An epic vacation deserves an epic retelling...in the form of a blog post. As you already know from the title above, my family recently made our way to the mountains of Wyoming, to a place that quite literally continues to grow into the sky. It's a magical, beautiful land which has inspired humans for the last 11,000 plus years. In fact, it's so inspiring that it's name literally translates into Great Breasts, or Big Tits. It's also ironic that the area was settled because of its vast beaver pelt industry.
The naming is attributed to the French beaver trappers, who, stumbling across this great and epic mountain range, looked up at the heavens to thank God, stuck their flag in the ground and declared, "I hereby name this mountain range....the Great Tits!" Understandably, they must've been very...lonely. Or maybe homesick is a better word. I can't imagine that they thought the name would actually stick. But alas it did, no doubt continuing to inspire all those lonely souls who lay their eyes upon it today.
The Grand Tetons are about as majestic they come, rising to 13,775 feet into the sky (and still climbing). These mountains are quite a sight to behold. The Teton range includes 9 peaks over 12,000 feet. The mountains are also some of the youngest in the world, ranging between 6 to 9 million years old. Compare that to the weather worn and wind eroded Appalachian Mountains, considered to be about 480 million years old. They Smokies are now hills compared to the Tetons, but at one time were just as majestic and ragged. Point being, if you stick around for another 300 million years, the place will look quite different. Geology is fascinating!
Anyway, we spent the week in Jackson Hole, which, for the record is now one of my favorite places on earth. Well, during the summer at least. One guy was telling us that their high for an entire week during the last winter was -20°F. "But the bar's always 70!" Yeah, so not exactly my kind of winter...but those summers! Highs of 72 and a crisp mid 30's in the morning. It. Was. Glorious. I am currently sitting in HELL as I type this...heat index of 110°F...I am melting. It is hard to imagine that a place like Jackson Hole exists right now.
Anyway, we did a bunch of stuff, although nothing too strenuous or exotic. We were on a family vacation after all. But I couldn't help but feel a little like Bear Grylles. After a long day outside reconnecting with mother nature, we drove back to our lovely condo and retired with a glass of wine and great meal. We weren't exactly roughing it, but that was the point. The best of both worlds.
Nature is such an awe inspiring thing. It's thought provoking. You can't help but think deeply about everything. Life, death, the universe, the afterlife... I mean, here you are surrounded by nature, immersed in jaw dropping beauty, and you can't help but imagine how fragile your life is. How unimportant you are to the earth. The earth was here first, and she's seen more in her time then the best fiction writer could even dare to dream up. She was here since the beginning of time. That is something that our feeble little minds can't even grasp. She has seen the shaping of the continents, the rule of the dinosaurs, the rise of Tetons, the rise of man. Our little pathetic lives (relatively speaking) aren't even a blip on her radar. We're just another cycle. And if history tells us anything, it's that we will not be the last dominate species on earth. And in a way, that's kind of reassuring. Or terrifying. I'm just hope I'm long gone...
Nature is God, and God is nature. It's important to remember that in this digital age.
Anyway, enjoy the pics. I obviously did a lot of deep thinking on this trip, and I've found some quotes to help reflect that. So, enjoy the pics, book a trip to Jackson, and in the meantime, just get outside (well, maybe not in this heat).
New Orleans at dawn.
What is this?! A tent for ants?
How did I get this shot? Very carefully...
The small, yet fantastic town of Jackson.
So the first day was cousin Liz's birthday, which of course required mexican food and tequila shots!
The gals...Riki, Susie Q, Amantha, and cousin Liz.
The Shaw Family...circa 2013.
A little tight, but it works.
Sorry mom, had to.
Jackson traffic jam.
Someone had a helluva party last night.
Saying goodbye to the over crowded tram.
A cold, wet ride.
The perfect beaver takedown. Don't mess with a beaver. They can kill. Don't believe me? Click here.
A beautiful Golden Eagle.
A mother moose and her new baby calf.
Watching the mother moose running around in circles, frantic, calling for her baby, who took off blindly after my father popped it with his flash from point blank range. The proof:
Surprisingly, even though you can see the mother to the left of the frame, she did not hurl my dad into the air.
I sincerely hope they found each other.
Old Faithful Inn, the largest log hotel in the world. Built in 1904, it is #36 on the American Institute of Architects top 150 buildings in America. It's actually amazing the building still stands. It was shaken off it's foundation by a huge earthquake in 1959, and was dangerous close to being lost in the huge Yellowstone fire of 1988, saved by the efforts of many firefighters.
The many colors of Yellowstone.
Storm's a brewin'.
Beautiful, yet quite stinky.
iPhone panorama by Jesse. Open in new tab for full size.
Some huge Elk just chillen' in a field.
Very inviting on a cold day, but highly not recommended.
The American Bison is an incredible specimen. They are huge, funnily shaped creatures, resembling a roided out bodybuilder who routinely skips leg day. They are insanely powerful...these beasts can jump 6 feet in the air and can run up to 40 mph. In the wild they can grow up to about 2,800 lbs. and 3,800 lbs. in captivity. They are pure muscle....not to be messed with, unless you like your head caved in.
A .GIF from 1887.
Of course, when the white man settled in the bison was all but hunted to extinction. Today, their numbers are better, but nowhere near the millions that once roamed the wild plains of the North America.
Late 1880s. That's a lot of skulls.
While definitely not considered tame by any means, they are quite used to humans, so you can get pretty close.
I love their goatees.
Just a big ole bull and his girl. My mom, forever the romantic, thought they were married. That's nice.
If you give a chipmunk a sweet sticky granola bar, they'll love you forever...
...and expect more.
Great photo by Riki.
Still hangin' with the young guns.
Extreme mountain biking. Surprisingly there were no casualties, and only two major wipeouts.
The Milky Way.
Sadly, our time here has come to an end. So I'll leave you with this one quote that seems to sum it all up: