Dear Travel Diary: Wyoming Fall Break

Fall break ’19 will go down in history as the first time Jake and I, alone, have been able to take a fall break trip together. Last year jake was working in Austria over fall break. Although I had gone through the process of buying flights to go see him, my D1 brain needed the full break free of plans and stresses, and I canceled plans to stay home.

This year was different. D2 has been all-around better from my perspective. I personally feel this year’s courses are more enjoyable than D1, and I’m no longer attempting to live in two places and conquer dental school without Jake being near. Life can still be insanely tough at times, but it is overall better. With that being said, after spending my summer break at bootcamp, I’ve been itching to get to the mountains and see family I’ve been missing. So yet again, we packed up Pearl and headed to Wyoming.

In highschool Jake used to make an annual summer trip to Wyoming with me. Its where I spent my early years growing up, and many of my friends remain in the area. We used to take a group of friends from Nebraska with us, then would meet up with friends from Wyoming, and spend time hiking, swimming, rafting, and camping to our hearts desire. However, this was his first trip in the snow.

If you know anything about flying in and out of wyoming, you understand why its just easier to drive. We made the 12-hour trek across our states, and made it as far as Casper in the first night. After a sleep and some shopping, we continued on toward Riverton the next morning.

We made a few stops along the way, checking out the remnants of an old roadside attraction, and making a trip to the Boysen Dam, staking out places to re-visit on future summer trips.

Once in Riverton, we sat down with grandma to catch up on life and ended up spending the rest of the day perched at her kitchen table being filled in on alllllll the news of the world, our family, and our friends. Grandma’s lively spirit still shines through even at 90 years old, and while she needed to take a rest over dinner, she was up and ready to conquer the world again just in time for Survivor to start. We watched her favorite show, and surprised her with cake. While it looks like I was being scolded, (which she pretended to not like that I surprised her with cake but we all know it was a show), she told all of us her “wish” was to bless all of her grandkids :’)

The next morning we hit the road early, heading toward the mountains.

The trip from Riverton to Jackson Hole is roughly four hours, and we hit the town just in time for lunch and some wandering. With no plans, we ran on spontaneity. Shopping and grub were first on the list. We had lunch at Roadhouse, and took full advantage of finally being in Huckleberry country.

As the weather got colder, we headed outside town to the Jackson Hole winery to pick up my wine club order, and to do a tasting.

Normally tastings are scheduled, so we had the place to ourselves. But a few tastings deep, another couple joined the party and began suggesting fun things to find in the area. They had just come from a hot spring hike, at a developed pool near Hoback junction. After the couple had left, our winery host suggested, if we were in for the adventure, to scour the river for the undeveloped natural spring by the Snake River. We had no suits or towels, or intentions of crossing a river in the frigid mountain winter temps, but later after unpacking the car we couldn’t shake the urge. I grabbed a sports bra and leggings, Jake grabbed gym shorts, and we were off. It took us a while to find the trail, and we did consider a river crossing, but a near-give-up lead us straight to the path.

We slid down the muddy bank and dropped into the pools. This hotsprings was somewhat popular, but seemingly only local. It was merely a set of boulders lined pools on the riverbank, filled with natural mineral hot spring water. Hadn’t there been a couple already occupying the pools, we likely never would have found them through their camouflage.

We sat for hours enjoying the hot water, and the people coming and going. A few more couples joined, brought drinks to share, and spent the evening sharing travel stories and life plans with us. When the sun went down, we made our way back up the trail, back to the car, and back to the hotel to take a hot shower after freezing in between. Later that evening we grabbed a bite to eat and some drinks at Snake River brewery, and spent the rest of the night chatting with travelers at the bar. Yes, we did attempt to make it to the Million Dollar Cowboy bar, but Diamond Rio had a VIP event that night… so more Snake River brews for us.

The next morning we were up early wandering again. We headed to Persephone’s bakery, as a strong suggestion from my friend Ryan.

It did not disappoint. Though it was off-season in Jackson, Persephone’s was still jam-packed and with nowhere to dream about sitting, we stuck to coffee and headed to Pear Street bagels for breakfast. This has to be my all-time bagel stop.

After a little more shopping and discussing plans for possible hikes, we were turned around by the threat of incoming weather that would stop our plans, and slowly decided made our way back toward Riverton.

Many of the turnouts which had been closed the previous day were now open. So we stopped off and hiked down the scenic trails to get a better look at the Grand Tetons. I could spend all of my days out here, it’s so beautiful.

We took a detour on the way home, and headed to Lander first. Stopping at the Juicery for pressed juice, and swung up to The Sinks to check out the Rise and Fall. If you’re not from the area, there is a raging river that flows into the mountain, then a few hundred yards downhill, trickles back out. The Sink area is a short hike, but an amazing site, where the Rise is a cute little spot to feed fish. The fish at the bottom are gigantic creatures, spending all their time being fed by tourists in an illegal fishing zone. Just another piece of home we always have to make a part of our travel routine.

With a quick zip back to Riverton, we met my grandma and sister at the restaurant of grandmas choice, to celebrate her belated 90th birthday. She had QUITE the time opening gifts, having dinner, and cracking jokes about life.

Then back to the house to hang out with family once more. That night we hit the town with my sister and met up with friends, a tradition we like to make happen on trips.

My final day was spent with my sis, studying together at likely one of the friendliest coffee shops with the best service I’ve yet to receive. We had coffee, lunch, more coffee, and even a cocktail to finish the day, all while hanging out in the welcoming atmosphere of the Brown Sugar Roastery.

Jake spent the day making sure grandma’s to-do list was complete. Checking out her vehicle, changing the oil, and helping my aunt. But yet again, evening came and plans were cut short by oncoming weather. We were forced to leave that night to get ahead of a winter storm.

A few hours into the drive, our race with the storm was lost and we were forced to stop for the night in Douglas. Snowed in, but safe, we got to spend the night with the pups in a hotel, having some drinks and snacks, and watching old movies.

Trips like this are fast, but far between. No matter the duration, it’s nice to fit in a taste of home.

Sometimes it’s a refreshing reminder that there is still a world beyond dental school, and it’s always ready to welcome you when you’re ready to put the books down.


1 Comment

  1. Michaele
    December 2, 2019 / 8:27 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this story!

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