Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and the Great Solar Eclipse!

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In the last few days, the weather has been cooler and I can feel the fall breeze coming in. Fall is my favorite time of the year and while it means that it is one of the busiest times of the year for me, it is also one of the most beautiful. Before I transition completely into fall mode, I wanted to look back on an amazing trip this summer to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone that I took with my mom and one of my best friends, Meggi. My mom has always wanted to go to Yellowstone and started talking about this trip years ago, as due to the popularity of the park, reservations need to be made way in advance if you want to stay at the old lodge. We happened to book our trip a week before the eclipse by chance and quickly changed it when we realized the date of the eclipse and that we would be in 99% totality in our location! And let me tell you, it did not disapoint one bit; in fact it far exceeded all expectations I had. I would hear people say that the eclipse was nothing special and that it was okay. Well let me tell you…seeing it in totality was absolutely magical!

But first…lets talk about the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone…

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This was the first night at the Grand Tetons. We stayed right at the lodge and had the best time! It was stunning to sleep right there and go to bed and wake up to sights like these. The Tetons have such beauty and took my breathe away.

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We spent one afternoon canoeing around with this INSANE backdrop. There are no two other people that I would rather be trapped in a small piece of wood with.

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We went on a fabulous ranger led tour of the geysers near the visitor center and learned so much! I highly recommend going on these tours as they are free and very informative. We also got an insight in the life of a ranger and let me tell you, they are some truly incredible people! One ranger I met said that she grew up at national parks because her parents were rangers and she knew that’s what she wanted to do. She told me that every national park they went to, she became a cute junior ranger and took the pledge!

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I loved looking at all of natures beautiful colors.

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Watching Old Faithful explode again and again was such a sight! Everyone would gather round prior and just sit out the anticipation of watching the natural phenomena do its thing. We watched it a few times during our time in Yellowstone. It was absolutely worth it to be staying right there! The old lodge was beautiful and has been restored and renovated. The food is a little left to be desired, but that is too be expected. I ate a lot of granola and snacks this trip.

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Later in the afternoon we returned to the Grand Tetons for our final night on the road trip and the grand finale of the eclipse. I have to say, while Yellowstone is stunning, I loved the Grand Tetons a lot more. It seemed like Yellowstone was a lot of driving and stopping to see the geysers and pools, while the Grand Tetons had the opportunity to hike around and explore more. I also noticed that there is a difference in the type of people that go to Yellowstone vs. the Grand Tetons. One thing that I thought was so beautiful was how many young families and international travelers there was. I think that we as Americans often take our national parks for granted.

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This was the morning of the eclipse and Meggi and I woke up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. Doesn’t the back of her head look nice? 😉 People were already setting up their chairs and the rangers were putting up telescopes for the Eclipse that would happen four to five hours later.

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This photo was taken right before the eclipse; a strange feeling came over the sky and it got colder as we waited. We looked through the telescopes set up by the rangers and got to see what really just looked like a red dot to me. So many people had really amazing cameras set up and ready, but I really just wanted to enjoy the experience and only took photos before and after! Plus, I’m not that fancy and embracing those two minutes and being in the moment was so special.

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Seeing the sunset and rise, the stars come out and then the eclipse was jaw dropping and I admit even a little emotional.

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The shadows of the leaves appeared to be crescents! How cool.

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The one complaint I have about this glorious trip was the eleven hour ride back to Boulder. We left right after the end of Eclipse and still faced this crazy traffic. At one point we were in the town of Lander and not moving, so Meggi and I got out of the car and got ice cream, went to the bathroom and returned to see that the car had only moved thirty feet if even. But worth it? A resounding absolutely. America is so stunning and there is nothing like a road trip with wonderful company to a National Park or two to remind anyone what a privilege it is to live here.

I am now two weeks deep into school and feeling the madness of the school season begin! Life feels really good now. It feels settled, exciting and I can’t wait to see where the next year takes me. I’m planning on some pretty wonderful adventures…

-Kaila

 

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