Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wyoming - so far....Sun, Mon and Tues....

Our adventure in Wyoming started off with a bang.....here are the first 2 1/2 days!

Arrival Day:

We arrived and I love the sign they have as you are driving out of the airport.....

Don had to make a slight detour before going to the hotel. We drove towards Antelope Flats, in the Teton park...just to see if the buffalo were out. They obviously got the memo that DonRahn was arriving. They were right along the street waving to him as we approached.

Some of them wanted to get a little closer to the car to say hi!

We left the buffalo, with a happy DonRahn, and headed towards the hotel. We drove through Jackson with a stop at the grocery store for bottled water, and other various food items (we had a full kitchen in our suite for the next 5 days).. and headed towards Teton Mountain Lodge.

After a quick check-in and quick change of clothes - we headed out to dinner...our bodies thought it was 7:30, and we were all hungry.  We decided to drive into Grand Teton Park (a mile from our hotel) to go to Dornan's for dinner.  The easiest way to get there is down Moose-Wilson Road. And the road didn't disappoint.  This guy had stopped traffic in both directions to rest in the middle of the road and lick what looked to be something spilled (that was probably very tasty).  Traffic started moving again, and Don was content to go on to dinner. :)

A fun store near the dinner restaurant
After dinner, we headed to Mormon Row in the tetons.  It's a familiar spot for famous photos with the house and the mountains behind....

These are all my pics. Don will share his when we return.
Then back to the hotel to catch up on the olympic action and sleep!

Day 1:
Don woke to a 5 a.m. wakeup call to head out solo, and animal hunt.  We woke up leisurely and got breakfast. We wandered around the resort/ski village and watched the paragliders...Carleigh will be paragliding on Wednesday.

Don returned and we headed out for a "family hike."  Family hike means low stress ad low distance.  We found a 3 mile round trip hike to a lake that looked like fun. It was in the Teton Park and a bout 20 minutes from our hotel....so off we went.

We were hiking 1 1/2 miles to Phelps Lake and then 1 1/2 miles back - a loop.  Off we went.....

Ready to start!

on the way to the lake.....

only .8 miles left to the lake...

Jordan Weiber or Gabby Douglas?
Carleigh trying to "stick" the landing...
the woods opened up to this beautiful meadow and then the lake is right beyond the trees..

and we arrive....time to .....        

 Shoes off, socks off, and wading into the VERY cold lake water. :)

Snack break and then getting ready to hike back to the car....and

A happy, content Don Rahn!

determined to get to the top...on the way back to the car...
 We made it, with only one meltdown that a can of Pepsi Max (Don called it "super juice") fixed, and the short drive back to the hotel for preschool nap time.

Preschool nap  time became a tradition at Disney...when we would return to the hotel mid-day to take a nap before beginning our evening adventures.  It worked...3 out of the 4 of us took a nap and we were off for the evening.

We were heading into the town of Jackson to dinner and shopping.  We were successful on both ends.  Lots of t-shirts and sweatshirts and a great dinner at "Local" - a new restaurant right on the town square.

Antler Arch picture with a new friend (as Don says ;) that will be photoshopped out at home.
 After dinner we headed back into the park for animal hunting at Dusk...they come out at dusk...we were told...this sign lied...no animals tonight, but a random moose on the way home.
 We did see a fabulous sunset and a new lake that Don had discovered on his morning adventure....

back to the hotel to sleep and early wake-up call for our Hot Air Balloon ride.

Day 2:

5:15 a.m. wake-up call to call and check in for our 6:15 a.m. pick up to go to the balloon launch site.  We were all up and ready 10 minutes early! Yay family!!

