I’ve put off writing about my road trip this summer.
It was an amazing month full of wonderful strangers, endless hikes, starry nights, and self reflection. But it also was a month of heart break. An hour before heading on the road, me and my boyfriend of 4 years admitted something wasn’t working. Three weeks later, we realized breaking up wasn’t the right solution (um actually the completely WRONG solution) and spent a few hours on the phone talking it through and about how terrible it was to be apart for 3 weeks. So though this story has a happy ending, the first three weeks of our trip was a roller coast of emotion for me. Losing the person who is the foundation of your life, your support system, and your best friend turns your life upside down. I was constantly battling the gut-wrenching feeling that I lost the love of my life against the overwhelming joy and happiness life on the road was giving me.
Wyoming helped me through this.
I cried everyday but I also smiled endlessly. Wyoming does that to you. The people, the animals, the mountains. As soon as I saw the Grand Tetons, I was beaming. I made my friend pull the car over on the side of the road so I could truly take in the first glance I had. The picturesque mountains raising out over the yellow fields of grass. The herds of bison grazed slowly through the meadows while the moose, elk, and caribou made frequent appearances out of the forest. Wyoming felt like home in my heart.
The next day brought no relieve from the rain. We took the time to explore the visitors centers and the lodge. Craig Thomas visitor center offered the best education, exhibits, and gift shop. Jackson Lake Lodge has a large grand room, open to the public for free, that has floor to ceiling windows with a view of the Tetons and Lake Jackson, as well as an outdoor patio with Adirondack chairs. The moose patterned couches and grand fireplaces give it a cozy feel. There is also a small café and overpriced gift shops (though I bought an adorable bear mug on sale for $10).
The rain and lack of 4WD made getting back to our tent an adventure every night. Skirting down the road in our bright red SUV, tires sinking deeper and deeper as we lost control of the car, and the two of us making weird noises to keep each other calm as our back wheels spun out in front of us. We made it back safe and sound, laughing nervously at how close we were to being shit out of luck.
Since that first glance, the Tetons haven’t stopped calling.