Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm A Camper and a Biker

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving"
-Lao Tzu (should've listened to the quote on the Amika travel blow dryer box)

I promise not to turn this into a travel blog but I thought I’d at least let you know how I fared in the wilderness. So many of you were so supportive with my lame and inflated fears. Well, maybe they were just misdirected. What I’ve learned about fear is that Murphy’s Law is inaccurate. It’s not necessarily that what you fear will happen will but that what will happen may be way worse than what you feared. Let me explain.

I have never, despite a close call at Eagle airport in Colorado, missed a flight. Just to be safe, we arrived two hours early for our flight to Chicago where we intended to connect to Jackson Hole. After an ambiguous gate change, when we were about to board the flight at the new gate we were told, “this is another Chicago flight, your flight left.” To make a long story short, we spent the night in Denver (actually Aurora, creepy), flew to Jackson Hole in the morning where our bags spent the night and took a taxi up to Yellowstone (3 hours) to meet our trip.

Wait, it gets worse. Remember my over preparation? Somewhere between Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, Marc checked our bags. He had packed an extra bag but never informed me so when I counted our bags, I assumed we had everything. All our supplies? They were in a suitcase that never left NY. I am sure our taxi driver will be talking about a crazy lady from NYC for many years to come. We sorted out to have bag FedExed to our campsite. Remind me to “like” FedEx on Facebook or send a thank you note.

My “reward” for all of this rushing and arranging was that we met our group in time for lunch in Yellowstone just as everyone was getting fitted with their bikes. Yellowstone doesn’t have a bike path per se so we were instructed to stay all the way to the side and watch out for RVs and bison. As the late family, there was no way I could completely express my biking fears though I did hop in the van and start the ride after the “biggest hill of the week.” Did I mention we were at 10,000 feet elevation?

When you’re tense or worried, you zero in on what can go wrong. As we started to bike, I realized why we were there and I almost crashed my bike taking in the view. Yellowstone, aside from wildlife, is best distinguished for its thermal features (can you name the 4 types of thermal features?). We rode past hot springs and geysers and finished at Old Faithful.
Do we really need to see this?
According to this photo it's not that special, in person it is. 
After waiting and waiting for Old Faithful to do its thing, we were shuttled to our campground. Many of you wished me wine while camping. Along with our tent assignments, there was hors d’oeurvres and wine greeting us. Cheers. 

I will not lie, the first night in the tent, without our pillows, in the missing bag, I was awake listening to the noise from other campsites and convinced myself I was not cut out for camping but that quickly changed. 

Day 2 was a hiking day around “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone. It was breathtaking.

 After lunch, the kids were swiped up for their own activity and the adults hiked on. 

We were rewarded with showers at our second campsite, clean showers no less. It’s amazing what can turn into a treat when you’re stripped of luxuries.
camping legs, I'll save the chipped tooth story for another day
 Our bag arrived and surprisingly the only thing I had missed was our inflatable pillows (sweatshirts don’t cut it) and toothbrushes. I slept like a baby.

We kayaked on the third day and enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner at night. For many of the days, we packed our lunches from a spread the camp crew presented us. They were great about gluten (three of the women were gluten free) but without bread my lunch was often some tuna or turkey with avocado or a slice of cheese and some veggies. This would seem small-ish at home but we were eating regularly and it was really satisfying. The only food "tools" I ended up using were my probiotics and some mornings cocochia,also contains probtioics, over fruit (stay tuned for a future post on probitoics and weight). Though some complained, I lost a couple while away.

The next day was “OYO” or our on your own time. We bid farewell to Yellowstone and arranged fishing on Jackson Lake in the Tetons or “the ladies of the lake” as our fisherman guide Phil called them. With the wildfires in Idaho the view was hazy and the fishing had been affected (the fire kills the bugs and the fish eat them).

Nonetheless, our boys pulled in enough lake trout for all of our new friends at the campsite to taste.
After an hour of nothing and many great stories from our captain Phil...lake trout

For a trip full of “highlights” stopping our bike ride in the Tetons for a herd of bison may have topped the list. We had to stay back and wait as 1000 bison crossed the road (hopefully not to get to “lunch” on the other side).
bison jam

After lunch we finished the 25-mile route in Jackson Hole. We somehow ended up at the Cowboy Bar where our time was limited. I had never suggested a tequila shot as a post-exercise beverage and I don’t think I will start to any time soon.

We were all sad for the week to end. Andrea, in a blog comment before I departed, articulated things so well "I like the contrast camping provides to my "normal life." I like appreciating all the little conveniences again and also realizing that I don't need certain things." We were outside all day, every day. We were with families from all over the country with 13 combined children who never complained. There’s nothing like ending the day around a campfire although I have enjoyed crawling into my bed. In a nerdy way I feel sort of proud of myself. Mission enjoyed.

I know many of you mentioned you’re not the tenting type, would you ever try it? Your kids would love…Have you been to any of the National Parks? Do you have any sports-related fears biking or skiing etc. you want to face?
Oh and the 4 types of thermal features are geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles (if you’re on Jeopardy you’ll thank me).


