While everyone else in the family seemed to embrace Wyoming time and took advantage of the chance to sleep late, I woke up before 5:00 am. I took the opportunity to enjoy the quiet while having some morning coffee, and reacquainted myself with our travel itinerary. I also started the first of several days of bragging on Facebook about where I was and what I was doing too. Actually, I guess I started that the night before.
Although we spent the night at the Snake River Lodge and Spa, we decided to accept the complimentary breakfast offered to us at Alpenhof Lodge. To learn how that came about, please see the post about Day 1 of our trip. The breakfast buffet turned out to be quite good, and retroactively fantastic after spending a week eating really bad breakfasts in the national parks.
After loading all of our stuff back into the car, we headed into Jackson to shop for vacation supplies. We forgot to take the car booster seats for the children on the flight, so our first stop was at Wal-Mart to get seats for the trip. While both kids were big enough that they would be fine without booster seats, we preferred to spend a little money to make sure they were safe and comfortable.
I had read on a review website that Jackson did not have a Wal-Mart, which is generally a good place to shop for vacation supplies (though I usually avoid Wal-Mart for reasons not relevant here). However, when I searched on Google, several sites provided an address for a Wal-Mart in Jackson. I thought that perhaps the store was new and not reflected in the reviewer comments from a couple of years earlier, so I put the address into Google Maps and headed that way. It turned out to be an apartment complex.
The good news was that the location of the imaginary Wal-Mart was not far from Kmart and Albertson’s, both of which I knew were real. Since Kmart seemed to be the only one likely to have car seats, we went there first and found a good deal on a couple of child booster seats made by Cosco (not to be confused with Costco).
Although we only planned to get car seats at Kmart, they had a grocery section so we decided to do some shopping there as well. We realized this was a mistake as soon as we went into the nearby Albertsons, where the grocery items for sale were much better. Also, the Kmart seemed old and dirty, while the Albertson’s was very clean and upscale. The only reason to go to the Kmart is if there is something you need that the Albertson’s doesnt carry.
We stocked up on what seemed like a ridiculous amount of food for our trip, but it turned out to be a good decision. The only change I would make in our shopping next time is that I would not bother with buying bread and sandwich meats. The hassle of hauling them around and keeping the cooler cold enough for them was not worth the convenience of having them handy. Most of the general stores in the parks sell premade sandwiches, which aren’t great but are good enough for getting by. I’d probably prefer the premade sandwiches to most of the dinners we ate in the park restaurants.
Travel to Jackson Lake Lodge
Once we were stocked up on supplies, we headed out of town towards Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Lake Lodge, which would be our home for the next two nights. There were several places along the way to stop and take in the scenery. The children were particularly interested in the Cunningham Cabin landmark that had a historic old house that adjoned a horse farm, especially after they found a large pile of animal scat that did not appear to be from a horse. My son photographed it and later identified it as bear poop using his copy of the book, “Who Pooped in the Woods.”
Our first spotting of wildlife other than the horse ranch was a family of antelope grazing on the side of the road. We stopped and took many photos of them, but refrained from stopping for a solitary buffalo we spotted since we knew we would see so many later.
Jackson Lake Lodge
The drive to waterfront Jackson Lake Lodge is very scenic and merits several stops along the way. A creek beside the road to the lodge was where we would see a mother moose and her child later in the trip. Jackson Lake Lodge itself is a beautiful facility, where you are greeted by young cowboy bellhops and a large open area for check-in and for booking activities. Upstairs is a huge public room with two fireplaces and a magnificent view of the mountain ranges across the lake. The room is filled with couches and tables where people can congregate to talk, play games, or eat food. In the room is an area where some food and drinks can be purchased, and the entrances to the three restaurants of the lodge are there as well. Most importantly, the back wall is a massive window with an amazing view, and beside it is a door to an outdoors viewing area that is perfect for stargazing in the evenings.
One of our planned activities for the next night was the Colter Bay Village (CBV) Wagon Ride. The CBV Wagon Ride requires attendees to confirm their reservations 24 hours ahead of the event, which we were able to do at the activities desk at Jackson Lake Lodge. We had to sign a liability release, a common requirement of many activities in the parks. We were given our tickets for the following evening and a map to show us where to go.
We decided to eat dinner at The Pioneer, one of the restaurants at the Jackson Lake Lodge. The Pioneer is designed like a 1950s diner, but with western themed items on the walls. I ordered the bison burger, while my wife had the fish and chips. One of our children had the kids meal burger, and the other had a kids meal hot dog. I noticed that the kids burger was the same size as mine for a much lower price, just lacking the tomato slice and piece of lettuce. The kids ordered ice cream for dessert and I ordered a huckleberry milkshake. It took a very long time for them to bring out the ice cream for the kids, and the waiter dropped one of the ice cream bowls when he finally did. After he delivered another bowl, he told me that they ran out of huckleberry ice cream and could not make the huckleberry shake. However, because of the long delay and because of not being able to fill my order, he did not charge us for the desserts for the kids.
As we were leaving, I saw the waiter approaching me with a huckleberry milkshake in his hand. He said that the kitchen had found some huckleberry ice cream, so he wanted to make sure I received one before I left. He did not add it to the bill. It was quite good, probably the best part of the meal there.
After dinner, we went on a hike that goes from behind the lodge and up and over an adjacent hill with amazing scenery all around. After I posted a photo of the mountain on Facebook, a friend posted a photo from the movie Shane showing the same mountain range in the background. I guess that is why it looked so familiar.