Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Teton Village Wyoming visit prior to Adventures by Disney

We flew out to Wyoming on July 18th to start our family summer adventure. Our Adventures by Disney vacation wasn’t scheduled to start until the 21st, but we wanted to spend some extra time in Jackson Hole so we went out a few days early. Southwest didn’t offer any flights to Jackson, Wyoming, so we decided to fly United this time. Since it was a bit of a long flight and we wanted a little more space with COVID risks we booked first class for the first time. The seats were much more comfortable and we liked the snacks and drinks. Our first flight to Denver was delayed due to the crew needing mandatory rest so our layover ended up just being 15-20 minutes in Denver. We were pretty worried that we wouldn’t make it to the gate in time, especially since we had to ride a train between terminals. We decided we’d run it, just so we would have no regrets if we missed the flight. It was a little embarrassing being the people jogging through the airport, and it was pretty difficult to get your breath while wearing a mask over your nose and mouth. We made it with plenty of time to spare and they actually ended up holding the plane a little longer during boarding so that some other people could make their connections. Before we took off, the kids were invited in to the cockpit to see all the controls and both took turns sitting in the pilot’s seat.

Our flight from Denver to Jackson seemed like just a couple minutes and before we knew it we were on the ground. The airport in Jackson was so small that you just exited the plane and walked down some steps to the ground. Our car service from the airport didn’t show up, so we got an Uber and finally arrived at the Four Seasons in Teton Village in the late afternoon. With the time change we still had a bit of daylight so we did a little hiking on the trails after we ate a late lunch. The trails were fairly rugged, unpaved, and had some muddy spots we had to cross. On the way back, Andrea noticed she didn’t have her phone. I used my phone to see if I could locate it, but the circle indicating the position wasn’t very precise and it kind of looked like it might be back at the hotel. We kept walking back towards our room and then I checked again and it showed the location more precisely and it appeared that the phone was up the mountain back the way we’d hiked. I left Andrea and the kids at the base of the mountain and jogged up to see if I could find it. I kept calling the phone and trying to use the app to locate it, but the app took me to a construction site that wasn’t very close to the path. I finally decided to head back towards a muddy area we’d jumped over and finally heard the phone pinging nearby. Even with the pinging, I was barely able to see the phone in the grass near the mud puddle. Thankfully it was propped up above the mud by the foliage, and the phone was fine. Definitely would have been a bad start to our vacation if we’d lost Andrea’s phone on the first day! 

At 5:00pm the lift up the mountain to the restaurant was free, so in the evening we rode it up and checked out the view. We were tried from our hike earlier in the day and there weren’t any tables available at the restaurant so we didn’t stay very long before heading back down.

On Monday we got up fairly early and rented bikes, got geared up with all the safety equipment, and got our lift tickets. The bike park was a huge area with lots of trails snaking down the mountain. It was tricky to get our bikes loaded on the lift and it was a little scary at first riding the open chair lift up the mountain. For our first trip down we decided to do the easiest trail “Lucky Charm”. Both kids had done mountain biking at Camp Pinnacle, but it was the first time for Andrea and me. Going down the mountain was easy since there was barely any pedaling required, but it was pretty tiring since you didn’t sit and had to stand up on the pedals the entire time. Paige went a little too fast around one banked corner and ended up going over it into the grass. Thankfully Andrea and I insisted we should be behind the kids so I was able to help her get her bike out of the grass. Connor liked to go fast and fell a couple times, but thankfully both weren’t too bad and he wasn’t hurt. 

The second time down the mountain I was feeling more confident and in one section there was a small dirt ramp about two feet high where you could jump, or you could go around. I’d gone around the first time but decided to jump it the second time. I landed it and felt pretty awesome. The third time down the mountain I decided to try the jump again and this time was going a little faster. One foot slipped off the pedals and I almost lost control, but managed to stay upright. Further down the mountain I was going too fast around a banked turn and ended up going over the top of it into the tall grass. Thankfully nothing was injured but my pride. I thought that maybe I’d figured out what I’d done wrong, so kept going at a nice clip down the mountain. Near the bottom, Connor was filming everyone as they came in to the final few turns. I had already been through the section twice and decided to let the bike run a little faster in to the banked turns. I hit a few nicely and as I came to the last two turns I decided that maybe I should slow down a little. As I was coming up on a banked turn I tapped the rear brake and the rear tire kicked out in the loose gravel and I fell over before I could do anything about it. Instinctively, I wanted to roll with the fall, but the bike was on top of me so all I could do was put my hands out to stop my face from going in to the ground. I slid face down, twisted up underneath the bike, through the dusty and gravel. When I first got up, the thing that hurt most was my right shoulder. I got back on the bike and off the path so I wouldn’t get run over and then finished the course. The gear we wore definitely saved me from a lot of injuries, but I ended up with scrapes on both hands through the gloves, on my forearm, and on my ankle. I didn’t look at it until later in the day, but the worst was my right hip. The bike’s weight and my weight all drove it in to the ground and the gravel tore up my skin and ruined my shorts and underwear. The rest of the trip, I winced any time anything came in contact with it. 

