Friday, December 10, 2010

A single woman on the road to Ironman, part 3

While digging through my "office" for a notebook I could use for my crochet designs, I found my travel diary from my summer Ironman roadtrip. You see, I trained for my first Ironman triathlon this past year and took a road trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to compete in it (by "compete" I mean "attempt to finish"). Check out the previous installments: 
Part 1: Beginning the epic journey and adventures in Palo Duro Canyon
Part 2:  Colorado and the Oregon Trail

Here is the continuing saga...

While trying to warm up at a campfire in Yellowstone, I reminisce on my voyage thus far...

Grand Teton National Park
As I came over the final mountain pass, the weather was still rainy, but at least I could see the lower half of the Tetons (photo below).  I found a campsite at Colter Bay (they have showers!! who knew that Palo Duro would seem so luxurious in hindsite?).  Unfortunately, my neighbors weren't so friendly this time - they were 2 hermit men (with a slightly serial-killer way about them) and one antisocial family.


After setting up my tent, I headed to the visitor center to inquire about places to workout.  The ranger there was entertaining.  He was big. 

Me:  "I'm on my way to my Ironman race and I need to find places to swim, bike, and run.  Do people swim in the lake?"
Ranger:  "I am a big, furry, padded fellow, and it's still too cold for me to jump in the lake.  Where are you from?"
Me:  "Texas."
Big, furry, padded fellow (aka, Ranger):  "Not bear country."
Me:  "No, snake country."
Big, furry, padded fellow:  "Ew, I'd rather be in bear country."

So there you have it.  Thanks to him, I was informed that I needed to say "Hey Bear, Whoa Bear" while trying to breathe in the little existing oxygen on my 2 hour run that evening.  Lungs died, but no bear attack!  I guess that's a success.

Wow.  I think I hear some people getting it on in their camper.  At least I assume it's a camper since I don't think tents squeak.

I found a nice pool (with showers!) in Jackson Hole.  I also ate a yummy lunch at this cute little place in Jackson Hole called the Sweetwater Cafe.  My mission, however, was to locate warmer gear due to this southern girl finding unexpectedly colder temperatures in the north even though it was June.  Mission success!  I purchased a Peruvian-style beanie (earflaps are brilliant!) and some awesome long underwear pants for pajamas.  Cozy!

They are still at it.  I'm somewhat impressed, but there are kids still out playing!

I returned to Colter Bay via the Jenny Lake Road.  As I approached my 'hood, I came upon several stopped cars and rangers, and thus slowed down...  WTF!!!  A grizzly bear just ran across the road 3 cars ahead of me!!  I didn't actually believe that I would actually see real life bears much less in close range near my home base.  I'm definitely not drinking any water tonight (see late night bathroom runs in bear country in part 2)! 

I finally located the elusive "internet" at the Jackson Lake Lodge and proceeded to update the ROTW (rest of the world) via facebook that I was indeed still alive although I did just see a grizzly.  Thankfully, that night was eventless.

I was a bit more ambitious the next day since the weather was predicted to clear.  I headed to the top of Signal Mountain for the scenic view.  It was indeed scenic except for the fact that the clouds we still hiding the Tetons.  I was pondering my luck with weather when lo and behold, was suddenly surrounded by white Suburbans from the University of Texas.  This Aggie was a little intrigued and only slightly nervous about state rivalries reaching beyond the home state.  It turns out they were just a bunch of geology students out on a really long field trip.

After waiting a while to no avail, I relieved myself in a drafty vault toilet (I find the various forms of toiletry devices around the world quite interesting and thus my compulsive desire to share these vignettes) then headed down the scenic Jenny Lake Rd (first photo below) to the South Jenny Lake Lodge.  There, I took the shuttle across the lake on which I enjoyed the gorgeous views as the clouds finally began clearing (second photo below).


With my head still in the clouds, I ventured further up in altitude to spy upon the not-so Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, where I was inspired to partake of my picnic lunch.  Upon opening my popcorn bag, a rascally chipmunk made a bee-line for me.  I had to fend him off with my water bottle:


Then, after successfully thwarting the bandito and while enjoying my natural white cheddar popcorn, I heard someone utter "marmot".  Stop the presses!!  I had been waiting to spot a marmot and was on the verge of thinking I would never see this mythical creature - I mainly had this urge since I had never heard of one until I went to REI to buy my Marmot tent and asked the guy "how do you pronounce that?"  He proceeded to inform me in only a slightly condescending manner that "it is an animal".  Thus the quest began to spot one.  Anyways, like the chipmunk, I made a bee-line to where those people were standing and, alas!  a marmot!!  so cute! and a little shy.  Sadly, the only other marmot I've seen was the roadkill marmot just inside Yellowstone.  Yet another reason why Grand Teton is Way Better than Yellowstone (more on that later).
Inspiration Point and the Mythical Marmot


Just when you thought the fun was over, some European backpackers arrive and one pulled out a fiddle and began to play.

The Fiddler on the "Roof" (click below to open a new window and watch video)


Must rest hand now.  And warm up from this blasted Yellowstone cold.

Next installment coming soon!
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