A great time was had by all in Jackson Hole! Here’s a recap by WSC member, Stephanie Uber.
Jackson Hole 2014 – by Stephanie Uber
Well, hello Denver! That’s what we were all saying when we left Cleveland on Saturday, March 1, 2014 and landed at Denver International Airport. I, once again, found myself traveling out west with two of my three favorite men! This year my brother couldn’t accompany us, but my dad, husband, and I sure made a name for ourselves! Our first task upon arriving in Denver was to locate our gate and change planes to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and you know what happened?! Access denied! No way! No go! “CANCELLED” with a capital “C”! Say what?! The Jackson Hole airport had been closed due to Winter Storm LotsOfSnow (okay, so that wasn’t the real name of the storm, but enough is enough Mother Nature!)! However, thanks to the quick thinking of one of our members, he was able to secure us weary travelers a flight to Jackson Hole the next morning. That only left us with trying to figure out where to stay that night…
Okay, let’s fast forward through the next morning where we got up at 4:00 am, arrived at the airport, loaded onto the plane, and sat on the runway for an hour before they told us the GPS in the plane was broke and we had to switch planes…
Okay… finally, we make it to the Jackson Hole airport where we departed the plane and were greeted with a sign welcoming us to Jackson Hole. Hooray! As we walked under an arch made completely of antlers we were welcomed by the “Mimosa Man”. Honestly! He greeted us with a hearty “Welcome” and offered us a free mimosa! Wow! That almost made up for my boot bag and several other boot bags catching another flight! Oh boy!
Once at the hotel, 49er Inn and Suites to be precise, it was time to unpack and get ready for our Sunday night welcome party and boy were we welcomed! Tables full of snacks, tubs full of wine and beer, and most importantly, old friendships renewed and new friendships forged. While many of us were jet lagged and sleep deprived, we lost a day of skiing. High fives, however, to those brave folks who did hit the slopes on Sunday despite traveling difficulties!
Finally, Monday had arrived! The day most of us had been waiting for! Time to hit the slopes! After a short shuttle bus ride we had finally arrived at Jackson Hole Ski Resort! Woo Hoo! Get me on those slopes! Anxious to do what we came out to do, we skied, and skied, and skied some more. Don’t worry, we did “stop to smell the roses”, well, stopped and took in some views anyway and they were spectacular! At 10,450 feet, the terrain stretched on for miles and into Idaho. Phenomenal. All that beauty gazing made me hungry! Once back at the hotel we hit the slushy and snow-covered roads and headed to the Snake River Brew Pub. I was a little nervous when the sign out front read “Please Leave Your Puppies and Pistols at Home”, but the bison chili and beer sampler was the perfect end to a great day!
Now, let’s fast forward to Tuesday, March 4th. The skiers of the club all took a day trip to Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Remember the last paragraph when I mentioned the awesome and stupendous views while skiing at Jackson Hole? Well, Grand Targhee definitely had those beat! At 9,862 feet, the views were magnificent, even with the partial cloud cover we had to ski through on some of the trails. Speaking of trails, how about some of these for names, “Lost Groomers” or “Lost Warrior” or, my favorite, “Middle Earth”. (I did not travel this last one. It didn’t sound in my best interest since it was also next to a sign that read, “Avalanche Danger”. Yikes!) Did I mention the best thing about the trip today? No, not the views, however, they were great. No, not the fun signs, though, they were amusing. The people! Hanging with the crazy folks of the Warren Ski Club on Fat Tuesday! Yup! From the wild hair wigs to the mounds of Mardi Gras beads, this group of skiers had a blast! Once back at the hotel I had surprisingly built up another appetite. Shocker! I know! So, my dad, my husband, and I walked to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Have you ever been there? It was definitely something to see! From the bar stools with horse saddles on top to “ride”, to the intricate woodwork throughout the restaurant it was yet another thing on this trip I found myself taking many pictures of.
