This was the most surprisingly pleasant day we had so far as we headed through Utah and Idaho, and into Wyoming. It was focused on driving since we had about 8 hours to go to get to Jackson, our jumping off point for a day in Yellowstone. After a free breakfast at the motel, we took off early in the morning.
Central and northern Utah continued to please with rolling green hills and some rocky mountains. This is what Utah looks like by early morning light:
Then, as we approached Salt Lake City, suddenly we were met with a huge mass of smog. Oof! I don't have a photo of that, though, so you don't have to look at that ugliness. Salt Lake City itself was a funny place. There were very nice bike lanes and a streetcar system, but we didn’t find much in the way of local food culture. The downtown neighborhood we were in felt a bit stark, quiet, and business-like.
We walked up to Temple Square to see the center of the Mormon Church - it’s a whole complex taking up several blocks. It was a Wednesday midday, and yet we saw multiple weddings going on. One young bride and groom were taking their wedding photos with the temple in the background with the famous golden tablet displayed in its facade.
The whole place was covered with fountains and beautiful gardens, tended by the Mormon faithful.
After SLC, we continued north into southern Idaho - what a beautiful area! We decided to take a side route, turning off of Route 15 onto state roads that wind around green hillsides and across grassy plains, past cute towns like Soda Springs, by rustic ranches, and then following streams through Caribou National Forest. The national forest is more mountainous than the surrounding area and was green and full of wildflowers.
On the other side of the national forest, we met up with Route 89 and our first view of the Rockies, running parallel to the road. In the town of Alpine, the road turns and starts following the Snake River, which was dotted with kayakers and looked like a fun place to come back to some day.
We finally arrived in Jackson, aka Jackson Hole (maybe that's specifically the ski area?), in the early evening and checked into our hotel - the 49er Inn & Suites.
Jackson is an expensive place to stay during the summer since it is in the center of the tourist attractions of Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and the Snake River. I expect during the winter, as well, with the skiing crowds. Because of that, I had hesitated to book us a hotel, thinking we might camp instead, but at the last minute, I booked this room online through the hotel’s website. On arriving, though, it quickly became clear that they had lost our reservation. Lucky for us, this meant not that we didn’t have a place to stay, but that we got upgraded to a king suite, complete with a couch and gas fireplace.
Brendan set himself up to work from the couch while I explored Jackson for a couple hours and scouted a dinner location. Jackson is a cute, touristy town - a frontier feel, but with a definite accent of wealth.
I looked at some bracelets that turned out to be $700-$1200, and in the end opted for just a baseball hat.
For dinner, I selected Cafe Genevieve, a restaurant just a couple blocks out from the center of town in a historic home. We sat on the porch while a live bluegrass band played, and had a delicious meal with local ingredients - my Idaho trout was awesome. We even treated ourselves to dessert - strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum!
Image credit to TripAdvisor