Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jack and Amy's Yellowstone Vacation - Introduction and Day 1

Jack and Amy’s 2009 Vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons
Saturday, September 5th, 2009 through Monday, September 14th, 2009


Amy and I got married about a year and a half ago. At that time we decided not to take a honeymoon right away, but instead plan a big vacation sometime later. This way we could focus our planning efforts on the wedding and not rush off and miss spending time with family and friends. Plus Amy had recently started a new job and didn’t have the vacation days to take a honeymoon at that time.

Earlier this year we finally started planning our belated honeymoon. We had lots of ideas for vacation destinations, but we finally decided on Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks. Amy has never been out west, and I was 5 years old the only time I visited Yellowstone.

We decided that September would be the perfect time of year. It is much less crowded than the peak months of July and August, all the kids are back in school, but it would still be early enough in the season that you don’t have to worry about snow and frigid temperatures.

Rather than driving in and out of Yellowstone each day, we wanted to actually stay in the park. This requires reserving your lodging months in advance. So by February we booked our flights, and had all our lodging reserved. Our basic itinerary will be as follows.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009
United Flights from Greer, SC to Chicago to Jackson Hole, WY

Saturday & Sunday Nights
Moulton Ranch Cabins - Grand Teton National Park

Monday Night
Old Faithful Inn - Yellowstone National Park

Tuesday Night
Lake Lodge Cabins - Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Nights
Canyon Village Cabins - Yellowstone National Park

Saturday Night
Lake Lodge Cabins - Yellowstone National Park

Sunday Night
Flat Creek Inn - Jackson, WY

Monday, September 14th, 2009
United Flights from Jackson Hole, WY to Chicago to Greer, SC

I ended up taking over 2,000 photos on this trip. Instead of trying to go through them all at one time, I am going to be posting them and writing the trip reports by day, starting here with Day 1.

Day 1 - Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Chicago Airport, our arrival to Jackson Hole, WY, and the Moulton Ranch Cabins

Our flight from Greer, SC to Chicago was pretty rough! It wasn’t too bad until we go within view of downtown Chicago and ended up flying around in circles in some sort of holding pattern for about an hour. The constant turning was making Amy, who is not use to flying a little queasy. I got a little worried when I saw her grab the barf bag from the seat pocket in front of her.

Fortunately we finally were cleared for landing and on solid ground in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Amy didn’t end up needing the barf bag, but she did need to sit down for a little while before we moved on through the Airport.

Due to the delayed landing, or 4.5 hour layover was reduced to 4 hours. If you are going to be stuck in some airport for several hours, Chicago is not a bad place to be. There are a wide variety of restaurants and bars to hang out in, including at least 15 different Starbucks locations throughout the airport.

Amy spent the time reading, while I went wandering around the airport taking pictures of things. We also enjoyed a nice meal at one of the airport restaurants. I resisted ordering any $7.00 beers making the meal fairly reasonably priced.

The Underground Tunnel at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

The flight from Chicago to Jackson Hole, WY went much smoother and we even landed about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I think Amy wanted to give the pilot a big hug for taking us on such a smooth ride! Even our checked luggage made it without any issues.

The Jackson Hole Airport is right at the base of the Grand Tetons and has the best views of any airport I have ever been too. I couldn’t resist pulling out the camera as we walked off the plane and started snapping shots before we even got inside the terminal.

Amy pointing out the plane we flew in on

We picked up the rental car and were on our way to the Moulton Ranch Cabins. Once we turned off the main road, we soon hit a minor delay. A large herd of Buffalo was crossing the road. What an awesome place!

The Moulton Ranch Cabins

I chose this place because it was about as close to the airport as you can get. Even though it is located inside the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, it is actually privately owed and operated by Hal and Iola Blake. The property has been in the family for generations and I believe that as long as it is kept within the family, the grandfathering rule of property ownership will apply.

What a beautiful spot in along Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park with one of the most awesome views of the Grand Tetons. With (5) rental units, it’s kind of like a Bed & Breakfast except that they don’t serve breakfast.

The Moulton Ranch Cabins

Our space was actually (3) small separate cabins connected by a deck. One contained basically just a queen size bed; another contained a small kitchen, sitting area, and a small bed which we used to store our stuff. The 3rd contained the private bathroom.

One mistake I made planning this trip was that I didn’t check the Virginia Tech Football Schedule. My Hokies were playing Alabama as we arrived at the Cabins and checked in. When we arrived at the door, Hal was watching a college football game. I asked about the Virginia Tech score and found the Hokies up 17-16 in the 3rd Quarter.

I was hoping he would invite me in the main house to watch the rest of the game since I knew our cabin didn’t have a TV. Turns out I’m glad he didn’t, because watching my Hokies fall apart in the 4th quarter would not have been an enjoyable way to start our Vacation!

Instead we decided to take a drive into Jackson, WY about 20-minutes away, to the closest grocery store. We wanted to stock up on food and beverages at a reasonably priced grocery store to avoid paying much higher prices inside the National Parks. I would much rather pay $4.99 for a case of bottled water than $3.00 per bottle!

We saw more Buffalo on the drive back and what I am pretty sure was a Coyote. An awesome full moon was lighting up the sky and the stars were spectacular! With virtually no haze or light pollution, you would be hard pressed to find a better place to view the night sky!

When we got back to the cabin, I got my camera and tri-pod out to attempt some night time photography of the starry sky over the Grand Tetons. Using a slow shutter speed, the full moon gave off just enough light to illuminate the mountains and some of the shots turned out pretty good.

Starry Sky over the Grand Tetons

Additional Photos from Day 1 of our vacation are located here:


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great start to your trip. Your pictures are great. You're getting to be quite the writer, Jack. When is your first book coming out? Are you sure you took enough photos?

Love, Mom and Dad

PS What's a profile?

wayne15575 said...

Thanks Jack...I needed a Teton fix...hahaha