The past few weeks have been quite a crazy adventure. There have been some staffing changes at work so I've been trying to put in a few extra hours to help out while both James and I have been knee-deep in travel plans, recovering from colds/sinus infections and packing and as was pointed out by some loving family members, not updating the blog :-)
Sunday we sent James off on an adventure and Matthew and I tried to head to Jackson. We waited for the roads to clear (which may have been a waste of time because I'm pretty sure NE Idaho never clears) and headed out Monday instead for a Heather-Heather holiday. I was quite excited that I got my camera back from being repaired just in time . . . but it proceeded to only work intermittently so thank goodness Heather (not me) was there to act as photographer.
On Tuesday we decided to take on snowshoeing at Grand Teton. Heather (not me or not mom as it's sometimes necessary to distinguish) had called ahead to make reservations and was told no one under 8 was allowed. She made a convincing case that Matthew was WY born and bred and an experienced snowshoeing participant. The ranger called back and allowed an exception, making Matthew the youngest participant ever in one of the excursions.
I was a bit nervous as we got there and the ranger told us we'd be using super long 1940's gov't issue ash/rawhide snowshoes as Heather modeled here. The last thing I wanted was to be an exception and then screw it up by being totally awkward with Matthew in tow.
They were a bit heavy and very different from the types we've been renting and looking to buy but did a great job on the 3-4 feet of fluffy powder we headed across. All in all Matthew did really well through the snow and wind and even fell asleep at the end of the hike.
We also headed drove out to the Elk Refuge and hit the trifecta of large mammals with herds of elk, bison and big horn sheep.
The next day we decided to head out on a sleigh ride and watch as they feed the elk. It was still snowing, still windy and a bit cooler than the day before. Matthew enjoyed cruising around the visitor center while we waited for our bus to refuge. He really liked the bear and all the stuffed animals, which makes Jackson in general a great place for him.
It turns out it was a lot colder/windy down in the valley so we cuddled up (though Matthew didn't want his hands under the blankets) and headed out to the refuge.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and the tour and elk were fascinating to watch. There are about 7700 elk wintering on the refuge and there were probably around 2000 in the group near us for the feeding.
We also saw this mangy coyote with a band of 6-7 other coyotes. As we left they were scavenging a calf that had been standing as we started the tour. Hello circle of life.
Instead of a short trip downtown we decided to chase down the Tetons and sunset and ended up taking quite a drive out to Jackson Lake. We never got a full Teton view, but the clouds moved enough that we could check out the tops and bottoms and all in all it was a gorgeous drive:
Anyway, because I hadn't really planned to be in the car for 2.5 hours with Matthew (who I later found out had a tummy ache) we needed to get a little creative keeping him entertained instead of driving me crazy. I had thrown a new toy in the car before we left and desperately found it when we pulled over for photos. Note to self: one should introduce the fun of dry erase markers unless able to supervise closely or you end up with this:
There was also marker on his legs (between his pants riding up and his socks) his hands, his carseat, his pants and his shirt. Even with all that most of the marker ended up on the board. Luckily, dry erase marker cleans up really easily and we're all back to looking new.
All in all, it was great to see Heather and even with the insanity of Matthew responding to a crazy schedule, getting sick and doing the whole single-parent travel thing, I had a ton of fun and am sooo glad that I didn't end up stuck in Ashton, ID, home of the world's largest seed potato management area as I feared would happen on Monday. Next time however, I won't mind if we have a Heather-Heather holiday someplace tropical as I'm kinda over the cold and bundling Matthew up all the time.
The roads/weather going back were even worse than my trip down with no additional help from Idaho, but at the very end of the trip, I managed to spot these two just outside Big Sky along the Gallatin River.
I think it's a far better picture than this umm, "moose" Heather and I zoomed in on and swore was moving when we were in Teton the day before :-) I think my "repaired" camera just likes the idea of moose because these two pictures are about the only time it would turn on correctly for me.