Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jackson Hole, WY

The view from our hotel room and the main lobby of the lodge
My (Heather) continuing education courses are Friday through Sunday, 8am-6pm in some random PT clinic in the middle of nowhere. We don't see the light of day and at the conclusion of the course we all stumble out of the room, sore from practicing techniques on each other all weekend. Then, we hit the ground running again on Monday morning with barely a moment to catch our breath. 
However, the world of Emergency Medicine is much different, as I learned several weeks ago during our trip to Moran, WY to see the Tetons. Jonathan took an Advanced Airway course, led by many of the docs who record the podcasts he listens to. This course was structured as a vacation, attracting a large group of doctors from New Zealand and Australia as well as the US. Class ran for 4 hours each day, either 7-11am or 2-6pm, which gave us plenty of time to go exploring!  We weren't able to participate in the planned group activities (4 hour safari, rafting, etc), but we made our own fun!

Rachel was not a happy camper 2 days prior to our trip which left us feeling a little anxious. Then, once we buckled up for the flight, the captain announced that it would be a bumpy 4.5 hour flight to Salt Lake. 4.5 hours??? Well...I guess I hadn't thought that one through and didn't think we would be on a plane that long for her first flight. But, turbulence and all, Rachel was a great little traveler. She slept a bit on the way out west but mostly played, ate and entertained our seat-mates (who were very kind and gracious to us, thankfully!). We arrived in Jackson Hole fairly late at night but it was still light out enough to see the mountain range right next to the airport. God's creation was so stunning that I cried happy, awe-filled tears.  We then made the long, DARK journey to our lodge, getting to bed at 1am. There were absolutely no lights to be seen, aside from our headlights and the twinkling stars. It was beautiful, but a little scary when you're never sure what creature might jump in front of the rental car! 

In the morning, we opened the blinds and saw THIS VIEW. WOW. That is all I said for about 5 minutes. When JB was not in class, Rachel and I explored the Lodge, walked a hilly loop trail on the grounds and entertained other guests with her crawling and cruising around the lobby. We met another family who was here for the conference. The wife, a dermatologist, told me she registers herself for all the emails and flyers about Emergency Medicine courses. That way, she stays in the know about the Pediatric Course in Disney in April and another course in New York in December. Sounds like a great way to plan our future vacations!

Although my photography course was geared towards taking pictures of kids in manual mode, I figured this was a great time to practice. Landscape photography is known to be very difficult and we don't have a super long zoom lens, but I'm still pretty happy with the results. I was able go get some depth of field and pretty bokeh (the nice blur). Although the primary flower is the yellow one in the picture below this, there were a few gorgeous red and white flowers decorating the landscape. 
The cloud cover was just incredible. It was like you could reach out and touch them each morning! 

Thankfully, Rachel loves the ergo and we were able to take her on an easy, flat Coulter Bay trail. We came pretty close to a doe, which was pretty surprising, but we were all content to look at each other and go about our own business.  The next day we tackled a 3 mile Jenny Lake trail. We did 2 moderately difficult miles and then branched off 0.5 miles up to the waterfall. We were able to catch sight of a moose hiding in the grass. He was HUGE.  I mean, HUGE. His snout was nothing that I would ever want to mess with! The water coming down from the mountain was freezing. I know we spent all week looking at snow-covered peaks, but then you feel it and it's like ice. It was very refreshing after our long hike with a heat-producing baby on my back the whole way. 

Coulter Bay
Coulter Bay...just taking it all in

Ok. Let's talk about bears. I know they exist and they are beautiful and fun to look at in pictures and books. But, then you arrive in Jackson Hole and there are signs EVERYWHERE about bears. All the trashcans have bear-proof (and what proved to be Heather-proof at first) latches. I went out one morning with Rachel in the ergo attempting to do a hike overlooking the Snake River. We got turned around at the start of our journey and ended up on a road with many logs blocking it. A sign rested on the logs that said, "KEEP OUT. Increased bear activity on this road. NO ONE may pass".  YIKES. We scurried away as fast as my rapidly-beating heart would carry me. We chose another trail with several BEAR WARNINGS on it, instructions including "Do not hike alone". Our journey took us about 1/8 of the mile down the trail, which was filled with many chipmunk critters, skittering in the bushes and a snake blocking my path. That was a sign that it was just not meant to be. We were content to watch the horses at the corral and head back up for nap time. 

We opted to get a room with a view, since we might not make it back this way any time soon. And, it worked out that our baby monitor worked on a bench right outside the room and in the Mural Room, their nice restaurant.  We enjoyed 2 nice dinners of bison, elk, lamb and a mushroom spinach pastry. The other nights we did takeout with a local IPA and enjoyed conversation and the breath-taking view. 
One thing I was so impressed with was how environmentally conscious the entire midwest is. There are water bottle filling stations, low-flush toilets and recycling containers everywhere. I know the start-up costs would be high, but I wish our area could make changes like this for a more sustainable planet. 
Finally, can you believe this view at the airport!? We walked outside to our plane and flew alongside these stunning mountain ranges on our way back home.  

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