Neither confirming not denying the furry mixture between a jack rabbit and an antelope, we pull off the road to see the World’s Largest Jackalope (!) near the Painted Hills. It is seven or eight feet fall and though the riding mechanism is broken, the kids can still climb onto its saddle and pet its silky rabbit fur.
Bonus: We pick up Bean Boozled jellybeans at the general store. They’re full of gross flavours like dirt and skunk and – horror – toothpaste, but each colour has a regular jelly flavour. You take your chances.
The jellybeans are a road hazard. We have to pull onto the shoulder of the road when I start laughing so hard I’m crying, set off by the plaintive cry from the back seat: “Please don’t be rotten egg! Please don’t be rotten egg!”
Of all the tolls and entrance fees we put out, paying to get into Grand Teton and Yellowstone – conservation areas on the continental divide – are the ones that hurt the least.
“You all look tired,” says the young guy in the booth. “Campers kept me going till 2 in the morning and I had to be back here by 7. What’s your excuse?”
We mumble a few things about travelling, which he brushes off. He leans into hand us our maps and brochures and turns his attention to Kendra. “Ma’am? Your mom called. This is your homework. She wants a thousand-page essay by morning.”
Yellowstone National Park is spotted with turnouts for gawking tourists like ourselves to get out safely and run down our camera batteries. We’re at the top of a rocky ravine. Pines and their compatriots cling to the cliff wall, which leads down to a clear river snaking through the canyon. There’s barely a cloud in the sky and the air is so clear we can see every wrinkle of rock and ripple of leaf.
A truck pulls up behind us. The driver’s from Wyoming, but he hasn’t gotten used to all this beauty, either. Just one thing can distract him: our licence plate.
“You all are from Quebec? You can drive here from there?”
“Yes, sir. Going fast – which we’re not – it’s just about four days.”
He scratches his head. “Well, I never thought. All the way here …”
We’re in the most horrible little ski town ever, Jackson Hole, Wy. Jackson Hell has a population of a little more than 8,000 people, but add in the tourists and you have a teeming metropolis of yuck. Its one saving grace is that it’s the home of Harrison Ford.
I’ve been thinking a lot of my parents this trip. They didn’t always have the best marriage, and yet we made this trip at least three times by car and once by train. To survive that, they had to have some sort of deep love, the kind I saw the last two or three years of my dad’s life. While our kids have iPods and video games and DVDs, I had books and CBC … lots of CBC. The road west to me means Quirks and Quarks and Peter Gzowski. Tonight or tomorrow I’ll upload all the Vinyl Café podcasts I have saved up.
We had our first glimpse of the Rockies yesterday and today drove through prairie and foothills and taiga and mountain. We also got our first glimpse of bison, which we’ll see more of tomorrow, once we hit Yellowstone.