Monday, July 14, 2014

The Coussoules' Great Western Adventure: Day 4 across Wyoming

Sunday dawned bright and clear, perfect for another morning run, this time around the Colorado State University campus. You'll forgive me the workout selfie; solitary runs at 5:30AM on a Sunday in a town I'm just passing through aren't conducive to having someone else along to snap a photo.
Added bonus of the morning run: I found a Hawaii license plate in the parking lot of the University!!
Kids were thrilled - license plate bingo has become our trip obsession, and we thought there was no way we were going to get that one. Mommy rocks!

With standing room only church on Saturday, we hoped to hit Sunday mass, but with John still feeling terribly, we chose to divide and conquer: Justin and Caroline would go to church, I would stay at the hotel and let him sleep in and rest as much as possible before driving north. He'd had a rough night, waking up crying around 2AM, and it unfortunately didn't get better with the dawn. A terrible headache, fever, and nausea that made it hard to keep any medicine down had me really worried about the eight hour drive ahead of us.

If there was ever any question whether the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, though, he sucked it up in true my-kid fashion. He managed to eat a little bit of cereal, kept some water down, and once Daddy and Caroline were back from church, we loaded up the van and pointed it north to Wyoming.
Grand Teton National Park or BUST!!!

Justin and I have been excited not just about the destinations along the way and the landmarks we would visit, but the drives between points A and B (well, and C, D, E, F and G, for that matter). We joked that to this point in our lives, the American West had basically been the "fly over" zone. As in, I've been to California several times but only flown over the states in between here and there.

As we left Colorado and read our state worksheet and fun facts about Wyoming, it hit us that in the least populous state in the U.S., we might want to hedge our bets against finding gas stations every five or ten miles. We decided that as the biggest city along the way, it was worth stopping in Laramie to fill up and, of course, take the requisite picture to prove we'd been there:
I knew the drive would bring unexpected delights in the scenery; I knew there would be the grandeur that is America's western states. What I didn't know was how many different drives we would have in one day, across one state. Wyoming is astonishingly diverse; unreal in its vastness; beautiful in its immensity.

The expansive grasslands and endless plains:
The towering rocks that shoot up out of the plains unexpectedly:
The painted rocks in an arid, desert-like landscape:
The sheer walls of the towering mountains and rock formations are a window into the ancient and violent geological past; we were traveling back in time as we drove north, then west, then northwest toward Grand Teton.

After hours amidst plains, mountains, the Great Divide Basin, and valleys beyond the sheer drop of the cliffs, we suddenly found ourselves in an alpine forest as we entered the Shoshone National Forest:
Then, after around seven hours of drive time, we finally saw the Teton Range in the distance. We were almost there - our first National Park on the trip, four days into the vacation.
We pulled into the Jackson Lake Lodge right around 6PM Sunday evening, thrilled to be there and ready to be done with the drive for the day. We checked in, confirmed our reservations for the boat tour in the morning, and headed to the cottage to unpack.

Now, we are lugging around a lot of stuff. I mean, a LOT. We figured if we're driving, we may as well bring it - two weeks away from home, be as prepared as possible for weather and itinerary contingencies. But it's also a little bit overwhelming to be crowded in the van by all of those bags and at this point, Justin decreed that we would 100% unpack the van, bring it all inside, and put it back after we'd reorganized and retrenched.

Bags out; coolers out; kids out. I walked into the room and POW:
Are you kidding me? What a view! Eight hours on the road melted away, just like that. Reenergized, we got everything in, unpacked, straightened out, and John got a little bit of rest before we went over to the Pioneer Grill for dinner.
By the end of dinner, John was about as wilted as I'd seen him. We'd alternated acetaminophen and ibuprofen along the way, but you could tell he was just about done. He complained of a piercing headache, and after a couple of friends mentioned the possibility of altitude sickness, I began to think it wasn't just a simple virus. What could we do, though? We were in northwest Wyoming, at our destination, and there wasn't a viable alternative.

Back to the room, showers and bed time, and fervent prayers by Mommy, Daddy, and so many others who've been sharing my story of our journey that the little man would finally sleep it off and wake up his normal, energetic self. I watched the sun set behind the purple mountains right outside our bedroom window, grateful for another amazing day on our family adventure.

1 comment: