Category Archives: wyoming

Here’s a REAL SIMPLE story I wrote about our family trip to Jackson Hole!

As seen in the April 2017 issue!  Click here (or read below)

How to Plan a Vacation With Adult Kids

But last June, the six of us—our son and daughter, plus my step-daughter and her new husband—gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a result of advanced diplomatic skills, detailed consultations, and a little nudging. I started by nonchalantly making the case that a family vacation kinda made sense, since we were already trekking to Jackson Hole for my cousin’s destination wedding. Why not add a “just us” trip? Then my husband and I sweetened the deal by offering to foot much of the bill, especially for our 20-something son and daughter, so everyone could afford to come.

We were careful to get the kids’ input, reserving the bossy-parent card for crucial things, like making the final call on a cozy Airbnb cottage with a view of the Tetons. Yes, we had many group e-mails about syncing up flights, but major details (general dates, for example) were already determined by the wedding, which gave us more time to discuss the fun stuff.

And that’s where the benefit of traveling with adult children comes in: I could step back from my usual trip planner/tour guide role because the kids stepped up. Cooking break- fast and dinner became a group activity, which is how I found myself learning to make grilled kale. Our son-in-law turned out to be the kind of traveler everyone wants on a group trip. Enthusiastic and curious, he’d done his Jackson Hole home- work and suggested what ended up being our favorite hike in Grand Teton National Park. It also produced a new favorite family tale: the one where we set off on a gorgeous trail but left all our water in the car.

Although we came up with a general game plan each morning, we were not overly ambitious, and attendance was optional. We typically wound up together—but not always. And that was fine. The cottage was affordable (paying for everyone’s separate hotel rooms would have been less so). And while there was spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing, and cookouts, what I loved most was being able to do something I no longer take for granted: hang out as a family. We had the rare opportunity to catch up and relax in this stage of family life. It was a trip that felt different, almost more special, than the cherished trips we’d taken when our children were little. And on one of our lunches out, the kids even picked up the tab.

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highlights and misc: Jackson Hole, SLCity and beyond June 2016

After returning to paved road near Antelope Flats

After returning to paved road near Antelope Flats

Best Luxury Resort we cannot afford to stay at again: Amangani in Jackson Hole

Best air bnb we can afford to stay at again (if it’s still an air bnb): Kelly, Wyoming (I won’t reveal more than that.)

Ansel Adams photo site (with people and via cellphone)

Ansel Adams photo site (with people and via cellphone)

Best Airbnb dog: Grace (in Kelly)

Best Airbnb host and kids: Kelly again

Best breakfast out: huevos rancheros at Nora’s Fish Creek in Wilson

Best breakfast in: Kelly air bnb (brioche and granola from Persephone bakery; Pearl street bagels)

Best breakfast food and scenery: the overlook at the Amangani

Best room patio and view: amangani (and best electric powered window shades)

Best deck (top and bottom floor)  views: Kelly

Best sandwiches: The Kelly at Gros Ventre (grow vant) roast beef, Vermont cheddar, on marble rye with horseradish and spicy mustard.

Best raspberry milkshake: Le Beau’s at Bear Lake

Best ethnic fare: Mazza (middle eastern) in salt lake. (The Himalayan kitchen wasn’t bad but their medium is spicy in our book)

Best steak and s’mores and band: rehearsal dinner, Spring creek ranch

Best Pool: amangani, preferably all to ourselves at night under a full moon or at daybreak with my sweet niece Lucy

Bluest Waters: Bear Lake (Utah/Idaho)

Best Hike: hard to say…Jenny lake inspiration point to cascade canyon, maybe although ski lake hike from Wilson good and hike from our bnb along the rushing river

Best drive: again hard to say 191-89 out along Teton range or gros ventre road east of Kelly or 89 between Logan and garden city Utah

Near AnselAdams shot, Tetons

Near AnselAdams shot, Tetons

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Air bnbs in Utah and Wyoming: Pros and a few cons

SLC air bnb 1st street

SLC air bnb 1st street

This was our first trip relying on air bnb lodging and overall, a very positive experience. Kind of takes me back to staying at B and Bs in England in the early 1980s, when they were an affordable spare room in someone’s house rather than a pricey  inn experience with sometimes uncomfortable shared breakfast dining with other guests.

At their best, the air bnbs are not only affordable and interesting accommodation but offer a slight glimpse into how life is lived in the place you’re visiting, which is what I like the most about them. You get to talk to people, find out what life is like, the politics, schools, neighborhood concerns. And you get great tips on where to hike and eat and shop,  what to see.

SLC 1901 bnb

SLC 1901 bnb

The two places we stayed in Salt Lake City were each run by attractive single women who each seemed to have helpful boyfriends and a strong fixer upper mentality and design sense  (which may be a functioning of what I look for when thumbing through the listings). Both were in leafy old neighborhoods revived by young people, in early 1900’s homes, with old wood, glass, brick,  but also contemporary art and furnishings (except for the claw foot tubes, which are charming but tricky for older folks in particular to get in and out of.) Both were about the same price $84/$75 for a room for two. WHile the first one had lots of antiques and walls filled with paintings (the owner paints) the second one was very spare with mostly white walls, muslin curtains, earth-toned nubby hall liners, very Scandinavian (the owner is from Sweden). The first one gave us free reign of her kitchen and refrigerator for breakfast; the second one didn’t offer any food  (but there was a good coffee house, the red moose, a block away.) With each, we had lots of freedom and no overbearing hosts, just the opposite. It was sort of amazing that both hosts left while we were there. pretty trusting considering that we were total strangers. (Although I guess we didn’t look too dodgy, and “discriminating” hosts can decline guests, which I gather can cause discrimination issues and charges of racism, sexism, other isms.)

Kelly air bnb

Kelly air bnb

A few downsides: for older or physically limited travelers, hauling suitcases up steep wooden staircases can be challenging; then there is the aforementioned claw foot bathtubs. And at our second SLC bnb, there was a rather dangerous (in the dark) sheer drop staircase at the end of the hall next to the bathroom. One false step during an evening bathroom run could lead to a tumble. (I would have been particularly worried if Traveling with a young child.)

Kelly deck

Kelly deck

Our third experience in Kelly was a whole other ballgame, since we rented an entire house for a family vacation rather than a room for two. It wasn’t particularly cheap and was not unlike other rentals we have done through VRBO and HomeAway and way back in the widespread pre-Internet 1990s, through newspaper classified listings. But we got to know the owners and their kids and they had tons of great suggestions and when we left, we felt like we were saying goodbye to friends (unlike the SLC digs where we never really said goodbye, we just let ourselves out in the morning and left the key behind).

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Kelly Wyoming: gros ventre road, deli, Jenny Lake, Kelly warm spring

gros ventre road

gros ventre road

Still in paradise and blogging from the rooftop deck of our cottage, with green pastures and sun still shining strong at 6:39 pm above the jagged, snow-capped Tetons. YEsterday we took a scenic drive conveniently located just outside Kelly along gros ventre road, stopping at Kelly Warm Spring which unlike most of the bodies of water here is warm enough to wade into (although there is a little E. coli risk we learned), then drove up and up a rustic road past dude ranches and forests and red rocks the reminded us of Sedona, stopping at lower slide and upper slide lake overlooks. Stunning views. We turned around awhile after the road turned to gravel.  We had excellent sandwiches at the one business in Kelly, a deli and coffees shop called Kelly at the Gros Ventre, one of three cabins (the other two are the post office and the home of the deli owners, who are very cheerful welcoming folks.

gros ventre road

gros ventre road

dirck and I wandered into Jackson to pick up provisions, stopping for brioche at Persephone Bakery and at Pearl street Bagels and Smiths grocery store.  It stays light so late in the day that we had time for a walk along the roaring river behind Kelly, accompanied by Grace, the sweet dog. we grilled out for dinner and the teenagers who live here gave our “kids” a tour of their treehouse. THis place has been an incredible find – owned by Amber and Michael Hoover. ITs also very easy to get to the airport, which is even closer from here than from Jackson (although you’d never know it.)

After returning to paved road near Antelope Flats

After returning to paved road near Antelope Flats

We had a great day exploring Grand Teton Park although it start d on a somewhat nerve wracking note when we found ourselves driving on a very rutted gravel road, paralleling the Teton range. We were very happy to return to paved road, finally. WE took the boat across Jenny Lake and hiked 2.5 hours up past inspiration point and onto Cascade Canyon. One of the best hikes I’ve done, not only because of the alpine scenery but the thoroughly pleasant weather. 79s, sunny, breezy, no humidity. it started a bit uphill but nothing too steep, and the trail went across and along a rushing torrent of aqua ice blue water into a canyon lined with vast craggy mountains, some with waterfalls spilling down from crevices.

Ansel Adams photo site (with people and via cellphone)

Ansel Adams photo site (with people and via cellphone)

After a return boat ride, we took the pretty wooded two lane moose Wilson road to Teton village and had a late lunch at tthe Mangey Moose, overlooking the ski slopes and tram. I am glad I decided not to stay in a condo there. our place is much more charming. We drove back north onto highway 191 and passed two famous overlooks, one where Ansel Adams took his iconic photo of the snake river snaking in front of the Teton range. And we finally saw some wildlife– buffalo, antelopes, but no moose. Next time. And I hope there is a next time.

Cascade Canyon above Jenny Lake

Cascade Canyon above Jenny Lake

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Morning in Kelly, Wyoming – recap of wedding and drive from Salt Lake

Blue sky, green pastures, snow capped jagged mountains pushing up against this tiny town, about 20 minutes north of Jackson Hole. That’s the view from the second floor deck of the rustic “cottage” we are staying in for a few days. it is very different from the Amangani, the fanciest place we have ever stayed. But it’s just as spectacular in its own way. I cannot get enough of the landscape here or the cool, clear air. Or the alpine vegetation, the shimmering Aspen leaves, the meadows with yellow, blue and purple flowers.

A rooster is crowing outside but otherwise it’s quiet. A few chickens are scurrying around and a dog running free. We are on a little compound in this cottage filled with Afghani rungs, animal pellets, wood walls, ceramic tiles…tasteful , warm, the castoffs of a wanderer (in this case, a wildlife photographer who used to be a hot journalist in far away places). Cannot wait to explore the tiny town and the mountains, lakes and hot springs nearby.

For future reference: places we’ve been in the last three days: Salt Lake City (Mormon Temple at night, Mazza for middle eastern food) Natalie’s Airbnb on 1st between N and M Streets; 4.5 hour drive to Jackson from Salt Lake on 89 off I 15 thru Logan (home of Utah state), Garden City, Utah (LaBeau’s of Bear Lake) for raspberry shakes and even better, a reunification n with my niece Lucy and her parents), turquoise blue waters of Bear Lake, a little Caribbean in the Rockies, driving through northeast Utah into southeast Idaho past some tiny real towns as opposed to tourist towns) like Montpelier and then into Wyoming through Afton (thru the antler archway and past the ticky tacky log cabin motel where Lolita, of Nabokov fame, holed up with her creepy old man) and then onto Jackson (the amazingly elegant Amangani Resort, nearby Spring Creek Ranch, dancing to great bands and djs, swimming with Dirck in a long stone pool at night under a full moon with stars, hiking north of Wilson on the ski lake trail) huevos rancheros at Nora’s Fish Creek, a float on the snake river, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.)

Today I’d like to see a moose.

 

 

 

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when next in Omaha/council bluffs …where to eat

State of Nebraska
Flag of Nebraska State seal of Nebraska
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): Cornhusker State
Motto(s): Equality Before the Law
Map of the United States with Nebraska highlighted
Official language English
Demonym Nebraskan

Will Forte, a star of the new film “Nebraska” had some interesting restaurant suggestions  after shooting the film in Omaha. So for the record, he told the NYTimes he liked The Boiler Room in Omaha and Dixie Quicks for breakfast in Council Bluffs. He liked staying at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha and also recommended the Occidental Hotel in buffalo, Wyoming which we also liked when we stayed there (it is supposedly where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stayed when in town…Will didn’t mention another good place in Buffalo…Tom’s Main Street Diner on, you guessed it, Main Street.

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