I took it much slower the rest of the time on the mountain and mostly stayed with Paige to make sure she was ok. On the fourth time down, we decided to take a different route which had two turnoff points. We were supposed to take the second turn, but Paige took the first one and I followed her. The path was trickier than we wanted and it forked at one point to three different courses. Paige continued on straight, which would have taken us through a stretch that was marked “black” and was the most technical and dangerous route. I started shouting at her to stop, but she couldn’t hear me. It didn’t end up mattering because before she got ten feet down the path she swerved off the left side, hit a bump and went over her handlebars and bellyflopped. I’ll never forget seeing the dust explode around her as she smacked the ground like a pancake. Paige jumped up quickly, eyes wide and watery, and I think the wind was knocked out of her. More than anything, I think the fall scared her. I helped her get off the path and on to the easier route. We recuperated for a while on the side of the trail until she felt better. After we made it down, Paige decided she was done for the day. 

Andrea, Connor and I rode a few more times until we were out of time. Connor fell twice, I fell twice, Paige fell three times, and Andrea didn’t fall once! The last time down the mountain, Andrea went the route with me on the path that Paige and I took. It was quite a bit trickier and had a few optional jumps. Andrea had one scary moment where her pedal was too far down and impacted the wood on a bridge, but she stayed upright the entire day.

After our hot, sweaty, dirty morning of bike riding, we washed up, ate lunch and then went to the pool. We spent most of the afternoon alternating between the hot tub and pool. Eventually a storm came through and we went in for the night. 

On July 20th, I got up early and started off the day with a long hike. I decided I wanted to go up the mountain and took the wildflower trail up. I got to about half way up the mountain when Andrea texted me that she was awake. I invited her to join me on the hike and she started up the mountain, meeting me as I came down. The kids didn’t feel like hiking, so we decided to just leave them and see when they’d get bored in the hotel room. Andrea and I ate a nice lunch together after our hike and finally we decided to check on the kids. They were pretty hungry when we found them and we took them to the taco truck by the ski lift for lunch. 

After lunch, we planned to take the kids to the rope course. We got them all geared up and just as they were going through orientation on how to use the equipment some dark clouds came over the mountain and we heard thunder in the distance. They shut everything down and although we were still in the sunshine we waited for the storm to go past. After about 30 minutes we got the go ahead to get on the course and both kids were the first on it. They made their way across one of the easier sections and just as they were going back up for their second route we heard thunder and they shut down the rope course for the day. We got a full refund thankfully, but it was a big waste of our afternoon. 

July 21st was our last day in Teton Village. We checked out and got transportation to Jackson and the Wort Hotel, where our Disney Adventure would start. We ate at a Mexican restaurant for lunch and then we walked a block down the street to the Dave Hansen Whitewater office. We put on a lot of sunscreen and the staff recommended that we consider wearing wetsuits. Andrea hates to be cold, so took them up on the suggestion. We told the kids they should put on wetsuits, but both of them refused. We decided to insist that Paige wear one and she was in a rotten mood for a while after we got her suited up. We rode a bus out to the drop-off point and got in an 8-man raft with another family similar to ours with an older boy and younger girl. Both big brothers were up front in the boat and we all took our positions and started down the river with our guide Bryce.

Since the water was deep on the Snake River, we were given the opportunity to “Ride the Bull”, which is a position on the very front of the raft, holding on to a strap between your legs, with your legs dangling off the front. We’d been told by our friend Amy that it was a lot of fun and I ended doing it first. The water was pretty cold and the waves were huge. I got blasted pretty hard, but stayed in position. Everyone ended up taking a turn and Paige and Andrea both got hit so hard that they fell back in to the boat. I think Andrea actually ended up with the biggest waves and the raft got rocked really hard. I got knocked loose in my position as well and felt myself bounced and then falling out of the boat. I barely stayed in and it turns out that our guide also came close going overboard. We all made it down the river in one piece and it was probably the best whitewater rafting we’ve experienced. We rode the bus back to Jackson afterwards and then it was finally time to check in to the hotel and to start our Disney Adventure. 

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