As Wednesday finally arrived, my husband and I were ready to go at 6:45 am at our hotel for pick up. Where were we going, you may ask? Well, my husband, I, and six others from our group were on a journey to Yellowstone National Park with a quick stop over to get fitted with snowmobiling gear. Once at the park (92% of which is actually in Wyoming) we chose our snowmobile and away we went! Our knowledgeable guide took us over the Snake River and through the woods to several breath-taking waterfalls and onto the main event…Old Faithful! Perfect timing as we only had to wait ten minutes before it erupted. I thought we were in trouble when the earth rumbled deep down, but since the bison in the background didn’t seem worried we waited for the historic geyser to explode and it did not disappoint! After a dozen more pictures we all met in a yurt and our guide fed us some Wyoming beef stew! Yum! Lunch time over, we continued on our journey a little ways north until we stopped to admire a small herd of bison (not buffalo, as our guide corrected us) lumbering parallel to the roadway. They were only 20 feet away! Once passed, we continued on our journey to the Black Sand Basin which accommodated the Rainbow Pool (Really! It displayed all the colors of the rainbow due to the levels of algae and cyanobacteria in it.), Cliff Geyser, Emerald Pool, and Sunset Lake. Amazing. But, the trip wasn’t over yet! We continued on to Kepler Cascades and the Continental Divide (elevation 8,391 feet). Nearly at the end of our 90 mile round-trip journey guess what happened. Yup! You guessed it! Our snowmobile broke down and had to be towed back! Ouch! Many thanks to the kind individuals who allowed us to ride double on the back of their snowmobiles! Don’t worry, though, our adventure didn’t end there! What Warren Ski Club trip would be complete without a Pub Crawl/Poker Run?! To put your mind at ease, I didn’t win. After hitting the Snake River Brew and Pub (where one of our members added our Warren Ski Club “mark” to the collection of information on their water tower), we traveled to Thai Me Up, then the Silver Dollar Bar and Grill (where I got another stinky playing card), and rounded out the night at the Town Square Tavern. What an adventure and a great bonding experience! So many stories were shared such as the tree well taking yet another victim this year (Word of Advice: Don’t ski near pine trees in the Rocky Mountains. It’s a trap!) I was victim last year when I got too close and it sucked me down into a snowpocalypse pit of doom. Sorry to hear about those that fell casualty this year! I also heard the amusing story of a skier that “had a yard sale” all over a cat track. How does that happen?! The trail is nearly flat with a minimal amount of decline! Silly dad…uhhhh…I mean, skier!
So, moving onto Thursday, March 6th, I find myself ready to hit the slopes again after our snowmobile adventure. However, what do I wake up to? Pouring down rain! Yuck! Looks like this may be a good day to do some souvenir hunting. So, my husband and I hit the shops instead of the slopes and did some sight-seeing. The first place we landed was the National Elk Refuge. Since the tour is usually done via sleigh ride and it was raining and washing the snow away, we hopped onto a horse drawn wagon instead. Ginger and Brunno, our faithful steeds (along with the help of their human driver), got us up close and personal with thousands of elk that come down out of the high country in the winter to find more available food on the refuge. Did you know that elk aren’t the only animals to occupy these 24,700 acres of intermountain valley? It is also stomping grounds to bison, wolf packs, trumpeter swans, and bald eagles! After the excursion, we continued our wet and soggy walking tour of downtown Jackson and ended up at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. We saw many things we did “not believe”, but also other items that were pretty neat including the elusive white buffalo, a shrunken head, the world’s largest barbed wire ball, several two-headed creatures, and much more! That built up an appetite that lead us to the Merry Piglets. Can you say strawberry jalapeño margarita? Surprisingly, not bad! After about a dozen more shops, we eventually reconnected with the group at the Antler Inn and feasted upon barbequed elk! Many thanks to the hands that prepared that feast!
Finally, Friday was upon us as it was our last day of skiing. This time I was determined to try some new skis and ended up demoing some from the shop at the top of the gondola. Kind of sounds mysterious, but I’ll tell you what! They were awesome! K2 181’s. I was “Queen of the Mountain” with those on and skied until the sun began its descent across the horizon. Don’t worry, though, because I did exercise enough restraint to steer clear of the section with the sign reading, “You Are Leaving the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Boundary. This is Your Decision Point”. Yikes! Time to go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner with my two favorite men at the Sweetwater Restaurant and onto enjoy a fabulous alcohol liquidation party and group shot of those in attendance! Woo Hoo! One of our members even shared the view from his helmet camera with us complete with his very own yard sale! Ooops! Watch out for those tree wells! They’ll getcha every time!
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch the shuttle to the airport and check in. Unfortunately there was no “Mimosa Man” this time, but there was a nice roaring fire going on in the fireplace and a bowl of candy and oranges for everyone to share. Nice! Soon, we were homeward bound with no problems and we all went our separate ways. Many special thanks to Jeff Driscoll, our trip coordinator who did a fantastic job with getting us where we needed to go, putting up with our sometimes grumpy attitudes, and making this the best first experience to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for many of us. My hats off to you and all that you do for the Warren Ski Club!