6:30 a.m. at the launch site - starting to blow up the balloons

it was cold!!!

our balloon - ready to load

4 balloons went up at the same time - we were first up....here are the other 3 starting to take off

love the shadow on the ground
in the gondola - before takeoff and ready!
 The balloon ride was beautiful. We shared the gondola with about 8 other people, but it wasn't that crowded. Do I need to do it again? No, but was it worth it!! Yes. It was definitely a once in a lifetime kind of thing and the girls appreciated it a lot. Katie LOVED it!!
in the air

Katie liked it the best.....she thought it was "awesome."

the view was pretty incredible...we stayed in the "hole" of Jackson Hole

aerial view of our resort area....it's a big ski village in the winter

and we're down, out of the gondola and they are deflating the balloon

packing up the gondola

bye bye...
We got back to the hotel at 8:30ish and had breakfast...and planned the rest of the day. The girls and I would take advantage of the "village" area and Don headed out in search of wildlife.

Tonight is  Wild West Dinner Theater...I love my husband for being willing to sit through this. A dinner in the saloon and then move into the theater for a wild west production of Cat Ballou.

Stay tuned for highlights from tonight and Carleigh's paragliding adventure tomorrow!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Rahns Return to Wyoming and add Montana

The day after tomorrow we return to Wyoming, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons!

Three years ago we were there for 5 days:
June, 2009 - Yellowstone NP

June, 2009 Yellowstone NP

This year we will be traveling for 11 days, and have lots more adventures.

All of the plans are made, the house-sitter is ready, the car reserved, we've even got the dinner restaurants picked out for every night. We've all got certain things that we are looking forward to. Thanks to TripAdvisor.com, I have researched and we are ready!!

Here's the plan...

We will spend 5 days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Teton Village. During that time we will go on our first-ever Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Tetons. Carleigh will tandem-Paraglide from the top of one of the Teton Village mountains. We will visit some familiar sights and take family hikes. And hopefully with the girls being 3 years older than our last visit, those hikes will last a bit longer.  Don is excited to visit his favorite place on earth and find the bison, bears and moose. I'm excited for traveling and exploring!!

We will then leave Jackson Hole and travel into Yellowstone National Park. We will spend 1 night at The Old Faithful Inn. I'm excited, because (Disney geek moment coming) our favorite DisneyWorld hotel, The Wilderness Lodge, is modeled after The Old Faithful Inn and it is GORGEOUS! An added bonus, Old Faithful erupts right outside the Inn 'round the clock- every 90 minutes or so. Don is looking forward to the Full Moon and Old Faithful with no crowds - yep...full moon next week while we are there. :)

After our night at Old Faithful Inn, we will leave and drive through Yellowstone. We will have the chance to explore the upper loop of Yellowstone, the part that we didn't get to 3 years ago. We will then exit Yellowstone through the Roosevelt Arch - the original entrance to the Park from the early 1900's -  and arrive in Gardiner, Montana. We will be spending the night at Crevice Mountain Lodge....10 miles UP a gravel road in Gardiner to an old hunting lodge with 3 cabins. It's a B & B kind of place, but rustic cabins. We will spend the night in our cabin with our wood burning stove, cooking smores over the campfire and hopefully enjoying the star-filled night.

We will then check out of the Lodge and head back into Yellowstone to finish exploring the rest of the upper loop. Included is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is supposed to be pretty incredible. We will continue to the eastern exit of Yellowstone and end up in Cody, Wyoming for 2 nights.

Our hotel, The Cody, is supposed to be very close to the Cody Rodeo - which we will be attending on one of the evenings. One of our days in Cody will be spent exploring the other side of Wyoming, and maybe a possible side trip to Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area to see the wild horses. Lots of options and a full day to explore them.

After 2 days in Cody, we will head back to Jackson Hole. We will spend our final night back at the Teton Mountain Lodge. Don will have a final morning of animal photographing, and then we will head to the airport and begin our journey back to Virginia.

This trip has been a couple of years in the making and  we are looking forward to making more memories and visiting one of our favorite places. The girls are planning on keeping a video-journal and then putting it all into a movie when we get back. I am hoping to do some blog updates while we are traveling, so keep a look out for our Hot Air Balloon ride and Carleigh's paragliding adventure. Those two events happen early in our adventure.

So...in keeping with the theme..."Seldom A Dull Moment" as the Rahns head to Wyoming and Montana.

Stay tuned....for updates on the adventures as we have them. :)