch the little ones carefully.

    That night we ended up back at Old Faithful and ate in the cafeteria there before going back up to Gardiner.

    The next day was devoted to the east side. We saw the petrified tree (forgettable) and then worked our way south. Obviously the great attraction is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was one of the most majestic and magnificent sites I have ever seen. The lower falls are quite spectacular, the volume of water rushing past and the mist that is kicked up is memorable. I liked seeing how the sides of the canyon are green just from the mist whereas further downstream you only see yellow in this arid environment...

    We made our way down to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and ate at the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Rooms. The choices are quite nice.

    The next day we spent driving from Gardiner to Casper, there was a traffic jam viewing bison. We saw tons of bison and even a black bear. What a great way to end the trip. Onto Casper from there!

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    We headed on down to Granby, CO for a "Destination Wedding". This was the first Destination Wedding I had ever been to. It was at Granby Ranch for my brother in law's brother (sister's husband's brother).

    We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain and they had the ceremony overlooking the Rockies. Then we took a ski lift to the bottom of the mountain. The ceremony was the most memorable wedding I've ever been to, I guess venue does count!

    Next up was the reception. Unfortunately, the reception was a bit flat. The food was gross, they had barbeque where the meat tasted like leather and the sauce was too tart. The baked potato was at least edible but who can mess up a baked potato.

    So overall the wedding was a C+. Ceremony A+, Reception D-, overall C+.

    Granby Ranch is a nice place but I would bring in my own caterers if I was to hold my wedding there (advice).

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    While we were in Colorado, we decided to see Pike's Peak. I had been before and was yearning for their yummy donuts and hot chocolate. So we made the trip up, unfortunately the kids didn't do too well with the altitude so it was drive up, eat donuts and drink hot chocolate and then drive back down.

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