Tuesday, February 17, 2015

48th State: Alternatives

While most people travel to Jackson Hole in the winter to ski and snowmobile, we did neither. The weather was a bit warm for skiing and we felt like one tour for the dog sledding was enough structured tourist activity for one long weekend. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do that don't require you to board a tour bus. There is great shopping in downtown with something for everyone's taste but I can only convince Brian that that is a viable activity for a short period of time.

So, we drove through the National Elk Refuge to enjoy the scenery and get up close to big-horned sheep - the roughly 6,000 elk were too far away to see from the road you need to stay on. Luckily, the sheep were very entertaining and like to lick salt off bumpers so they were easy to photograph. The mountains in the background were spectacular, as they've been throughout the trip.

Afterwards, we headed to the National Museum of Wildlife which had giant binoculars that allowed us to finally see the elk (and take a photo through the lens). If seeing the elk this way isn't close enough for you, you can also take a wagon/sleigh ride through the herds, as you can see in the center of the bottom photo. The museum was full of art depicting wildlife and accompanying scenery. They had bronze and blown glass sculptures and paintings that varied in style and approach. Brian made his own zoetrope of a water drop (pictured).
In all, it was a great way to spend a day in between all the eating we did in the last post. Thanks for stopping in and checking out our adventures.

Monday, February 16, 2015

48th State: Stuffed

On our first night in town we ate at The Rose, known best for it's craft cocktails (not pictured). We learned on the second day we were here that there are 97 restaurants nestled in this town of less than 10,000 people which explains why I had such a hard time choosing where to eat. Although the lighting was not ideal for photos, the food was delicious -- I had the salmon on a bed of cheddar grits with steamed asparagus. For dessert we walked over to Local and ordered a takeout portion of bourbon chocolate mousse that was amazing and hard to share.
After our dog sledding adventure, which included lunch, we stopped by the cozy Persephone Bakery for a snack before our late Valentine's Dinner. Brian had a pot of tea and I had a delicious cappuccino and a heart-shaped cherry macaroon. We were there at closing time and they sent us home with four more on the house!
We dined at the Snake River Grill for Valentine's. The decor was rustic cowboy and a giant see-through fireplace sat in the middle of the room. The food and drinks did not disappoint. Counter-clockwise from top right: cocktails (left: Brown Derby - Woodford Reserve Bourbon, honey syrup, grapefruit, right: Trout Saddle - Stoli Citros, fresh orange, lime and cranberry juice), Branding Iron of Sweet Onion Rings which are green due to the batter including cilantro, poblano peppers and pesto, Tatsoi Lettuce Salad - cucumber, crispy lotus root, watermelon radish, and miso dressing, Fennel Crusted Ahi Tuna with avocado butter and citrus-endive salad, Pumpkin Pomegranate Porridge, and the Butterscotch Pudding with sea salt and vanilla caramel sauce. If you read through all of that, you are about as full as we were.
The next morning we headed to Nora's Fish Creek Inn for breakfast. This James Beard Award-winning restaurant was recommended to us by some people we met dog sledding and was also featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives last year. We both ordered the huevos rancheros and shared a giant blueberry pancake. Breakfast was served with locally roasted coffee from Snake River Roasting. 
Our final dinner in Jackson Hole was at Trio. I started off with a blood orange margarita and we shared the hamachi ceviche (which disappeared before I remembered to take a photo). For the main course, Brian had the wagu beef special and I had the lobster gnocchi. We topped off our calorie-laden weekend with the iron skillet smores, which was so amazing I forgot to stop after two bites. In all, it was a great end to the culinary vacation I was hoping for.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

48th State: Dog Sledding

Today we embarked on our dog sledding adventure. We drove an hour north of Jackson to Togwotee Mountain Lodge, home of the best snowmobiling in the U.S. On our drive up we saw a wolf, two moose and this beautiful view of the Teton mountains.
We were in for a wild (and stinky) ride behind twelve eager dogs ranging in age from eight months to 15 years. The scenery was beautiful and the dogs were raring to go. When we stopped for them to rest they would bark like crazy and strain to keep going. We did a 10-mile loop but the musher said they can easily go 100 miles a day, making them the fastest land mammal (as they can cover the most ground in a day). The dogs were super friendly and playful. There were a few puppies on our team and they were quite rowdy -- starting fights, running on the wrong side of the line -- but they are in training to become champion sled dogs.

On the downside, you sit nose level to the back of a dozen dogs and as my great luck would have it, a pooping dog in motion is bound to crap on someone. The other four sleds in our group were all fearful of the exact thing happening to them but, alas, I was the only one given that honor.

For a glimpse of the overall experience, check out the video below.

Friday, February 13, 2015

48th State: Wyoming

Made it to the antler arches in the middle of downtown Jackson Hole, WY. Each corner of the park in the center of town has an arch. This officially marks my 48th state visited in the U.S. - only North Dakota and Alaska to go. At first blush, the town reminds me a lot of Tahoe, without the lake. It's been unseasonably warm this year so the shorter mountains aren't covered in snow but the ski resort that is attached to our lodge is active.
We're staying at the Lodge at Jackson Hole which was recently renovated, has a lovely on-site spa, is reasonably priced and is less than a mile from downtown. There are wooden bears climbing all of the outside of the hotel. Some of them are even looking into room windows - I wanted to ask for this feature but chickened out.
After landing, we picked up our rental car and headed downtown for some lunch. We ate at the Backcountry Delicatessen which has an endless selection of unique, gourmet sandwiches. I had the Sherpa (pictured right - grilled eggplant, asiago, sweet roasted red peppers, tomato, romaine lettuce, garlic mayo) and Brian had the Backcountry Cuban (smoked ham, slow roasted pulled pork, jarlsburg, chopped pickles, hot cherry peppers, mayo, yellow mustard). Both were delicious.

Afterwards, we walked around, checked out some shops and plotted our next meals. We even met a shop owner from Kansas, with family still in Kansas City.  We discussed our mutual love for KC and got some additional food/beverage recommendations for the weekend. Stay tuned!