The Race

Original Post: November 30, 2015

Surely you must think that I’ve died since I have sorely neglected this blog for the past month and a half.  At least part of that is due to NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, a frantic November scurry to get 50,000 words written by each participating aspiring novelist.  As with most Novembers, I failed to meet 50,000 words, having been sidetracked by work, holidays, children, and any number of other excuses, but as of this evening, I have four solid chapters of a novel I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time, so I’ll call that a victory regardless of what anyone else says.  A few more months like that and I’ll have (another) finished novel.

And so, without further ado…

When we last left our hero…oh, wait.  Must change internal settings from “novel” to “blog” writing style.

Leaving Yellowstone, Nate and I were up at 6 am and on the road by 7.  Our initial intentions were to visit Old Faithful before leaving, but there wasn’t much point when the fog looked like this:

Forget Gorillas in the Mist.  We’ve got bison and bears.

Besides, we figured it was only two hours away.  We’d come back later in the day when the weather cleared.  You know you’ve crossed into full on travel mode when a two hour drive one way is considered an easy day-trip.

Our second reason for such an early departure had to do with the fact that attaining a camp site at Jenny Lake Campground at the Grand Tetons is rather akin to this:

Yep, that about sums it up.  I have yet to figure out why any campground would run this way as it causes frustration, anxiety, and disappointed campers.  Jenny Lake Campground lies at the base of the Grand Tetons and often fills up by 9 or 10 am.  We arrived by 9:15 am and found this to be true.  The woman who was handing out paper slips said that we must claim our spot by putting our slip on the post next to the site we wanted. We were there with two or three other folks who had also just arrived, so we grabbed our slip and hopped back in the car immediately.  We found a spot with a packed car that looked ready to leave, so I quickly slipped our paper onto the pole.  Much to my embarrassment, they had just arrived, and were not leaving…  However, they had no slip and didn’t even know that they were supposed to get one.  They left the campsite, and I still felt kind of ‘Indiana Jones’…only with considerably less cool and a bit more remorse since I wasn’t tossing Nazis from a blimp.

The good news is that they were still able to get a campsite – the one right next to ours.  I sheepishly visited at some point to apologize since I just don’t have it in me to ignore an uncomfortably awkward situation.  And this says much since so many of my encounters are uncomfortably awkward.  Thankfully, the family was more than happy to let bygones be bygones.

We got our tent set up quickly enough despite the gloomy weather.  And it was gloomy.  This was not the way I had pictured the Tetons at all.  I’m pretty sure there were supposed to be jagged peaks somewhere under there.

I’m pretty sure there’s peaks under there somewhere.

We spent the day waiting in vain for better weather and when we finally got at least a little less rain, we decide to take a hike.  (Why is that supposed to be a derogatory term?  Next time someone tells me to ‘take a hike,’ I swear I will happily oblige.)  We still got caught in pouring rain on our way back to the camp site, and the hike really only served to whet the appetite for additional adventure, preferably with a little less of a damp atmosphere.  The weather being what it was, we opted not to drive back to Yellowstone just to see Old Faithful.  So, yes, we quite possibly could be the only two people on the face of the planet who visited Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful.

I fervently hoped that the clouds would clear in time for the evening, at the very least.  While rain makes for some good sleep in a tent, I wanted photos of the night sky with Grand Tetons towering above.

Finally, the sky obeyed!  It was too early for night photos as the setting sun still lit the sky, but Nate started a campfire – our first on the entire trip.  Don’t ask how it took 20 days for us to finally get a campfire going, but it did.  This trip was an on-the-go vacation filled with seeing and doing and running and driving and hiking and complete flat-out exhaustion, with no time for anything else.  A rainy day with slowly clearing skies forced us to slow it down for a day.  The fire was nothing less than welcome.

And of course I have a book.  What else would I be doing by a campfire?

Around 10:45, we headed to a lookout point a few miles away.  (Don’t even get me started on the irony of fighting for a camp site directly at the base of the mountains only to get in the car and drive to where the mountains were some distance away.)

The sky cooperated to a point, and only for about 45 minutes, before we were forced to call it quits for the night and head back to camp, but the pictures I did manage to take convey at least a fairly good impression of what it was like to stand in the open wilderness at the base of the Grand Tetons in the middle of the night.  (Dark, by the way.) 

Another site on the map quite happily checked off.  It was hard to imagine that in just a few days, the entire trip would be finished.  How would I ever return to the “real” world again?  Racing for a campsite is one thing.  Getting back into the rat race?  A whole other animal.