Monday, May 4, 2015

wyoming | jackson favorites + random photos

jackson, wyoming
This is the last Wyoming post, and I thought I'd list some of our favorites and share some random photos that didn't make it into my other posts.
grand teton national park
Eating plant-based was a bit of a challenge in a state where taxidermy reigns supreme and cowboys love their meat. (They shoot to kill in Wyoming.) Jackson has become a hip place for the rich and famous and there are now a number of top-notch restaurants in the area, but most of them have menus that include a lot of steak...elk steak, bison steak, etc. We avoided the meat, but did allow ourselves a little cheese and eggs during this trip so that we weren't stuck eating a diet of only french fries. We also enjoyed making snack dinners at the campground: bean dip, crackers, olives, fruit, chex mix, cookies, and a few cold beers.

+ The Local - We arrived in Jackson both starving and frustrated (our flight was delayed then cancelled and then the airline lost our luggage). We ran over to the K-mart next to our hotel to buy toiletries and a shirt for Larry to wear to his business meeting the next day. Then we drove into town in desperate search for a restaurant that was still open. The Local had a great modern/trendy vibe and the kind of menu we would have loved when we were omnivores. The only things on the menu that didn't contain meat (our first clue should've been the cattle logo...) were french fries and the cheeseboard (and beer!). We were famished and so we went for it, and after not eating cheese for months it was such a delicious treat. Mmm...Humboldt Fog!

+ Cafe Genevieve - After attempting dinner at a place with a cow logo, we then attempted breakfast at a place with a pig logo.(They have something on the menu called "pig candy"...) Did I mention they like meat in Wyoming? There was a table full of old ranchers in stetson hats sitting next to us. The smell of bacon permeating this place was rather torturous, but the (meat-free) huevos rancheros were delicious.

+ Lotus Cafe - Finally a restaurant with vegan options and a flower for a logo instead of an animal. Fun and funky vibe and they feed all the restaurant food scraps to pigs!

+ The Bird - This is a casual burger and beer joint with a deck that overlooks the mountains. Great stop after a day of hiking and they have veggie burgers.

+ The Rose - Best cocktails I've ever had, hands down AND an amazing bartender, Laura. Who would've guessed that one of the country's top craft cocktail bars is in Wyoming, the least populated state? They made all the ingredients from scratch and watching the bartenders (mixologists?) create a cocktail was like watching a work of art being created. Don't miss this place and don't let the fact that you've never heard of any of the cocktail ingredients scare you away. Chat with the bartenders and have them make a suggestion. My favorite was a cocktail made out of sugar snap peas. Sounds so gross, but it was SO unexpectedly delicious!

+ Cafe Boheme - We ate breakfast here a couple times because they had great veggie sandwiches. This place is not in the downtown area and has kind of a weird location, but it was close to the Motel 6 and the sandwiches were so satisfying. Coffee shop vibe.

+ If you're going out for a day of activities you can also grab a sandwich or a bagel at the deli at Dornan's.
grand teton national park
I covered this pretty thoroughly in my other posts, but here's a recap:

+ Hiking Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park
+ Rafting the Snake River
+ Biking the Tetons
+ Photographing the bison herd at the Moulton Barn

One thing that I'd wish we'd had the chance to do was try stand-up paddleboarding on String/Leigh Lakes. I've never SUPed before, and I'm fairly certain I would suuuuuuck at it. But the water was so calm, clear, and shallow here, that it seemed like a good place to try.
grand teton national park
Good luck with this. Jackson is expensive. Like crazy expensive. Also, it is small and there are not a lot of places to stay and they get booked months and months in advance during the high tourism seasons. I highly suggest booking way ahead of time. Our trip was last minute and we stayed at the Motel 6 and the Snake River KOA campground because they were the only places that had availability for less than $400 a night. I'm generally really good at finding unique places to stay, but I felt totally desperate searching for accommodations in Jackson. (The KOA was fun, but like most commercial campgrounds the cabins were really close together so there wasn't a sense of being out in the wilderness or any privacy. But there was a sense of campground community, which was fun. If you're a tent camper, this would be a good place to stay as the tent sites were along the river. If I remember correctly, Site #10 was the best.) Larry has stayed at the historic Wort Hotel during the off-season, but the rates are sky high during the summer and ski season.
grand teton national park
jackson, wyoming
The businesses along the Jackson Town Square are super touristy and packed with t-shirt shops and people taking photos, but luckily it's a really small area. I usually steer clear of touristy photo ops, but I wanted a photo of me in front of the elk antler arches because we had taken photos there during our family vacation of 1992. There were throngs of tourists on each corner trying to get the same photo and no one seemed to understand the concept of waiting your turn.

Finally after waiting patiently, everyone got out of the way, and I ran over to take my turn, and this happened:
jackson, wyoming
Step 1 | They run into my photo. I was there first!
jackson, wyoming
Step 2 | She looks back and gives ME an annoyed glare. The hell, lady?
jackson, wyoming
Step 3 | Cheese! I should've made a funny face in the background, but their photo was already ruined by her own daughter's scowling face! Mwahahaha!
jackson, wyoming
Step 4 | And THEN after they got their photo, they still stand in my photo to check their camera! Ruuuuude!

On our last day, we checked out of the campground and took a drive to Idaho since our flight didn't leave until 3:40. We drove back to Jackson Hole to get lunch and only then realized that our flight was actually at 1:30. Womp! Rookie mistake. We called the airline and got booked on a later flight (the last flight out of Jackson that day), headed to the airport and waited around for hours as the flight is delayed, delayed, delayed and finally cancelled. The airline told us there was no vacancy in all of Jackson that night - not a single room. (Ok, there were rooms, but they were $1400 a night which was not going to be covered by an airline voucher. What the hell, Jackson?) Anyway, Larry made some frantic calls and finally the office at the Kudar Motel told us that they had a last minute cancellation just minutes before we called and we could have the room if we could get there in 30 minutes.

The Kudar was cheaper than the other places we stayed in Jackson and I'd totally stay there again - great location and an old school neon sign. You'd have to be ok with rustic/campy to appreciate this place (more personality, in my opinion!). Don't expect luxury:
jackson, wyoming
We enjoyed the unexpected bonus night in Jackson and after more delayed flights the next day, finally made it back to DC after 36 hours of travel time.

As a parting shot, I leave you with this...
jackson, wyoming
I sent this photo to several friends expecting babies as a suggestion for nursery decor, but none of them were interested in using a taxidermy theme. I wonder why? I thought all babies loved cute cuddly stuffed animals! Sweet dreams, little one...


little green field book said...

I am bookmarking this post for *sometime* in the future. Sadly, all my time out West and I never made it to Wyoming. Just too much to see and do out there!

The photos of the tourists made me literally cringe -- this is like at the top of my huge list of pet peeves. I could go on and on and on and on about 'bad tourists' (and bad tour guides). I think some of it is cultural (?) though of course Americans are far from excluded. Like in Asia people are un-phased by this kind of behavior. They don't seem bothered at all whereas I'm like all huffy and put out and barking at Sly to hurry up and take the frickin' photo. (Bad wife).

PS - I would totally stay at Kudar.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

I knew you'd love the Kudar, Veronika!

Karen Travels said...

Bwahahaha - the tourists in the picture!! This happened to me in the Redwoods, at one of those trees you drive your car through. They parked right behind us, got out of their car, and started exploring the tree right along side our car. WTF people!?

Love the Wyoming series!

Jennifer said...

Love your Wyoming pictures! Absolutely beautiful. I'd love to go out west someday...