  1. Happy you enjoyed...and so true when luxuries are stripped away they become that much sweeter. :) Great memories to look back on.

  2. sometimes the most rigid routines and the ones that need reshuffling the most. What do we really need?

  3. I've always wondered if I would be able to get through a week of camping (I'd be lucky if I got through a week-end of camping). yM fear stems from the idea that "camping" is about hiking in the wilderness without guides and eating canned food warmed over a campfire (never going to happen, I'd take up hunting first).

    In a few conversations with friends about going to the Grand Canyon and even climbing to base camp on Everest, it's been hinted that my original plan to "ease into it" via a Backroads trip might not be the way to go (and yes, for those of you familiar with Backroads I consider that a type of camping. So you see where my starting point is for context.)
    Your trip sounds amazing, not at all traumatizing and a perfect blend of what I like to call "civilized camping". Definitely makes me want to give it a try.

  4. I'm all for outsourcing and that includes camping for now. We ate delicious food, never pitched a tent and relied on an outfitter as you mentioned. It was civilized but not "glamping" as some mentioned. We joked that for a week we didn't have to make any decisions. All we had to do was focus on zipping that tent so the "wildlife" stayed out. We had a visitor scratching on our tent the last night, will never know "who" it was.

  5. Good for you! Sounds like an amazing way to experience Yellowstone and the Tetons. We're just ending a month sabbatical for my husband where we've driven and experienced much of the Northwest, including those two National Parks. Though we've stayed in hotels, our days have been a huge departure from typical life. We love taking our girls all over the country, especially to National Parks. And yes, Old Faithful is more impressive in person:)

  6. Wow, those photos are gorgeous!
    I love camping and hiking and being outdoors so this vacation looks like a lot of fun to me.

  7. Thanks Samantha, it really was fun.

  8. wow what an awesome adventure love it and gorgeous scenery

  9. your blow dryer box quoted lao tzu? Well once you got settled it sounds/looks like you and your clan had so much fun - love that you're rocking the FT shirt :)

  10. this really was a great travel blow dryer (and yes used it in camping bathroom). Foodtrainers/cycle shirt and lots of good times. Singles and solos trips offered C, try it out.

  11. gorgeous yes Rebecca and Yellowstone is really unusual the landscape doesn't really look like anywhere else.

  12. Great update! You made me want to do this with John and LJ some day. We love Yellowstone! So glad you enjoyed yourselves. Only you can make a bike helmet look chic!

  13. I love you but "chic" not so sure. Why can't I see John in a tent?

  14. It looks like you had a great trip! This doesn't make me any less afraid of going on a camping adventure, but it makes me want to at least BE less afraid!

  15. you can do it Jess, nothing to be afraid of (other than bear and bison).

  16. WOW!!! What an AMAZING adventure!! I seriously love to camp, and would have loved to do this (and will try to do it one day when I have kids, for sure). Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  17. Thanks Gina, it was an adventure but more than anything it was a blast.

  18. I've got camping envy! So glad you had such a wonderful time! Since you enjoyed this trip, I highly recommend the white water rafting trip we did last year-similar in that a crew makes you delicious meals and sets up your tent, and you just get to enjoy. I loved watching my kids play by the side of the river with the other kids after each day of rafting ended. They played for hours, no electronic toys in sight! And, the best part for me was the coffee, looking out at the gorgeous scenery each morning-amazing!

  19. EA- I had the same feeling watching the kids on this trip. No itouches, ipads (and same for adults). I've never been rafting but would love to go.

  20. Sam @ Mom At The BarreAugust 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I know yours isn't a travel blog but I really enjoyed reading about your trip. I was one of the "not tenting types" but I do think my kid would love it and someday I may indulge him. He's not even 2 yet so I have a few years to get myself used to the idea!

    You have a beautiful family, by the way!

  21. try it sam, maybe after the marathon training. Thank you for your sweet comment.

  22. Stephanie (Clay Baboons)August 28, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Beautiful! What an adventure! I'm glad you had a great time...even without your pillows.

  23. I love Yellowstone and I'm glad you had such an amazing adventure. It all worked out, huh? Imagine that! Maybe you'll do it again at Glacier National Park or Yosemite or Acadia. :)

  24. I definitely want to see more of the parks and hear glacier is amazing (and bryce too).

  25. We did get the pillows thanks to FedEx.

  26. Glacier is my favorite. It's stunning. Maybe Denali is my favorite. Well, it's between those two. I've not been to Acadia, though.

  27. I'm completely jumping subjects right now, but I can't find your email address on your blog (even though I know I've emailed you before...I just can't find it! Argh! It's probably somewhere really obvious and I'm just making myself look incompetent right now.) Anyway...I have 2 questions for you.
    1) Will you talk honey with me? Unpasteurized = raw? Or unpasteurized =/= raw? Does it really make a difference?
    2) I remember that you posted about dairy and fat in the past. Do you think that 10% fat, 2% fat or 0% fat is the best choice when it comes to greek yogurt? I've been buying the 2%, but I'm wondering if I should go for full-fat instead.
    Thank you for being smart and generous with your info - and also for tolerating random questions that have nothing to do with your post.