Church Trip 2021

Travel, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park

Day 1

The day has finally arrived…today we flew from Charlotte to Salt Lake City, then to Jackson Hole to begin our grand adventure.

Travel

Last night, Faith and I traveled down the mountain, and we all departed Granite Falls this morning around 06:00. The car ride to Charlotte gave me plenty of time to feel grateful that I altered our original travel plan, which involved a flight that departed CLT at 06:00. Even though 06:00 was early, at least we didn’t have to get up at 03:00.

After dropping our car at Park N Go, we successfully navigated the Charlotte airport and boarded our flight to Salt Lake City, UT. In the back of my mind, I was contemplating the benefits of our new itinerary, since we now had a direct flight instead of a hefty layover in Minneapolis.

For anyone who might care, here are three travel tips:

  1. I highly recommend Park N Go instead of airport long-term parking. It’s about half the price and far more convenient. They will pick you up at your car, help with your luggage, and then drop you off right at the airport door.
  2. If you fly semi-frequently, get the TSA Pre-Check certification. I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes to go through a security line, and they will sometimes add the TSA clearance to other members of your party, even if they don’t have their certification. I think it’s $85 for 3 years, and worth every penny even if you only fly once a year. The Global Entry program is also great if you frequently travel internationally.
  3. If you’re planning on flying in this post-pandemic era, make sure you arrive at the airport extra early. TSA lines are unpredictable, and most of the restaurants are understaffed, so plan on waiting even longer if you’re planning on grabbing food at the airport.

During our descent into Salt Lake City, we had some great views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Great Salt Lake, and a bunch of other things that I don’t know the specifics of.

Nourishment

After checking out our rental car (a Volkswagen Atlas) from the airport, we made a quick pit stop at Trader Joe’s (the greatest of all snack-selling stores) near downtown Salt Lake City to grab some snacks for the rest of our trip. By this point, we were all pretty hungry for lunch. The airline cookies/pretzels were long gone, and our stomachs were starting to rumble.

Since it was the first day of vacation, I saw little need to be health-conscious. Enter Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I’d seen an episode that featured Burger Bar in a medium-sized town called Roy, UT. They’re famous for homemade buns, extra-crispy fries, onion rings, fresh-ground meat, rotating exotic game burgers, and “fry sauce”. We were originally planning on trying In-N-Out, but decided it’d be hard to pass up Burger Bar.

Guy didn’t steer us wrong. We all got a “Big Cheese Ben”, a cheeseburger simply dressed with lettuce, pickles, and fry sauce. The food was excellent, and it was a neat to eat at a family-owned drive-in. The onion rings and fries were especially good, and the “fry sauce” (which I think is a mixture of ketchup and mayo) was a good compliment to the meat. The homemade buns were the best part by far.

Driving

We continued north on I-15, and finally turned east in Brigham City, UT to continue NE on US-89 through Logan, UT (home of the Utah State University Aggies). After making a quick pit stop at the Logan Walmart to grab some supplies and stretch our legs, we ventured on.

From campus, the road travels up the Logan Canyon and finally emerges at Bear Lake, which straddles the UT/ID border.

US-89, also known as the “National Parks Highway”, runs ~550mi from Arizona all the way north to Montana/Canada border, running through Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming along the way. The northern and southern sections are connected by the roads in Yellowstone National Park. It links 7 national parks and 14 additional NPS areas across these 5 states. National Geographic has donned it the “No. 1 Driver’s Drive in the world”.

Bear Lake

The Bear Lake Overlook offered a stunning view of the enormous lake, plus bits and pieces of Garden City and the other towns surrounding the lake. We all couldn’t get over how massive it was; it’s impossible to capture the magnitude of it in a photo.

From Bear Lake, we passed north through Idaho, then turned east and entered Wyoming, heading across the Salt River Pass. An hour and a half later, we arrived in Afton, WY.

Shumway Farms // Afton, WY

It’s amazing what one can find on the Internet. For instance, I learned that a tiny town in Wyoming (population < 2,000) has a farm/creamery that’s rated as producing the best ice cream in the state. Shumway Farms is a sixth-generation-family-owned dairy farm and creamery located in Afton, WY. We stopped for some ice cream, and enjoyed observing the various farm animals while we ate. We tried the following flavors: Bear Lake Berry Patch (raspberry and white chocolate), Midnight Magic (dark chocolate raspberry), Holstein Supreme (coconut, fudge, and almonds), Dry Creek Berry (huckleberry), and Oreo Latte (coffee ice cream with Oreos and fudge). All were excellent. The dairy also sold raw milk and chocolate milk, cheese, cheese curds, eggs, meat, and more. I wish we could’ve sampled them all, but our stomachs limited us.

Just north of the farm, downtown Afton has the world’s largest elkhorn arch. We stopped to take a quick picture, and then continued north on US-89 to Jackson, WY and Grand Teton National Park. Below/right, note how many bugs are splattered across our windshield.

I’ve always wondered the difference… Turns out, they’re almost the same thing. Jackson, WY is the municipality, while “Jackson Hole” refers to the broader area or the ski basin (including the town of Jackson). The surrounding mountains make it appear as if the area is in a “hole”.

Grand Teton National Park

We drove into the town of Jackson, WY, but opted not to stop because it was extremely crowded and we were running short on time. Instead, we drove past the town into Grand Teton National Park, immediately heading to Mormon Row Historic District to watch the sunset and snap some pictures.

Victor

Lodging prices are outrageous in Jackson Hole, so we opted to rent an Airbnb townhome about 30 minutes away in Idaho. After we’d gotten our fill of views from the park, we crossed the state line via the 8,431′ Teton Pass into the small community of Victor, ID (population ~2,200). The sunset along the way was marvelous. We arrived exhausted at our Airbnb around 23:00, and immediately crashed into bed.

The Best Things We Saw Today

The SVPinspired fan-favorite section is back!

Isaac

The best thing I saw today was… “Bear Lake”.

The best thing I ate today was… “huckleberry ice cream from Shumway Farms”.

Faith

The best thing I saw today was… “the Grand Tetons”.

The best thing I ate today was… “the onion rings at Burger Bar”.

Jerry

The best thing I saw today was… “Bear Lake”.

The best thing I ate today was… “the hamburger bun from Burger Bar and the coconut fudge ice cream from Shumway Farms”.

Amy

The best thing I saw today was… “Bear Lake”.

The best thing I ate today was… “huckleberry ice cream from the farm”.

Conclusion

Blog posts for day 2 and on will almost certainly be delinquent because (1) our internet connections have been horrendous, (2) I have a gazillion photos to sort through, and (3) we’ve been taking advantage of every ounce of available daylight. We’ve seen a ton of great stuff, and I want to have it all in order before I share. 

Tomorrow, we’ll explore Grand Teton National Park and then head up to Yellowstone.

– Isaac, Faith, Jerry, and Amy

8 Responses

  1. Wow! What a beginning!
    All the pictures are fantastic, and the food descriptions made my mouth water.

    Enjoyed hearing about everything!

    Safe travels…

  2. That’s an amazing first day. You guys will need a vacation when you get home if you keep that pace up. Beautiful pics. Can’t wait to hear about Yellowstone. One of my favorite places.

  3. What a remarkable adventure.
    Following your script. Maybe we can go next year to Tetons and Yellowstone.

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