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Finally, getting to see the Grand Tetons has been something I’ve been looking forward to going to for a while. Even better that it’s so close to Yellowstone, or at least I thought.
Leaving The Tower
Our adventure today begins as we were saying goodbyes to the Tipi Camp and its amazing views. It was also fun seeing the tipi I helped set up in my mirror as I drove away.
Hindsight is 20-20, and I wish I stayed at the camp for one more night.
As the next part of my trip was not the most fun.
I ended up stopping in the nearby town of Gillette. It was nice to get some fuel, ice, snacks, and some food.
The most exciting thing occurred as well, I found a water refill station! This was very exciting as I still had the bad Arches water and looked for any refill station that I could find.
And yes, I know Walmart has a water refill inside, but I really wanted an outdoor one. The water jug that I have doesn’t fit under the refill machine, and I have to use a one-gallon jug to fill it.
Now, we are getting back on the road to our next destination.
Arriving At The Grand Tetons
This is where the story starts not to be as fun as the rest of the trip has been.
After leaving the town, I started my 6-hour trek. This also meant that I was going to arrive at the Park when it’s dark. This is one thing that I really try to avoid.
Driving in the dark to find a camping spot.
What makes it even “better” is that it’s an area I’ve never been to.
If you have never been to a national park or driven in a forest area, you need to know there are animals everywhere. During this drive, I had a few close calls, but I did arrive safely.
Tired And Trying To Find Camping
I arrived super late and was tired. Not to mention that I soon realized I was getting agitated. It didn’t help that I’ve needed a shower, but I knew that once I found a camp spot, I could set my shower up, and all would be okay in the world again.
So I thought.
Once I arrived in the general area, my hunt for a camp location started. At this point, I was exhausted and really just wanted to sleep. I drove around in the dark and soon noticed how busy this place was.
If you have been keeping up with any news, I’m sure you have heard how busy the National Parks are. Well, let me tell you, this area is PACKED with people.
I assumed most paid camping areas would be full, but I didn’t expect free camping sites too. I guess I figured most people want to have the amenities that KOA’s and similar locations have.
This is also the point when I really wish I purchased some extra lights for the Rav. Trying to drive and back down winding one-lane roads was disheartening only to see others already there.
After about an hour, I knew it was only a matter of time before I drove off the road and that I needed to find something, anything.
While driving around, I noticed many turnouts and other parking lots in the surrounding area, but they all had signs that said NO CAMPING.
And as the night went on, so did the frustration.
All my possible locations were full, and I didn’t know what else to do.
My next idea was to find a room or campground. Well, guess what, between signs, pieces of paper, they all said the same thing, “No Vacancy.”
Maybe now you can imagine how busy this place really was.
As a last-ditch effort, I decided I would start heading towards Yellowstone. This is when I found a gas station with a large parking lot in lots of RV and van life.
Sometimes parking lots are your best friend. I ended up sleeping in that parking lot for about 5 hours. I’m sure I could have slept more, but a small child was yelling, and that got me up.
Finding a silver lining, an added benefit to sleeping in a gas station and driving much more than I had planned, I was at the perfect location to fill up.
The gas prices were high for the area, but I laughed because it was still cheaper than California.
My next task was to locate a camping spot. As part of my overpacking issues, I brought a tent. One of the reasons is that once you find a dispersed camping area, you can set up the tent to hold your place. This allows you to leave, knowing you have a spot reserved.
Finding a camping spot, any camping spot, was tough.
After almost three hours, I located one spot. It was nice, and I could climb back into the Rav and try and get some more sleep.
During my nap, I was awakened a few times by other vehicles realizing I was already there, and they had to turn around and leave.
It was fascinating to me how many people were looking for places to camp. Everyone from Priuses to full-size RVs, and we were all in the same situation, no places to camp.
It didn’t take long for the sun to heat the Rav, so I opened the door to my new location and met with hundreds of greeters. Mosquitoes!
I felt as though I was back in Alaska.
There was a platoon of them that entered my poor vehicle as soon as I opened the door. They also decided to greet me with gifts, multiple bites on my head, neck, arms, legs, and feet.
After flailing my arms and jumping around with the only thing I can describe as epic dance moves, I realized why this campsite was vacant. Jumping back into the Rav, I wondered how many others had some epic dance moves that the local animals were laughing at.
Sadly, I let them win, and I vacated the area.
As I was pulling out, there was another vehicle pulling in. I let them know about the mosquitoes, but the family said they didn’t care. They were driving around for HOURS and couldn’t find anywhere.
And they were correct. I spent the next few hours, again, trying to find a camp that was not next to any water.
The Tough Decision
My desire to explore the Grand Tetons was a bit of a sad day. After all, there were a few trails I wanted to go on, but sadly, at this point in my journey, I was tired and in need of a shower.
This is again a reminder to go with the flow while on the road. I’ve had a few of these at this point, and sometimes you need to make the tough decisions.
My decision for today was to do a few quick walks and then start heading towards Yellowstone.
The Town Of Jackson
As with most of this trip, I haven’t had the best reception. As I entered the town of Jackson, I realized I had reception. Even better than having cell reception, as I was filling up with gas, across the street was a library.
Libraries are fantastic, and they have chairs, bathrooms, outlets for charging, and most of all, air conditioning!
While replying to emails, writing for Wilde Escape, and seeing text messages, I discovered a shower 45 minutes away!
I cannot tell you how excited this made me!
Over the last 24 hours of road, life was not what I would describe as a vacation. But, being in an AC environment, knowing a shower was waiting for me, it all started looking better now.
With that said, I want to stop typing and jump into the Rav, but before I go, one last thing.
Remembering To Go With The Flow
I have mentioned this many times and thought about it many more. But it’s important to remember to go with the flow.
Not all parts of the road life (van life) are pretty. There are so many things online that talk and show how amazing it is. But it’s just like regular life, just harder.
For example, you cannot always find water, a shower, air conditioning, gas stations, food, or even find a place to rest.
I generally over-plan and pack on trips. Sometimes it’s a good thing, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan. Things can always change.
And with the “negative” things, there are always positive things too. As my Mom would say, there is always a silver lining, and you need to find it.
Remembering that I don’t have any reservations or things I HAVE to do is a huge weight off my shoulders. This makes it easy for me to adapt to crowds and busy areas (such as the Tetons).
So this wasn’t the funniest part of the road trip, but I always try and keep a positive attitude.
It can be not easy at times, but overall I know everything will work out.
For some reason, I let the lack of camping space, tons of people, and mosquitoes affect my attitude.
Taking a step back and actually looking at where I am, the Tetons, you see how tiny your problems really are. These mountains are HUGE.
This simple sight helped put everything into perspective. Now enough writing, and it’s time for a SHOWER!