Saturday, August 4, 2007


Upon arrival in Boise, we were quickly informed the name of the city is pronounced “Boy-see,” not “Boy-zee.” An important correction, but not the easiest word to use in normal conversation. Regardless, we found a pretty reasonable Hampton Inn downtown to stay in while we checked out the city for the night.

All the buildings in Boise looked brand new, probably largely due to the influx of money from the athletics teams at Boise State. Easily walkable, tons of people riding bikes around the downtown, and with block after block of unique shops & restaurants, we were big fans of Boise. We had dinner at a little Italian restaurant, and did a bit of bar hopping around the downtown. Everyone we talked to was super nice, and seemed to love it there. All in all, good times in Boise.

Today we have a 9-hour drive ahead of us to a small town outside of Glacier Nat’l Park called Whitefish, just north of Kalispell. We’re going to spend the night there tonight, and then head into the park early tomorrow morning to find a campground for the next few nights.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ketchum & Sun Valley, Idaho

Finally a new state… Idaho. We left Wyoming on Thursday, and made the fairly long drive across Southern Idaho toward Ketchum/Sun Valley. This area was absolutely beautiful. Sun Valley (as you probably know) is a very fancy/ritzy ski resort town, similar to Jackson, with lots of stores, restaurants, coffee shops and traffic, but set in an alpine valley, with big green mountains all around. We found a campground a few miles outside of town in the Sawtooth National Forest, and just managed to get the tent set up before a pounding thunderstorm set in for the evening. With the pouring rain pelting our campsite (the tent is a champ at keeping things dry inside), we decided to head to town for dinner. We found a great little log cabin restaurant/brewery, had some dinner, and played a few games of pool. It was still a bit rainy, and early, when we were done, so we found a coffee shop with covered outdoor seating, and ordered some hot chocolate, while I had a 30 minute conversation with 3 9-year olds about whether or not Harry Potter dies at the end of the latest book.

After a nice, quiet sleep, we woke up to about 45 degrees the next morning. It was a bit cold packing up the still wet tent, but some after some oatmeal and coffee, we headed out for our day of mountain biking. Inside the Sawtooth Nat’l Forest is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). This place is just awesome. In the winter, there are tons of cross country skiing trails, which in the summer turn into tons of mountain biking trails. There were so many people doing active things on this Friday morning, we wondered if anyone had a job. People riding road bikes everywhere, tons of mountain bikers, runners. We heard the trails in the Galena area, about 15 miles north of Ketchum were the best, so we picked one labeled “advanced” (for some reason we thought this wouldn’t be that bad) and set out. After about 30 minutes of steady climbing, at about 5000’ of elevation, our lungs were broken, and we came up on what could be described as nothing other than a peak assault. The trail seriously went straight uphill for over a mile. We could barely push our bikes up it, there is no way a human could ride up it. To make the trail even more adventurous, we came across a bear in the valley below us, about 50’ away. As soon as he saw/heard us, he ran off, but I’ve still had enough close encounters with the bears for now. Seeing no end to the uphill ascent, we took a shortcut off that trail, and hit a few others, which had some great roller coaster hills, more manageable climbs, and were an all around fun ride.

All the trails in the Galena area start and end at the Galena lodge, which has a little restaurant, a bike shop, and an outdoor deck perfect for lunch after a ride. We ate some sandwiches on the deck, then set off to find some $2 showers our campground host told us were “over in the hot spring run by the Baptists.” We found the showers, but let it be know to all that when you are taking a shower at a place known for its hot spring, the water coming out of the shower head is also going to come from that hot spring, and will therefore smell like rotten eggs. Not the most pleasant thing to shower in, but, we were clean.

Next stop, a short drive to Boise.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Idaho, more than just potatoes

Apparently they also have a great sense of humor – check out this sign, courtesy of some joker in Idaho Falls.

Today we left Wyoming and headed into Idaho. With all the time in Yellowstone, Tetons and our week at the beach, we had been in WY way too long and needed to move on. Ketchum, Sun Valley, Boise, Sawtooth Range are up next… then on to Montana and Glacier National Park.

Grand Tetons, post beach

The Grand Tetons are amazing. When you think of “Wild West” scenery, alpine valleys, sharp granite peaks and wildlife at each turn, The Tetons deliver. Every day you drive by the range it looks like a painting, it hardly seems real.

We were planning to do a few days in the backcountry on the Teton Crest Trail, a classic trail for any serious hiker, but after our travel troubles neither Sara or I was in the mode for that level of roughing it quite yet. We decided to do some day hiking and ease back into the lifestyle. We did the Jenny Lake Trail (a great alpine lake with crystal clear water and berry patches along the way) and the Cascade Canyon Trail (follows a nice stream back up into the canyons and alpine meadows). Cascade Canyon area offers what I would consider absolutely perfect scenery. Although this is prime bear country (we were under full bear lookout mode – see YellowStone posts), we didn’t see a single brown or black bear or even any tracks for that matter. We did see a large male moose right off the trail about 8 feet from us. He was munching some grass and enjoying the shade, they are quite large up close.

Camping was good in the park (Gros Ventre Campground), nice and cool sleeping weather. The only interesting part, and depending on your point of view this could be a positive or negative in the wilderness experience, was the large pack of wolves that found its way near the campground to howl at the moon each morning from 4:30 Р5:30. I am not sure how far away they were, but there had to have been about 15 or 20 of them, barking howling in these long solo performances. I found it relaxing, kind of like we had finally reached the wilderness, it was a good thing Sara was asleep... and yes, the moon was pretty full this week so the clich̩ seems to be valid.

Back to business, part deux

The travel saga continued on Monday night. After our canceled flight on Sunday, we picked up another flight to Jackson via Salt Lake City. We made it to Salt Lake fine, but then the connection to Jackson Hole was cancelled because of maintenance or no plane, or no crew, or no fuel, or who knows… take your pick. Delta has emerged from bankruptcy, but unfortunately they did it at the cost of customer service and now our future business, the entire flight roundtrip was a disaster starting with our flight home Jackson a week earlier. All the hotels with 30 miles of the airport were booked so we got some miniscule vouchers, no cab money and were on our own to find a place to stay. We stayed at the Hampton Inn about 30 miles from the airport, nice actually. We got on a flight to Jackson the morning and were back on track. Surprisingly, our car and its contents were still there. We spent Tuesday afternoon getting resituated, stocking up on food, cooking fuel, and finding a campground for the next few days in Teton National Park.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Back to business

After a week hiatus, we are hopefully heading back to life out of our car today. We spent a week at the beach in Fenwick Island, DE with my mom & dad, and my sister's family. We lucked out with beautiful weather, which allowed for plenty of time on the beach, miniature golfing, people-watching at the Ocean City boardwalk, grilling and watching sunsets on the back porch, bonfires on the beach, and eating crabs & ice cream (not at the same time). We had an awesome time.

We got back to our house Saturday afternoon, and had hoped to fly out to Jackson, via Atlanta, Sunday afternoon. As is the case of DC Summer afternoons, and our luck with flights so far this trip, thunderstorms kept us from our destination. After a five hour search for our bags by the fine folks at Delta (we went home, had dinner, a bottle of wine & came back for them), we finally got them back around 10:30 pm, and headed back for another night at the house.

The plan is to fly out of DCA again today at 5:30, through Salt Lake City this time, and into Jackson this evening. Catch is, there is a 20 minute timeframe in which we have to get off the plane in Salt Lake, and onto the next one headed to Jackson, so even if we make it, our bags likely will not, and thunderstorms are once again predcited for this afternoon in DC. Perhaps it will be one more night at the house!