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Cross Country Trip, Day 5: Jackson Hole to Big Sky

Last night I learned the meaning of true fear; it’s flipping from back to front like a dying fish, trying to get a foothold on a rickety bunk bed in the darkness. I developed a fit of fear-induced giggles. My husband didn’t. Perhaps it was fortuitous that the men and women decided to separate for the day.


The men took off in search of manly pursuits.



The women took a stagecoach and went shopping. It was just like the days of yore if yore included calling each other on cell phones to reconnoiter after our adventures.

Reluctantly we left the spectacular beauty of the Tetons behind. Time is our enemy on this vacation. In order to see as much as possible, we’re blurring through scenes in a day that might take a lifetime to explore.  Still, there’s no time for melancholy because this waits at the end of the road:



Yellowstone stretches over two million acres. It could fit the states of Rhode Island and Delaware and still have room to spare. There are five entrances. We came at it from the south and were greeted by a canyon, and then this.



Important things to know about Old Faithful:

It’s the most popular attraction in the park. Read: CROWDED. This is not the place for solitude and ponderous reflection. This is the place for elbows out and fight face on.

As soon as a geyser goes off, people begin claiming their space for the next one. There are some benches. Get there early to grab a good one.

There’s traffic, a lot of traffic. Drive time takes longer because you’ll get stuck.

Old Faithful isn’t the only geyser. There are tons of them, bubbling and brewing, spitting up water, steam, and ash. People get burned. Shoes melt. It’s different and beautiful and a little spooky.

Speaking of danger, caution signs about the abundance of wildlife abound, as they did in Grand Teton. Despite road signs warning of moose and bear, we’ve seen nothing but some elk. I’m beginning to think the park is a wildlife tease.



In addition to the signs warning about being gored by bison, eaten by bears and wolves, and having your face melted off by a geyser, there are signs warning of a mass norovirus outbreak in the park. So far Yellowstone is an anxiety attack waiting to happen.

Supper was pizza. You know you’ve been eating too much when pizza seems like a light meal.



The pizza place was located here.


And now a word about Montana.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of being a writer is eating Oreos for breakfast and wearing my pajamas all day is writing about places I want to go but have never been. To date I’ve written more than a dozen books set in Montana using a lot of research and a little imagination. And now I’m here! I’ve secretly been more exited about this than anything except maybe Alaska.

It’s as beautiful as I thought it would be, maybe more. And guess what? Montana didn’t let us down:




Our first grizzly sighting! Thanks, Montana!


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

2 responses to “Cross Country Trip, Day 5: Jackson Hole to Big Sky

  1. Becky ⋅

    Yay for the bear sighting! Looks like you’re having a great time. Keep the posts coming!

  2. mber ⋅

    So cool, yet kinda creeped that you shot a pic of a grizzly! YIKES! Tell Mira I want to hear all about it when you all return home. 🙂 Loving the updates.

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