Could you imagine being an explorer and coming upon this sight some two hundred years ago? Not to mention being a member of one of the Native American tribes who got to enjoy their summers in this magnificent landscape. These mountains are breathtaking, the peaceful, grassy valley so inviting to the weary traveler even today. The Grand Tetons, with their snowy peaks are a sight to behold in July when the only snow to be found is the shaved ice on a snow cone.
Enter our lively brood. Two boys, both not thrilled to be there and two girls, one car sick and one snapping photos on an old phone just as fast as she can take them. My sister in law and her daughters were traveling with us too in another car and I have no doubt that she was going through a lot of the same verbal banter that we encountered. I am not sure if you can win with all of them all the time, but we're sure going to give it hell for the last few years that we get to have them in our nest. Traveling as much as we can, taking them to as many places as we can and creating memories that will last a lifetime (at least for us).
The quiet encompasses my thoughts and fills my soul when we travel to picturesque locations such as this, here I sit in the passenger seat totally content snapping photos out the window on my trusty Samsung as we motor along through the park. My kids on the other hand- not so much. I wonder if they know that frowning gives you wrinkles?
"How long do we have to stay here?" my oldest teenager asks.
"We just barely got here, what do you mean? We're going to enjoy the views and go on some hikes." I reply, trying not to sound too irritated this early in the morning.
"I mean, this is pretty and all, but look! Where is the city, where are the buildings and people?" announces my abrasive 14 year old. He is very much a city slicker, rightfully so, he has Cerebral Palsy so walking in places that don't have a level, paved road becomes pretty precarious.
"Pull over, I feel like I'm going to throw up!" spurts my daughter. I turn around in my seat and yes she's looking pretty green so we oblige her and yes, she throws up. Ah, the joys of motherhood. Not to discount all that their dad does, but he doesn't do vomit, that has always been my department.
The youngest, our little firecracker, has been unusually peaceful and between naps has been taking about a hundred pictures using one of our old phones. Who'd have ever thought? Cameras on phones are pretty much the best invention EVER! She is super excited to be along for the ride and announces with a, "Look!..." every time she sees something interesting. Super fun to have at least one of them happy about something.
"We brought you here because we love you." Was my only retort to the older ones, although it didn't slow the slew of negative comments. Looking back, I laugh, but that day I had had enough. "Take a nap" I said, "we'll be there when you wake up.
"We ARE here." they replied.
Darn it, that always seemed to work when they were little. This teenager thing has really been a learning curve, to say the least. You're kind of the enemy for a few years, or so it seems.
We drove through the park, stopping here and there for a photo and then a hike and lunch at Jenny Lake. The hike was easy and meanders along the lake in the shade of the towering trees and lush vegetation with views of the shore in between foliage. A completely enjoyable stroll, notwithstanding the mass amount of other people, many of them cloaked in the cloth masks that have become the social norm amidst the pandemic. It's kind of weird these days, walking around in masks, all of us looking like we could very likely be present to rob the gas station rather than buying some snacks.
We hiked, enjoyed some sandwiches at a picnic table, let the kids play in the lake. No, let me rephrase that, we let my niece play in the lake. She is a little fish and when the other kids just want to splash and get their toes wet, she goes all the way in. Luckily the water was too cold to be as tempting as it looks so that only lasted a quick second.
We then decided that we wanted do drive a little further in hopes of seeing the Bison, Buffalo, Tatanka- Lakota for "big beast" or "he who owns us". My favorite name for them is Tatanka, although I possess no other knowledge of Lakota language. Tatanka just rolls off the tongue. The Plains People relied upon the bison for food, clothing, housing and tools. It is a wonder what knowing that you have to rely on nature and the resources around you would do to society today, perhaps a little- or a lot of hard work would fix some of the social issues that America is going through right now.
We did eventually happen upon a herd of bison, amazing and big and powerful. We are fortunate enough that my husband always keeps his binoculars handy and were able to give the kids a closer look, it is incredible to get a up close and personal with these impressive beasts. Although they look soft and cuddly and I'd love to run my hands through their wooly hair, I would like to keep them at this distance. The far away kind of distance, I am not in the market to get trampled any time soon. It was truly a sight to behold, it is no wonder that this area of National Park was saved and preserved for these glorious animals. May that always be the case. May we share this land with our children while the days of going to Disneyland are on pause and hopefully long after that.